Archive for February, 2007

Selling & Stuffed Animals

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

Want to get a good laugh out of your kids?

Tell them you are going to win a staring contest – with one of their stuffed animals.

I lay in bed, eyes locked on the small, but fierce-looking pug. He was a Webkin, meaning he also had the power of the Internet backing his tail.

The world began spinning as I fought to keep my eyelids from flickering. The dryness was the worst part of the contest, as my eyes began to feel as if they’d been rubbed wide open in the fur of the little beast.

Children cheered, but my concentration was so intense, I didn’t hear if they were for me, or him.

In an instant it was over, and my kids began to laugh at my loss. “Dad, you can never win against a stuffed animal. He has no eyelids.”

You can never win.

That’s a nasty thought. Here’s a nastier one — what activities during your day are absolute losers? Which things do you engage in, when you sell, that have ABSOLUTELY NO CHANCE OF RESULTING IN A WIN?

Are you chasing bad prospects? Perhaps you’re doing paperwork during time when you can be accessing potential clients? Or are you using old techniques that now rub buyers the wrong way?

Remove from your day, activities that result in a “You can never win.”

Do this, and in the blink of an eye, you become a better sales rep.

Power Selling, Power Napping

Monday, February 26th, 2007

And, finally, as reported recently in the Seattle Times
and elsewhere, researchers have found that people who take at least three daytime naps a week cut their risk of dying from a heart attack by nearly 40 percent. Naps lower stress and are therefore good for the heart, a team of American and Greek researchers found. Their study appeared in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

A key component in success for both athletes and sales pros is an ability to adopt rest and recovery elements to their day.

You know EXACTLY when you need this, too – don’t you? You know right when the tank is empty and you need to back off driving full speed and stop to refuel. This refueling does not mean caffeine or sugar. It’s about stopping to rest, in order to energize for the stretch run of your day.

Maybe it’s a nap, maybe it’s not. Perhaps you can take a walk, or get into a fun book for a few minutes. Even a snack break and your lunch can serve to disconnect from the drama that builds into a selling day.

How will you work on rest and recovery? There’s a big pay-off in extra energy for the rest of your day.

Don’t be a dummy when it comes to stamina and strength. Again, you know you need this, so act on it, today.

See the Squid?

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

I’m honeymooning with my honey and we’re on a sailing ship in the Virgin Islands. We stop in a natural harbor and grab snorkeling gear to explore some incredible wildlife, underwater.

We’re in about 6 feet of water and I am stunned by the vision below me. I’ve never seen anything like it, never heard of it either – and I grew up in Southern California, hitting the beach at every opportunity.

I pop up and call to Wendy to look down, and she does, and sees nothing.

“Look at the sea bed, everywhere!” I yell, energy and excitement adding power to my voice.

Head down, head up, head shaking – she doesn’t see it.

“Squid!” I tell her, “baby squid, everywhere!”

Now she sees. The sea bed is coated with tens of thousands of baby squid.

Everytime we moved, the squid rotated to watch us, little black eyes facing the human bodies, probably wondering if we were safe animals or enemies.

The vision of those beautiful, transparent creatures travels with me whenever I see or dwell on the ocean. Amazing moments.

Wendy told me, back on the boat, that she didn’t see the animals because they formed a perpetual pattern across the bottom of the ocean. And so they were invisible to her.

Do you recognize patterns playing out in your sales life?

Prospects responding the same way (and you haven’t yet figured out how to counter them)? How about how you work your daily tasks? And how you respond to conflict or disappointment when sales don’t close?

If you recognize patterns, you can learn to break them, if they’re not useful. Or be affirmed about their value, if they help you close more and work more efficiently.

See patterns everywhere. Traffic lights run on patterns, our car engines, too. Even our bodies function on patterns of respiration and muscle movement (like our tongues when we talk). In fact, our life cycles through patterns of wakefulness for work and play, with sleep for rest and recovery.

Start to increase your sensitivity to patterns and decide which ones you’re okay with and which ones need to be broken.

So I hope you begin to see the value and the beauty in patterns. I hope, even more, you decide to be disturbed by those patterns you need to break.

Scorpions vs. Meerkats

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

Scorpion-Eating Lessons Pay Off for Meerkat Pups

Earlier in 2006, biologists discovered that ants instruct one another in how to locate food. Now teaching behavior has been discovered in a second nonhuman species. Meerkats, those small South African members of the mongoose family, teach their pups how to eat dangerous animals.


“Helpers will gradually introduce pups to live prey,” said zoologist Alex Thornton of the University of Cambridge, “so when pups are very little they get brought dead prey, like scorpions, lizards and spiders; as they start to get older, helpers will bring them prey that’s been disabled, so if it’s a scorpion the helper might bite the sting off before giving it to the pup.” As the pups approach independence, they’re given live prey.

Thornton tested the efficacy of this behavior and found that young meerkats that had “practiced” wrangling live scorpions were more successful in later tests than those that had practiced on dead scorpions or on boiled eggs, which were used as a control.

Thornton, whose report appears in the journal Science , suggests that teaching is “probably more common than we realized” in the animal world. It does carry a cost, since time spent teaching is not spent gathering food, but it appears that the investment may be worthwhile in situations where the young need to acquire complex skills that they can’t learn simply by watching adults.

This is an easy one, sales pros.


Identify someone who has been there and can point you down the path to accelerated success.

Sometimes the smartest business people recognize when they are the dumbest. Make sense?

To avoid the sting of the scorpion, the fiery pain of failure, the simple mistakes that you don’t need to make, FIND THAT MENTOR.

Bombs and Art

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

Numerous witnesses saw Michael Stone charge into the parliament building in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in November, armed with bombs, a knife and a handgun. After he was wrestled to the floor, he was charged with trying to kill separatist leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, who were inside. However, in December, Stone said everything he did that day was merely “performance art replicating a terrorist attack.” A credulous reporter for the Belfast Telegraph applauded Stone’s “use of mixed media and everyday materials,” which he said “show(ed) imagination.” [Belfast Telegraph, 12-21-06]

Wow, where do we go with today’s story? Do we discuss excuses or believability?

It’s believability – how credible are you when you sell?

Do you offer evidence from other clients to enhance the feeling of comfort and safety with your firm?

Is your demeanor calm and professional, without being overly enthusiastic and annoying?

Is it clear to the prospect that you are willing to walk away, rather than pitch the old “what would it take to do business with you” line?

How’s this for a paradox? The ability to present believability has high impact because it has a calming effect on potential buyers.

Be believable and your sales number can be unbelievable.

Valentine’s Day, New Brides and New Clients

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007

I’m newly married and Valentine’s Day is creeping up. What do I do? Well, everything I stand for in selling is about standing out from everyone else.

So I thought everyone gets roses, I’ll be different and get something truly unique. My Princess Bride will be overjoyed at my creativity.

But what would I do? Then it hit me. Remember Venus – Goddess of Love from mythology? I’ll do something related to Venus.

So I got her a plant – a Venus Flytrap.

You know, they’re the little plants that slam shut on insects when they crawl into them. Digestive juices begin to dissolve the little bugs which end up as plant food.

Then I felt bad at the store buying them, they were so inexpensive.

But I felt better by getting her two.

Gotta be honest, it didn’t go over very well.

So I wasn’t always smart about new relationships, but funny comes in handy while you’re learning.

When you have new clients, it’s a tenuous time. They’re trying to figure out if they made the right decision. You’re trying to figure out if you have a long-term relationship planted in your sales garden.

Go do something special. And no, it’s not giving them some goofy advertising specialty item with your company logo on it. Go for unique and memorable.

Spend the money on a great gift basket (fruit and nuts are safe and colorful). Buy a gift card to a nice restaurant. Just think of something special that says, “Thank you for saying YES and thank you for believing in us and thank you for feeding my family.”

You do that and you’ll seed the relationship to last longer than a quick-blooming holiday rose.

Do you Sell Left or Right-handed?

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

We know that the left brain controls the logical/linear side of our thinking, and the right brain controls the creative/spontaneous side. When we’re selling by phone, which ear do we hold the phone to? Bonus question: which ear do we want our prospects to use?

Okay, there is no right answer here. I confess I’m just messing with your head.

But maybe there is a right answer. We know people buy emotionally and rationalize their decision with logic, so maybe talking into one ear or the other has some value, at the proper time.

But I wanted to pose this question in order to get you to think more about your activities in your sales life. Pay closer attention to what you do and don’t do; what works and what doesn’t. If nothing else read this question and at a sales meeting and see how it messes with your team’s head, like it did with yours.


Monday, February 12th, 2007

I spoke at the REMAX state of Michigan conference this past Saturday. GREAT group of sales pros, extroverts, fun to be with. During my confession session, I got as good a collection of hilarious selling blunders as I’ve ever had at a sales event.

At the beginning of my program I collected the total number of years of selling experience in the room (about 600 reps).

3,782 years represented.

Do you realize that every solution you could seek, every answer to every question you might have already resides in the brains of your colleagues surrounding you?

This means creative and smart responses to objections, language to land cold calling appointments, any and everything exists where you can easily find it. You just have to call a neighbor and they’ll get you better at your craft.

And, ouch! You probably don’t need me, if you think about it.

Get smarter, faster and cheaper by drawing of the collective brainpower of sales pros around you.

Funny thing, it’s just like selling anyway.


Best Superbowl Ad

Tuesday, February 6th, 2007

This was my favorite 2007 Superbowl commercial. A young couple sees a hitchhiker on the side of the road, with his hands full. The man driving only sees the case of Bud Light beer. His wife only sees the monstrous ax in the other hand.

The husband calls out to the guy, asking “What’s with the ax?” The reply comes after a brief pause, “Uh, it’s a bottle opener.”

Next scene we see the couple pulling past another hitchhiker, with the ax guy sitting in back of their car. The new hitcher has a mask on, Bud Light in hand and a chainsaw.

“Hey he’s got Bud Light!” notes the husband again. Check out this funny 30 second spot, especially the wife’s facial expressions.

Isn’t it interesting how our beliefs as salespeople can taint the truth of what’s really going on?

Have you ever expected a prospect to close and been stunned when they turned on you, instead turning into a competitor’s client?

What we believe needs to be tempered with good sense, logic and the input of wise mentors or team members.

Are your beliefs turning into fairy tale endings, closed business?

Or do you need to re-think the value of some of those prospects? You know the ones that you should probably drive right past and ignore because they’d be dangerous to pick up, and wasteful to invest time in?

How accurate, how intelligent are your beliefs about buyers?

Super Bowl Shame 2007

Monday, February 5th, 2007

Today’s thought is on dealing with adversity.

The Chicago Bears were humiliated by the Super Bowl performance of perpetually less-than-mediocre quarterback Rex Grossman. In an accurate interpretation of whether the Indianapolis Colts really won vs. whether the Bears lost, ESPN sporswriter Michael Smith suggested that King of bad quarterbacks, Rex should have won the MVP. He was almost single-handedly responsible for the Colts’ win;

So our American football fan world woke up happy or disgusted this morning, depending on who you were cheering for.

How well do you work through bad, really bad things that happen when you sell?

I know, as a serious athlete, how sick you can feel after a terrible loss in a big game.

The question is how long are you sick and how tough do you take the unhappy ending to your sale?

There’s an old sales addage that goes YES, NO, NEXT.

This means you get YES, rejoice and move on. You get the NO, move on to the NEXT prospect.

Just keep moving on. Can you do YES, NO, NEXT? Can you do it quickly?

The faster you mentally shift to the next call, the healthier you are in selling.

This thinking will help you move from mediocre to masterful. And that can gain you Super Bowl quality earnings.