The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective


Archive for December, 2014


Code?  No.  123114 is the last day of the year; aka the last day to “hit our number” for anyone not on an alternative fiscal year.  The countdown to midnight; to accelerate our accelerators (maybe, to keep our job).


ABC: Always be closing. Telling’s not selling.

2000 Drama Boiler Room

Please tell us your favorite sales-closing story.  But you can wait until after midnight – stay focused today, yes?  Here are two of mine.

I worked with a seasoned sales professional years ago at Integral Systems.  He needed this one last deal to exceed his number and qualify for Club.  His prospect was in New York and he started with the old “camp-out-close” – showing up at their office without an appointment; determined to see his prospect; needed to close the deal.  The prospect played along

Unfortunately, his prospect wasn’t budging as my colleague tried every “ABC” tactic he knew – an extra discount; lenient contract terms; even an opt-out, side letter (unacceptable by today’s revenue recognition standards, but a common “last resort” back then).  At the end of a short but spirited interaction between the sales rep and his prospect, the “because-it’s-my-day” close was born.  It likely went something like this:


“I’m sorry, but as I told you; our plan is to finalize our vendor selection in January.  Why should I buy from you today?”

Sales Rep:

“Well Sir; today is my day; and you have an opportunity to make today a special day for me.  Some day it will be your day; and when that day arrives, someone will have the opportunity to make that day a special day for you.  But today is my day and that’s why you should buy today.”

And his prospect did!

And then there’s the variation of the “because-it’s-my-day” close, I call the “me-or-my-successor” close:

As a sales professional, I have carried a quota for over 35 years.  And I can remember my 2nd quota year as clearly as any.  You see, in my first year, I was more lucky than good.  That led to a promotion, and a hefty quota increase for my second year – I was in over my head. 

After 26 weeks into my 2nd year, I was put on a “performance warning”.  At the 39th week, the Vice President of Sales was asking my Sales Manager to fire me.  Since my company had chosen to proactively promote me (perhaps a bit prematurely) at the start of the year, I asked my Sales Manager to give me 52 weeks to sell my annual quota. 

We agreed that at the end of the 52nd week, if I was still below 100%, I would resign.  At the end of my 51st week, I was at 75% and significantly behind the required sales dollars necessary to keep my job.  However, I had been working hard on a very large account. 

I called the executive at my prospect and asked, “Do you think you will accept our proposal?”  “Yes”, was his response.  “Excellent, thank you!”  I reacted.  And then I added, “Do you think you could place your order this week?”  When my prospect asked why, I said, “Because if you place your order next week, it will be with my successor.” 

And at the 52nd weekly sales meeting, with the Vice President of Sales in attendance, I “roll-called” the second largest deal in the Region’s history; finished my 2nd year at exactly 100% of my quota; and kept my job.

123114… “ABC” everyone, “ABC”.  Bon chance!


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Christ’s birthday…

Merry Christmas!  Wishing you a day of peace, hope, joy and celebration with family and friends this Thursday.

Whatever our spiritual beliefs, may each of us find meaning to our life during this season in a way that lasts throughout the entire year.  So here’s to celebrating 2014 and remembering that which was important vs. that which wasn’t.

We are reminded to be of good cheer:

A little boy received a new drum for Christmas.  Shortly thereafter, his father came home from work and the mother told him, “I don’t think the man upstairs likes to hear Georgie play his new drum, but he’s certainly subtle about it.  “How do you know”? asked the father.  “Well, this afternoon he gave Georgie a knife and asked him if he knew what was inside the drum.” 

Herbert Prochnow

We are reminded not lose sight of our common sense:

On most brands of Christmas lights:

“For indoor or outdoor use only.”

(As opposed to…what?)

Unknown Sage

We are reminded to be satisfied with who we are not just what we bought:

You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are – no more, no less.  That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. 

Matthew 5: Verse 4

We are reminded to remember (and be thankful for) our “fortunes”:

Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. 

Charles Dickens

We are reminded to remember why this is a holiday to begin with:

How many observe Christ’s birthday; how few His precepts.  O ‘tis easier to keep a Holiday, than Commandments. 

Benjamin Franklin

May God bless you and yours.


To the Road Warriors…

I used to be a Road Warrior.  My boss still is one.  The toughest kind too – international travel!  Last century business travel was an adventure – first class upgrades; upscale hotels; prepared meals; interesting destinations.

Business travel also played an important role in long-lasting relationships:

The secret to a successful marriage is a husband who travels. 

Lisa Kwiecien

In this century we have seen a great deal of change in the travel industry – to the detriment of Road Warriors.  If you know a Road Warrior (or are married to one by chance), let’s all take a moment to salute how they literally go the extra mile to earn a living.  Add in inclimate weather and holiday congestion and our Road Warriors work extra hard for each and every extra mile.

Current or former – all Road Warriors have those one or two “you had to be there” stories, true?  Don’t get me wrong – our stories are not always ones of disaster.  More along the lines of overcoming adversity I would say.

Here’s an excerpt from my favorite story – it’s the one that literally launched Penny or a Pound Publishing and my hobby of motivational writing.  Enjoy:

            How Steve & Gary Made it Home for Christmas

Christmas week and I’m in Baltimore, Maryland.  In this post-9/11 world the airlines have been transformed.  It used to be you could just show up at the airport and change your ticket to another flight almost at will.  Especially for us seasoned, “1 K”, Road Warriors.  But in 2006, not so much.  Well, I was booked on an evening flight home on Wednesday, December 21st and in over 25 years of business travel; I had never not made it home for the holidays.

Wednesday – I was wrapping up my last business trip of the year.  We just finished lunch so I checked messages before going into my last meetings of the day.  The first voice mail message was from the airline – a computer generated voice told me my flight home has been cancelled.  The second message was from my wife – “it’s snowing heavy in Denver” with a little more than just a matter-of-fact tone in her voice.  My first call was to neither the airline nor my wife – I called the hotel I had checked out of earlier that morning and reserved a room for tonight; just in case.  (Not my first rodeo.)  I’d call my wife back later.

My client decided to shorten our afternoon meetings – after all, it was four days before Christmas.  They thought maybe I could catch an earlier flight home.  I thanked them for their consideration without mentioning the weather conditions in Denver.  In the taxi back to the hotel I called my wife.  “We’re having a blizzard” she blurted, “They’ve closed the Denver airport” and followed almost crying,” Are you going to be able to get home for Christmas?”  “Sure Dear”, I responded, “Don’t worry.  You know I’ve been a Road Warrior for 20 years.  I’ll make it home just fine.” 

I listened to see if she heard any hint of confidence in my voice while in the back of my mind I was wondering, “How the hell am I going to get home for Christmas?”

If you’d like me to email you the full story – let me know.  And if you’d like a hard copy of my booklet Road Warriors © please include your mailing address.

Here’s to those who travel for a living today.   I don’t miss it one bit.


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Made Club?

For many of us, December means year-end and year-end means President’s Club; Quota Achievers; President’s Circle; or the like.  Annual quota attainment goes by many names in a sales professional’s world, true?

My company announced 2014 President’s Club qualifiers last week, along with those that are within reach.  My name wasn’t on the list.  Even though we have a couple of weeks left, I won’t make Club this year.  Will you?  No?  Stings, doesn’t it.

After you’ve earned President’s Club recognition in your career, failing in any subsequent year stings.  Nonetheless,  we compete for a living.  Adversity does not deter our commitment to sales success.  Last year was last year; we are ready to compete again every new sales year as the score is reset to zero.  We know that:

Success isn’t permanent, and failure isn’t fatal. 

Mike Ditka

Although sales professionals work for commissions – many of us will “run through walls” for recognition.  And the best-of-the-best among us earn President’s Club recognition.  In fact, at one company I worked for we put the number of President’s Clubs earned right on our business cards.  That was the “score” that meant the most.

So, if we didn’t make Club in 2014, we will “strap it on” in 2015 and give it another go, yes?  We can do it too, because sales professionals understand the meaning of the word persistence.  We are professionally persistent in our cold-calling; we persist when competing for a deal; and we persist when we occasionally miss Club.  Persistence separates the best-of-the-best from all of the rest:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful individuals with talent.  Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. 

Calvin Coolidge

And then, there are those rare performers who earn President’s Club year in and year out.  I remember competing against such a person when I relocated to Denver in 1991.  It was the primary reason I was hired for the job – to compete against the best.

Don Wall was Ceridian’s #1 sales rep for 26 straight years and never missed qualifying for their President’s Club.  Amazing!  The company was known as Control Data back then; I had also competed against that company going back to 1979 when it was known as the Service Bureau Corporation.

I didn’t stop Don Wall’s string, but there was enough business for both of us to qualify for our Presidents’ Clubs.  He decided to retire two years after I moved in, his string of consecutive Clubs intact.  Mine, too.

In recent years, quota attainment has been a bit more difficult, true?  Every year we set out to compete for Club.  And on those occasions when we fall a little short, it stings.  No, we don’t show it – we’re too proud.  We silently nurse our wounds, congratulate our colleagues who out-sold us, and quietly set our mind towards next year.  We are persistent, even in the face of adversity.  We are committed to achievement and personal success – it’s how a sales professional is “wired”.

And after a successful 2014, when we are on the stage to receive our recognition, deep down inside we will tell ourselves we earned it by overcoming the adversity of past years.

Adversity clarifies commitment. 

Gary A. Pokorn

So here’s to our 2014 President’s Club colleagues – congratulations!  For the rest of us, 2015 can’t start soon enough.


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Department transfer…

I’ve been spending so much time in the Department of Unintended Consequences lately, I’m wondering if I’ve been transferred awaiting the paperwork?

One of the (many) things I really like about my job is at my company personal initiative is encouraged.  In fact, our CEO has coined the sound bites, “take the hill”, and “we must” and offers examples of employee initiative during his quarterly “All Hands” meetings.  Of course, a minor downside to “taking the hill” is occasionally things don’t turn out quite the way we originally envisioned.

Recently, I was “taking the hill”.  Has this happened to you?  You know, you’re trying to “go the extra mile”; do something “new and improved”; because “we must”; and Boom!  Word is received from the Department of Unintended Consequences (aka DUC!)  I tried to duck, but too late:

Harrison’s Postulate:

For every action, there is an equal and opposite criticism. 

Unknown Sage

It started off benign enough; I had formulated a plan for a local client gathering.  My VP and our Regional Managers had been speculating about a “Client Day” for months.  Well, after “talking about it”, I decided I would “take the hill” and make it happen.  Someone yell, “DUC”!

As it turns out, my colleagues apparently expected me to form a committee first.  I think everyone wanted to offer their input on how to do an event.  My bad – I actually know how to do events.  And I don’t do well in committees:

Another mystery commonly observed by committee pathologists is that the time consumed in debate is dominated by those with the least to offer. 

Norman R. Augustine

The first word from the Department of Unintended Consequences came from one of my colleagues.  She was now thinking that doing a client gathering was a bad idea.  She wanted to know who authorized me to “take the hill”.  Huh?  And the committee was assembled.

Turns out, the committee is not insulated from the Department of Unintended Consequences, either.  What started as an idea for a local, casual, inexpensive event now morphed into something where clients and Regional Managers were flying in from all corners of North America.  The increase in size and expense now meant we needed to revisit the agenda.  Yep, word from DUC:  Lots of people wanted speaking parts.

Thankfully, my VP knows me well enough to shield me from the committee.  He served as my delegate.  You see, I try to execute with excellence in order to avoid criticism.  He knows that I don’t react well to criticism.  However, when I do get criticized (Because none of us are immune, true?); I seek counsel from the wise:

The incident of an undersized lawyer in an acrimonious stump debate with the massive Robert Toombs.  Toombs called out, “Why, I could button your ears back and swallow you whole.”  The little fellow retorted, “And if you did, you would have more brains in your stomach than you ever had in your head.”

Abraham Lincoln

But I digress 🙂

The client day event turned out well; the Regional Managers participated and enjoyed themselves; the agenda was modified to accommodate speaker requests; and the hill was taken!

However, we did receive word from the Department of Unintended Consequences after the event – I had misspelled the company on a client’s name tent.  He emailed the entire committee a cell phone picture of my error; probably posted it to social media, too.  Someone yell, “DUC”!


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