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Pretending…

Before we get started permit me to say for the record, I don’t know.  I hope you find such an admission does not make me a pretender:

To know that you do not know is the best. 

Lao-Tsu

I met Bob Perkins earlier this month.  He is the Founder & CEO of the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (www.aa-isp.org ).  Sales and the month of March remind me basketball (which I wrote about recently “Coaching” ).

Basketball is very popular in Denver this year. Fans are hopeful the Denver Nuggets are contenders; not pretenders.  I don’t know if they are, but the debate reminds me of my hometown team – the Chicago Bulls.  Perhaps not the Bulls you might be thinking of:

Former NBA center and coach Johnny Kerr said his biggest test as a coach came when he coached the then-expansion team the Chicago Bulls and his biggest player was 6’8″ Erwin Mueller.

We had lost seven in a row and I decided to give a psychological pep talk before a game with the Celtics, Kerr said.  I told Bob Boozer to go out and pretend he was the best scorer in basketball.  I told Jerry Sloan to pretend he was the best defensive guard.  I told Guy Rodgers to pretend he could run an offense better than any other guard, and I told Erwin Mueller to pretend he was the best rebounding, shot-blocking, scoring center in the game.  We lost the game by 17.

I was pacing around the locker room afterward trying to figure out what to say when Mueller walked up, put his arm around me, and said, “Don’t worry about it Coach.  Just pretend we won.” 

James S. Hewett

It took a while, but my Chicago Bulls ultimately morphed from pretenders to contenders and then champions, true?  The key to their success?  I don’t know.  Many simplify the answer to “Michael Jordan”.  In reality however, the Detroit Pistons pounded Jordan into submission before Phil Jackson was hired as the Bulls’ head coach.  Was the “Zen Master” the difference?  I don’t know.

There are pretenders in my profession.  Bob Perkins is not one of them – he and his organization are authentic.  Inside sales; aka telephone sales; lead-generation; cold-calling; smiling and dialing… it is one tough job.  Pounding the phones day-in and day-out?  It pounds the pretenders into submission and out of the profession quickly.

Bob Perkins and his organization (started 20 years ago) have stepped in to help.  I don’t know, but I believe pretenders can become contenders and ultimately champions if they have the essential elements and get a little help.  What are the essential elements?  I don’t know – maybe it’s selling to the right audience:

The best audience is intelligent, well-educated and a little drunk. 

Alben W. Barkley

What’s “a little help”?  I don’t know.

Bob shared his opinions.  He has certainly been front and center witnessing all of the technology “advances” over the past 20 years; salesforce automation systems; CRM; integrated dialers; predictive analytics.  There has been an endless stream of technology product peddlers peddling technology as “the answer” to effective cold-calling.  Will technology help pretenders become contenders?

Bob’s response was, “I don’t think so”.  After being immersed with inside sales; automation; and technology trends for 20 years; Bob suggested the future will actually be “humanization”… putting sales professionals – real people – properly trained and continuously coached – back into the profession.

Is that the path from pretenders to contenders?  I don’t know… but I certainly hope so.

GAP

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