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High School Sweethearts…

Fall; October; football; high school; Homecoming – do you remember your first high school sweetheart?  High school is a very special and memorable time for teenagers; it certainly was for me.  And I always enjoyed the autumn season when I was in high school – Homecoming; Halloween; dating; parties (most chaperoned, some not).

Forty-nine years ago, this very time of the year, I asked the prettiest girl in my high school out on a first date.  I guess it went well enough because here we are forty-nine years later, and I’m still awe-struck by the glow of her beauty.

I hope you enjoy this opening to Chapter XII True North, of my book, The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective © as much I enjoyed writing it:

Dedicated to… a crisp night in October; with a slight breeze blowing through bare trees – waiting for the coming winter.   Close your eyes.  Can you smell remnants of autumn leaves burning?

To winning the homecoming football game.  To being carefree. To a Saturday night party at the teenager’s house whose parents are away.  Can you hear the kids having fun in the kitchen; the basement; and the backyard, all to the beat of the Rolling Stones?

To couches, blue jeans and sweaters.  To the floor lamp reflecting on her blond hair making it shimmer with silvery streaks of light.  To the nervous small talk of a teenage boy in the presence of a varsity cheerleader.  To the patience of the teenage girl sitting on the couch with the captain of the varsity basketball team.  Can you remember when you could actually hear your heart throbbing?

To throw pillows, which come in handy when the small talk runs out – what else can a young boy do?  And to playful pillow fights; which lead to gentle wrestling and ultimately to that first kiss. Remember how delicate she felt in your arms – the hint of her perfume – the taste of her lips?

To first dates – dinner and a movie.  To the movie Catch 22 and the Oriental Theatre in downtown Chicago.  To dating the prettiest girl in your high school; to falling in love; to asking her father’s permission for her hand in marriage.  Were you ever so nervous?

To the tears welling up in my eyes even as I write this short memoire.  To all those emotions; all the happiness; all those hopes and all those dreams; some fulfilled, some yet to be; and all that I can remember today as if it just happened yesterday – that I will remember everyday, as long as I live.  How can someone be so lucky?

To 1970 – and that Saturday night in October in Elmhurst where I kissed Debbie for the very first time.  And to the friend’s house whose parents were out – to their couch, their floor lamp, to their throw pillows; and to the Rolling Stones music.  Can you imagine being so young, so infatuated, and so in love? 

I still am.

GAP

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Giving our best…

Football is my favorite sport.  A bit ironic I suppose, because football is the epitome of a time in my life that I did not give my best.  Actually, it was worse than that.  It was the one time in all my competitive pursuits (in athletics or in business) that I quit.  I’ve lost many times; won my share too; quit once.

I quit my high school football team two weeks into the start of my junior year season.  It was the only time in my life that my Mom told me I disappointed her.  I can remember going into the head coach’s office to quit as if it was yesterday.  A bit ironic I suppose, because after being a starter and co-captain my freshman and sophomore years, I was not even planning to play my junior year.  I planned to focus on basketball.

The coach called and asked me to reconsider.  I agreed, but when I showed up I wasn’t prepared to give my best.  He and his coaches weren’t prepared to coach me up either.  At the age of sixteen, I decided that quitting was the only escape.  I’ve regretted it to this day.  A bit ironic I suppose – it’s not the not-playing that I regret; it’s the not giving my best.

I bet there have been special coaches and mentors who have had a positive impact on your life.  Coaches come in all shapes and sizes and use a wide variety of styles and techniques.  I bit ironic I suppose – some coaches resonate with us; some don’t.

Here’s a 6 minute video about a high school, an underdog team, and their coach’s expectation about giving our best: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sUKoKQlEC4

Probably not a technique that transfers into the business world today – but the message does, true?  Yes, the sporting world is different than the business world.  Nonetheless, we don’t have to go it alone.  Even the best-of-the-best have coaches.

In business, our favorite, Unknown Sage offers this:

Common misconceptions about coaching in the marketplace:

“Coaching is primarily for correcting behavior” – If we only coach people when they do something wrong, we have missed the point.  It’s about building not fixing.

“Coaching requires giving up power and control” – The manager relies more on influence. The person is still accountable.

“Coaching takes too much time” – Coaching takes too much time if you don’t do enough of it and you don’t do it correctly.

“Coaching is soft stuff” – The manager who avoids soft stuff usually does so because it is so hard.  The work is easy; people are difficult.

“Coaching is laissez-faire management” – Freedom in the workplace, actually just about anywhere, is rooted in strict discipline.

“Coaching is simply being a good cheerleader” – A good manager has the courage and inner strength when needed to tell people the truth.

“Coaching is like therapy” – To be a good manager and coach one does need a basic understanding of human behavior and motivation, but therapy has no place in your relationship with the people you are leading.

Coaches enjoy occasional accolades, too.  The best I ever heard was a tribute to Bum Phillips, head coach of the then, Houston Oilers.  It was once said of Bum:

He could take his and beat yours – and then he could take yours and beat his.

A bit ironic I suppose, but his players had no quit.  They gave him their best.  Imagine – what could we accomplish today if we just committed to giving our best?

GAP

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Elements…

A LinkedIn connection of mine (the Global Business Unit Leader of a multinational company – meaning he’s higher up the corporate food chain than me) liked a LinkedIn article.  That was influence enough to catch my attention.  (I like hangin’ with the higher ups; read what they read; don’t you?)

The article was posted by a Vistage Chair.  Vistage is another organization that has great influence with me because of their renowned work with business owners.

The content was slightly dated (2017); and admittedly, the title of the article was suspicious, “The Greatest Sales Pitch I’ve Seen All Year”.  I mean, how many times do we read bold claims only to be disappointed when we get past the headline?  Nonetheless, I pressed on…

In the article, Dave Gerhardt laid out 5 Elements of a compelling, strategic story in a specific sequence.  I liked the premise – a “step by step” approach.  Simple, clear, concise – exactly the qualities I believe Buyers prefer, but don’t usually receive.  Sales & marketing people continuously complicate things (in my opinion).  I got to element 3.

Element 1: Acknowledge (and then attack) the status quo most Buyers have, and most Sellers cannot overcome.  This totally aligns with my experience and opinions about why Buyers don’t buy.

Element 2: Suggest “name the enemy”.  I liked that technique too.  Buyers want a simple answer to their question, “Why should I buy?”  Most Sellers struggle to avoid offering an overly complicated answer.

Then came Element 3: Tease the prospect.  Houston, we have a problem… and just when I thought I was about to learn “the greatest sales pitch”…

The article’s premise was Buyers want to simply have a (simple) business conversation on why they should buy.  The author’s proposed solution?  An always-on chat bot connected to real-time email(s) and the ability to schedule a product demo via access to the Seller’s calendar.  So, once you have captured the Buyer’s interest (similar to the way my interest was captured as outlined above); you hit ‘em with artificial intelligence and email automation?  Ouch!

Look, I know it ain’t easy out there.  But I really do believe Buyers want to have simple, effective conversations on how they can improve their business situation, whatever the product or service in question is.  Putting yourself in their position, wouldn’t you want such a straight forward conversation if you were buying from you?

Permit me to propose an alternative “3 Elements”.  In my arena, I believe every Buyer has 3 fundamental questions – sequenced exactly as listed below (there’s that “step-by-step” approach); that the successful Seller must address.

Element 1: “How would I know if I needed a new system?”  Most Buyers don’t.  As a Seller, I’m not in the business of convincing the unwilling.  If they don’t believe they need a new system, say “Thank you” and move on.

Element 2: “If I do, can it wait?”  It usually can.  It’s OK if we follow their time-table.  I’m going to have quota next month and next year.  When Sellers “press”, Buyers usually retreat to “No Decision”; but not until forcing us to play that dreaded game, “the looooong looooose”!

Element 3: “How will I pay for it?” An objective, financial justification will be made.  The only question is whether the Seller has earned a “seat at the table” to participate in the Buyer’s calculations.

It’s not “the greatest sales pitch of the year”; but if you think about it, it might just be closer to how Buyers actually buy.

GAP

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Unstoppable…

Peter Drucker, famous management consultant is credited with positing:

Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA Dallas Mavericks once explained the origin of his competitive fire:

There are two types of owners; those who want to win, and those who can’t stand to lose.

Mark Cuban can’t stand to lose.

If we believe in the importance of company culture that begs the question, “How is it created”?  Charismatic leaders might be credited, but after setting the direction employees must become the engine to power the progress.

In the best cultures I’ve worked in or witnessed, leaders become followers and followers become leaders.  I know the military adheres to a strict code of tops down command, but business is not war.  Servant Leadership was once revered.  I don’t know if it still is.

I enjoyed this article shared by a friend and former VP of mine; Startup Success: Why You Should Hire Unstoppable People.  “Unstoppable”, I like the sound of that.  The author suggests most companies focus on job related skills when hiring people even if they claim a people-first culture.  How are things done at your company?

If you want to be unstoppable, you have to hire people who are unstoppable. 

Steve Rowland

In my personal, professional experience leading companies have hired ordinary people and led them in a way that they achieved extraordinary results.  I’ve written about the honor to be a member of DFoA  Among the vast supply of seemingly ordinary people exist many that are unstoppable.  How do we find them?  How do we lead them?

Steve Rowland offers us his “recipe” starting with what every employee should have and then extending to the extraordinary level; the unstoppable level:

Core Traits

Collaborative: Our best candidates work well with others inside and outside of their function and take into account the perspectives of all of the stakeholders involved in any problem.

Integrity: These candidates also show consistency with our company’s principles, values and behaviors. They have the courage to do what is right for the customer, the company and the team.

Accountable: They should set the bar high for themselves and take full ownership of their commitments, whether or not they’re able to deliver on them.

Unstoppable Traits

Humble: They should be authentic and selfless, and know their own strengths and weaknesses. They should also be able to effectively relay their own perspective while remaining open to the feedback and perspectives of others.

Creative: We want all of our employees to create unique visions, explore possibilities and develop outcomes that others may not see.

Adaptable: Unstoppable candidates can absorb, navigate, adapt and successfully execute in a dynamic and evolving customer, company and market environment.

Curious: These employees should continuously seek to learn about our technology, customers and the broader industry, and demonstrate pragmatic intelligence and an unwavering desire for self-improvement.

Driven: The best candidates also proactively deliver with energy and quality. We expect these candidates to push through adversity with a positive attitude, focusing on what can be done instead of what cannot.

Challenger: Great hires are confident enough to challenge norms. They never take things at face value and ask hard questions which get at the root of the idea in front of them.

Many companies want great culture; getting there is the “trick”.  Steve Rowland reminds us:

It might seem as if this should go without saying, but we are a company of people — not products or technology.

What do you think?  Are you unstoppable?

GAP

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Dates never forgotten…

September 11, 2001 – we still remember.  What other dates are never forgotten for you?

In the novel, A Tale of Two Cities © is the contrast, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…” both occurring at the same time.  For Americans, 9/11 2001 seems like a demarcation point between the best of times before that morning and the worst of times after.  That’s when terrorism literally collided into freedom.

Do you remember where you were when news of the planes crashing into the World Trade Centers in New York was broadcast?  I always will.  In a flash our generation was tested on what we can endure during the worst of times.  December 7, 1945 tested my parent’s generation; October 24-29, 1929 tested my grandparents’.  On a more personal level April 20, 1999 was the worst of times for my home town.

It’s amazing what we can accomplish during the best of times; and what we can endure during the worst of times.  The bad times help us appreciate and enjoy the good times even more.

Our ability to gain strength from adversity should come as no surprise, though.  Our ancestry is made of up generations who endured and then grew stronger.  Much of today’s adversity pales in comparison to theirs.  Here’s what Ernest Hemingway said:

Life breaks us.  And when we heal, we’re stronger on the broken parts.

For many of us who did not suffer a direct loss of loved ones from these tragic events, our hardships now come in the form of inconvenience and economics.  We work harder today to keep up than we did before; travel has become more difficult; guns are all too prevalent in our society; in our schools; at our churches, malls, and theaters!

Things we once dreamed of seem further from our reach.  We have extended our resources close to the breaking point in defense of our country and our way of life.   But for America, that’s nothing new.  Our country has been on the brink; had parts broken; and healed back stronger for as long as we have been a country.  Were the hardships of the Revolution, the Civil War, the Viet Nam War, the Civil Rights Movement, or any other national, local, personal, or family crisis less hard?

We are up to facing today’s challenges.  We are strong because we come from generations of strength – families who struggled to make for this country, for their families, and for themselves the best of times.  Like past generations, Americans today have the opportunity to earn and enjoy the better things in life.  And we know why they are the better things:

To really enjoy the better things in life, one must first have experienced the things they are better than. 

Oscar Holmolka

So today we reflect on that never forgotten, life-changing event now known as 9/11.  Like the day an American walked on the moon, or the night the USA Olympic hockey team won the gold medal to Al Michaels’ famous words broadcast around the world, “Do you believe in miracles?”,  let’s turn to our favorite, Unknown Sage once again for this reminder:

The First Rule of Life:

The best things in life aren’t things.

Our country endured October 24, 1929 and the Great Depression; grew stronger after the December 7th, 1941 Pearl Harbor attack; my home town stands firm following the 4/20/1999 Columbine shooting; and I believe Americans remain united following the 9/11/2001 attacks.

Dates never forgotten.

GAP

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Anger …

What do you think about getting angry at work?  Does the boss get mad at you?  Or you at the boss?  Ever write a nasty email?  Ever find yourself yelling at a colleague?  Or at a customer service rep?  Have they been trained to deal with you?

How to Manage an Irate Client Call:

“I’m sorry you’re so upset.  I really feel your pain.  No, I don’t think we can fix the problem.  No, you can’t get your money back.  Well, I am the supervisor.  Let me transfer you to Mr. Dial Tone…” 

Unknown Sage

I’ve tried (unsuccessfully, as my manager knows) to temper my anger over the years.  Then, I read this article published in Sales and Marketing Magazine ©  “Is There A Place For Anger In Management?”  Now I’m not so sure.

Paul Nolan offers several points backed by research that suggest anger is more good than bad in the work place.  Here’s one excerpt:

We’re more likely to perceive people who express anger as competent, powerful and the kinds of leaders who will overcome challenges.  Anger motivates us to undertake difficult tasks.

Competent and powerful… motivate to accomplish difficult tasks… I don’t know – what do you think?  Do his views resonate with you?  Here’s another conclusion from the online publication Quartz ©:

…a negative emotion doesn’t always lead to a negative outcome.

After all, Apples’ Steve Jobs was infamous (or perhaps famous) for his tirades.

Here’s another view courtesy of two, fictitious monks:

Two monks were strolling by a stream on their way home to the monastery.  They were startled by the sound of a young woman in a bridal gown, sitting by the stream, crying softly.  Tears rolled down her cheeks as she gazed across the water.  She needed to cross to get to her wedding, but she was fearful that doing so might ruin her beautiful handmade gown.

In this particular sect, monks were prohibited from touching women.  But one monk was filled with compassion for the bride.  Ignoring the sanction, he hoisted the woman on his shoulders and carried her across the stream – assisting her journey and saving her gown.  She smiled and bowed with gratitude as the monk splashed his way back across the stream to rejoin his companion.

The second monk was livid!  ‘How could you do that?’ he scolded.  ‘You know we are forbidden to touch a woman, much less pick one up and carry her around.’

The offending monk listened in silence to a stern lecture that lasted all the way back to the monastery.  His mind wandered as he felt the warm sunshine and listened to the singing birds.  After returning to the monastery, he fell asleep for a few hours.  He was jostled and awakened in the middle of the night by his fellow monk.

‘How could you carry that woman?’ his agitated friend cried out.  ‘Someone else could have helped her across the stream.  You were a bad monk.’

‘What woman?’ the sleepy monk inquired.

‘Don’t you even remember?  That woman you carried across the stream’ his colleague snapped.

‘Oh, her’ laughed the sleepy monk.  ‘I only carried her across the stream.  You carried her all the way back to the monastery.” 

Buddhist parable

I suppose anger boils down to a matter of degree and the context of the situation.

I don’t always succeed in controlling my anger at work (or outside of work, either).  However, I do try to avoid “carrying it all the way back to the monastery”.

GAP

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The pitch…

July marked the 50 year anniversary of the Apollo 11 flight to the moon. Do you remember who the salesman was?  You to remember his sales pitch?

Abraham Lincoln; Vince Lombardi; Lee Iacocca – what were these men selling?  How about these women – Clara Barton and Mother Theresa?

They weren’t sales people you say?

Nothing happens until someone sells something. 

Henry Ford

I too believe whatever the idea; the product; the service; the vision; the cause… well, this excerpt has a better sales pitch than mine:

“The Noble Art”

Salespeople Are the Knights of Business

With permission – by Scott DeGarmo

…noble means pre-eminent and selling is the pre-eminent business skill.  You can have every other element in place, but without sales you have nothing.  A Dun & Bradstreet study of the cause of business failure puts “inadequate sales” at the top of the list.

     Noble also means “of the nobility”, and salespeople are the knights of business.  While their colleagues skulk about the castle, salesmen and saleswomen get out there and make results happen in the real world.

    Like the noble knight, the salesperson has a mission, a crusade.  Belief in his product is his creed.  He knows it can work miracles for his customers.  He venerates his mission, aware that the more he learns about what he is selling, the more he can believe in it – and the more he believes in it, the more convincing he will be.  Not only does he collect great sales stories, he learns the best way to tell them…

     One who is noble is above petty concerns.  Salespeople act nobly when they keep their eyes on the goal despite the most ghastly frustrations.  Where mere commoners would react with anger, resentment, or dismay, the noble salesperson has the inner steel to be gracious and the ruthless resolve to remain ever sensitive to the client’s needs.  His concentration doesn’t waver when he is under attack.  Ego never gets in his way.  When necessary, he adroitly sacrifices real or perceived power in order to move the sale forward…

     Whatever is an art is also beyond the ability of another to fully dissect or reduce to a formula.  It smacks of individual virtuosity and creativity.

     It’s best when you don’t actually see the art involved in selling…  The individual actions of a salesperson, taken separately, may appear outwardly unremarkable.  Yet, the unseen talent used to weave together all the countless elements of a sale may be so ingenious as to …

     Scientists use the word “elegant” to describe their experiments, meaning they have no wasted steps.  Selling can be elegant in this sense when it concentrates the energy of the salesperson, when it eliminates needless activity in the selling process.  Salespeople can be brilliant at stitching together a day of phone calls, lunches, presentations, and follow-up letters.  The casual banter that elicits a piece of vital information can be a master stroke.  What a shame when salespeople are badgered and second-guessed by pettifogging managers, who could be much more effective if they encouraged, assisted, and pointed the way.

     A poem we once published had thoughts along the following lines:  A salesperson must have the quickness of an athlete, the fluency of an orator, the flair of an actor, the courage of a warrior, the acumen of a litigator, the insight of a psychiatrist, and the endurance of a saint…

What are we trying to make happen?  What’s our sales pitch to our children; our neighbors; our communities?

GAP

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Big Mike…

What is it about horses that capture our hearts?  Their size, power, and beauty are amazing.  Have you ever seen a horse running free?  Almost every morning when I let our horses out of the corral and into the pasture, Big Mike would run and buck and whinny.   You could see he just loved to run free on the few occasions now permitted!

Big Mike was a national hunter jumper champion.  And as can sometimes happen, his owner and trainer over did things; they over competed him.  My daughter-in-law Sierra rescued him.  She bought Big Mike for $1.  She’s been a horse lover for most of her life because:

The world looks wider from the back of a horse. 

Unknown Sage

When she brought Big Mike over, he could barely walk.  Both of his front cannon and pastern bones were riddled with micro-fractures.  He needed special shoes because the heels of his front hooves were crushed.  Standing 18 hands he was badly underweight; very shy; and the low horse on the pecking order in our corral.  Last to eat; first to be picked on; settling in was tough.

His first winter was a challenge.  While competing, he was kept in a heated barn stall during the winter.  He was barn stalled most of his young life when not practicing or competing.  Well, at the Pokorn Ranch our horses are outdoor horses.  They have loafing sheds for shelter but no heat.  So come winter, Sierra moved Big Mike into the indoor arena and blanketed him every night.

Then we found out he couldn’t get his feet muddy.  Mud would cause abscesses to form inside his damaged hoof walls.  So every time it rained – back to the indoor arena he went. He wanted to stay out with the other horses; would stand by the door; eye them sadly.  Who ever heard of a horse that can’t get its feet wet?

Slowly but surely Big Mike recovered.  He put on weight; grew a winter coat so he could stay outside with the other horses; didn’t have to be blanketed.  He held his own in the herd, too.  His last two years he could even get his feet wet.  In fact, rolling in mud puddles when it rained became his favorite activity!

Growing up in Chicago, we love being horse people now.  I feel we are part of the American West.  I write often about cowboys (which I am definitely not one); horses (and how sales prospects behave with a heard animal instinct); and the special type of love you develop with a horse.  It’s a different type than the love for our dogs, cats, and other fury family members.

I think it’s their eyes.  When you look into a horse’s eyes it’s as if they see through to your very soul.  No matter their size or power, it seems horses with those soft, dark eyes have an inner gentleness they can call on when in the presence of innocence:

In the world, love sometimes comes with heartbreak.  Big Mike went down from colic.  Colic is a general term referring to gastro-intestinal issues horses can die from.  Sierra had to have the vet put Big Mike down because he coliced and twisted his intestines 360°.  It was likely from rolling in a mud puddle.

Our heartbreak was necessary to relieve his intense pain.  Colic is irreversible and twists like he had, inoperable.  We only had Big Mike for five years.  July would have been his 10th birthday.

GAP

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Street cred…

There is a lot to developing and delivering a professional sales enablement program…

Prior to this year, I would describe my sales enablement work as “making it up as I go”.  Not that it was bad – just the opposite, actually.  The audience of our department’s efforts could not have been more complimentary about the practicality; real-world aspect; and effectiveness of our program.  One of our clients put it this way:

This is the first sales enablement program we have participated in that is delivered by someone who actually sold the products we’re being trained on. 

Matt Kenney

That was an acknowledgement of “street cred”.  According to Tom Stanfill and his piece, “The Six Pitfalls of a Sales Training Initiative”:

The person chosen to deliver the program is as important, and in some cases more important, than the content itself.

But I’m learning that content is important, too.  In my current role I am being exposed to a truly professional sales enablement approach for content development.  The scale and sophistication of the program our leaders are leading, and my colleagues are delivering is awesome!

As for me, well let’s just say I’m handicapped on the “engineering aspects” of instructional design and program development.  As a sales professional vs. an engineer I guess I am easily amused about my technology field.  Add me to the list of not daring:

Gallois’s Revelation

If you put tom-foolery into a computer, nothing comes back out but tom-foolery.   But this tom-foolery, having passed through a very expensive machine, is somehow ennobled, and no one dares to criticize it. 

Unknown Sage

Our output may be a bit “over-engineered” but I’m not criticizing.  What we are able to accomplish is amazing!  So, I’m learning more about engineering:

What does the optimist say about the glass and the water?” he asked.  “It’s half full”, was the reply.  “And what does the pessimist say?” he queried.  “It’s half empty.”  “And what does the process engineer have to say about it?”  Silence – until the consultant revealed the new additional answer: “Looks like you’ve got twice as much glass as you need there.” 

Unknown Sage

One pillar to our sales success is superior product engineering.  Technically, functionally, financially, I love representing our product line!  Or more accurately now – since I’m an enablement professional and no longer on the street – I love helping my colleagues compete with our arsenal of tools, tactics and techniques all built on a platform of product superiority!

Product superiority is nothing new to my company:

Jay Nussbaum, who had joined Oracle from Xerox in early 1992, summed up what Oracle’s product superiority meant to the sales force: ‘A dog with a note in its mouth could sell it technically’. 

Larry Ellison

OK, maybe a bit over-simplified; a little sales engineering might be appropriate.  We still need to enable our sellers with excellent content which is best delivered by people with street cred.  Back to Tom Stanfill:

The recommended standard is to choose a facilitator the participants would want to emulate.  When they throw out situations or challenges they face (sometimes the greatest learning opportunities) will the facilitator be able to respond in way that quickly builds credibility with the audience? Can they go off script and apply the model to any situation, based on real life experiences?  If not, buy in diminishes and the learning objectives are jeopardized.

Yes, there is a lot to developing sales enablement content.  There’s a lot to delivering it with credibility, too.

GAP

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Unchosen profession…

I listened to Bob Perkins, Founder of the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (AA-ISP) earlier this year.  He related the story of his son.  Bob is one of those industry titans – founding an organization that helps thousands and thousands of people in the sales profession.  He spoke at the Colorado AA-ISP Chapter meeting and I was there!

His topic was, “Why would anyone go into sales?”  He offered excerpts from AA-ISP research:

Most deals are lost…

Most prospecting doesn’t convert…

And 57% of sales people surveyed do not believe they can make their quota

Bob applied these facts to his son, who reluctantly found himself in a sales role a few years back.  Knowing his son and being an expert in the sales profession, Bob said he didn’t think his son would succeed; didn’t have “what it takes”; said his son “wasn’t very good”.

But Bob’s son hung in there; believed.  He adopted a repeatable selling process; practiced; tried, failed, and tried again.  Maybe he followed the actress Mary Pickford:

You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.

Soon, Bob was his son’s guest at his first President’s Club recognition trip.  Bob said he thought that was probably a fluke.  Not long thereafter, Bob’s son was the #1 sales rep at his company.  Now Bob believes, too.

Sales is what we do when we can’t do anything else.  My Mom wanted me to be a doctor.  I was amenable right up to my sophomore year in college and organic chemistry.  That’s when my academic advisor asked, “Gary, what’s your second choice?”

Not that selling is bad – anything but.  Bob Perkins shared:

Sales people earn a doctorate degree in the anthropology and psychology of people.

Not to mention the perks of travel, trinkets and treasure for those who succeed.

Yet from a pros and cons standpoint, every pro needs to be earned.  Bob Perkins emphasized what sales reps must focus on:

People over process… Not networking but contacting… not leads but contacts… of which most are cold…

As Bob’s son proved, process is also key.  Sales professionals must master – and continuously improve – repeatable tools, tactics and techniques.  Just like six sigma and quality manufacturing principles.  More on that in a minute.

Sales people believe in Allen:

Allen’s Axiom

When all else fails, follow instructions.

We may not set out early in our career to become a sales rep, but many of us find ourselves in that role sooner or later.  And when we do, our answer to the question, “Why would anyone go into sales?” includes (among many other things) the personal and professional satisfaction of mastering business acumen; communications skills; the competition; and the recognition that comes from a job well done.  Plus, we get to be there along the way meeting great people and working with great companies.

I was there when Christopher Galvin led Motorola’s pursuit of the Malcomb Baldridge Award.  I sold them the human resource system they needed for attaining six sigma and quality manufacturing on a global scale.  I was working for Integral Systems, at the time.  Integral Systems was Dave Duffield’s second company, following Information Associates.  He went on to found PeopleSoft; and then Workday.  Dave is another industry titan and I was there, too!

Sales may be an unchosen profession but for those willing to hang in there; willing to believe; we get to be there!

GAP

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