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C = E³ + Rᵑ

Yes, yes, you’re right – I wrote a little ditty recently poking fun at the mathematicians in our B2B sales profession (see http://thequoteguys.com/2015/02/self-obliteration/ ).  So, what’s with today’s formula?

Well, I was asked recently by a colleague why I was willing to meet with him monthly and offer coaching as he pursues a career change from high school teacher to financial planner.  It was one of those questions that caused me to pause and ask myself, “Why am I willing to coach him?”

Which relates to related questions such as:

  • “What does the coach get from coaching?”
  • “How does a good coach get better at coaching?”
  • “If you had the choice between playing or coaching, which would you choose?”
  • And, “What’s the difference among coaching, managing, and leading in today’s business world?”

Stimulated by my colleague, I reflected on these questions.  (Truth be told – I think he thinks there’s a catch to my coaching.)

Believe it or not, as it turns out the easiest way for me to wrap my mind around the discussion is with a formula.  (Mea culpa, mathematicians!)

Coaching = (Empathy x Emulation x Echo) + Repetitionᵑ         

(Lots of Repetition)

So here I am coaching my colleague and since our business relationship is in its infancy, he runs my coaching points past his Manager in order to triangulate what I think with what he thinks with what his Manager thinks as he endeavors to build his portfolio of clients.  (Truthfully, I think his Manager thinks there’s a catch to my coaching offer, too.)

Perhaps one reason why he’s open to meeting with me is the first “E” of my formula: Empathy.

When I entered the sales profession back in the day, I was totally uncomfortable with cold-calling; totally clueless about presenting; I didn’t know how to overcome objections.  I wasn’t alone.  I too had to learn how to master all of these skills in order to succeed.  So I can certainly empathize with his career change challenges.

Emulation?  That’s a “gift”.  You see, I have made a career of analyzing how buyers buy.  As Rick Page said in his best-selling book, Hope is Not a Strategy©:

Sell the way the customer buys and allocate your resources accordingly.

Echo?  Thank you Dr. Rick Jensen.  I met Dr. Rick in circa 1998 when he was a practicing sports psychology coach on the PGA tour.  One of his “patients” was none other than Tiger Woods.  Although Tiger was a better golfer than Dr. Rick (dah!) – he still gained great value (and significantly improved his competitive results) by having a psychology coach on his team.

You see, Dr. Rick provided a perfect mirror for Tiger to “see” his mental approach to his game.  And with this “reflection” Tiger could gain confidence that what he was doing was in fact what he wanted to do.

Like Dr. Rick; I try to be the mirror of today’s “Modern Buyer”.

Rah yes, Rᵑ.  Repetition – lots of repetition – never ending, professional repetition (aka “practice”).  And the best way to practice?  With a coach.

Of course, it wasn’t always that way.  Back in the Middle Ages, Attila the Hun was not exactly renowned as a great coach, leading great practice sessions.  His hordes had to learn from trial and error:

Huns learn less from success than they do from failure. 

Wess Roberts

The problem with that approach in the 21st century is we don’t have many hordes of Huns who can afford to learn from error, true?

GAP

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Success = P x 4

Welcome to the next year everyone!  Is it a “new”, next year for you?  Or, are you still striving to make your fiscal 2014/2015 a success within the next few months?   For my beloved Denver Broncos, they’re still working on making 2014 a successful year.  Is your favorite NFL Team still striving?  Or are they like my beloved Chicago Cubs – “waiting until next year?”

I bet my Denver Broncos are applying the “Success = P x 4” formula.  What is your formula for success in 2015?  Do you have a formula?  See my point?

The Broncos’ formula for success probably looks something like this:

Success = Planning + Preparation + Practice + Performance

How many hours do you think the average NFL coaching staff puts into developing their team’s game plan for each of their 16 regular season games, let alone each of their playoff games?  How many hours have you put into developing your 2015 Success Plan?  See my point?

First Rule of Business:

Having a detailed business plan doesn’t guarantee success, but not having one guarantees failure.  

Unknown Sage

If you imagine an NFL game as something similar to one of our “big presentations” or “big deals”, how many hours do you think Peyton Manning puts into his game preparation?  How many hours did you put into the preparation for your last “big presentation” and/or “big deal”?  Less?  See my point?

Prepare:

It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark. 

Howard Ruff

If you imagine a prospect’s competitive evaluation process, pitting one vendor against another, as something similar to a competitive NFL game; how many hours do you think the Denver Broncos team practices their game plan and their individual preparation before each competition?  How many hours do you and your teammates practice before facing your prospect’s competitive vendor comparison process?  See my point?

At anything you choose to do, you’ll be as good as the practice, drill, and rehearsal you go through before you actually perform the action. 

Tom Hopkins

And even with their hours and hours of game planning, preparation, and team-practice, what are the odds that the Denver Broncos will have the winning performance in each of their games – regular season, playoffs, or possibly even the Super Bowl?  Just because performance trumps planning, preparation and practice, do you think any professional team would forgo 3 of the P’s and only focus on the 4th P?  Do you?  See my point?

It’s how you show up at the showdown that counts. 

Homer Norton

And beyond business, how many of us write a personal achievement plan each year that balances business with other important elements of our lives?

Acheivement_Plan_Quads-010415

If our business and financial success is important enough to write an annual “business plan”; are our family; our personal development; and our lifelong fulfillment dreams any less important?  Do you have a written achievement plan for 2015?  No?  What are you waiting for?  See my point?

ACTION:

Having the world’s best idea will do you no good unless you act on it.  People who want milk shouldn’t sit on a stool in the middle of a field in hopes that a cow will back up to them.

Curtis Grant

Do you know how to write a balanced plan?  If not – ping me.  I’ll send you “How To: Writing My Annual Achievement Plan” templates and paint-by-numbers instructions.

The greatest secret of success in life is for a person to be ready when their opportunity comes.

Benjamin Disraeli

See my point?

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website too: www.TheQuoteGuys.com

Polar opposites…

I’ve been self-conscious about the appearance of my finger nails since high school.  Back then, I was a nail biter; today, my nails reflect my work around the barn.  In the white collar role of professional sales, it’s hard to hide the blue collar effects of working with hammers, horses and hay.  Seems polar opposite, yes?

Coaching vs. training are often polar opposites.  I enjoy coaching coachable sales professionals.  Role plays are my favorite! What’s that?  You hate role plays?  Ah yes, that’s the opposite pole.

Some sales reps like practice sessions; some hate it; many avoid practice because they’re “too busy”.  Too busy to practice?  Well, at least they’re not an eye doctor.  After all, we wouldn’t want to turn our baby blues over to an eye surgeon if we thought she hadn’t practiced the procedure a thousand times before, would we?  Medical professionals vs. sales professionals – polar opposites?

One of my clients recently told me he has been in a white collar, professional position as a business analyst in the IT industry for over 30 years.  His primary role has been doing implementations.  Now, he’s working for a new company who hired him for a “pre-sales” role to help them sell larger, more complicated deals.  His finger nails are immaculate.

He’s been playing the “I’m just too busy…” card lately, and opting out of practice sessions.  His company signed him up for coaching, it wasn’t his idea.  Yet, his main concern has been over my reaction to his cancellations; says he doesn’t want me to think it is a negative reflection on me.

It brought to mind an interview I conducted years ago with John Bruce.  John had been selling management consulting services.  I don’t think he had fared too well though.  First, he was interviewing with me for a new job.  Second, he had grime under his finger nails; a polar opposite image of a white collar professional, true?

When he noticed I had noticed his finger nails, he became a bit self-conscious.  As it turned out he was doing a little auto repair work the prior evening.  I wasn’t sure if he was working on his own car to save a little money, or if he was moon lighting to augment his income.  That’s when he confided his desire to succeed in this new position.

I asked him if he thought he was coachable.  His reply has stayed with me ever since:

“Gary, I’m all balls and no brains.  You coach me what to do and I’ll give you everything I’ve got.”

It was an exaggeration – John had plenty of brains.  Coachable he was, too.  He earned the job offer; sold at a President’s Club level; and improved his selling skills every step of the way.  Reminded me of Joe Newton:

If better is even possible, good is not enough.

Maybe it’s not in the finger nails or the polar opposites of white vs. blue collar.  It could be the coach who’s at fault.  Ever tried to train sales to a professional that isn’t coachable?  There’s a fine line between coaching someone vs. trying to force them to do it our way.

Coaching a sales professional requires (among many things) mutual consent – kind of like forming a partnership.  But beware – even partnerships can have polar opposite definitions:

Partnership means, 

“Let’s you and I agree to do things my way.”

Naomi R. Blakeslee

Sounds like marriage – but I digress.

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© Please check it out.

Oh well…

Hey everyone – its income tax week!  Hooray!

Actually, it’s a day past the deadline – but who’s counting?  Do you think our elected officials are standing on the sideline cheering as our tax returns flow in?  Oh well.

Does it ever seem to you that no matter how you complete your income tax return; no matter how much outside, expert advice you leverage; no matter what plans you put in place to lessen your tax impact next year, you still seem to be funding everything?

On the one hand, I dislike the immense level of government spending that takes place today at the federal, state, county, city and even master association level.  The media reminds us of the tremendous waste that seems to occur every day; every where.  And today, with our anytime, anywhere, all-the-time, political action committees – they all have a position on the state of our state, federal, and local taxation, true?  Could it be some of our taxes fund these messages?  Oh well.

On the other hand, when there is a natural disaster; when we hear of a scientific breakthrough funded by a government grant; or when we simply have a friend or family member in need who receives financial or medical support from a social services program… well, I for one am happy I live in America.

This time is one time during the year when we add it all up.  Sometimes we like the resulting sum; other times we don’t.  And talk about “new math”!

The Income Tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf has.

Will Rogers

Question:  If I work from home and my dog barks when the FedEx driver arrives; does she qualify as my receptionist – and can I write-off the cost of her dog food?  No?  Oh well.

All in all, when I add it up – I am blessed.  How about you?  I suppose it all depends.  Filing income taxes forces us to look at our W-2; our 401k; our IRA; our mortgage interest; our real estate taxes; and all of the other numbers the IRS wants us to look at; and report on.  That’s one way we measure; some years good – some, not so much.

When we look in the mirror, often our not-so-much years are self-inflicted:

More and more these days I find myself pondering on how to reconcile my net income with my gross habits.

John Kirk Nelson

When we heard growing up that, “Money isn’t everything”, do we maintain that perspective as adults?  Hopefully so.  Our top line income, even when reduced by taxes, still can be more than enough for a man that is easily contented.  Unfortunately, the itch of discontent sometimes influences us to spend more than our means.

It’s not what we make that counts; it’s what we save.  Years ago this was called “net worth”.  Today, “line of credit” seems to have replaced the importance of net worth.  Similar to our federal government, line of credit means “debt”; and debt is not the same as net worth.  Oh well.

We are looking forward to 2014 – this will be our best year ever!  And we can stay in control of how we define “best” by following the guidance of the world renowned author and poet, Robert Lewis Stevenson:

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.

And no – the seeds are not tax deductible.  Oh well.

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© Please check it out.

Four pillars…

I speak daily with my clients about quota-performance.  And quota-performance for most sales professionals is directly related to our Lead-Generation performance.  And Lead-Generation is what sales professionals do when we don’t receive enough leads from marketing, referrals, or even LinkedIn, true? 

Does your phone ring off the hook with incoming leads?  Mine either!  Which brings me back to my daily discussions:  How do we gain access to new prospects in the 21st century? 

Do the principles of Cold Calling from the last century (aka The Dark Ages) still apply?  Or, has the modern technology of social-mobile-tweeting-LinkedIn surpassed the message?  Here’s one opinion: 

            The media might be more powerful than the message.

Ken Krogue 

Permit me to offer an alternative opinion.  I believe there are 4 pillars to successful Sales-Prospecting: 

  • Being interesting
  • Being specific
  • Being appropriate
  • Being professionally persistent 

Have you ever listened to you?  Do you think you are very interesting?  Try it sometime – record your telephone Cold Calling script, or send your email to a friend outside of your business and ask them if you sound “interesting”. 

The media really doesn’t matter.  If we are not interesting enough, we will never get in front of our prospects.  Every time a prospect says, “I’m not interested”, what they are really saying is, “you are not interesting”.  Here’s Jim Rome’s opinion: 

            Have a take, don’t suck, or you’ll get run. 

OK, let’s say we come across as interesting.  Our prospect next wonders, “What do you want?”  Are we specific?  Or do we speak that infamous, vendor-centric language? 

We are a world-class, ERP solution provider, leveraging SaaS technology to replace client-server systems… blah, blah, blah… 

To which our prospect then responds, “I’m not interested!” 

Alternatively, do we speak a business dialect, the specificity of which is easy for our prospects to understand? 

I would like to share with you examples of how we help companies like yours increase top line revenue while simultaneously increasing profit margins. 

Next, if our business dialect resonates with our prospect, is our call-to-action appropriate?  What would you add to the above script?  Would you “go for the kill” and ask for an appointment?  Here’s a question – When was the last time you met with a stranger? 

Perhaps a more appropriate call-to-action is requesting a scheduled phone meeting; or asking permission to send an email and then a follow up call.  Going from a Cold Call straight to an appointment is often inappropriate and can stimulate the, “I’m not interested” response. 

Finally there is the pillar of Professional Persistency.  If you were trying to Cold Call a prospect, how many times would you call?  How many voice mails would you leave?  Seriously, count your attempts to reach a Director level or above over a 72 hour period.  Less than 20 attempts?  Not persistent enough.  More than 3 voice mails?  Not professional enough. 

Our prospects are so busy multi-tasking these days, Professional Persistency is often the difference between gaining access or not.  Harvey MacKay calls it: 

            DETERMINATION 

I remember when I was first starting out and asking a colleague I respected how many sales calls he would make on a prospect before giving up.  He told me, “It depends on which one of us dies first.” 

Determination, Professional Persistency, call it what you want.  Gaining access to new accounts is the key to success in the sales profession; unless your phone is ringing off the hook with incoming leads.

GAP 

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website and book, too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© Please check it out.

Hello…

No? 

In the 1996 movie Jerry McGuire, Tom Cruise’s character gives out a heartfelt speech to Renée Zellweger’s character; Zellweger stops Cruise and says “You had me at ‘hello’.” 

But that was the 90’s.  Today’s audience is a lot more difficult to connect with, don’t you think?  Take last week for instance.  I was facilitating a selling skills class.  The audience was comprised of three dozen seasoned sales professionals some of whom own their own technology business.  I didn’t have them at “hello”! 

Talk about multi-tasking;  I was observing one person with IM, email, and Google search open on her laptop; while texting on her cell phone; and chatting with a classmate across the table; all while one of my colleagues was explaining instructions for a Discovery simulation we were about to role play.  Hello? 

Her Discovery performance?  Predictable: 

            It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.

Zig Ziglar 

Her Year-to-Date sales?  Zero. 

But Zig was popular in the 80’s and 90’s; the sales professional today is much more difficult to connect with, true?  Hard to have them at “hello”. 

However, if you agree that sales training for experienced sales professionals is challenging, try addressing the “modern buyer”.  Talk about demanding; most modern buyers today would rather pursue a Do-It-Yourself purchase than have to rely on a sales rep. 

Of course, when they do eventually call us for help because many sophisticated products and services can’t be purchased DIY, they’re expecting to have us at “hello”; but we can still disappoint them. 

The weekend before our sales class mentioned above, my wife and I attended the Colorado Home and Garden Show.  What a kick!  There must have been a couple of thousand sales reps pulling booth duty.  While my wife walked the gauntlet looking for replacement windows, I had a bird’s eye view of hundreds of initial interactions. 

“No thanks, just looking.”; “How’s the show?”; or simply “No. I’m not interested.”  permeated the aisles.  OK, we’ve all been there, done that, yes?  But for the window replacement vendors, they had my wife’s attention at “hello”. 

It’s simple.  My wife is a modern buyer.  We had already decided we needed to replace the windows in our condo; we already knew the number of windows; she had already been researching online.  Now, her calendar was open on her phone.  She was “VITO”. (You know “VITO” from Anthony Parinello?) The sales reps didn’t. 

As soon as she said she was looking for windows, they almost immediately responded with a feature-benefit pitch.  They opened up product brochures and read key sections.  They demonstrated how their windows opened and closed.  Some even had cut-outs of their windows showing the double/triple glazing, aluminum framing, and in-window screen options.  They were experienced sales professionals who seemed to know it all. 

Our reaction?  Predictable – my wife wanted to schedule an appointment so each of the five vendors could measure the windows and give us an estimate.  Three of the five vendors talked and talked and talked so much (without ever asking for the appointment), that we decided to continue looking at other options. 

Two of the five wouldn’t accept my wife’s business card for her contact information; and wouldn’t schedule an appointment on the spot.  Nope, she had to fill out a lead request form first before someone would follow up! 

And today, eight days after completing the lead forms?  She’s still waiting to schedule those two appointments.  Hello?  

GAP 

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my other posts, too: Please check them out.

Polar opposites…

I’ve been self-conscious about the appearance of my finger nails since high school.  Back then, I was a nail biter; today, my nails reflect my work around the barn.  In the white collar role of professional sales, it’s hard to hide the blue collar effects of working with hammers, horses and hay.  Seems polar opposite, yes?

Coaching sales people entails polar opposites, too.  I enjoy coaching coachable sales professionals.  Role plays are my favorite! What’s that?  You hate role plays?  Ah yes, that’s the opposite pole.

Some sales reps like sales practice sessions; some hate it; many avoid practice because they’re “too busy”.  Too busy to practice?  Well, at least they’re not an eye doctor.  After all, we wouldn’t want to turn our baby blues over to an eye surgeon if we thought she hadn’t practiced the procedure a thousand times before, would we?  Medical professionals vs. sales professionals – polar opposites?

One of my recent clients told me he has been in a white collar, professional position as a business analyst in the IT industry for over 30 years.  His primary role has been doing implementations.  Now, he’s working for a new company who hired him for a “pre-sales” role to help them sell larger, more complicated deals.  His finger nails are immaculate.

He’s been playing the “I’m just too busy…” card lately, and opting out of practice sessions.  His company signed him up for coaching, it wasn’t his idea.  Yet, his main concern has been over my reaction to his cancellations; says he doesn’t want me to think it is a negative reflection on me.

It brought to mind an interview I conducted years ago with John Bruce.  John had been selling management consulting services.  I don’t think he had fared too well though.  First, he was interviewing with me for a new job.  Second, he had grime under his finger nails; a polar opposite image of a white collar professional, true?

When he noticed I had noticed his finger nails, he became a bit self-conscious.  As it turned out he was doing a little auto repair work the prior evening.  I wasn’t sure if he was working on his own car to save a little money, or if he was moon lighting to augment his income.  That’s when he confided his desire to succeed in this new position.

I asked him if he thought he was coachable.  His reply has stayed with me ever since:

“Gary, I’m all balls and no brains.  You coach me what to do and I’ll give you everything I’ve got.”

It was an exaggeration – John had plenty of brains.  Coachable he was, too.  He earned the job offer; sold at a President’s Club level; and improved his selling skills every step of the way.  Reminded me of Joe Newton:

If better is even possible, good is not enough.

Maybe it’s not in the finger nails or the polar opposites of white vs. blue collar.  It could be the coach who’s at fault.  Ever tried to “teach” sales to a professional that isn’t coachable?  There’s a fine line between coaching someone vs. trying to force them to do it our way.

Coaching a sales professional requires (among many things) mutual consent – kind of like forming a partnership.  But beware – even partnerships can have polar opposite definitions:

Partnership means, 

“Let’s you and I agree to do things my way.” 

                              Naomi R. Blakeslee

Sounds like marriage – but I digress.

GAP

Did you like this little ditty?  You might enjoy my website too:  The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective© Please check it out.

Save time; save money…

In 1979, during my very first, B2B sales training class (led by Frank Justo at ADP), we worked on feature-benefit drills.  Ever do that?  And anytime we came across a feature we couldn’t immediately connect a benefit to, we were taught to use that famous, catch-all-justification phrase:  “Save Time; save Money!” 

Over three decades later, I’m amazed at how often I hear this catch-all-justification phrase used.  Maybe you say it yourself.  Oh and there’s also the popular derivation that goes like this:  “With our automated, online, interruption, foot peddle, your people currently assigned to this task can do more important things for the company…”  More important things?  Like what – being laid off?  But I digress. 

Much has been said and much has been written on how sales professionals can “cost justify” the sale of our products and services.  “Value Proposition”; “ROI”; “TCO”, “Time to Value”; “Payback”; “Doing more important things”; what is your favorite term and justification technique?  (“Save Time & Money” you say?  Just shoot me!) 

Of course, our companies can’t help from helping us by providing the infamous TCO/ROI calculator.  Amazing little tools these calculators.  It seems that no matter what numbers you plug in the end result is always the same – “Buy My Product!” 

Was the automation of the spreadsheet a bane to civilization?  I mean, have anthropologists uncovered evidence of abacus-based ROI calculators used to support trade in the ancient times?  Sorry – digressing again. 

After the sale, how often do you think clients go back to check the computation of the ROI they used to justify their purchase in the first place?  Here’s what George Eckes, a subject matter expert in Six Sigma (which according to Wikipedia, “A six sigma process is one in which 99.99966% of the products manufactured are statistically expected to be free of defects”) shared: 

About 30 percent of my clients have had a true Six Sigma cultural transformation; about 50 percent of my clients have obtained tactical results that justified their investment in paying my outrageous fees.  And about 20 percent of clients have totally wasted their money.           

Well, at least they went back to measure the results of his “outrageous fees”.  We would expect no less from six sigma black belts. 

Does every purchase have to be “justified”?  Here’s an excerpt from an interview published in the March 2012 issue of CFO Magazine

“CFOs need to understand that you have to keep the core running,” says NetSuite CFO Ron Gill.  “Sometimes the CIO will say the phone system needs upgrading.  The CFO will ask, ‘What will we get from the upgrade?’ The CIO says, ‘Phones.” 

Instead of “justification” what if we sold to “value”?  I believe value is client-defined, and it tends to be a bigger number than anything my little TCO calculator might come up with.  I also believe value connects to my client’s “discretionary funds”, which includes the original “budget” plus whatever it costs to get what they want.  

When the client values it and wants it; far be it for me to suggest we do a cost-justification first.  But don’t take my word for it: 

What’s my return on investment in e-commerce?  Are you crazy? This is Columbus in the New World.  What was his ROI?

Andrew Grove 

Truly – Queen Isabella received more value than Columbus’ three returning ships full of goods.  We might all consider selling to our client’s value – after all, this approach could save us time & money! 

GAP 

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Different is good…

Just returned from Boston where I had the pleasure of working with a group of young people we hired right out of college – their first foray into the sales profession.  We focused on listening; clarifying; and problem-solving skills. 

Everyone had a chance to practice client-centric selling (unusual in the marketplace today).  Prospective clients prefer the rare, client-centric approach vs. facing the pervasive “Death by PowerPoint”, “Death by Demo”, vendor-centric approaches, seemingly based on the premise that the client will buy just to get the sales rep to leave!  Client-centric selling is different; and being different is good. 

Businesses face real problems today and executives appreciate the sales professional who can shed light on solutions for them vs. just presenting “company image” slides and demoing product features.  In his book Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play, Mahan Khalsa states: 

“How we sell is a free sample of how we solve” 

To solve is to be curious.  Curiosity is one trait in successful sales professionals – it’s different and it helps us stand out.  Although the fable may suggest that curiosity killed the cat, I believe in our profession, curiosity leads to uncovering real value and separates us from our competition.  But curiosity only works when combined with listening and clarification skills. 

Here’s an example of what poor listening and clarification might look like: 

After every flight, pilots fill out a form called a gripe sheet, which conveys to the mechanics problems encountered with the aircraft during the flight that need repair or correction.  The mechanics read and correct the problem, and then respond in writing on the lower half of the form what remedial action was taken, and the pilot reviews the gripe sheets before the next flight.

Never let it be said that ground crews and engineers lack a sense of humor.  Here are some actual logged maintenance complaints and problems as submitted by pilots and the solution recorded by maintenance engineers. 

(By the way, this airline is the only major airline that has never had an accident.)  

P = The Problem logged by the pilot.

S = The Solution and action taken by the engineers.    

P:  Left inside main tire almost needs replacement. 

S:  Almost replaced the inside main tire. 

P:  Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.    

S:  Auto-land not installed on this aircraft. 

P:  Something loose in cockpit.  

S:  Something tightened in cockpit. 

P:  Dead bugs on windshield.

S:  Live bugs on backorder. 

P:  Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet per    

    minute descent.

S:  Cannot reproduce problem on ground. 

P:  Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.    

S:  Evidence removed. 

P:  DME volume unbelievably loud.

S:  DME volume set to more believable level. 

P:  Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.  

S:  That’s what they’re there for. 

P:  IFF inoperative.   

S:  IFF always inoperative in OFF mode. 

P:  Suspected crack in windshield.   

S:  Suspect you’re right. 

P:  Number 3 engine missing.

S:  Engine found on right wing after brief search. 

P:  Aircraft handles funny. 

S:  Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right, and be

    serious. 

P:  Target radar hums. 

S:  Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics. 

P:  Mouse in cockpit.  

S:  Cat installed. 

P:  Noise coming from under instrument panel.  Sounds

    like an elf pounding on something with a hammer.

S:  Took hammer away from elf.    

Unknown Sage 

Curious – when was the last time a prospective client told you your approach to winning their business was “different”?  

GAP 

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Can’t; won’t; or don’t know how…

I’ve been working a lot recently with my clients and my company on cold-calling tactics and techniques.  Cold-calling; sales-prospecting; lead-generation; hunting; business-development… it goes by many names. 

No matter what name it goes by, many companies feel their company’s business prospects would be much better off if their sales team had more business prospects.  (Or, we could sit back and blame the lack of leads on Marketing.) 

My recent conversations fall into three categories; (1) How to cold-call; (2) How to get someone else to cold-call for you; (3) How to recruit able, experienced hunters who will cold-call.  

Permit me to start with the second topic, first.  Delegating or outsourcing B2B, lead-gen to “someone else” is probably a fantasy.  Oh on surface, I know it sounds fantastic:  You find me a “qualified prospect” and I’ll pay you handsomely.  But, how many companies do you know that have successfully built a sustainable business growth model on this approach?   Fantastic or fantasy?  Actually, David Paktor might interject reality: 

Reality is that stuff which, no matter what you believe, just won’t go away.                                 

OK. What about “how” to sales-prospect; a favorite topic of mine.  Not because I relish cold-calling; but because I remember how to do it.  Back in the late-1990s and then again the mid-2000s, the market was in such a growth mode, it was very hard for sales reps not to succeed.  Remember?  All too often, it seemed as though sales-prospecting was simply a matter of answering our phone.  Many of those same sales reps are struggling in today’s tighter, tougher, economic times. 

Knowing how to cold-call has great value.  Not only in today’s market, but any time and every time our company is faced with significant competitive pressure to find new business.  Our favorite, Unknown Sage offers this example of the great value of knowledge: 

Charles Steinmetz (1865-1923) was a pioneering genius in harvesting electricity.  After he retired, Steinmetz’s former employers at General Electric occasionally relied on his brilliance.

Such was the case when an intricate set of machines broke down.  In-house experts could not find the cause of this malfunction so GE leaders called Steinmetz.

After testing various parts, Steinmetz finally pinpointed the problem and marked the defective part with a piece of chalk.  Steinmetz then submitted a bill for $10,000.

Surprised at this unexpected high price, GE honchos asked Steinmetz to resubmit an itemized statement.  He complied with a new invoice that listed only two items: 

          Invoice

Making one chalk mark:        $      1.00

Knowing where to place it:   $ 9,999.00                                 

Yes, Steinmetz’s chalk and cold-calling have great value. 

Which brings us to the third topic – how do you find “able, experienced hunters”?  Caution – could be another fantasy.  If they’re “able and experienced” you probably can’t recruit them away from their current hunting grounds.  If they’re true “hunters”, they probably work for themselves and don’t want to report to someone else. 

During the recruiting process, you may not even be able to tell – if they can hunt; if they will hunt; or if they know how to hunt.  But does your application and interview process simulate hunting?  I mean, who is pursuing who?  If you don’t structure your recruiting process to let candidates hunt you for the job, then you might not find out of they can; will; or know how

That is of course, until after you hire them.  Then Paktor’s reality emerges.  (Hey Marketing – Heads-Up!) 

GAP 

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