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Olympians all…

It’s hard to top Olympic longevity.  Per Wikipedia:

The Olympic Games (Ancient Greek: Ὀλύμπια Olympia, “the Olympics”) were a series of athletic competitions among representatives of city-states … They were held in honor of Zeus, and the Greeks gave them a mythological origin. The first Olympics is traditionally dated to 776 BC.

That’s 2,794 years (and counting)!

Are you watching the 2018 Winter Games?  What’s your favorite part?  Here’s mine from a previous Games:

Let your imagination put you in a grandstand at the Seattle version of the Special Olympics.  There are nine contestants, all physically or mentally disabled, assembled at the starting line for the 100-yard dash.  At the gun, they all start out, not exactly in a dash, but with relish to run the race to the finish and win.  All, that is, except one boy who stumbles on the asphalt, tumbles over a couple of times, and begins to cry.  The other eight hear the boy cry.  They slow down and look back.  They all turn around and go back… every one of them.  As you watch, one girl with Down’s Syndrome bends down and kisses him.  You hear her say, “This will make it better.”  All nine link arms and walk across the finish line together.  Everyone in the stadium, including you, stands up, and the cheering goes on for several minutes.  People who were actually there are still telling the story, four years later.  Why?  Because deep down we know this one thing:  What matters in this life is helping others win, even if it means changing our own course. 

David S. Pottruck

The Olympics are a major TV event.  High drama perhaps; but has their purpose morphed? Originally the Games were religious in nature; intended to honor the Greek Gods.  Back to Wikipedia:

In the ancient Greek religion and Greek mythology, the Twelve Olympians are the major deities of the Greek pantheon, commonly considered to be Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Hephaestus, Hermes, and either Hestia or Dionysus.  Hades and Persephone were sometimes included as part of the twelve Olympians (primarily due to the influence of the Eleusinian Mysteries), although in general Hades was excluded, because he resided permanently in the underworld and never visited Olympus.

I didn’t know that.

Here’s what I do know – Olympians are not limited to Olympic Games.  For many of us, just facing our daily challenges is an Olympic event.  For many of us, making ends meet requires an Olympian effort.

For many of us, each day we must set our mind for victory to avoid defeat

If you think you are beaten, you are,

If you think you dare not, you don’t.

If you like to win, but you think you can’t,

It is almost certain you won’t.

 

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost,

For out in the world we find,

Success begins with a fellow’s will –

It’s all in the state of mind.

 

If you think you are outclassed, you are,

You’ve got to think high to rise,

You’ve got to be sure of yourself before

You can ever win a prize.

 

Life’s battles don’t always go

To the stronger or faster man,

But soon or later that man who wins

Is the man who thinks he can. 

Unknown Sage

The Olympics will continue in the future.  For the rest of us; we will rise tomorrow; set our mind for the demands of our day; thinking (BELIEVING) “we can”!

Not something I would call “Games”.

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 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 movie clip 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 his 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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Elephants…

One segment of the sales profession that fascinates me is selling “big deals”; “up market”; “enterprise”; “global”; “whales”… “Elephants”.  Many are enamored with the feast of the “kill”.  Few have the constitution for, nor an understanding of, the perils of the “hunt”.

Today, I do my best to support my clients in their “Elephant Hunting”.  I’m merely a guide however; having stopped carrying an elephant gun in 2011 when my elephants got away (see http://thequoteguys.com/2011/02/the-obvious-choice/ ).  My clients like that I know the language of the “hunter”; what to say; what to ask.  They also like that I know how to avoid the language of the “villagers”.

Big deal tracking is usually a quiet endeavor.  Not for want of self-invited guests.  When the boss hears we’ve got an elephant in the pipeline, she becomes our new best friend; along with product management; corporate executives; vendor partners; and a safari of followers.  Exactly the commotion the “hunter” doesn’t want.

I was speaking with a former sales rep of mine who lamented his disgust with his “elephant hunting” experiences over the course of a long and illustrious career.  Here he was, one of the best enterprise sales professionals I have ever known lamenting; lamenting!   It wasn’t about the financial remuneration or company accolades.  In my experience, it’s never been about the money (aka the “kill”) – it’s about the “hunt”.

Pursuing a big deal is as intellectually and confidence-challenging as it is exhilarating.  Exhilarating: as in exciting; terrifying; roller-coaster; nerve-wracking.  The exhilaration is the issue.  You see, “Elephants” are rare and missing the “kill” can be job-ending.  There’s also the negative impact of bringing in an “elephant” – only to have “the villagers drag the carcass off for their feast” expecting the “hunter” to simply go out and track down another.

In my wife’s business, a $500 transaction is considered “big”.  In the software business, many of my partners feel it takes a $500k level before it’s “big”.  I recently caught up with another former sales rep of mine who has been assigned a multi-million dollar quota from 13 accounts – 13.  I suppose if we were in the aerospace field, it would take a $500 Million deal before it gets to “elephant”.

Regardless, I find when a sales rep is working an “elephant”; it can not only be a lonely endeavor, but one that tests your intestinal fortitude.  Facing the prospect’s committee is tough enough.  Add-in lawyers (theirs and ours); purchasing; competition; plus, while tracking – worrying that “No Decision” is lurking in the shadows and will scare our rare “elephant” back into the jungle.

Still, all those pressures are trumped by the “village”.  It goes like this…  From our colleagues, every single time we see them – Hey Gary, how’s that big deal coming?  From our manager, every single time we see her – Hey Gary, did you close that big deal yet?  From corporate executives – Gary, you need to “commit” that big deal for this month.  From Accounting – Gary, you need to change the payment terms of that big deal to Net 30.

Even from the home front – Honey, when will you get the commission check for that big deal?  I wonder if she’s looking at our bank account:

Checkbook Balancer’s Law

In matters of dispute, the bank’s balance is always smaller than yours.

Unknown Sage

Enamored with the idea of selling “elephants”?  Be careful what you ask for.  To keep one’s sanity (and job), life as a “hunter” might mean living apart from the “villagers”.

GAP

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Trust me…

I was reading The Speed of Trust © by Stephen M.R. Covey recently.  A friend of mine shared his copy from a training session his company conducted on trust-building among teams.

Trust is spoken of often in the sales profession.  “Being a trusted advisor” is a common phrase sales people like to say to prospective clients.  But on what basis should the prospect trust us?

In Covey’s book, this customer offered his perspective on trust:

I don’t think you have a full trusting relationship until you are actually at the point that you deliver success repeatedly.  When one of my major suppliers says we want to have a trusting relationship, I think, “What a lot of rubbish that is!”  I turn around and say, “I don’t trust you.  I am not going to trust you until you repeatedly deliver success to me.” 

Peter Lowe

A bit impersonal; arrogant; over the top?  IMHO – just the opposite.

When I first started out in the business my company (ADP) held sales meetings every Tuesday at 5pm (“Roll Call”).  Afterwards, we strolled across the street to a neighborhood “gin mill” (Nancy’s).  Beers, boasts, and war stories of the week were exchanged until closing hour.  That was the setting junior sales reps like me learned the profession from seasoned veterans.

Except one seasoned veteran, Bob Ackerman.  Bob was one of the top sales reps in our office.  Polished; professional; Bob spoke well; dressed well; showed all the evidence of sales success.  And for my first 6 months on the job, he didn’t have a single conversation with me.  If I approached him, he would literally and rudely walk away.  It would have been easy to say he was impersonal; arrogant; over the top.  Turned out – just the opposite.

One Tuesday evening after our sales meeting; 6 months to the week; Bob approached me with two beers (one for me) and said, “Gary, great week – congratulations!”  And from that week forward, Bob trusted me.

I didn’t have the stroke that night to ask Bob, “WTF?”  But after a period of time the opportunity arose, and I asked him why he was so cold when I first started.  Turns out – it was a matter of trust.

You see, Bob was successful during an era when sales rep turnover was even higher than in today’s marketplace.  “Draw vs. commission” was the standard compensation plan back then; no base salary.  Sales results roll called weekly; classic “What have you done lately?” environment.

A modest weekly draw soothed cash flow needs. The draw was deducted from our monthly commission check.  (Trusted – 30 days at a time.)  If we didn’t earn enough commissions to cover our draw, the next month the draw was cut in half.  Two months in a row, and the draw was eliminated.  We never got to month three.  Trust without results didn’t go very far back then – still doesn’t.

Bob had seen plenty of sales reps come and fail.  He told me he used to get to know the new people; he used to coach them a little bit; tried to help them out.  And when they failed it hurt his feelings.  So rather than continuing to feel hurt, he withdrew; he waited.  Bob felt if a rep (like me) could make it 6 months; then he would trust that the rep would make it.

The moral of Peter and Bob’s stories?  To earn the position of “trusted advisor” we must produce.  Trust doesn’t beget results – just the opposite.

GAP

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Jerk…

Now there’s a word used often in our society these days, yes?

During my performance appraisals my manager has given me superior ratings in all but one area.  In my company’s rating scale, the highest level of performance is labeled “Outstandingly Awesome”.  I like that label.

To be sure, I’m as motivated as anyone to have my performance rated outstandingly awesome.  I’m as competitive as anyone to “win”.  I have strived from childhood to adulthood; work and play; continuously reading training and motivational materials to help me earn outstandingly awesome recognition.

I often envision myself on the podium; waving a bouquet of flowers; kissing the pretty hostess; preparing for the glorious interview where the interviewer asks, “Gary, how did you do it?”  And on occasion, I’ve actually been on that podium (albeit sans flowers, pretty hostess or the interviewer).

Does this envisioning make me a jerk?  Am I arrogant and obnoxious?  Well, from time-to-time I would acknowledge – guilty.  My manager has so-noted in that one area on said performance reviews, too.  In my defense – is such an attitude and approach an outcome from how I was coached?

Al McGuire, former head basketball coach of Marquette University, once said, “A team should be an extension of the coach’s personality.  My teams were arrogant and obnoxious.”

Al McGuire

At this stage of my career I have finally accepted the fact that sometimes, I don’t play well with others (aka am a jerk).  Even though I have succeeded in my career by “playing angry” (which I recently wrote about http://thequoteguys.com/2017/07/playing-angry/ ), I’m finally at a point where I agree I could lighten up a bit.

Winning in business and in life is so much more than the podium, don’t you agree?

The most valuable thing you can ever own is your image of yourself as a winner in the great game of life, as a contributor to the betterment of humankind, as an achiever of worthy goals. 

Tom Hopkins

So, to get me headed in the right direction my boss’ boss jumped in and asked me to read Emotional Intelligence 2.0 © by Dr. Travis Bradberry.  You might have noticed I quote him often.  His book starts with a self-diagnostic.  I actually rated much better than I had expected; 74 – which means “With a little improvement, this could be a strength.”  Today, I keep the book on my desk with the pages dog-eared to the sections on addressing conflict with emotional intelligence.

Liking this new path I am exploring at this stage of my career, I next read What Got You Here Won’t Get You There © by Marshall Goldsmith.  I enjoyed one of his foundational points, articulated by the famous management consultant, Peter Drucker:

We spend a lot of time teaching leaders what to do.  We don’t spend enough time teaching leaders what to stop.

After all of these years, I finally have a manager who is helping to teach me what to stop.  Oh he still wants and expects my outstandingly awesome, competitive fire.  He’d just like me to play nicer with others.

So I returned to my recent readings seeking advice for improvement – and found it:

There’s a simpler way to achieve being nicer.  All you have to do is stop being a jerk. 

Marshall Goldsmith

Well, my manager; his manager; Dr. Brad; and Marshall Goldsmith are all pointing me to the solution.

Many receive advice.  Only the wise profit from it. 

Publilius Syms

And only a jerk would ignore Publilius Syms, true?

GAP

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Learning…

2017 has started off with a bang!  My department is “doubling down” on the enablement programs, training classes, and learning content we provide to our re-sellers.

For instance, instead of leading an in-person sales enablement class every other month (as I did in prior years); in 2017 the class cadence is monthly.  Couple that with conducting on-site enablement meetings for our larger partners, along with re-casting (aka “re-writing”; “improving”; “finishing”; “fixing”) existing enablement content for my external audience and there you have it – bang!  OK, OK – perhaps a bit unfair on felling I must fix our existing content.  Still learning…

Thankfully, I have the perfect job:

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. 

Confucius

My Boss also seems happy that I am happy staying so busy:

Among the chief worries of today’s business executives is the large number of unemployed still on the payrolls. 

Unknown Sage

There are many reasons why I love doing what I do in the sales enablement field.  First and foremost, the term “enablement” is conveniently vague.  Combine such vagueness with a manager who is very empowering means I get to do what I think I should do; the way I think I should do it; leveraging the knowledge, skills and experiences I have learned over the past 40 years; and enabling others the way I was enabled by those who took me under their wing – and still do!

Another reason why I love what I do is I get a front row seat in the fascinating arena of adult learning;

To teach is to learn. 

Japanese Proverb

I get a kick out of working with seasoned, senior, experienced, successful sales, marketing and business professionals.  I get to observe those that invest effort and energy to learn; as well as those that invest effort and energy to remind me what they have already learned (aka “Gary, I know; I KNOW!”).  It makes me reflect on, “…the chief worries among business executives…”

I think I get it (e.g. I’m learning).  My successful audience doesn’t want me to try to teach them things they have already learned.  Fair enough – sounds like my kids when they were growing up and complaining about my repetition.  “Yes Dad, I know. Dad – I KNOW!” So I’m (still) learning what my clients “KNOW!”  I do my best to add new learning value in the time they invest with me.

And then I reflect – wait a minute – I’m seasoned; I’m senior…experienced…successful… We’re in agreement.  “Don’t repeat what I’ve already learned in the past – help me learn what I need to know for the future.”  And that’s the key to adult learning IMHO for the sales profession of today.  Sales professionals realize:

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.  It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.  Every morning a lion wakes up.  It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve.  It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle.  When the sun comes up, you better start running. 

African Proverb

Past success does not guarantee future nourishment.  Those darn, up-and-comers (aka Millennials) I have written about frequently are hungry.  They know they don’t necessarily have to out run the fastest lion to capture the slowest gazelle; they just have to out run we seasoned, senior, experienced, successful sales people.

Rise and shine everyone – time to start running – and learning!

GAP

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In the trenches…

As a career sales professional I write a bit about sales – but you already know that.  No “commercial insight” in that statement as described in the book The Challenger Sale © by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson.

The Foreword to their book was written by none other than Neil Rackham, author of the best-selling business book SPIN Selling ©.  It struck me as a most-interesting (dare I say “insightful”) contrast:  A book written about modern day selling prefaced by the author of another book about selling, written literally last century (copyrighted in 1988).

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve learned and still apply teachings from Neil Rackham.  I try to keep learning, too:

Success is a lousy teacher.  It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose. 

Bill Gates

So I read (and share) recent research in an effort to avoid losing – out there – in the trenches.

Permit me to get to today’s essence:  How do you sell?  Ready – Go!

Need more context?

…we live in an era when product innovation alone cannot be the basis for corporate success.  How you sell has become more important than what you sell. 

Neil Rackham

How we sell and why the customer buys from us vs. anyone and everyone else we compete against are flip-sides of the same coin, true?  Differentiation is the key.  But what do we differentiate on?

In absence of differentiation, the only thing left for the customer to base her decision on is price.  And if price is the deciding factor, we don’t need a sales force – we can put our products up on a web site and sell online.  How frequently do you find yourself spending the majority of your time defending your price with a prospect?

I ask again:  How do you sell?

Neil Rackham poses the question:  Would your customer pay you just for the experience of your selling process?  Is “how you sell” valuable in and of itself?  Heavy stuff!

Why does the research behind The Challenger Sale ® point to a handful of specific attributes that over 50% of all customers included in their study cite as the attributes of differentiation behind why they bought from a particular sales rep?  What are your attributes?  Want to compare?

The authors (Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson) list these 7 attributes as the key differentiators between those reps that win and all of the rest that lose – out there – in the trenches:

  • Offers unique, valuable perspectives on the market
  • Helps me navigate alternatives
  • Provides ongoing advice or consultation
  • Helps me avoid potential land mines
  • Educates me on new issues and outcomes
  • Supplier is easy to buy from
  • Supplier has widespread support across my organization

How do you compare?

It’s no secret that prospects value sales professionalism:

Prospects don’t get out much. 

Jill Konrath

Jill goes on to say that prospects are so busy running their business that they don’t get a chance to sit back and reflect on leading industry practices to be leveraged.  They rely on a sales professional to “offer unique and valuable perspectives on the market”.

Lest you believe that your company is “unique”; your products are “world class”; you “sell solutions”; and you seek to be a “trusted adviser”… beware.  These statements unto themselves are already commoditized.  To the customer, these claims are categorized as “Yea, you and everyone else on the planet”.

When we’re in the trenches of hand-to-hand, competitive conflict, what will our difference-maker be?  Here’s a hint: It’s how we sell.

Game on!

GAP

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

Olympians all…

Whatever your favorite sport is today, I doubt anything can top the continuing string of Olympic popularity.  According to Wikipedia:

The Olympic Games (Ancient Greek: Ὀλύμπια Olympia, “the Olympics”) were a series of athletic competitions among representatives of city-states … They were held in honor of Zeus, and the Greeks gave them a mythological origin. The first Olympics is traditionally dated to 776 BC.

That’s 2,792 years (and counting)!  Yes, the ancient Games became a setting for collusion, conniving, and political control (just like the 21st century I suppose).  Its popularity continues nonetheless.

Are you watching the 2016 Summer Games held in Rio de Jeneiro?  What iss your favorite part?  What will be your most long-lasting memory?  The winners – Michael Phelps; Simone Biles; Ladislav Škantár and Peter Škantár – the Slovakian Gold Medalists of the Men’s Canoe Double event?  The Slovaks were able to overcome Mother Nature I think:

Andrew’s Canoeing Postulate

No matter which direction you start, it’s always against the wind coming back.

Perhaps you were more enthralled with the drama surrounding the big upsets – Colorado’s Missy Franklin; Chris Froome; the water pollution that seemed to engulf the entire city?  Yes, the television cameras (and reporters) are there in droves; up front; personal; shoving microphones and cameras in the competitors’ faces even before they caught their breath after their event.  High drama to us – I wonder what the ancient Greeks would think.

Over the centuries the purpose of the Games seems to have morphed IMHO.  The original intent was religious in nature; intended to honor the Greek Gods.  Back to Wikipedia:

In the ancient Greek religion and Greek mythology, the Twelve Olympians are the major deities of the Greek pantheon, commonly considered to be Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Hephaestus, Hermes, and either Hestia or Dionysus.  Hades and Persephone were sometimes included as part of the twelve Olympians (primarily due to the influence of the Eleusinian Mysteries), although in general Hades was excluded, because he resided permanently in the underworld and never visited Olympus.

I didn’t know that.

Well, here’s what I do know – Olympians are not limited to the Olympic Games.  There are Olympians among us all, true?  For many of us, just facing our daily challenges requires an Olympian effort.  For many of us, just making ends meet is as strenuous as an Olympic Marathon.

And for many of us, we start each day by setting our mind for victory in order to avoid defeat:

If you think you are beaten, you are,

If you think you dare not, you don’t.

If you like to win, but you think you can’t,

It is almost certain you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost,

For out in the world we find,

Success begins with a fellow’s will –

It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you are outclassed, you are,

You’ve got to think high to rise,

You’ve got to be sure of yourself before

You can ever win a prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go

To the stronger or faster man,

But soon or later that man who wins

Is the man who thinks he can. 

Unknown Sage

Olympians will reconvene in 2020 at the Tokyo Summer Games. For the winter sports, theirs will be 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The rest of us?  We’ll rise tomorrow morning; set our mind for the competition; meet the demands of our day head-on; thinking (believing) “we can”.  Not something we refer to as “games”.

GAP

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

It’s a not a diet…

I know I write often about the sales profession – which may not please some of my readers.  I also occasionally upset my marketing colleagues ( http://thequoteguys.com/2016/07/playing-our-position/ ).

I write less about dieting – which might please my fellow couch potatoes.  It occurred to me recently (while reclining on the couch watching athletic activities) that there is a connection between sales-prospecting and dieting.  Fascinating?  Well maybe not, but please read on.

The catalyst for my connection came recently when one of my clients whom I haven’t heard from in 3 years, called for a little assistance; the sales-prospecting kind of assistance.  I receive calls like his periodically; I bet doctors and dietitians do too.

Here’s the pattern: My client is going along; selling successfully; everything seems to be fine; and they think, “Thanks Gary – we’re good; we’ll call you when we need you.”  Kind of like when we’re at an ideal body weight and leading an active lifestyle.  Doctors; dietitians; personal trainers?  “We’ll call you when we need you.”

Then, some of us wake up one morning; get on the scale; and say, “Ishkabibble!  I need to go on a diet!”  Of course, when we seek professional guidance we hear, “It’s not a diet; it’s a lifestyle change.”  True?

If you’re like me, I’m not so good at a “lifestyle change”:

I’ve been on a diet for two weeks and all I’ve lost is two weeks. 

Totie Fields 

We know it’s true.  Having the right BMI; muscle mass; bone density; and related physiological attributes takes more than going on a diet – it requires a life style change including a big helping of daily discipline.

Back to my client who made “the call”.  Business is down; their sales pipeline is empty; their calendar is void of upcoming appointments; let’s call Gary.  (They must have really been desperate.)

Unfortunately, my message was not what they were hoping for; which reminds me of one of my favorite book titles by Rick Paige:

Hope is not a strategy© 

IMHO, when endeavoring to sales-prospect, you can’t simply blitz your target market for a week or a month and expect success as measured by a filled sales funnel and over-achievement of sales quota.  To avoid the lifestyle change I suppose you could outsource lead-gen; you could have gastric bypass surgery too.

Sales-prospecting is a mind-set; as regular of a routine as eating right and exercising regularly.  It is a week-in and week-out discipline that compliments the efforts made, and assets provided by, our marketing colleagues.

So here I was talking with one of my couch-potato-sales-prospecting clients, thinking of the comparison of their sales-prospecting needs (and complaints) to my need (and complaints) to dieting.  Or rather, “making a life style change”!  Filling the pipeline on the one hand; eliminating the plates of calories on the other; both requiring a day-in and day-out commitment to success.

Both requiring a thought process change:

Question:     Is beer bad for you? 

Answer:        Look, it goes to the earlier point about vegetables.  As we all know, scientists divide everything in the world into three categories: animal, mineral, and vegetable.  Well, we all know that beer is not an animal, and it’s not on the periodic table of elements, so that only leaves one thing, right?  My advice:  Have a burger and a beer and tell everyone you’re on a vegetarian diet. 

Unknown Sage 

So, we agreed to schedule weekly meetings to restart their sales-prospecting “lifestyle” change. Question:  Should I drink beer during our sessions?

GAP

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Triangle – the series…

Engagement is a word that gets lots of attention today.  Employee engagement as spoken by human resource professionals; customer engagement as spoken by marketing professionals; leadership engagement as spoken by management consulting professionals.  Engagement has us surrounded.

I thought I’d devote a ditty or two (or three) to the topic of engagement.  I call it, “Triangle – the series”.  Catchy; yes?

Being a Denver Broncos fan, let’s start the series reflecting on their recent victory in Super Bowl 50.  Prior to that game, the specialists, the seerers, and the sooth sayers suggested the Broncos were not the better team in the competition.  Many felt they weren’t even the best team to represent the AFC.  Well, so much for the sooth sayers:

It seems to me that no soothsayer should be able to look at another soothsayer without laughing. 

Cicero

The Broncos simply out-played their competition that day; and the previous play-off days leading up to the Super Bowl.  Not lucky I suggest, but prepared – and totally engaged:

Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. 

Joe Newton

So what lessons learned about the Broncos engagement can we apply to our business setting?  I think of it in terms of a triangle:

Leadership engagement begets employee engagement.

And employee engagement begets customer engagement.

I suggest the triangle triples the power of engagement in our competitive marketplace.

Being from Chicago I didn’t select the term “triangle” by accident.  The legendary coach Phil Jackson made that term synonymous with NBA Championships.  Lest you think it was simply a matter of Michael Jordon, may I remind you that Michael Jordan didn’t win a championship until Phil Jackson arrived; nor did Coby Bryant; nor did Shaquille O’Neil.

And nor were the Chicago Bulls an NBA powerhouse that Phil simply inherited:

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

Nope – the Bulls were pretty bad before Phil arrived.  He however, was already an accredited champion.  He held two NBA championship rings playing for the New York Knicks; and another championship ring as a head coach in the Continental Basketball Association.

Phil Jackson is a winner; he studied, practiced and learned how to be a winner; and he also learned how to teach others – how to engage his players (even Michael Jordan) – so they could become winners too.

Nick named the “Zen Master”; he led his players to engage their individual talents for the interests of the team.  He retired with the highest winning percentage of any NBA coach.

How about your company?  Do your leaders lead employee engagement?  It is after all, the first corner of the triangle.

GAP

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