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123116 … ABC

Code?  No.  123116 is the last day of the year; aka the last day to “hit our number” for anyone not on an alternative fiscal year.  The countdown to midnight; to accelerate our accelerators (maybe, to keep our job).

ABC?

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

2000 Drama Boiler Room

Please “tell” us your favorite “sales-closing” story.  But you can wait until after midnight 123116 – stay focused until then, yes?

Here are two of mine.

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

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

Prospect:

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

Sales Rep:

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

And his prospect did!

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

As a sales professional, I have carried a quota for over 40 years.  And I can remember my 2nd quota year as clearly as any.  You see, in my first year, I was more lucky than good.  That led to a promotion, and a hefty quota increase for my second year – I was in over my head.

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

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

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

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

123116… “ABC” everyone, “ABC”.  Bon chance!

GAP

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Fear…

I was listening to Townsend Wardlaw’s presentation last month (see TownsendWardlaw.com ).  I’ve known Townsend for several years – IMHO, he is one of the great thinkers in the sales profession.  Last month’s presentation however was less about the tools, tactics and techniques of sales but rather about fear:

Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is. 

German Proverb

We were chatting before he started his prepared remarks; commenting about the audience for this event (see http://www.meetup.com/Denver-Enterprise-Sales/ ); comparing notes about the preponderance of millennials in the sales work force of today.  I told Townsend how much I enjoy working with millennials – how I find them energetic, articulate, coachable and “fearless”.

Townsend offered his usual insight.  “They are unafraid, Gary… but they are not fearless.”  His perspective was based on the generational phenomena that when growing up, parents of millennials did not allow their children to fail.  It caused me pause – I think Townsend might be on to something.

During his presentation, he offered anecdotal insight to a personal experience when he was responsible for building a sales team from scratch.  He was in total control – staffing; methodology; coaching; results.  Aha yes…that age old “results” thing.  Townsend acknowledged that great sales process, tools, tactics and techniques have one ultimate limitation:

Beliefs trump everything.

And if sales reps (or anyone, I suppose) are fearful, then we can’t accomplish all that we are capable of accomplishing; we literally hold ourselves back:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens most of us.  We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?” 

Nelson Mandela

I took Townsend’s comments and started to develop a list of sales rep fears – what would you add to, or subtract from, it?

Do I belong in this role?

Do I believe it what I’m selling?

Are my competitors better than me?

Can I justify my price?

In the real world let’s face it; many prospects don’t care about what we care about.  They sabotage our (artificial) deadlines; refuse to be “held accountable”; don’t care if they mislead us; beat a continuous discount drum; true?

Townsend did go on to suggest ideas for living with our fears.  He began by acknowledging we can’t “overcome”; “ignore”; or “eliminate” fear – we live with fear – get over it.  He suggested investing in our physical strength; working on our focus; analyzing what the worst that might happen and realizing most times we are dreaming up our own dread; concluding:

Fear can’t live in the light.

He suggested we simply maintain our courage.  Ahh…courage.  Lot’s has been said and written about courage.  Andrew Jackson, military leader and the seventh President of the United States offered this:

One man with courage makes a majority.

That guidance resonates with me.  Over the years as a sales professional I have always maintained the attitude that I am not my number.  Good or bad, I’ve maintained a willingness to face daily competition; it’s just a deal; it’s not my arm or leg that is at stake.

Following the teachings of other, world-class competitors (even a Roman philosopher) I have tried to face each day with the attitude that, today – I am indestructible!

Our fears are always more numerous than our dangers. 

Seneca

And on more than a few days, it has been only been by my attitude that I was able to get through the day.  You?

GAP

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Is your world flat or round?

Almost 6 years ago I ventured out into the social media world for the very first time.  I know I wasn’t the original “explorer”, but it was a big move for me nonetheless.  Permit me to share an updated, slightly wordsmithed version of my very first blog post, beginning with:

People told Columbus the world was flat.  He didn’t insist it was round.  He got in a boat. 

3Com Advertisement

How cool was that!  No debate; no argument; no headlines; no hype.  They said, “Impossible!” he said, “Get me to a boat!”  Then he got in that boat (funded by the original venture capitalists); and proved his point.

How about that as an example of commitment to success?  “Hey Chris, the world is flat you know.  If you try this you’ll just sail right off the table into oblivion.”  “That’s OK”, he might of said, “I think we’ll be all right.”

What about you?  What are “they” saying you cannot do?  Do you agree with them?  Are you looking back at the land for your sense of security?  Or are you looking out across the ocean and on to your future?  Are you debating – or are you doing?  Where are you turning for the fuel to maintain your positive, can-do attitude?

It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up. 

Babe Ruth

If you’re reading this then you’re on my boat.  Welcome to The Peace & Power of a Positive Perspective©.  The next time you’re having one of “those days”, filled with too much negative input from “them”, come back aboard for a little positive reinforcement.

I’m using a social media platform as my vessel, naturally – it is the 21st century after all.  Some people today might say, “Gary; Linked In, Face Book, Twitter are fun and all; but a vehicle for ongoing business-to-business, business?  Impossible!”  Well, what do I know?

I’ve spent the last four decades of my career perfecting professional selling skills.  You remember – permission-based prospecting; discovering the customer’s goals; presenting solutions; closing the deal?  Remember?  Are any of those skills still relevant today?  Is the world still flat?

Or have we in business actually shifted to Likes, Groups, Tweets, and other, electronically-impersonal means of getting ink and contract to meet and money to change hands?  Were professional selling skills important only when the world was flat?  Well, what do I know?

Best-selling business author Jim Collins wrote about:

The Tyranny of the OR vs the Genius of the AND.

To me, it’s not social media – or – the old way.  I think social media will be important.

But, I would also like to believe that building business relationships still plays a key role in the customer’s success.  I would like to believe that knowing what you’re doing is still critical to a sales person’s success.  Being a product expert + a technology expert + a competitive expert + a business person are the key characteristics our customers value.  But, what do I know?

Similar to Columbus, no one knows ahead of time what changes social media will bring to the future of my profession.  I’m certainly not going to argue about it.  I’m getting in my social media boat – I wonder if I will fall off the face of the earth?

I hope you join me for the ride and visit www.TheQuoteGuys.com often.  Bring a friend!  After all:

No sense in being pessimistic.  It wouldn’t work anyway. 

Unknown Sage

Here’s to the New World.  Thanks Chris!

GAP

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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

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Independence…

Posted Jul 1 2016 by in True North with 2 Comments

Happy Independence Day Americans!  Here’s to a fun (and safe) July 4th weekend.  And here’s to our country – land of the free and home of the brave.

Our Founding Fathers had a very specific set of ideals in mind when they fought for our country’s independence.  The freedom they fought for seems to have morphed a bit over the years, yes?

Today, the term “it’s a free country” too often takes on unintended meanings and overly individualized interpretations.  Being free doesn’t mean we can do whatever-the-duck we feel like doing.  Pick any one of your personal pet peeves:  texting while driving; parking in handicapped spaces when you’re not actually handicapped (just old or fat); bringing your pet on a plane declaring it is an “emotional support animal” (which trivializes heroic service dogs performing invaluable service to those who really need it).  The list of “I’m an exception” is long.

Today, it seems many of us want to believe that this is “my” country so I’m entitled to make up my own rules – or abide by no rules at all.  I don’t think our Forefathers meant for America’s freedom to mean being undisciplined:

Piloting your own plane may suggest a desire for freedom.  It usually takes a lot of self-control, however, to earn the money necessary to buy your own plane.  And once you are at the controls, concentration and rules are vital.  Undisciplined pilots do not live long. 

Alfred P. Sloan, Jr.

Our country’s power lies not with us individually, but rather our ability to find common ground for the pursuit of our collective, common good.  It’s not about our individual W-2; it’s about how we share our fortune with those less fortunate:

Do all the good you can.

  By all the means you can.

    In all the ways you can.

      In all the places you can.

        At all the times you can.

          To all the people you can.

            As long as you can. 

John Wesley

Yes, America is the land of the free, but as it has been said many times, freedom is not free:

Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it.  It flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it.

Unknown Sage

We are also home of the brave.  And bravery is found in many more places than just on the battle field.  We witness bravery every day by everyday people, don’t you agree?

And bravery can be found in places we least expect it.  Take comedy for instance.  Joan Rivers was brave in her professional pursuits during an era where women were not treated as the equal of their male, comedian counterparts.  But she was not deterred:

The more successful you become, the fewer people will encourage you and cheer you on, and the more successful you become, the fewer people you will trust.  But that’s not bad, because if you’ve made it on your own, it gives you a chance to say, I did it.  No one helped me.  That’s only two sentences, and that’s good because success is a short-lived phenomenon that’s never to be trusted.  Enjoy it for the moment and then get back to work.  Never forget that work is the reason you became successful.

So let us all enjoy America’s success this weekend.  And then on Tuesday, let’s go back to work – working to make this country what our Founding Fathers and those who gave their lives for our freedom the type of country they had in mind.

GAP

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April 20, 1999 never forgotten…

Seventeen years ago today, my hometown experienced the terror that two teenagers, feeling a sense of hopelessness, can bring to their high school, their community and our nation.  It was considered a rare event back then – unfortunately, it has become increasingly more common today.

Life is hard and can often seem hopeless for all too many youths in their teens and twenty’s.   If you have a son or daughter; grandchildren; nieces or nephews; or neighborhood kids; hug them today.

Tell them today that you love them and will support them as they make their way in the world to adulthood and self-sufficiency.  And if they are struggling to make ends meet – give them a few bucks.  Help them find a job.  Today, help them feel they belong.

Let’s reverse our society’s violence.  Let’s use our power of self confidence to increase the sunlight for those heading towards darkness:

It takes the sun to create a shadow – accept that the dark and the light live side by side in all of us.                           

Chellie Campbell

It’s not just my home town of Littleton – We are all Columbine:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9Seqhcq23M

May you feel peace – and share the power of peace with others – today, and everyday!

GAP