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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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Philosophy or fact?

When I Googled for the definition of “philosophy” I found:

The study of the theoretical basis of a particular branch of knowledge or experience.

The theoretical basis of knowledge, hmmm.  Sounds… well… philosophical.  But I digress:

Digress: Leave the main subject temporarily in speech or writing.

I’ve been attending a new MeetUp for B2B sales reps and the last session, facilitated by Chad Burmeister, author of Sales Hack © and Director of Sales Development at Ring Central, was stellar (http://www.meetup.com/denversales/events/230718803/ ).  Chad facilitated an examination of cold-calling; starting with the rhetorical question, “Is cold-calling dead?”

Rhetorical: (of a question) asked in order to produce an effect or to make a statement rather than to elicit information.

And continuing on with Chad’s leading practices for cold-calling tools, tactics and techniques.  His presentation and discussion was stellar.

Of course, during the MeetUp many attending sales professionals offered differing opinions about their preferred cold-calling tools, tactics and techniques.  And as anyone even slightly involved in the business development field (e.g. sales, marketing, branding, etc.) would know – much is being said and more is being written on the topics of cold-calling, social media selling, and the like.

Chad’s presentation offered facts and statistics supporting his beliefs.  When others chimed in they too offered facts in support of their beliefs.  I’ve noticed when I am exposed to other authors, presenters and pontificators and their cold-calling beliefs each offers a persuasive set of facts as evidence proving the truth behind their pontification:

Fact:  A thing that is indisputably the case.

But if everyone has their own set of supporting facts, even if their beliefs around the singular topic of cold-calling are different, what is the truth?

Truth:  The quality or state of being true.

Wait – what?  Truth is the state of being true?  What the hell does that mean?  Ah…but I digress…

All-in-all, my pursuit of the “truth” seems to keep me in a constant state of self-reflection:  How do my beliefs (and corresponding facts) compare to the beliefs (and facts) of others?

I believe I am a die-hard, self-reflective sort.  As a life-long-learner, I find myself constantly asking “Why?” when presented with beliefs and facts that have serious impact on my professional success.

I am told in the book, The Absurdity of Human Life © by Tom Nagle – he writes of the collision between what in life we take seriously while simultaneously doubting the “why” behind these serious things.  I am also told (having never taken the pursuit of philosophical investigation seriously) that the 16th century French philosopher Rene Descartes (considered a “modern skeptic” of his time) suggested we should subject everything to doubt and see what is left.

As a self-confessed skeptic, my continuous search for answer to “why”?” seems to fall into Descartes’ philosophy of subjecting everything to doubt.  After doubting some of the beliefs that were debated during this MeetUp, what was left for me was an epiphany!

Epiphany: a moment when you suddenly feel that you understand something that is very important to you.

When it comes to cold-calling, social media selling, and any other form of sales-prospecting there is no “truth” regardless of what facts someone offers in support of their beliefs.  There are simply our beliefs and the corresponding results – nothing else matters.

In the sales profession if our beliefs are generating successful results, we should continue; if they aren’t, we should change.  “Change to what?” you might ask.  Well, simply change to beliefs that work.   Ut oh – does that sound too philosophical?

GAP

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Selling in reverse…

Have you ever thought about structuring your sales presentation backwards?  I mean literally taking the topics we do at the end and putting them at the beginning?

What about our sales cycles?  In reverse?  What if we offered pricing early?  Very first meeting early?  Or a “demo”?   Or references?  How do you suppose our prospects would respond?

If you think about it our sales process is like a novel.  A novel was defined to me once as a written piece that has a beginning; a middle; and an end.  Are our sales cycles (and presentations)?  Or not?

Novels are also defined by their length.  I’m told a novel has 50,000 words or more.  Writing coaches suggest that the writer must “capture” their reader’s interest early – very early – first few pages – or better – first few paragraphs early.  And if the writer doesn’t, it’s likely the reader will put the book down, never to return.  It is critical to start entertaining the reader early knowing they have to wait until the end where the “essence” is typically revealed by the author.

Think what it would mean to writers if their readers could read the end of their novel first; get to the “essence” up front.  Would writers continue to write 50,000 words or more?  Would their readers read them?

Thankfully for writers, readers today are entertained by a good story.  It’s OK if the book is long when the “middle” is entertaining.  Sometimes people read a novel to escape from reality; sooth a headache.  Are our sales presentations and sales cycles soothing?

For your consideration… in 2015 prospects expect our end at the beginning; they cover the beginning before we arrive; and prefer to minimize or totally skip our usual “middle” all together.  To them, our middles are neither entertaining; nor soothing.

Many of us still include a company image pitch in our presentations.  In 2015, how entertaining is that?  If our prospect is interested in the idea of doing business with us, won’t they do what we do – check us out online first?

In 2015, the “beginning” is no longer our first meeting with a prospect – it’s the preparation for that first meeting.  They’ve prepared to meet with us with their online research.  We should prepare too, true?  If they could simply buy online and by-pass us altogether, wouldn’t they?  Wouldn’t we if we were them?

In 2015, when we find ourselves in a sales meeting with a prospect shouldn’t we ask – why on earth are we there?

In 2015, the “end” of our sales cycle isn’t the transaction (aka the opportunity; the deal) we “close”.  It’s what we do after the deal is done that counts.  Add-on’s; Phase 2; referrals from our clients to their clients.  Yes, we have many, many more opportunities to maximize “lifetime client value” than merely the dollars from that first transaction.

OK, we’ve covered the “beginning” of our selling activities which I’ve suggested actually takes place before we arrive.  And we’ve addressed the “end” of our selling activities and I’ve suggested there is no “end” – just follow on transactions from satisfied clients (and their clients).  So what about the “middle”?

Well, maybe there is no “middle” anymore.  Maybe our prospects don’t enjoy the “entertainment” of our “middles” anymore.  What if we realized the “end” comes at the “beginning”; and we eliminated the “middle” all together?  What if we sold in reverse?

Now I’m getting a headache; need some soothing.  Anyone have a good novel you’d recommend?

GAP

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High Performance…

I enjoy observing and commenting on the parallels between sports performance and business performance.    April is a particularly active sports month – the University of Kentucky marching through “March Madness” with the prospects of completing a perfect season; the first major golf tournament of the year, The Masters; NBA and NHL playoffs; the start of Major League Baseball; very active.   And who can overlook NASCAR’s continuing race schedule, including the Duck Commander 500 April 11th at the Texas Motor Speedway?

The thing I like best about sports (and business) competition is the competition:

I’ve been up against tough competition all my life.  I wouldn’t know how to get along without it.  

Walt Disney

Of course in today’s sports world, we seem to be continuously inundated with the philosophy attributed to former professional wrestler Eddie Guerrero, “If you’re not cheating you’re not trying.”  Winning at any cost is not an admirable trait we should carry over into the business world, is it?  Yet, in the business world we occasionally see this approach; it’s even advocated in popular business books such as Inside the Tornado ©:

Some of the essential principals of tornado marketing:

1. Attack the competition ruthlessly.

2. Expand your distribution channel as fast as possible.

3. Ignore the customers.

Geoffrey Moore

I’m OK with points 1 and 2; it’s #3 that I take issue with; our customers take issue with it too!

Nonetheless, what I like best about high performance in the business world are the high performances from talented contributors in “average” roles.  Here’s one of my favorites (slightly condensed) from another popular business book, First Break All the Rules ©:

Jean P’s story illustrates both the irrelevance of average and the growth potential of talent.  

For data entry roles, the national performance average is 380,000 keypunches per month, or 19,000 per day.  Many companies use an average performance measure like this to determine how many data entry employees they need to hire…

… the top-performing data entry employees make a mockery of the national average.

Jean P. is one such employee.  When she was first measured, she averaged 560,000 punches per month – already 50 percent above the national average.  She was recognized (by her manager) for her performance…

Three months later she hit a million keypunches…  A couple of weeks (later), Jean checked… and saw that she had managed 112,000 keypunches in one day…     (She and her manager) put a plan together, and six months later she soared past 2 million.

Jean became a model for her role.  Her manager spent time watching her, asking her why she loved her work so much…  He designed a talent profile to find more like her and a compensation plan to reward her excellence.  Today, Jean’s personal best is 3,526,000 keypunches in a month, and the average of all the data entry employees working around her is over a million. 

Marcus Buckingham

Again, the national average in Jean’s field was 380,000 keypunches per month.  How would you like to have that level of high performance in your company (or attain that performance in your position)?  Jean’s performance is the epitome of competitive excellence, true?

All of the great companies in the world out-execute their competition day in and day out. 

Price Pritchett

Yes, high performance is a wonderful thing to observe – in sports competition and in business competition.

Our competition got me out of bed in the morning; paranoia is a wonderful motivator. 

Scott Deeter

OK everyone – rise and shine J  Especially the shine part!

GAP

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And what do you do?

My company has been hiring lots of people.  We used to do quarterly new hire receptions.  Lately, our receptions have been less frequent – everyone is so busy helping the company grow I suppose.

So now I meet a new employee or two each week casually – a new face by the coffee machine; or someone sitting in the lunchroom I don’t recognize.  We have a terrific company culture.  People are very friendly – it’s easy to meet and exchange introductions.

My little known secret is they have no clue the amusement I enjoy during these brief “Hellos”.  It’s the usual ritual.  They tell me their name; what role they’ve been hired into; and who their manager is.  (I like to see if I know their manager, as a way to keep track of who’s who in the zoo.)  Then it’s the same, “And Gary, what do you do?”  Let my game begin!

I offer some vague response like, “I’m an enablement manager”; or “I’m in the channel”.  Rarely does the new hire clarify my vagueness.  It’s a personal market test – you see, I believe in the sales profession today, specificity is a killer application.  The more skilled we are as sales professionals in our ability to cut through vagueness, the more we (A) differentiate ourselves from our competitors, and (B) get to a more clear understanding of our prospects.

Now I’m not a prospect for our new hires, however I like to observe how they react to vague responses because, T. Harv Eker reminds us:

How you do anything is how you do everything.

Of course, I have a second, ulterior motive for vaguely telling my fellow employees what I do.  These brief interactions remind of my Dad.  He was a widower for 34 years.  And, he wasn’t much of a cook.  So he ate dinner at the hospital cafeteria near his house (where my Mom died) almost every night – for over 30 years.

The hospital employees became so used to seeing my Dad in the cafeteria; they started inviting him to their company picnics each summer.   What a delight for my Dad!  A social engagement; with many of his acquaintances; someone barbequing for him; raffle prizes; all FREE!  He laughed every year he told me about it, “Gary, they think I work here!”

When I would scold my Dad for the masquerade, he would protest, “I never said I was an employee – they just assumed I am because I’ve been going to the cafeteria longer than they have worked there.  No one ever asked me specifically about my job.”

The topper came during the last two company picnics he attended before his health failed and he moved into an assisted living facility.  (Still preferring someone to cook for him!)  Over my annual protest, he attended the hospital’s picnic and he won a door prize – a Weber Grill nonetheless!  He wanted me to take it (because you already know he wouldn’t use it).  I think he gave it to his neighbor.

At his last company picnic, he won the grand prize – a TV.  That prize he gladly moved with him to his new apartment.  The hospital never knew that they had invited an outsider to their employee picnic for all those years.  Oh well, it was a great cause and most appreciated by the Pokorn family.

So come on everyone, don’t let your prospects; or me; or anyone for that matter; get away with vagueness.  You may just wind up cooking for us.

GAP

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Giving our best…

I love football – it’s 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 one time that I quit.

I quit my high school football team two weeks into the start of the 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 just took place yesterday.  A bit ironic I suppose, because after being a starter and co-captain my freshman and sophomore years, I was not even going to go out for the team my junior year.   The coach called me over the summer and asked me to reconsider.

I acknowledged his request, but when I showed up I wasn’t prepared to give my best.  And the coaches weren’t prepared to coach me up.  Somehow I decided that quitting was the only escape.  I’ve regretted it ever since.  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, mentors, and managers 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 clip about a high school, underdog football team, their coach, and his expectation to giving our best:

http://youtu.be/-vB59PkB0eQ

Probably not a technique that transfers into the business world, but his message does, doesn’t it?  A bit ironic I suppose – coaches aren’t magicians – we must help them help us.  And in return for their knowledge, enthusiasm, and time; they only ask we give our best.

In business, our favorite, Unknown Sage offers:

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 they gave their best to him.  It’s a good idea to find a coach to help us commit to giving our best too, yes?

GAP

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Hunters; Farmers; And?

And?  In a minute, please. 

“Hunters” and “Farmers” are common designations used in the sales profession.  Other designations are used, too: “Producers”; “Rain Makers”; etc. 

We typically see titles such as “Account Executive”; “District Manager”; etc.   Question – does the business title on the card make a difference in the sales rep’s performance?  And… is there a new designation emerging?  In a minute, please. 

To me, the sales profession is a fascinating, multi-dimensional amalgamation of our business life; our family life; and our social life.  As I’ve participated in the profession over the years (decades, really; actually spanning two centuries!) I can say that the more things change, the more they stay the same; with one exception.  And… I will get to that in a minute. 

The sales function is also a key indicator of the overall health of most businesses.  Want to know an organization’s strategic perspective?  Look at their pricing practices: 

            Prince to play Ogden Theatre on May 12-13 

But note, there is one hitch: Tickets are on sale right now via axs.com and they’re $250 apiece. Some will surely complain about the high ticket price, but Prince hasn’t played a Colorado venue smaller than 18,000 capacity in some folks’ lifetime and will consider it totally worth it. 

By Ricardo Baca
The Denver Post

Want to know what level a company values their employees?  Look at the turnover rate in their sales force: 

             The beatings will continue until morale improves. 

                             Unknown Sage 

Want to know if the business is well positioned to thrive over the long haul?  Look at their top line revenue performance quarter in and quarter out: 

Oracle’s Q3 falls short, revenue misses mark… 

We’re not at all pleased with our revenue growth this quarter…What we really saw was the lack of urgency we sometimes see in the sales force as Q3 deals fall into Q4. Since we’ve been adding literally thousands of you new sales reps around the world, the problem was largely sales execution, especially with the new reps as they ran out of runway in Q3… 

                             Oracle President Safra Catz 

I’m sure some of these sales reps are “Hunters” and “Farmers”.  And… I bet more than a few are “Catchers”.  Yes “Catchers”. 

I’m seeing this new trend in the sales profession – reps who sit by hoping to “catch” a deal if one happens to fly by.  And… if it doesn’t?  Well, there’s always next quarter. 

Over the years I have had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of sales professionals.  I even spent a few years in that “ultimate sales role”.  (Well, actually it was the “almost ultimate sales role” – conceding the “ultimate” designation to TV Evangelists!)  I was a “Consultant”.  My clients hired me to do for them what they could probably have done for themselves: 

If you’re given a choice between bringing in a consultant or beer, choose the beer. 

                             Rick Levine 

And… the cumulative total of my sales consulting advice?  “Go out sell somebody something today!”  I believe what makes a sales rep special is their ability to put forth the effort day in and day out.  Making it happen vs. hoping it will happen.  It’s all of the little things that matter: 

The cumulative impact of doing 1,000 small things a little better than your competition is crushing. 

                          Harry S. Campbell 

And… recently one of my colleagues (Adam K.) paid me the ultimate compliment: 

The old guy still hunts…    

                          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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Walking down Memory Lane…

One little-known, under-appreciated aspect of the sales profession is the presentation tools our companies equip us with.  If Noah was similarly equipped by the Lord, the Ark would have sunk.  When things go wrong, is it the sales people; the product; or their presentation tools?

Several years ago, a car dealer in St. Petersburg, Florida fired his entire sales force and sales went up twenty-six percent.

Rick Page

Recently, I presented at the international client and partner conference of my leading Cloud Computing company.  The topic was Selling Value and my audience was our resellers.  I was also able to attend the Cloud application and platform presentations – “stimulated demos”.  Screen shots; report shots; workflow examples; the works.  Those simulations took me on a walk down Memory Lane…

You see, these latest and greatest, Cloud Computing products and platform presentations were delivered on today’s-most-widely-used-(and stable)-sales-technology-platform of our modern and sophisticated era – PowerPoint.  Yep; selling the Cloud with presentation software launched May 22, 1990 – 22 years ago!

Back to Rick Page, from his book Hope Is Not a Strategy ©:

Before computers, tellers showed with slide trays, showing feature after feature:  “Stop me if you see something you like.”  Today we have presentation software with even greater capacity to bore our prospects. 

I remember when PowerPoint replaced the-then-most-widely-used-(and stable)-sales-technology-platform of the time; Harvard Graphics; launched in 1986.  Not the most user-friendly application, Harvard Graphics took a great deal of effort (and intelligence) to create presentations.  Ergo the name “Harvard” I suppose.

The first person I remember who created presentations in Harvard Graphics was my friend and fraternity brother, Dushan Petrovich.  Dushan was not a sales professional.  He was an accountant at the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, assigned to their Chicago Cubs division.  He built internal financial projection presentations in Harvard Graphics.  He was smart enough to operate the software – smarter still, “Duke” rose all the way to become the President of the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company before retiring in 2011.  Great presentations no doubt!

In 1986, I was a Sales Rep for Integral Systems (Dave Duffield’s preceding company to PeopleSoft; which preceded WorkDay).  It was a mainframe world in those days.  Integral’s claim to fame in the mid-1980s was our “native database implementations” of payroll and human resource management software.  We ran on the then-famous IMS; IDMS; Adabase; and IBM’s DB2 database platforms.

The-most-widely-used-(and stable)-sales-technology-platform of that era?  35mm slide projectors!  Screen shots; report shots; workflow examples; the works.  Here I was selling the most technologically sophisticated, business applications of my time and carrying in to the meeting rooms at companies such as Motorola and PPG Industries a slide projector with a 200 slide carousel.  (Hello Rick Page.)

For the technical presentation accompanying my 35mm simulated demo, our subject matter expert at Integral Systems, Nelson Russell, used the-second-most-widely-used-(and stable)-sales-technology-platform of that time – overhead transparencies!  There he was, presenting Integral’s technical implementation, adhering to IBM’s “System Application Architecture” blueprint for the future of mainframes; mini’s; and micro’s – hoping the light bulb in his overhead projector wouldn’t burn out!

Of course, sales presentation tools aren’t limited to selling technology.  In 1959, my Dad used a Dukane film strip projector equipped with a 78 rpm-LP album and wired remote control for a multi-media, life insurance presentation to families at their kitchen tables in the evening.  The Dukane remains in working condition today.

Maybe if those sales reps at that car dealer had better presentation tools…

GAP

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