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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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Keys to success…

The History Channel recently telecast, “The ’80s: The Decade That Made Us” the documentary stated the key to financial success in the 1980’s was greed.  Individual greed no matter what the impact; no matter what the collateral damage; no matter who was stepped on; the Michael Douglas line in the movie Wall Street surmised, “Greed is good.”

Is that the key?  I certainly hope not.  But what makes one person super successful while others struggle through life?  What makes one cause successful while other causes fail?  Or a business; or a sports team; or medical research?  What are the keys to success?

Of course, let’s not to get too carried away with the sound bite, “keys to success”.  It seems to oversimplify things.  Besides, keys are kept on key chains – and key chains make me nervous:

A key chain is a gadget that allows us to lose several keys at the same time.    

Unknown Sage

Perhaps one key to success is confidence.  Here’s an excerpt from “Critical Things Confident People Won’t Do” (see https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/critical-things-confident-people-wont-do-dr-travis-bradberry ) by Dr. Travis Bradberry:

In The Empire Strikes Back, when Yoda is training Luke to be a Jedi, he demonstrates the power of the Force by raising an X-wing fighter from a swamp. Luke mutters, “I don’t believe it.” Yoda replies, “That is why you fail.”

As usual, Yoda was right — and science backs him up. Numerous studies have proved that confidence is the real key to success.

And who doesn’t believe Yoda was successful?  Talk about not being able to judge a book by its cover!  But that occurred, “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.”

OK, success sits on a foundation of confidence.  But we’ve all witnessed some pretty kooky confidence from time to time,

Even though we have admittedly fallen behind on the engine development, I feel confident that we will have the airplane’s engine there for the first flight.  

Norman R. Augustine

Not exactly the underpinnings of a successful airplane manufacturer.

Dr. Brad emphasizes another key to success we probably all can agree on – to be successful, we must believe.  Believe in what we’re doing; believe in our product or service; believe in our company or cause; believe in our team.  Most importantly, we must believe in ourselves; especially in the face of adversity.

Our self-belief is a powerfully positive influence on others too.  But we must lead the way for others:

Gentlemen, enlisted men may be entitled to morale problems, but officers are not. 

General George C. Marshall

So far confidence, good morale, and self-belief are keys that will contribute to our success.  However, we might need a few more keys on that key chain, yes?  Let’s keep looking.

How about this key offered by another thought leader:

Success, real success, in any endeavor demands more from an individual than most people are willing to offer- not more than they are capable of offering. 

James Roche

Hmmm…  James Roche suggests we all are capable of being successful but the degree of success we realize boils down to our individual will.  What do you think?  Can one will oneself to success?  Well, do you know of anyone who succeeded without a strong will?

I guess I can’t simply list the specific keys to success.  I confess I don’t have the key chain.  But if the keys to success needs to include confidence; self-belief; positive morale; and a strong will; then I believe there’s hope for you (and me) yet.

GAP

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Authenticity…

A lot has been said and even more has been written about being authentic.  I attended a social media marketing for business MeetUp where the topic was Google’s plan to rank authenticity highest in their search; threatening that posers risk being bypassed in searches altogether.  Not sure how that applied to our recent Presidential elections; but I digress…

Dr. Travis Bradberry is one of my favorite and authentic bloggers.  His recent post, “10 Unmistakable Habits of Utterly Authentic People” caught my eye.  I particularly liked his Oscar Wilde reference:

Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” Wilde made it sound so simple, but living with authenticity is a real challenge.

To live authentically, you must own your actions and ensure that they align with your beliefs and needs. This can be a difficult thing to maintain when external forces pressure you to do something you’re not comfortable with or to be someone you’re not.

External forces… Beliefs and needs… be someone you’re not…  hmmm.  Check it out: http://www.talent-smart.net/10-Unmistakable-Habits-of-Utterly-Authentic-People.php

Dr. Travis’ reference coupled with my recent trip to Toronto reminded me of an authentic experience of my own.  In 2008, I interviewed for a Sales Rep role in Denver.  One of my interviewers was the local Sales Manager, Chris (affectionately referred to as “The Bear”) followed by his boss.  Chris now works in our Toronto office.

After the customary resume review and phone screening, I was invited for an in-person interview.  Sitting in a conference room Chris rumbled in; dramatically plopping my file down on the table.  He started the conversation about my application this way:

“Pokorn, what are you doing here?  You’ve done my job; Hell, you’ve done Danny’s job.”

In a moment of authenticity I reacted, “It’s because I have done your job and I have done Danny’s job.  At this stage of my career, taking care of just me seems like a pretty good option.”

That was good enough for Chris and his boss Danny – I got the job; turned out pretty well, too.  Over my career, I was an excellent sales manager; but I was an even better sales rep – one of the rare breeds – a “Hunter”.

Like many sales reps, I had spent a significant part of my career trying to play that Corporate Ladder Game.  Stephen R. Covey wrote about it:

Avoid the ladder against the wrong wall syndrome:

Meaning, we climb the proverbial ladder of success only to find that it’s leaning against the wrong wall.

So, in 2008 I (finally) had the opportunity to be authentic and returned to my roots of “Hunting”.  Not that such a role is a panacea.  One of the best Sales Hunters I know recently lamented:

Gary, I am done with hunting the proverbial whale only to have the villagers at my company drag off the carcass for a feast leaving me no other choice but to go back out on the hunt. 

John Kleinhenz

It’s OK – Such a moment of complaint wasn’t authentic for the John I know.  Everyone is entitled to vent now and then.  John is as authentic as they come; and Dr. Travis addresses that, too:

They don’t complain about their problems.

Complaining is what you do when you think that the situation you’re in is someone else’s fault or that it’s someone else’s job to fix it. Authentic people, on the other hand, are accountable.

Ah yes – “accountability”.  Lots has been said and lots has been written about that too… but I digress.

GAP

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Time off…

I’m reminiscing about my just completed, 2-week vacation.  It was time:

A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted, “Can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.” 

The woman below replied, “You’re in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You’re between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude.” 

“You must be an engineer”, said the balloonist.  “I am”, replied the woman, “How did you know”? 

“Well”, answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is, technically correct, but I’ve no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I’m still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help at all. If anything, you’ve delayed my trip.” 

The woman below responded, “You must be in Management.”  “I am”, replied the balloonist, “but how did you know”? 

“Well”, said the woman, you don’t know where you are or where you’re going.   You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air.  You made a promise, which you’ve no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to help. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it’s my fault.” 

Unknown Sage

So, I’m following Steven Covey’s advice:

It was the final of the lumberjack competition, only 2 competitors remained, an older experienced lumberjack and a younger, stronger lumberjack. 

The rules were simply – he who felled the most trees in 24 hours was the winner. 

The younger lumberjack was full of enthusiasm and went off into the woods; set to work straight away; working all through the day and all through the night.  He felt more and more confident with every tree he felled that he would win; because he knew that he had superior youth and stamina than the older lumberjack that he could also hear working away in another part of the forest. 

At regular intervals throughout the day the noise of trees being felled coming from the other part of the forest would stop, the younger lumberjack took heart from this thinking that this meant that the older lumberjack was taking a rest, whereas he could use his superior youth and strength and stamina to just keep going. 

At the end of the competition the younger lumberjack felt confident he had won, he looked in front of him at the piles of felled trees that were the result of his superhuman effort. 

At the medal ceremony the younger lumberjack stood on the podium still confident and expecting to be awarded the prize of champion lumberjack.  Next to him stood the older lumberjack who he was surprised to see looked a lot less exhausted than he did. 

When the results were read out the younger lumberjack was devastated to hear that the older lumberjack had chopped down significantly more trees than he had. 

He turned to the older lumber jack and said, “How can this be?  I heard you take a rest every hour whilst I worked continuously through the night, and I am younger, stronger and fitter than you old man”! 

The older lumberjack turned to him and said; every hour I took a break to rest and sharpen my saw.”

I love it when the old guy wins!

GAP

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Doing alright…

“How are you doing?”  A common greeting these days, yes?  Our response often depends on our mood, true?  For many, we have a choice over our moods; a degree of control; at least a consciousness of why we are in the mood we are in.  But not all of us…

Dedicated to those amazing people who unlike me, face each day “doing alright”; which means so much more:

Like Eric.  I have known Eric for 40 years today – his birthday.  Over that period Eric’s Mom and Dad have shared some of his most joyous occasions; and some of his most upsetting events; and in between these highs and lows Eric would tell you that he has been doing alright.  And for Eric, doing alright shows how amazing he truly is.

You see, Eric is the strongest person I know.  I’ll give you an example.  Close your eyes and return to the happiest day of your life – feel how you felt during your most exhilarating moments.  OK, now think back to how you felt on your saddest, darkest, most depressed day ever.  Just set those mental bookmarks in your mind’s eye.  There is an unbelievably wide and powerful range of human emotion, yes?

For most of us, we migrate from our highest highs and our lowest lows slowly; with long, “recovery” spans of simply feeling average in between.  Unfortunately, Eric is different; his mood swings back and forth, between euphoric highs and debilitating lows in a matter of minutes – multiple times – every hour!  Now picture your life with his type of mood swings – as if our other challenges aren’t enough to deal with.

Rapid Cycling – that’s the technical term for Eric and others who suffer from Bi-Polar Disorder.  And Eric lives every day with this unwelcome guest.  Medical science is not much help.  Bi-Polar Disorder is an affliction of the brain; and very difficult to properly diagnose and treat.  Trial and error, mostly.  That means people with Bi-Polar Disorder typically wind up dealing with this on their own.

Most can’t hold down a steady job.  Eric can – and he has consistently been a “go to” person for his company.  He is a skilled tradesman; good with customers; dependable; hard working; shows up no matter what; a positive attitude that no job is too tough; that’s Eric.  Most people with Bi-Polar Disorder can’t live independently.  Eric does – and if you met him, you would never know the internal turmoil he is living with.  He has a pleasant personality; a great smile; a nice sense of humor; knowledgeable of current events; just like the rest of us.

But Eric isn’t really like the rest of us.  Just getting up and facing the day; every day; takes enormous strength.  And he offers no excuses – never has.  Eric has earned success and experienced failure.  No matter; Eric treats each day anew, the best he possibly can. And when you greet him saying, “Hi. How you doing?”  you will almost always hear him say, “I’m doing alright”.

If Eric does alright each and every day even though feeling these uncontrollable mood swings – should we do any less?

No, I don’t have Bi-Polar Disorder, but it lives next door. And though I don’t have it, I can see first-hand the strength Eric has as he lives with it.  I’m very proud to say that Eric is my son.  And one day I hope to learn the source of his amazing strength so I too can be, “doing alright”.

GAP

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Hall of Fame…

Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

Jon Burianek, 2015 Inductee into the University of Colorado Athletic Hall of Fame.  Has a really nice ring to it!

Jon is only the 67th person to be so honored.  According to Wikipedia,

The University of Colorado was a member of the Colorado Football Association in 1893.

122 years later, 67 people in total have been acknowledged for their Athletic Hall of Fame contributions, Jon is now one of them.

As a former, competitive, collegiate athlete myself, I tend to associate Hall of Fame designations with sports.  As it turns out, Hall of Fame roots are quite different.  Back to Wikipedia:

The concept of the Hall of Fame has its roots in ancient Norse mythology. Valhalla was an enormous hall in Asgard where warriors who were slain in battle would go upon their death. 

King Ludwig I of Bavaria was apparently inspired by this legend, and built two different halls inspired by the Norse legend: Walhalla near Regensburg, Bavaria (completed in 1842), and the Ruhmeshallein Munich (completed in 1853), whose name literally means “Hall of Fame.” These halls were museums containing plaques and statues of important German-speaking people, including scientists, artists, and politicians. 

In 1900, the Hall of Fame for Great Americans was completed. Inspired by the Ruhmeshalle, Dr. Henry MacCracken, chancellor of New York University, conceived the idea for this hall, built in the Bronx. The hall includes Americans in a variety of categories, including authors, businessmen, inventors, clergy, scientists, artists, soldiers, and teachers, but not athletes. The name of this building is the first time that the English phrase “Hall of Fame” was used. 

From there, it wasn’t that big of a leap to come up with the idea of a “hall of fame” dedicated to a particular sport.

Hall of Famers may have enjoyed financial rewards, but all were acknowledged for something other than making money;

I have come to realize that anybody can make money; it is much harder to make a difference. 

James P. Owen

Jon was inducted into the CU Athletic Hall of Fame for making a difference; here’s an excerpt from the Hall of Fame program;

Jon Burianek faithfully served the athletic department for 38 years…  The last 24 years of his tenure he served as associate athletic director of internal affairs… He finished his career working 415 consecutive CU football games (home, road and neutral)… the streak started…in 1970.

38 years; 24 in a leadership role; 415 consecutive football games over a 36 year span; rain or snow; near or far; sickness and health; faithfully serving – all with the same organization.  Hall of Fame indeed!

In our professional pursuits today, how many professionals do we know who are faithfully serving?  For 38 years? Maintaining a 36 year, consecutive streak – with the same organization?

Hall of Fame: Acknowledging the “best of the best”; honoring those who stood out in their field; celebrating their accomplishments; and thanking family members, friends, colleagues, and mentors who collectively contributed their love, time and support – without which – the Hall of Famer would not have been.

If you happen to know of such a person, offer them a pat on the back – they’ve earned it.  And then ask if they could use a little help – during Jon’s acceptance speech, he acknowledged dozens of people by name who contributed to the CU program’s success, and ultimately his personal recognition, because nobody can reach the Hall of Fame on their own.

And that’s called faithfully serving!

GAP

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Made Club?

For many of us, December means year-end and year-end means President’s Club; Quota Achievers; President’s Circle; or the like.  Annual quota attainment goes by many names in a sales professional’s world, true?

My company announced 2014 President’s Club qualifiers last week, along with those that are within reach.  My name wasn’t on the list.  Even though we have a couple of weeks left, I won’t make Club this year.  Will you?  No?  Stings, doesn’t it.

After you’ve earned President’s Club recognition in your career, failing in any subsequent year stings.  Nonetheless,  we compete for a living.  Adversity does not deter our commitment to sales success.  Last year was last year; we are ready to compete again every new sales year as the score is reset to zero.  We know that:

Success isn’t permanent, and failure isn’t fatal. 

Mike Ditka

Although sales professionals work for commissions – many of us will “run through walls” for recognition.  And the best-of-the-best among us earn President’s Club recognition.  In fact, at one company I worked for we put the number of President’s Clubs earned right on our business cards.  That was the “score” that meant the most.

So, if we didn’t make Club in 2014, we will “strap it on” in 2015 and give it another go, yes?  We can do it too, because sales professionals understand the meaning of the word persistence.  We are professionally persistent in our cold-calling; we persist when competing for a deal; and we persist when we occasionally miss Club.  Persistence separates the best-of-the-best from all of the rest:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful individuals with talent.  Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. 

Calvin Coolidge

And then, there are those rare performers who earn President’s Club year in and year out.  I remember competing against such a person when I relocated to Denver in 1991.  It was the primary reason I was hired for the job – to compete against the best.

Don Wall was Ceridian’s #1 sales rep for 26 straight years and never missed qualifying for their President’s Club.  Amazing!  The company was known as Control Data back then; I had also competed against that company going back to 1979 when it was known as the Service Bureau Corporation.

I didn’t stop Don Wall’s string, but there was enough business for both of us to qualify for our Presidents’ Clubs.  He decided to retire two years after I moved in, his string of consecutive Clubs intact.  Mine, too.

In recent years, quota attainment has been a bit more difficult, true?  Every year we set out to compete for Club.  And on those occasions when we fall a little short, it stings.  No, we don’t show it – we’re too proud.  We silently nurse our wounds, congratulate our colleagues who out-sold us, and quietly set our mind towards next year.  We are persistent, even in the face of adversity.  We are committed to achievement and personal success – it’s how a sales professional is “wired”.

And after a successful 2014, when we are on the stage to receive our recognition, deep down inside we will tell ourselves we earned it by overcoming the adversity of past years.

Adversity clarifies commitment. 

Gary A. Pokorn

So here’s to our 2014 President’s Club colleagues – congratulations!  For the rest of us, 2015 can’t start soon enough.

GAP

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Context…

So, I am leading this “sales training class”.  Context?  My participants are experienced, successful business people.  My worry?  The term “sales training” can conjure up all sorts of concerns – including “a waste of time”.  Hopefully, they have not moved beyond the philosophies of the original sales masters:

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

Zig Ziglar

Adding to my dilemma (and their “fun”) the class runs for 3 days.  Three days; from 8am to 5pm; homework each evening; no mid-morning or mid-day breaks; working lunches.  And, although I cannot prevent mobile, multi-tasking throughout the day – I’m willing to compete for my participants’ participation.

You might wonder:  How can I possibly keep a class of senior, successful sales people fully engaged for such a prolonged period of time?  Well, permit me to add a bit more context – because the primary message I deliver in the class is all about the concepts of context.

Sales training:  Actually, the class is a practice session.  You see, from the context of selling skills, it doesn’t matter “what I got”.  What matters is “what they got”.  If I can help what they got even a little, then I have done my job.  “Helping them” is fashioned after the most successful people I can think of (although tempered a bit to remain in the appropriate context of our profession):

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.”

Waste of time:  The attendees are actually my clients.  They have literally paid a few thousand dollars to join me in Denver.  Before they leave, it is my responsibility to insure they get their money’s worth.  Taking breaks; stopping for lunch; free evenings?  We “run” within the context of a different psychology:

“PACE”… 

Notice that in the mile we do not allow for much of a slowing down of the pace in the third quarter.  We certainly realize that at this point in the race there is great difficulty in maintaining the tempo and many coaches feel this is the proper time to rest.  We feel it is essential to maintain the pace at this time and that quite often the slowing down is merely a psychological thing. 

Joe Newton

Experienced Sales People:  Yes, but experienced in what context?  The challenge many senior, successful sales people have today is adapting to how “modern buyers buy”.  Most participants I work with gained their knowledge and skills last century!  For instance, I too owned a Motorola “brick phone” in 1990.  But that cellular technology experience no longer applies in 2014, true?

Success:  As defined by what?  I mean, how “successful” have I been given the fact that I’m still practicing and trying to perfect my selling skills?  After plying my trade for literally 40 years, I’m still striving to learn how to win every day – every deal.  However, let’s put “failure” in context:

I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career.  I’ve lost almost 300 games.  Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed.  I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed.

Michael Jordan

So, when my boss asks, “How did class go?”  I can take a literal interpretation and respond, “Well, nobody quit and nobody got hurt” 🙂  Which in a certain context is called “Success”!

GAP

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Sales Performance – Part 1…

Competitive performance (especially sales performance) is one of my favorite topics to study.  You know the discussion:  Is LeBron James the greatest basketball player ever?  Is Michael Jordan?  Is Bill Russell?  Who’s the greatest golfer of all time?  Yep, topics right up there with what’s the key to getting a sales rep to excel?

And in the sales profession we like to add: How can we get all of our sales reps to excel?  And while we’re at it – How can we smooth out their performance peaks and valleys?  How can get them to forecast accurately?  How can we get them to use our CRM?  Lots to study in our profession; lots to discuss.

It reminds me of when I was a young father and would take my son to the practice golf range.  My Dad liked to join us – not to practice, but he loved to watch.  He loved to coach too.  In fact, every time one of us hit a poor practice shot he would ask, “What happened with that one?”  Every time; every poor practice shot.  I stopped inviting him – he was taking the fun out of practice.

Taking the fun out; hmmm; could this apply to sales performance?

I attended a sales best practices webinar recently, sponsored by Hoopla (www.hoopla.net).  Now I’m not much of a gamer, but I’m pretty sure Hoopla offers a gamification application to attach to your CRM.

I’m not much for “gamification” either; encouraging sales managers to resort to technology and entertainment to try to make their sales reps perform.  What – if we can’t prod our people through 7×24, CRM inspection, and daily forecast updates, maybe we can lull them into success with a game?  Let’s look at every activity; every sales rep does; every day – and publish it team-wide and company-wide so everyone can see who is performing and who is not.  Fun.

To entice attendance, Hoopla offered a free copy of the “2014 Sales Performance Optimization” report published by CSO Insights (www.csoinsights.com).   List price for this report is $1,495.  Quite the enticement for attending a free webinar, don’t you think?  Or could it be that a company can gamify “list price”?  I find that entertaining! 

Well, they really didn’t have to “gamify” me to get me to hear the discussion about their research.  As I listened to their presentation and read their report it occurred to me that there is lots of focus on “every shot by every golfer” in the sales profession today.  Might Stephen R. Covey question such an approach?

Avoid the ladder against the wrong wall syndrome: 

Meaning, we climb the proverbial ladder of success only to find that it’s leaning against the wrong wall. 

OK; you might want to discuss, “Gary, what do we do to improve the performance of our sales reps?”  Well, I hope it won’t be too “gamificationy” of me, but I will answer this specific question in my next post, “Sales Performance – Part 2”.

The least I can do is offer you a preview.  You see, I don’t believe the key to sales performance excellence lies with your sales people!

Now don’t get me wrong; I like my sales people.  I have enjoyed working with and learning from some of the smartest, nicest, most skilled, and most successful sales people in the industry during my career.

But the right wall for our sales performance ladder is not the one labeled “people”.

GAP

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