Monday, September 29, 2008

_ _ _ _ PROOFing Your Marriage

In the past week or so it seems that I've encountered countless promotions for the current movie, "FIREPROOF". Just from the movies logo, the word "FIREPROOF" with the "OO" represented by interlocking wedding rings, you quickly get a sense of what the movie is about. On the movie's Website, you get a synopsis of the movie that starts out by saying,

"At work, inside burning buildings, Capt. Caleb Holt lives by the old firefighter's adage: Never leave your partner behind. At home, in the cooling embers of his marriage, he lives by his own rules.

Growing up, Catherine Holt always dreamed of marrying a loving, brave firefighter...just like her daddy. Now, after seven years of marriage, Catherine wonders when she stopped being "good enough" for her husband."
Obviously, what needs to be made "FIREPROOF" is this couples marriage.

Since my Wife, Ruth and I head up our church's Married Couples Fellowship, we welcome seeing a movie that encourages married couples to tend to their marriage. And, naturally, we hear from others on the topic. Just yesterday, we had several couples come to us, raving about the movie and urging us to encourage others to see it. Also, we received an email from the leaders of the Married Couples Fellowship at our old church, in Southern California, letting us know that they had gone to see the movie, as a group and encouraging us to do likewise.

Of course, we're thankful to see this level of interest by married couples in protecting their relationship. Marriages certainly need _ _ _ _ PROOFing from countless things today. Just fill in the blanks with whatever threatens to draw your priority to something else and away from your marriage ... WORK, GOLD, BEER, BALL and on and on.

Coincidentally, Ruth and I are presently participating in a 12-week Marriage Class being conducted by the Pastors and Elders of our church. After the first class , I was approached by the Husband of a couple who were unable to attend the first session, though they are signed up for the course. He, simply, asked if I thought the class was worthwhile. I think my answer also helped sum up the importance of a movie like "FIREPROOF" and why we're so grateful for the attention its getting. I said,

"When you set aside time with your best friend to focus on guarding and nurturing your relationship, remembering Who put you together and Who is the foundation of your marriage; how can it not be one of the most worthwhile things you do with your life?!"

Sales Management Style – The Positive Motivator

“You can attract more bees with honey than with vinegar.” Though its a bit of a non sequitur, the intent of this cliche illustrates a truth in human relations. So, it doesn’t take tremendous genius to recognize that a Positive Motivator Management Style (for Sales or for any other discipline) is, generally, more productive. But, as they say “back home”, that can say easy and do hard. The remaining question is how do you best implement this truth, as a Sales Leader?

A great lesson on this topic comes from Harvey McKay’s renowned book “Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive.” McKay’s encouragement is to “catch people doing something right”, to harness the power of praise. This has been the foundation for what I’ve put into practice and I’d like to share one of my favorite examples:

Its not uncommon to hear that Sales “is a numbers game”. And, just as there is truth in the “bees to honey” cliche, its hard to deny that Sales clearly has a numbers-driven quality. My experience has been that Inside/Direct Sales Organizations are more comprehensive in doing this … capturing “talk time”, number of calls (inbound and outbound), time between calls, conversion rate, etc. Unfortunately, its also not uncommon to see numbers used in a punitive way in a Sales Organization. Ironically, one of my favorite stories of taking a different, Positive Motivator, approach to this comes from work I did in the Call Center of a premiere Direct Sales Organization … Nautilus. Here, we developed a program called “The Voice of Nautilus”, with the intent being to “catch people doing something right” and to encourage them to do more and more of it. In the Direct Sales arena there are certain basic “measurements” (some of them being legal requirements) that must be met. “The Voice of Nautilus” takes those things into full consideration but it focuses more on how well a Sales Professional actually “helped” a Customer. A good example here would be, did the Sales Professional hear that a Customer was interested in a specific device and then proceed to sell the features of the device or did they listen closely enough to hear that the Customer was calling because they wanted to be thinner and in better shape by the time of their next class reunion, thus the Sales Professional proposed the right device along with all the right accessories, a weight loss program, etc.? In addition to being a source of growth for individual Sales Professionals, this program is a source of development for the Direct Sales Organization, in general, inasmuch as it involves Sales Supervisors listening to recorded calls and submitting the calls they select to the Sales Training staff for determination of the winner/s.

Regardless of its implementation, having a Positive Motivator Style in your Sales Management is another foundational key to having a successful Sales Organization. What are your thoughts on this? What are your favorite stories, along these lines, that you’d like to share?!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Pride and Prejudice of Sales

If your business life has involved having the word “Sales” on your business card, you’ve probably had an experience like this:

You’re at a social function, you meet someone and they ask the most common question in that circumstance … “What do you do?” Your response includes the word “Sales” and you, literally, see the other person’s face go slack. As this happens, you know that your new acquaintance is envisioning some huckster, in white buck shoes, palming off some old rattle trap to some rube in a used car lot.

Of course, as a Sales Professional, I’m perturbed by this Prejudice and when I can, I try to dispel it through education. However, I’ve found that this isn’t just an occasional, individual bias. It seems to be systemic in our culture. Since I only minored in Psychology in college, I can’t be sure but I think the fact that I too connect with the imagined “huckster in white bucks”, affirms my view.

So, what is a Sales Professional to do about this? I suppose becoming an evangelist, marching onward to “fix” this wrong-headed notion, is an option. What I do and what I recommend is to take the flip-side of this weakness (Prejudice) and make it a strength (Pride). In fact, I think this is one of the most important foundational steps you can take for yourself, as a Sales Professional and for your Sales Organization.

There is a legitimacy to the Sales function in business. It isn’t “palming off.” That is hucksterism. The legitimate process, in very abbreviated terms, goes something like this:

Learning a Prospects challenges, from their perspective.

Understanding what you can offer to meet those challenges.

Communicating the value of that offer to the Prospect.

As a Consultative Sales Professional, the process is typically far more complex and requires many well-honed skills. And its this that I get “on fire” about. Its where I find the flip-side to Prejudice … its where I find the Pride of being a Sales Professional. For me, having that foundational Pride has been pivotal to my success. And, it has been integral to my work, as a Sales Leader, in developing others.

Over time, some aspects of the Sales role change. Presently, we’re seeing this as the result of telemarketing, inside sales, eCommerce, etc. Regardless, I believe it will remain true that any Sales Person or Sales Organization instilled with Pride in the Sales Profession will greatly outperform one that does not have this foundational characteristic. My recommendation is that you make it a regular touch-point in your personal development strategy and that of your Sales Organization.

Do you agree? If so, please share your ideas on the most effective ways you’ve found to do this.


Nick Moreno Says:

September 27, 2008 at 3:49 pm edit

100% Agree!

Thanks Gary!

I think this is why we use the word “Professional” so often… Professional Sales Career, Professional Sales Training, Professional Sales Rep. Ever hear of a “Professional” Lawyer?

Nice read!


Monday, September 22, 2008

Sales Incentive Programs – Maximizing Impact

WIIFM? What’s In It For Me? That question is at the heart of the buying motive. Whether we like to admit or not, its also at the heart of human nature. That means, not only is it at the heart of the buying motive, its at the heart of the selling motive too. So, regardless of a Sales Professional’s protestations that they’re really focused on their development and mastering things like strategic/complex selling, silently, they’re asking WIIFM? I’m, certainly, like that. My business card says, “Consultative Sales Professional” and I am but put an added incentive on the table and “I’m in baby!” And I’m perfectly happy to let others know of my success in competing for incentives. Wanna see the limited edition engraved marble Inner Circle plaques I have for each of my 11 years at Minolta?!

So, all that’s necessary is to play to that human nature … when Sales aren’t where you want them, just feed the WIIFM instincts of the Sales People then sit back and wait for the results. Right?! Well, sort of. Yes, you can grow your Sales along with growing the reward for the performing Sales Person through such feeding but I think, far too often, Sales Incentive Programs miss out on growth opportunities that can be much more far reaching and have significantly greater lasting power. Here’s what I have in mind:

Not long ago, I got to work with the Direct Sales Force of a company whose products are aimed at improving Health & Fitness. I found that, in the Direct Sales environment, Sales Incentive Programs are utilized with much greater frequency than I’ve experienced in Field Sales organizations. I, also, found that, this particular company set aside a significant budget amount in order to, at Christmas, purchase and distribute gift items to lower income families in their local community … no doubt, benefiting the Health & Fitness of that community. My suggestion was to tie the Sales Incentive Programs to the programs that benefit the community. Instead of the top Sales Performers getting to go home with the latest Nintendo has to offer, why not offer them Paid Time Off to represent the company in its community service? There’s still positive impact on Sales and some immediate needs in the community are still ministered to but, in between, there’s a lot of added growth.

But, what if you’re not a large company with its own sizeable Direct Sales Force? It strikes me that, even for a small to medium sized company, a similar approach can be taken. Is there a local business organization that would be beneficial for your company to join but you’re struggling to justify the budget for membership? How about adding to the justification by using the membership as an incentive, allowing Top Performing Sales People to represent the company, as they and your company grow in the process?

So, what do you think of this approach? What’s been your most effective approach to Sales Incentive Programs? Please let me know so it can be shared with others.


sensetives Says:

September 24, 2008 at 6:18 am edit

There is (unfortenately) not just one way. My experience is that you have to make a mix to have a succesfull incentive program. Not every one gets satiesfied bij doing something for the community. Leave a choice. Because the program has to motivate every individual but not everybody has the same values.

grwiram Says:

September 24, 2008 at 6:44 am edit

Thanks for your comment. I, absolutely, agree. The suggestion I made for community service, as a reward, would work best as an option. You are right that a good program should motivate everyone involved. I just want to encourage being as creative as possible, in doing that, to maximize the resulting value.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The "Tech Savvy" Sales Organization

If your Sales role doesn’t include a technology-based product or service, you might come to the conclusion that being “Tech-Savvy” isn’t a top priority. If so, you’re making a BIG MISTAKE, no “might” about it!

Believe it or not, in my first Sales territory, in the Midwest, my initial training included a prospecting technique called “Smoke-Stacking”. This involved driving to a town, finding the companies with the biggest smoke-stacks and trying to meet with the decision makers in those companies. The most significant technology involved in this was my company car (See! I don't go back to the horse and buggy days.), printed presentation materials, pay-phones and handwritten records. That was then.

Now, Sales and Technology go hand-in-hand, regardless of what you’re selling. This includes: cell phones, voice mail, PDAs/laptops/PCs, email, word processing software, spreadsheet software, Internet browsers, virtual meetings, eLearning, SFA, CRM, ERP and on and on, into my next blog post. If you’re not tuned into these technologies, you might as well try “Smoke-Stacking”.

So how do you keep up when it seems that technology advances with every breath? It’s a must to have a strategy for this, whether you’re an individual contributor in Sales or you’re a Sales leader. And, in order for the plan to succeed, it has to be a right-fit for each individual and their organization. That means there’s more than one “right answer” to this. Regardless of the method chosen, I recommend personal commitment, as an essential element. What I have in mind here is along the lines of what I once did, to keep up on CRM technology, when I was in “job search mode”. At that time, I had experience with several CRM systems. But, that didn’t include I can recall Googling CRM and finding an article entitled “Top 10 SFA Vendors Not Named”. It struck me that it might be important for me to do something to fill in that gap in my experience. Duh?! I found that offered a 30 day trial that allowed you to thoroughly examine their product, go through all their tutorials, have dialog with their support personnel, etc. Beyond this, an affordable individual license was available. Needless to say, I took advantage of those offerings and thus, no more void relative to

So, what’s worked for you along these lines? Please let me know! I’d welcome hearing from you on the approach you take for yourself and/or your organization so it can be shared with others.


Stan Earnshaw Says:

September 20, 2008 at 11:37 am edit

Technology is a valuable tool for my sales team and me. The key, though, is to keep it simple. Ignore the hype; focus on the tool that is easiest to use and covers the basic needs. For example, CRM systems have more capability than many sales organizations need. I use; it’s simple to use for keeping track of account / opportunity information. And there are a couple of reports that I pull on a weekly basis that meet my needs. There are many other capabilities and benefits of SF. And I plan to (over time) take advantage of them. For now, it’s the basics that get my attention.

Sean Says:

September 21, 2008 at 6:16 pm edit

I like this tool as well. I’m sure I don’t even use one third of its capabilities, but I keep trying to learn. One of the things I think makes it valuable is the ability for it to sync with Google apps. has anyone used this feature?

In addition, a tool like this could be useful for job seekers as they try to keep track of their informational interviews, networking meetings, etc. It may be overkill, but back a couple of months ago I saw that was offering a one year subscription for only $99. Not sure what it entailed, but you can’t buy a decent software package for that price these days. Any thoughts on this? Or other tools job seekers could use?

Sean Harry

Janet Johnson Says:

September 22, 2008 at 9:02 am edit

Hi Gary,

I subscribe to a few online newsletters to keep me informed and at the leading edge of marketing and technology. My favorite is IAB’s SmartBrief. SmartBriefs are on many subjects, and this one is focused on digital marketing. The ClickZ network is also good for staying informed in newsletter format.

In addition, I watch Twitter for breaking news and information, and am a pretty regular reader of the Read Write Web (RWW) blog because I know some of the bloggers there, and respect just how far ahead of the pack they are.

I try to share the love in my own blog, but there’s no substitute for learning from others!

Scott Sheaffer Says:

September 22, 2008 at 4:50 pm edit

Congratulations on the new sales blog site. Best of luck.

Sam Mikel Says:

September 26, 2008 at 2:22 pm edit

Hi Gary,

Technology is huge! I subscribe to several real estate feeds that I read every morning, one that focuses on technology in real estate around the country, as well ac PC Mag… plus every day has some technology study.

In our 100-year old real estate office (the business isn’t 100 years old, just the building , we have two flat screen monitors for training. We have the meeting information on the screen, as well as training videos, weekly local real estate statistics… and if you can’t get to the office, you can join us from Spain or from you living room in your jammies. Our agents can access company informatio online as well as post their new listings, articles, pictures, etc.

Our files are normally 1-8 inches thick full of paper at the end of a transaction. I just completed my first paperless transaction – at closing I had 3 sheets of paper (guess that’s not quite paperless). The title company was thrilled. Every piece of paper, my e-mails, notes, etc. can be accessed from anywhere I can get online… plus we will have a CD of each transaction.

So, after 30 years in real estate, we know that staying current with technology is mandatory for staying relevant.

By the way, didn’t you just have a birthday. Hope you did something fun.

Take care – nice to hear from you.

Sam Mikel

Nick Moreno Says:

September 27, 2008 at 4:12 pm edit

Nice article!

I’m one of those that was “selling” prior to the Internet, so I enjoyed it!



Thursday, September 11, 2008

The President Bush/Senator Daschle Hug - 7 Years Later

SEP 11, 2001. A day of great loss for our nation. But, at the time, out of that loss, there was the prospect of great gain. For me, that was symbolized by seeing President Bush and Senator Daschle hug, as the President arrived to address a joint session of Congress, shortly after the 9/11 tragedy. Sadly, our nation has let that prospective gain slip through our fingers.

Like most Americans who remember 9/11, there are specifics that stand out in my memory.

- We were still living in Orange County, CA and we were just waking up when the news started to come in. When I saw the 2nd plane go into the twin towers, I told my Wife, "This is no accident. You're gonna see that replayed over and over and over."

- Since I've had the experience of dining at Windows, the restaurant at the top of one of the WTC towers, I thought to check their Website. It was strange to see "views" on that Website ... "views" that no longer existed.

- It wasn't long before I went out to put up Old Glory on our Fountain Valley townhouse and during the day, we went to join others in prayer in the Sanctuary at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa (CCCM).

- I recall worrying about my Wife going to work in a high-rise in the City of Orange and I remember the eeriness of seeing one of the first planes on approach to John Wayne, after air travel resumed.

But, I also recall that sense of potential gain, resulting from the loss. In addition to the Bush/Dascle hug, I remember:

- The pews being even fuller at CCCM.

- Drivers going out of their way to be courteous on the Southern California freeways.

- EVERYONE standing, with a hand over their heart and singing "The Star Spangled Banner" and "God Bless America", at Angels games.

- A sense that, as a nation, we were making a conscious effort to gain strength through our differences, instead of letting our differences divide us.

I truly thought that we were exhibiting what we said we were ... One Nation, Under God. God's Word teaches us - "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28. It appeared to me that this was exactly what was going on but, maybe even more tragically than 9/11 itself, we failed to nurture our newfound gain.

Currently, we see little, if any, evidence of that prospective gain. Looking at the current presidential race provides proof of just the opposite. Once again, its just one candidate pitted against the other, based on their differences. I think that's pretty sad. With that said, I'm not endorsing a "Can't we all just get along, lets all get together and sing Kum Ba Yah" approach. Staying with the musical theme, I do believe that "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything." But that doesn't necessarily mean that because others see things differently than I do, that makes them wrong or bad. It just makes them different and I think the synergy of the best of our differences was a key element, leading to America's greatness in the first place. Although we didn't nurture the opportunity that the tragedy of 9/11 gave us to regain that quality, it doesn't have to mean the opportunity is completely missed. One of the qualities that all of the current presidential candidates like to tout is their ability to lead. My prayer is that at least one of them will show the courage of their convictions and from this point forward, choose to lead by example in this regard.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Is Our Choice Bush-McCain or Obama/Biden-Reid/Pelosi?

“Bush-McCain!” … the Democrat’s one consistent mantra, since John McCain became the Republican’s apparent nominee for the 2008 presidential race. Although McCain is obviously his own man and his presidency would be significantly different from that of President Bush, you can understand why they want McCain to be saddled with Bush’s unpopularity … currently ranging from 25% to 33%.

Since, according to the National Journal, Barack Obama (D) has the Senate’s most liberal voting record and Joe Biden (D) has the Senate’s 3rd most liberal voting record, isn’t it more appropriate to link Obama/Biden with the current liberal (D) congressional leadership … Reid/Pelosi? In 2006, the Democrats became the majority party in both houses of Congress, establishing the Reid/Pelosi administration. The Democrat’s winning campaign strategy was summed up, at that time, by the new Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, when he said, “The days of the do-nothing Congress are over,” adding that Americans spoke “clearly and decisively in favor of Democrats leading this country in a new direction.” Considering that the current unpopularity of Congress ranges from 14% to 18%, it appears that the “new direction” Reid/Pelosi had in mind was a level of “do-nothing” where no man has gone before. Now, aside from “Bush-McCain!”, the central Obama/Biden theme has been “Change!” It boggles the mind to consider the depths of “New Direction”/“Change” an Obama/Biden-Reid/Pelosi term will mean.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Character v Diversity

An African-American from Generation X, two White Guys from the Silent Generation and a woman from Generation X. Arguably, the greatest diversity the U.S. has ever seen in its leading general election candidates for the Presidency. I think that’s a healthy thing.

The progress our nation has made on the topic of diversity is, surely, the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. But, he taught us not to judge people based on observable differences – e.g. the color of skin (or the age of skin or the shape of skin). Rather, his instruction was to base judgment on content of character.

Character, then and not diversity seems to be the important consideration in determining the best candidate for President. But, what is character? J.C. Watts Jr., one of my favorite ex-politicians (I do wish he would get back in the game) says, “Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking.” I think that makes a great character “yardstick”. So, lets consider the things that first come to mind about these candidates that we’ve come to learn they did “… when nobody (was) looking.”

With Obama, I immediately think of the nearly 20 years he sat under the teaching of Jeremiah Wright. I find that deeply troubling.

In Joe Biden’s case, I’m mindful of the plagiarism he admitted to in school and that was obvious in his 1988 Presidential Campaign. He’s proven that you can’t take him at his word.

A year ago, “… when nobody (was) looking”, Senator John McCain was traveling coach-class and carrying his own bags because he was willing to stand up for our nation to win, even if it cost him his election. I find it very hard not to stand up for a guy who is willing to stand up for me like that.

Recently, Alaska’s Governor Sarah Palin learned that her 17-year-old unmarried daughter is pregnant. Quietly, giving being Mom priority over being a politician, Governor Palin provided her daughter the love and support she needed to begin dealing with the young woman’s challenging circumstances. Although the press tried to eviscerate her for it, it made me proud to know that someone with this sort of character is willing to serve us, as a nation.

Are there other matters to consider along these lines that would reflect more positively on Obama and Biden and more negatively on McCain and Palin? Perhaps. My recommendation is that we all give these matters our full consideration, in this same light and right away. November 4th is coming fast and we all need to be doing our best to determine the best candidates based on the Substance of their character and not the Style of their presentation.