Blog Archives

Lesson in Sales from Songwiters

I’ve been in Nashville since 1975 and I’ve grown to appreciate Songwriters. I’ve never worked in the music industry but I Songwriterslike a great tune and how it relates to how I sell.

Music fans are loyal and buy their favorite songs.  There are plenty of loyal fans of products and services that are unrelated to music and they also buy.

Most songs are somewhere in length between 2 ½ and 3 ½ minutes. That’s about the attention span of the listening audience. Sure there are a few “Stairway to Heaven” exceptions and some catchy short jingles but let’s stick to the norm.

Every song has a title, however writing titles would leave a person far short of being an accomplished songwriter. Many have tried their hand at songwriting but only a few make their mark of success in this town. One reason is you can’t short cut the practice, trials and errors involved in the development process. Most just don’t have the patience, drive, and discipline needed to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.

In the end it’s the hook, melody, originality, message or some combination of the before mentioned that draws in an audience.

In sales we are taught to get to the benefits and features. Have our elevator pitch well rehearsed. Be ready to present a solution for almost every objection we’ll hear. In sales just like in a song chances are our audience needs to be pulled in one word or line at a time and on the other end the spectrum chances are if they don’t like what they hear in verse one and two you’re not going to win them over in verse three and four. You have a window of opportunity to present a song and to make a sell. You rarely win a paying customer when you rush them and rarely win them if they don’t relate to the heart of your message.

As sales people we have to find our audience and like a songwriter when we get their time and attention  be prepared to share our best.


No Lame Ducks

No “Lame Ducks” on the Oregon team. I know I know all we need is one more sports analogy pulled into the business O Ducksworld.

There are 3 ducks I’d like to highlight and if you guessed one would be a Heisman winner or the head coach you’re wrong. Don Pellum (Defensive Coordinator), Jim Radcliffe (Strength and Conditioning) and Gary Campbell (Running Backs) are coaches with 22, 28, and 31 years on the Oregon Ducks Football coaching staff.

The Ducks are arguably the fastest and most innovative team presently in college football and one game away from proving themselves the BEST team.

Experience does count and embracing change, innovation, and relating to a diverse audience does not have age restrictions.

Far too many companies that are mired in mediocrity contribute to a world where 15 million C-Level Sales Directors change teams in less than 2 years of being appointed with far more under increased pressure to perform without being given the time and resources required to build success.

As you build, grow, and strengthen your management, training, and sales team to compete like champions in your industry take a look at who’s on the Ducks sidelines teaching and coaching up their players.

Focus on the Positive today…I did

I like ending the work week on a positive just as S. Anthony Iannarino does in his recent blog post YOU GET WHATPositives YOU FOCUS ON

“If you focus on creating opportunities, you will produce new opportunities. And those opportunities will provide you with growth and success. If that’s what you focus on.”

“If you focus on success, you will produce success. It may not be as fast as you want it to be. It may not be the straight line upwards that you want. And may not be anywhere as easy for you as it is for someone else. But if you focus on success, you will most assuredly produce it.”

Anthony shares as much validation of what we will get from negative focus and he does on what we will gain through positive focus.

For the full effect invest 1 minute (yes I timed it) of this day and read

Take Action Now not Later

In Consultative Sales simple can still work! Ask your potential customers about their needs and challenges…then listen to what they nowsay…and respond with your best solution. Don’t over think it –  JUST DO IT….TAKE ACTION!

Take action and experience more immediate success…Simple works it’s just that simple.


The motivation to get back on the roller coaster

When you get on a good roll in sales it’s a ride unlike anything else you’ll experience in business. In basketball shooters describe a Roller Coaster skiimageshigh percentage night as the basket just looked larger. Other great performances are often described by the feeling of having been in a zone. I’m confident it’s close to the feeling surfers get when they catch the perfect wave.

Unfortunately however it never last forever. Eventually the ball rims out, the zone disappears, and all waves crash.

In sales with the end of a good ride comes a certain amount of rejection (those ugly words NO THANK YOU), transactions that didn’t close, prospects that disappeared, and a diminished pipeline that equates to a smaller paycheck in the very near future.

No doubt about it sales is a roller coaster ride, but when that coaster comes to a stop the successful sales people get right back in line to ride it again.

What’s their motivation? Is it just the thrill and money or is it more?  I’m confident it’s more as once we’ve been selling long enough there are other motivations that keep us engaged and in pursuit of the next YES or that next good ride.

For the most part I have found top sales people to be well educated, highly experienced, and extremely motivated.

You can’t take away a person’s education or experience, but things can erode a person’s motivation. Most sales people will stay motivated if they have the belief they can be successful, recognized and rewarded. In addition it helps when they have a strong understanding of what they are selling, who their customer is, and what value their product or service delivers.

If all this is in place why is sales still such a roller coaster?

Because there’s customers, competitors, and internal as well as external complexities that contribute to the ups in downs in sales. As a manager you can motivate your sales team the most by providing a supportive and encouraging environment on a daily basis. It’s the sales manager that can best reinforce their confidence when they most need it.

My next few post will expand on ways sales managers can best help their teams stay motivated through the challenges they will inevitably face.

I originally wrote this post coincidentally on Friday evening about the same time news broke that a person lost their life in a tragic fall from a roller coaster at Six Flags – Texas. I am sensitive to that event and chose not to publish this post until several days had passed. 

Pop a “sales pill”

Do you want to be a much improved sales person overnight? We all know it’s a process and not an overnight sensation. But what if PopaPillthere was a pill you could take to make it happen, would you take it? There is one that is a 4 part time release capsule and if taken as prescribed you’re well on your way to healthier sales results.



Live in the moment

Less is more                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Purpose is about finding both direction and passion in the work that we do.  It’s about defining our dreams and goals.

Individualism is about taking control and being self-motivated. It’s about making decisions and following the path we know is right for us.

Live in the moment because that is all that we have. Yesterday is over and tomorrow’s not promised to anyone. In the past we’ve had success and failures but in each case they’ve all led us to today.

Less is more. If we talk less we’ll listen more. If we create less chaos we’ll have less stress. The less complicated we can make things the simpler it can be.

If you’re in sales you’ve probably got a big day ahead. Contacts to call, people to see, presentations to make, and deals to close.  You don’t need water to take this PILL all you need is a few minutes to pause, focus, gain perspective and I promise it will go down easy.

“Bang for your Buck” Sales Training

How much does your company spend on sales training each year? No matter what your answer is make sure you’re getting some Bang for your Buck. Bang

If you feel your training investment falls short relative to the return to your bottom line you must examine how motivated your team is for training success.

As a sales executive or manager IF you can answer YES to the following four questions you’re set for sales training success. If you answer NO to ANY of the four you’re not ready to spend the first dime on training.

Does your organization have a culture that truly supports continual learning?

Does your management team reinforce the training that is delivered?

Do you provide the technology to assist your sales team to effectively utilize training?

Do you have reasonable expectations of the impact and results of sales training?

The key word is does and do, and not would or will.

Setting your team up for training success is more important than any training session that can be delivered.

As a leader if you are ALL IN your sales team can be ALL IN. However if you are HALF IN your team will most likely be HALF IN or worse ALL OUT.

I don’t mention the above to advocate or advertise myself as a sales trainer. I mention it because I’ve been in a past situations I would had answered NO to all four questions.

Surely I’m not the only person that had the immediate supervisor that was one big “road block” to allowing a culture of learning. I was both fortunate and unfortunate to have “Barry” (I won’t use his last name, his first might not even been Barry – but it was in hopes he does read this – not to hold grudges) as my first and worst manager. This guy was a bumbling idiot that had one seriously warped perception of his value to the company. Years later I understood it wasn’t his fault that the organization put him in his role as a branch manager. Yes he was a real – ick (insert the lead letter(s) of your choice if you can relate) but the company failed me and a few unlucky others by having Barry in place. Though it was only for a little while I recognized I was not in an environment that supported the opportunity to learn, grow, and contribute. Barry got fired before I left the company and the company failed (no longer exist) largely because they didn’t support a culture of continuous learning. Without learning you can’t have improvement and without improvement you have no chance to stay competitive or much less on top.

I’m sure I’m also not the only one that has found myself surrounded by my sales peers in a nice meeting room at a fine resort for that “annual” sales meeting. You know the one the company spared no expense with travel, accommodations, lunch, dinners, and “happy hour”. Only to be back one year later trying to remember “what the ___ was it they trained us on last year?” So the next time after the great sales conference/workshop that everyone leaves enthusiastic and confident about the next move is yours because inevitably your sales people are going to ask you WHAT’s NEXT.  What needs to come next is your actions and not your words.

Sales is a battle if not an all-out war. The competition never retreats and keeps coming at you from every direction. Being well trained just gets you in the game but being well prepared isn’t ever going to be enough to win it. You have to be smarter, faster, and have the right tools and resources. I’ll just say the “Never take a BB Gun to a Gunfight” addresses the technology question. There’s efficiency and then there’s cheap. I’ve worked for the “cheap” ones and the best you can hope for is they over achieve just enough to get acquired. But if that doesn’t happen try to stay close to your competition because someday sooner than later you will be interviewing with them.

How big are your expectations of sales results as it relates to sales training? All sales training seminars or workshops have an expiration date when it comes to shelf life. The impact of results from a sales training seminar will show in small increments. Small increments are good because cumulatively they will consistently grow future sales, revenues, and profits. As a manager if you find yourself trying to measure the results of one training seminar you’re wasting your valuable time. The bigger payoff comes when you spend more time supporting the implementation and execution of what was learned, not measuring it. My experience has been the closer sales training is aligned with sales goals the gap narrows and favorable results are produced.

Practice makes a Sales Champion

You have seen it.

A golfer standing over a putt on the 18th hole to win the championship…and he drops the putt center of the cup.

Well that “championship” was not won on that day it was won in the past on the practice greens after thousands of similar putts both missed and made. It was won during the lessons learned in past tournaments that saw other players raising their arms to the roar of the crowd while being recognized as that days champion.

In sales we will not find ourselves defined as champions if we don’t put the practice in that builds a champion.

There simply are very few cases of success by luck and in those few cases the odds are that it will only be fleeting success if practice and preparation was not involved.

I give you three scenarios: College football, C.P.R, and a stage actor to further look at the importance of practice in the form of preparation.

In football the coaching staff formulates a game plan they feel gives their players the best opportunity to experience success. The team has practiced long through spring and summer workouts on the fundamentals and the playbook. However when it is game time on Saturday it is basically in the hands of the players. Sure there is play calling and adjustments made by coaches but in the end execution on the field is left up to the players. At seasons end when conference championships have been won, bowl invitations have been awarded, and a national champion has been declared you will not find one championship caliber team that took a shortcut. The most defining moment of the season was never a moment at all, it was all the preparation.

C.P.R. (Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation) is life saving.  CPR in itself is a simple 3 step process. However a person needs to be trained to effectively administer CPR.  Certification is good for 2 years and then it requires going back to be re-certified.  They go back to be re-certified because they need to practice. When the all important time comes that person needs the skills necessary to act in an emergency, follow standard protocols, and use proper technique for administering CPR. If I find myself in need of CPR I want to be in the hands of someone that took the time to receive and continues to receive proper training. Making a sale is not a matter of life and death but when results matter your customers want to be in good hands.

An actor finds themselves only seconds away from the final curtain call. The audience is in their seats and the auditorium lights have been dimmed with the exception of the stage. Though most of us have not been in a big Broadway production we all know the feeling of anxiety that often accompanies performance. Rather an actor has the leading role with pages of script or a small supporting role with only one line they still want to nail it. In acting it is hours of reviewing the script and rehearsals that lead to stellar performances. No actor of any worth steps out on the stage without preparation that is ten fold what the audience sees.

As a salesperson you will find yourself on the field, stage, or in that moment. Practice and preparation makes you better and allows successful results to become second nature.

SYZYGY in the Workplace

Regardless of if you are the CEO, SVP, or the entry level clerk the reality is that holding a position to get work done eventually will become past tense. Syzygy in the workplace will allow those relationships we make with others at work to endure beyond any titles we hold or work that we do. It should comfort us that the work we share will likely continue in our friendships, memories, and in even more work after the door has closed behind us.

Continuing to share excerpts and ideas derived from SYZYGY Living a Powerfully Aligned Life, Johnnie C. Goodwin. When we have syzygy at work it seldom matters who is the boss and who is the employee, who is president and who is the low person on the totem pole. People with syzygy respect individuals and find an even greater joy and purpose in working together. There is something about the powerful presence of having another person along side us in the same pursuit.  Success in the workplace is measured and rewarded in many different ways, but we reflect on the other person or the team when it’s time to give credit where credit is due.

The benefits of matching up two people or creating at team to supplement or complete us can often produce cohesive results that exceed the possibilities of what we could have done alone. This planned syzygy can start a powerful chain reaction of knowledge, skill, and usefulness in the workplace.

I am presently working in a unique environment that brings together contractors within the same industry. When they are more united by shared mission, ethics, and vision than they are separated by the competition between them, each mutually prospers from growth in their industry.

Rather at the employee, leadership, or personal level people search most their lives for what is missing because they sense their need for a connection, a syzygy, that missing link to make their lives and actions complete. Syzygy in the workplace is a worthwhile pursuit only trumped by finding syzygy in all aspects of your life.