Amber: Get on a plane, meet the prospective client in person, and make the pitch. Watch the signals in the room to see what is happening. Observe body language. Pre-2020, does this sound familiar? Then, it all suddenly changed. Many of us thought we would be on pause for a few months, tops. But we’re still on pause four years later, and no end is in sight. At first, we moved our exact same process onto the conference call providers. The goal was to get appointments on the calendar while the world went upside down. And then we started to notice something....

The Greatest Obstacle to Discovery is Not Ignorance – It is the Illusion of Knowledge”1   Our local high school, Adlai E. Stevenson, of Lincolnshire, IL, is one of the highest-rated secondary schools in Illinois.  This is because the administration stresses academic excellence and produces many national merit scholars. Both of my children attended Stevenson High School in the late 1980s and 1990s.  During this time, I had the opportunity to talk with Deputy Sheriff Perry Coleman of the Lake County (IL) Sheriff’s Department. We discussed many topics, including the illegal drug problem that was plaguing many high schools.  The Stevenson Superintendent declared that...

Years ago, as an accountant, I reported to a manager named Bob.  One day, I excused myself and went to the restroom, and when I returned, Bob said, “Steve, you took too long.” My response was, “What?” Then he said, “You took 8 minutes.  I can go to the bathroom and back in 4 minutes.”  I responded, “Good for you.”  The conversation was very insulting and degrading. Should I hurry my time in the restroom to keep my manager happy?  Did the 4 minutes matter? What about proper hygiene? There were other similar incidents where Bob watched over me every...

Singer Paul Simon wrote and recorded a song called “Slip Sliding Away.” Like many of Simon’s songs, the meaning of the lyrics is often obscure.  But he does say that the nearer you are to your destination, “the more you’re slipping and sliding away.”1 Has this ever happened to you in your pursuit of closed deals? Perhaps you have been calling on the prospect for several months, and during this time, the prospect has shown some interest in your solution and was receptive to your proposal.  You have met with the key decision-makers and influencers and have not heard any objections...

The behaviors of some excellent, high-performing salespeople are sometimes like those of typical American teenagers.  This can be considered both positive and negative attributes of salespeople. I first noticed the similarities when managing a group of primarily high-achieving salespeople while helping my wife raise our two then teenagers.  I was confronted with many of the same issues at work and home. For example, top salespeople and teenagers can be obstinate, challenging to manage, and resist direction or supervision, like herding cats.  They want to be left alone, to make their own mistakes.  They do not care that we previously faced many...

Sellers must decide where to price their products: do they want to be a low-cost supplier, price according to their costs, target their prices for a certain market segment, or deploy a premium price strategy when deciding on their pricing strategy?  Successful brands are using each strategy. Companies such as Starbucks and Canada Goose have chosen to differentiate their products from others in the marketplace by pricing their products as premium brands in their marketplace. They are considered “luxury goods,” products that increase in demand as the buyer’s income increases.   Starbucks deliberately prices its coffee at the high end of the...

  SHOULD I TRY TO HAVE A CAREER IN SALES Occasionally, someone approaches me and asks, "People tell me that I am a natural-born salesman, that I have the ‘gift of gab,’ should I go into sales?” The answer is maybe. First, you should not choose a career because someone else thinks you would be good at it, although that’s excellent input.  If someone thinks I might be an excellent paleontologist, I will thank them but let them know that although I enjoy seeing dinosaur fossils at museums, I cannot see myself as an expert in this field. I will typically respond: “Is this something...

Negativity is a slow-acting poison. When you allow negativity into your mind, your body is infected as if you have an insidious disease. It is toxic and needs to be addressed and removed. If not, it can destroy you, your marriage, your friendships, and your career. It’s a burden, like carrying a heavy anchor while trying to swim. It also adds stress to your life. I believe in positive thinking and the energy it brings to your life. Nobody Likes a “Firkrimptor” Sometimes, the perfect word for something doesn’t exist in English. Firkrimptor is one such example. It is a Yiddish word that best...

You are calling a prospect for the first time, and instead of the person answering her telephone, you reach her voicemail.  “This is Anne xxx, I am not available now.  Please leave a message.” What should you do?  Should you leave a voice message? What should you say in the message? Should you give a shortened version of your 30-second “elevator pitch?” Or a different speech? What should the different message emphasize? What if you have already spoken with the prospect, and this is a follow-up call? Does that make a difference? Should you leave a voice message or not? It is...

In years past, there was a mythical sales test where an older, experienced sales professional would test a new, inexperienced pen by handing him his pen and then directing the novice to attempt to sell him his pen.  It was expected that the novice would try to explain the pen's features and how the “buyer” could not live without it.  He would show how easy it was to click the top of the pen, how nice the ink appeared on paper, how it could be used in many writing positions, and how inexpensive it was.  Then the novice was expected...