Making it Fun

Linda Cohan steered me to the Corporate Curmudgeon article in the Globe, today. Dale shares some wisdom from Tom Hopkins. After reading the article, I wonder why anyone would buy anything from anyone that wasn’t entertaining. Stories, appropriate jokes, and intentional misinterpretations with a smile in your eyes can add so much to your “presence” that what you’re selling, your price, etc. momentarily become secondary. As time goes on, your presence gets added into the value proposition of your offering.

My wife and I love vacationing and thinking about vacationing. I love watching salespeople work. Elaine loves getting “free stuff”. Occasionally, to combine the three, we’ll take a tour of a timeshare and listen to the pitch. Saturday, Elaine and I took one of these tours. She got 4 free flights to a choice of destinations, a $25 gift card, and $100 worth of gas vouchers. I got to drive 100 miles there, do the tour and listen to the pitch, buy lunch, and drive 100 miles back. I guess it was fair.

Anyway, the lesson. Brian was our guy. We were his first pitch ever. He’d sold in the past and was pretty confident in his ability as a salesperson. So, he told his boss that he didn’t need three weeks of training. Let him watch one and let him go. Then comes us. So, he starts by telling us not to be worried because we’re his first one and he doesn’t know any tricks. His plan is to give us the tour, lay out the program, and if we want it, great. If we don’t, no problem. No pressure. He tried to show us the indoor pool, but the door was locked. “See how we make the pool area secure for our guests?” He showed us the miniature golf course and told us that Tiger Woods has not made par on it. Obviously, the joke was that Tiger hadn’t played the course. He talked about his family life, past employment, got us to talk about ours. It was a very enjoyable 90 minutes turned 2 hours. We had no intention of buying anything and we did not. If he had something better to do, he might have disqualified us and set us loose, but he didn’t, and he made it very enjoyable. He rolled with his ineptness at the script, but showed that he had good skills.

Paraphrasing a friend’s tag line, “Life’s to short to be or deal with boring, crappy salespeople.” Make it fun!

To check out Linda Cohan, go to

To read the Globe article, go to

The Power of Silence

Pete Caputa made an interesting observation today about silence.

People tend to react predictably in similar situations. If you hold a door for someone, they’ll probably walk through it. If you smile at someone, they’ll probably smile back. If you create a silence for someone, they’ll probably fill it.

On a sales call, it’s not unusual to see new salespeople ask a question, then answer it themselves when the silence starts. What if the prospect is actually thinking about the question? What if the salesperson gives the wrong answer? Let the prospect answer. Remember that the person who’s talking isn’t learning a damn thing!

Here’s Pete’s original post.

Bill Driscol’s Lesson to Me

In 1991, my wife and decided that we’d see if we could buy a second home before we turned 40. We found a place that we could buy, but the country was in a recession, I was less than a year at my job, and we would have to refinance our first home to get the second.

Bill Driscol was my father in law. At the time, he was 73 years old well into the second job that he would eventually retire from with a pension. He lived in the same house that he bought 50+ years earlier. He lived for our sons, Mark and Matt. He never missed a baseball, soccer or basketball game. He also never missed a concert, show, report card. When Mark presented his eulogy, about this man who didn’t have much but felt like he had everything, there wasn’t a dry eye in the church.

OK, back to buying the house. Bill told me that he and Tony used to take their familys to the Cape every year for vacation. One year, they saw a nice house for sale and Tony urged Bill to buy it. Bill didn’t. Two kids. Only 20 years in his job. Ten years left on his mortgage. The harder Tony pushed. The more excuses Bill came up with. In 1991, when we were looking at getting our second home, he told us that he had kicked himself many times for not listening to Tony. The Cape had “taken off”. The house values had appreciated accordingly. He woulda been all set. Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda. Those were his words.

We bought that house at the beach. We have all the memories that a house at the beach creates. It’s tripled in value. Bill’s advice, “Learn from my mistakes.” was on the money.

So, why is this story on this blog. We can often see the future that we want, but don’t reach for it because we’re comfortable where we are. If I said, give me $100,000 and a couple of hours a week if you’d like to fix your head so you could add a million dollars to your lifetime earnings, would you? or would you say something like:

“I would, but I don’t have $100,000.”

“I could, if I could just find a couple of extra hours every week.”

“I should, but I don’t like anyone messing around in my head.”

or would you say something like,

I do want it. I will find the money. I am in. Let’s go.”

Those that get this will send me an email saying, “I get it. Let’s go.”

Those that don’t will scratch their heads.

(For those head scratchers…an evaluation of your sales “head”, skills, hangups, strengths, weaknesses, wills and won’ts might start you down the road to making your million dollar change.) It’s your call.

Making Things Happen

Who is the teacher and who is the student in this exchange?

Monday, November 06, 2006 4:23 PM
Subject: Introduction



Let’s get this kick started w/ Rick. Rick would be one of the people that probably won’t join a board unless it’s to share his wisdom. But, more importantly, he’s my go to man. He knows a lot of people very well. And a lot of people respect him and his advice.


One thing I’ve learned from him is to avoid too much explanation when making introductions. I don’t know what he (or you) knows as well as he knows it.  He has a cursory understanding of what you do. He understands how WhizSpark is involved.


Please touch base with him and share how you are selecting your guests at this event. Rick has been an avid supporter of our events and my business.


Let’s see if it makes sense for you two to develop a relationship and help each other out.





Sent: Wednesday, November 08, 2006 2:05 PM
Subject: Referral from Pete Caputa

Hello Rick,


Pete and I are working together on promoting an event I am running and has suggested I contact you.  I run the Alternative Board in Metrowest/Worcester, you may recall we met at an after hours event (you were gracious enough to introduce me to several people at that time – for which I thank you).  In December I will be staging a live meeting using real prospects as participants.  This is the event we are promoting.  Pete has sugested you may either be interested or know candidates who would be.  In addition I have been meeting many local business leaders based on my promotional activities and perhaps I can return the favor with some introductions of my own.


I am happy to meet for coffee (my treat) or we could speak by phone, whatever works for you.  Best times?


Hope all is well.


Steve Strella


Sent: Friday, November 10, 2006 2:43 PM
Subject: Re: Introduction



Are you in today?  we need to catch up.  Also I tried reaching out to Rick but nave no response so far.


Steve Strella


Sent: Friday, November 10, 2006 3:21 PM
Subject: RE: Introduction



Please call Steve.  508 485 7101



So, yesterday (11/10), as I’m driving home at 4:14, Pete called my cell phone. He asked if I had time to talk to Steve right then in a three way call. We did. 23 minutes and 43 seconds later, we had the beginnings of a plan to move forward on a very important project, a meeting between Pete, Steve, myself and 3 VIP’s for Monday at 4 with the promise that Steve and I will schedule another FTF meeting next week to “get it done”.

Great job, Pete! Way to take control.

Incidentally, Pete is WhizSpark and Steve is The Alternative Board.

Please suggest a title

Today I was stupid. Today I forgot everything. Today, I wish I had an eraser.

I have a client, Pete. Pete’s a great client. Does everything that he’s asked. Making great progress. He’s a poster boy for what we preach. A great example and he publicly gives us credit for his recent success.

So, Pete tells me George has a great product and is working really hard, but really needs help. George is a great guy and I should really help him. I see George around a lot and he is personable. I trust Pete’s judgment that George’s product is awesome (I’m not an expert in his field. Just mine.)

So, today, I call George and we talk about his business, etc. and as it turns out, he’s working with a management consultant named Reginald. After a little more conversation, George told me that Reggie was giving him sales training.

Why is a management consultant giving sales training? Because he found someone who will pay him for it. Now, I know Reggie. Reggie wants ten clients, he has one. George. It’s been that way for over a year. If Reggie can’t meet his own sales goals, what business does he have trying to teach someone else to reach their’s? I was pissed and I let it show. I may have said something like the blind leading the blind. I may have asked who was training Reggie. I know that I wondered what made this idiot think that he could teach anybody how to sell?

You ready? Here’s the lesson.

I cared. For some reason, I let George under my skin. Pete liked him. Pete wanted him to succeed. For some reason, I let myself care and I lost my objectivity. I knew that George was making a mistake and I cared that he was wasting his time and money. Exactly why. I don’t know, but here’s the bottom line.

You can’t care until your prospect does. If a prospect wants help, great. Help them. If a prospect wants to let their business go down the drain, if they truly want to, what business is it of yours. Let it go.

“Pretend” Selling

Last Thursday, I facilitated a table at the Corridor Nine Speed Networking Event. There were 220+ people in the room. The format is that 9 people sit at my table, pass business cards, take one minute each to introduce themselves and move to another table to repeat the process and I get 9 new people at my table. Then, we do it again. If we do it right, everyone will have introduced themselves to 27 people and leave with 27 business cards to follow up on.

I went to this event to meet 27 people that would take my call so we could have a follow-up conversation to determine if one of us was a prospect for the other, whether we could be mutual centers of influence, or resources to each other. I got an immediate follow-up email from
<ST1John</ST1 Dudley Sr.</ST1 of United Home Experts and we’ve already had a follow-up conversation. I also got a follow up email from <ST1Dan Tinsley</ST1 of the Sullivan Insurance Group and I expect that we’ll have a follow-up conversation shortly. I also got an email from Julie Orcutt from the Central Massachusetts Convention & Visitors Bureau. And…………..are you ready for this? Russ Swallow of Benefits Lab called me. We talked and we’ll meet shortly. We probably won’t do business with each other, but we should be able to help each others’ clients.

OK, I gave every one of these people my business card. So how come I’ve only been contacted by 4 of the 27 people that sat at my table. Are they worried that if they call me, that I’ll make them buy something that they don’t want, don’t need and can’t afford? Are they just “pretend selling”? You know, they go to networking events and wait for the phone to ring. Or…..did they just come for breakfast?