“He who shall not be named.”

Yesterday, Thursday, I had the pleasure of listening to Scott Latham from Bentley address almost 200 business people at the Corridor Nine Chamber of Commerce Monthly Breakfast. The title of his talk was “Recession Proof Your Business”. He asked the crowd to put up their hands if they were Harry Potter fans. Then he drew his first analogy…….Remember how they talked about the villain in Harry Potter?

                                    “He who shall not be named

The villain was so powerful and so feared that it was dangerous even to say his name.

Then Scott talked about the “R” word and how all the politicians, economists, and talking heads believe that it’s dangerous to say the word “recession” as if not saying it means that it doesn’t exist.

I see this every day. Salespeople, sales managers, entrepreneurs, and business owners don’t evaluate because to evaluate might mean that they’ll identify what’s holding them back and what’s holding them back is so powerful and so feared that it’s dangerous to even say it’s name. If they don’t name the weakness that’s holding them back, then it doesn’t exist.

As my mother would say, “Yeah, right!”

Thanks, Scott!


As you may know, I talk to my mother during most of my evening commutes. Tonight she asked when I was going to post a picture of my new grandson like I did when Kai was born. Meet Zane!


And this is Zane under Kai’s watchful eye!



If you are a business owner that sells, or an active salesperson, you probably talk to several thousand people a year. If you are a human being with ears, eyes and a brain, you are bombarded with hundreds (or thousands) of incoming messages EVERY DAY…..some of which are ‘feelers’ from business owners or salespeople because you’re on their list today.

Elaine l-o-v-e-s to shop. Everything from flea markets, salvage stores and outlets to malls, Newbury Street or anywhere in Manhattan. She’s looking for new furniture for our family room, so a couple of weeks ago we visited a furniture store. As we walked in, I noticed two ‘vultures’ waiting about 30 feet away. One of them broke away from their conversation and angled over to greet us with, “How are you kids, today?” Elaine responded with, “Just looking.” (I love watching this.) He adeptly asked, “Anything in particular?”. Elaine replied, “Sofas and recliners.” He gestured and said, “All along in here and my name is Rich if you have any questions.” Elaine thanked him and I nodded. (I’m good at my part, too. Huh?) He stayed with us, pointing out features of the next few things that Elaine touched. After a minute or so, Rich asked, “Have you kids been looking long?” I turned and said, “You know, Rich, I might be older than you.” To which he replied, “I doubt that.” (All right. I started it..I have to finish it.) “Rich, us ‘kids’ will call you when we need you or you can send another salesperson over to check on us if you don’t want to deal with me any more.” Rich was pissed. He walked away talking to himself and never spoke to us again. (We did talk with another salesperson, but the store wasn’t a fit.)

Here’s the point.
I could have given Rich my business card.
I could have told him that I could fix his Need for Approval.
I could have told him that I could teach him how not to get Emotionally Involved.
I could have given him a more engaging way to greet prospects walking into his store.
I could have offered a lot.

Do you think he cared? Do you think that he wants anyone to point out that he’s not perfect?

Do you think that he wants to know?

Now, truthfully, I didn’t try to engage Rich as a prospect, but how many of you have ever noticed someone with a problem that you could fix and said something like, “I can show you how to do that better.” and they replied with something like, “No, thanks.”

Click here.

Can you think of a question that you could ask that might begin to determine whether or not they want to know? If so, share it as a comment.

Incidentally, Pete Caputa has a very relevant post here.

What you think doesn’t matter

Dave Kurlan’s post

The feature that we like the best might not matter.

Our biggest differentiator might not matter.

Being the lowest price might not matter.

Being the highest price might not matter.

An impending event might not matter.

The color might not matter.

Delivery time might not matter.

Your relationship with the boss might not matter.

The prospect gets to decide what their compelling reason to buy is and if you can do it, you’re on your way.

Selling Science

This could be fun!

I’ve been thinking recently that one of the reasons that technical people struggle with sales is that they believe that salesmanship is an art. However, truly professional salespeople know that there is a science of selling and that there are many similarities between more traditional sciences like chemistry, physics, geology and the science of selling.

So, let’s do it.

Is there a sales lesson that we can learn from the behavior of inert gases?

How about from Newton’s Laws?

Are there any useful analogies between sales and the way the physical earth is put together?

Not a lot of answers here, but there’s a lot of smart people out there.

Any thoughts? What’s your interest, mechanics, fluids, IT, math, can you apply it to sales?


Occasionally, we get an inquiry that goes something like, “We’re looking for ‘Negotiation Training’.”.

Isn’t that a terrible place to start?

First, Dictionary.com says that one of the roots is “lack of leisure,” from neg- “not” + otium “ease, leisure.”

Excuse me! Lack of leisure? No wonder I never thought that negotiation was a good thing. Who wants a lack of leisure?

Some of the synonyms listed on Thesaurus.com are arbitration, compromise, debate, intervention, and mediation.

Arbitration? Mediation? We need a third party to decide?

Intervention? Huh? You mean like one of us is an addict and our friends have to get us in a room to get us clean? Who needs the intervention, the negotiator or the negotiatee? (Is that even a word?)

Debate? If anyone starts a debate in the sales process, it’s over!

Best for last….Compromise? I’m totally willing to compromise as long as I we do it 100% my way! No, seriously, if I’m willing to compromise, doesn’t that mean that my first solution wasn’t an expert recommendation and therefore a bad recommendation? I’m the expert. I don’t make bad recommendations.

In summary, to me, negotiation implies confrontation and two sides and if you are truly seen as an expert, there will be no negotiation because your prospect will believe that you are on their side. If you ever feel like you’re in a negotiation, maybe you should look to see how you got to second base.

The Importance of “No”

I had an interesting conversation today with John Kervorkian. We talked about a wide range of topics and I found out that he’s done some pretty high powered things. We were talking about managing salespeople, and he commented, “I used to just start with the “No’s.”” Simple? Obvious? Genius! If your salesman had 12 sales calls last week and 10 of them bought, ask about the ones that didn’t.

I’m hoping that he comments to add further insight.

School Bus Lesson for Sales Managers

Today is February 11th. I was driving to work this morning and I was third in line stopped for a school bus that was coming at me. A young boy runs across the street carrying his knapsack and a gigantic plastic bag. He gets on the bus. The flashing lights stop and we start to move. There’s mom, mittens, hat, winter coat waving like a banshee!

Mom, it’s 8 degrees (F). Go home. Have coffee. He’s probably got it!

Mom, it February 8th. You’ve probably been doing this since September. Go home. Have coffee. He’s probably got it!

Mom, maybe you could just send him an email or leave him a note.  Stay home. Have coffee. He’s probably got it!

Truth is…….Mom doesn’t care. It’s important. She’s gonna reinforce the lesson every day…No matter what the conditions…It’s her job…She’s responsible to get him through it

So, how many of you sales managers manage all day every day until they get it? How many of you think that once a week (or month) is enough?

I’d be willing to bet that not only does mom send him off in the morning, but that she meets him in the afternoon. As a matter of fact, what do you think the chances are that there’s a note in his lunch box?

We’re surrounded by lessons. Enjoy!

Address your weakness(es) or save your money

You may find this hard to believe, but some people don’t like me.

Are you done laughing yet? I’ll wait. OK, seriously, it wasn’t THAT funny. All right. Catch your breath. Wipe the tears from your eyes. Ready? Let’s go on.

This is the type of person who doesn’t like me.

He makes excuses. The only reason that he wants any ‘training’ is to learn tricks. He doesn’t really want to make better matches between his company and it’s customers. He just wants more business. If the trick doesn’t work, he’ll blame the prospect, the trick, or me. Anybody but himself.

I coach away the excuse-making by asking him how he screwed up. I blame everything on him. Until he’s willing to accept full responsibility for everything, he cannot be fixed. Consequently, he might ask me why I’m always giving him a hard time. Why I’m always picking on him. I’ll stop when he’s fixed or he fires me. I won’t give in and be part of the problem.

He gets emotionally involved. He can’t control himself. He talks louder and faster, smiles defensively, and feels his pulse rate quicken. It upsets him even more that I can get him emotional at will. If I can do it at will, so can a prospect. Once a prospect gets him emotionally involved, the prospect is in control. Either the salesperson buckles and give the prospect what they want or cut and run.

He believes that he doesn’t have a need for approval or a self-limiting record collection, but they’re both on the cusp. I won’t talk about these two weaknesses except to say that I will always indicate behavior that is a result of the weakness even when my client would prefer to be ‘coddled’.

Weaknesses are different from skills. A salesperson that has been through years of training may actually be able to show skills in a typical interview or in the classroom, but in front of a prospect, a switch flips and although they may know what to do, the weakness won’t let them do it or makes them do it wrong.

So, what’s my point? Read this. If you’re good, do you want to prove it and know how to get closer to perfect?

If you’re not as good as you want to be, are you happy about it? If ‘yes’, thank you for reading. If ‘no’, click here to get evaluated.