Accomplish Great Things!

With a new year comes new pressures – goals to set, goals to reach and relationships to start and grow. But with a new year also comes new possibilities, a blank slate of sorts to dig deeper and connect with your market in a new way.

However, often times we let the pressures overshadow the possibilities. The sales goals make us lax on the current relationships we have or the budget acts as a limitation, rather than an opportunity for innovation.  But growth comes from running through a wall – motivating yourself to achieve despite the restrictions.

We are able to accomplish great things when we don’t succumb to our limitations. Take Beethoven, who composed some of his greatest pieces while deaf, or Stephen Hawking, who even though bound to a wheelchair and only able to speak through a computer, has become one of the world’s most renowned astrophysicists.  As Hawking said, “People are fascinated by the contrast between my very limited physical powers and the vast nature of the universe I deal with.”

Don’t let your marketing budget keep you from pursuing deep connections. This year, despite the restrictions you may face, make your best contribution to your business and your clients.  You may find yourself setting more records than ever before.

That said, we’re thrilled to bring you the first Connect Magazine of 2016. If you don’t receive Connect let us know and we’ll make sure you do.  You can subscribe (it’s free) on our website or you can contact me directly.  It’s in production as I write this letter.

The cover feature, “Fruits of our Labor,” explores the underlying motivators that make us want to work. It also highlights how the workplace is changing with the influx of the Millennial generation.  In the second feature, experts weigh in on how they made their business and their brand stand out above the noise.

For the New Year, we’re bringing you a new look and some exciting things to come.

As always, it’s a privilege and a pleasure to serve your community, and we’re thrilled to have you with us for 2016.

Happy New Year!


Sometimes reps don’t tell the truth!

If you manage salespeople long enough, some very funny…as in odd, things are going to happen to you. You’re going to find yourself in unbelievable situations. Some will be exciting but some will be impossible.

I had one for the book I hope to eventually write in the 90’s. I answered a call on the plant phone to be greeted by a woman’s voice. She said, “Bill, I can’t tell you my name because I don’t want the industry to know I’m looking to change jobs. I would like to meet with you, however, and discuss possibilities.”

She went on to tell me she had a specific client that everyone in town wanted to work with. Unfortunately, she couldn’t tell me who it was…because then I would know who she was and the cat would be out of the bag. She simply couldn’t allow that to happen.

Like an idiot, I agreed to the appointment. Why in the world do we do that? Are we so desperate for sales that we’ll ignore every danger signal? What makes us set our prudence aside when it comes to hiring people that say they can sell? We don’t do that for any other position.

The mystery guest didn’t show for our appointment. She called weeks later and went through the story again. Once again I played the dummy and agreed to meet with her.

This time she showed. I sat across the table from a woman who wouldn’t tell me her name and attempted to do an interview. It was totally absurd. I was totally absurd.

It gets worse. We hired her. Of course we learned her name first…but we did hire her. My boss did a back flip when he learned who the client was and while it never would have led us to her name, it did get her hired. She started the next day.

Now comes the fun part. We waited. We asked when we were going to go see the big client. She explained that there were delays due to vacations etc. We waited some more. There was no work, there were no appointments and no discussion of business. There was only waiting.

After six or eight weeks of daily pressure she announced that we had an appointment. We were to meet in their downtown lobby at nine the following morning. Together we would go to the 33rd floor to get things rolling.

I was in the lobby early. Nine o’clock came. The mystery rep was missing. Then it was 9:10 and 9:15. I was solo and starting to wonder if I had misunderstood. Perhaps I was supposed to meet her on the 33rd floor.

At 9:25 she appeared in the lobby. I walked toward her in frustration as she explained that it would be fine. She had let the client know she was running late. Everybody was cool except me.

I can’t set it aside. The elevator is climbing and I’m fuming. We’ve waited eight weeks for an appointment and now we’re late. Nothing could be more unprofessional. Right?

It was at this moment she looked at me and said, “You know I’ve never met these people before” DING! The elevator door opened and we were standing in our target’s office. I wanted to scream. I wanted to run. I wanted to hide!

What I did instead was meet with the client. I made my best presentation and shared why I thought we might be a fit. I pretended It was a cold call. I guess it was a cold call.

Of course the woman of mystery didn’t make it. She was fired before we got back to the office. Our business owner was furious but had to laugh. We were so blinded by sales lust that we tossed caution aside.

So…what is the moral of the story? Employers, you owe it to yourselves to be diligent. Take your time with interviews. Ask for suitability tests (aptitude). Ask for references and check them. Include others in the process and don’t feel like you’re being intrusive.

Pay attention to the salary conversations too. If the demand for guarantee is too strong or too long, they don’t believe in themselves. If they expect you to carry 100% of the risk, odds are you’re going to inherit 100% of the surprise too.

I boasted to a peer once that I had hired a heavy hitter that didn’t have a single account conflict with our sales team of 15. The peer responded, “that’s amazing don’t you think?” Then it hit me. It wasn’t amazing at all. It was another stupid hire. Fortunately, I haven’t had many of those.

Hire talent but protect your company. Your existing employees are counting on you. You know how to do it.

It’s a crime to waste time!

I remember how I felt at my high school graduation.  I was excited to be there.  It took me a year longer than my classmates…than most people.  It was a victory.  To me it was another party with my pals.  It was just another event in a long succession of school activities.

Then, the Principal started calling out names.  He was presenting awards to the people around me.  There was scholastic achievement, participation, athletics…citizenship.  What there wasn’t, was the sound my name being mentioned.  I had been content to show up.  I did enough to graduate.  That’s all.

I remember the realization that my high school experience was behind me.  My chance to make more of it was over.  My chance to earn an award, impress my classmates or do anything special on a high school stage had passed.  I would never have that opportunity again.    

I hated the way that felt.  I grew up a great deal in that one sobering moment.  I promised myself that I would do all I could to avoid ever wasting another moment…another opportunity.  Kipling’s verse regarding “the unforgiving minute” was instantly larger than the graduation hall.

Time is easy to waste!  We tell ourselves we are productive when we gaze into our computers but are we?  How many of the minutes we spend in “research” are ever turned into action?  How many hours do we waste each week in cyber self deception?  Those minutes and hours are gone forever. 

I’m convinced it’s a large number.  I’m convinced we were more productive when we simply picked up the phone.  We have to do that, eventually, if we want to do business.  We can’t have secure client relationships if we don’t talk to one another.

The research we do has to turn into more than lists.  It has to turn into action.  It has to turn into sales reps making calls…going to see people…getting to know people and solving problems.  Endless lists of names and businesses that we’re going to get to one day are lies we tell ourselves.  They lead to wasted time, like my high school career.

I see the time wasters everyday.  This time of year you can find them in the office supply warehouse stores buying pens, pads, new computers and file folders.  They’re “fixin to get busy.”  This is going to be the year they change their path by getting serious about business.

If they are really serious, they’ll pick up the phone and call someone.  If you’re really serious you’ll click off of social media and invent the life you’re pretending to be living.  You’ll set aside any  concern you have for what people perceive you’re doing and get focused on the activities that can change you life.

I wasted my six…that’s right six years of high school but I didn’t waste my college experience.  I’ve wasted precious little time since that sobering graduation night.  I’ve made mistakes but they taught me stuff.  I’ve offended people along the way but never on purpose.  I’ve been laser beam focused on my life, family and career.  I won’t waste time moving forward.

I invite and challenge everyone to make 2016 a year that is not wasted.  Click off the box and make the call.  You’ll be amazed what you can learn in 30 seconds of live conversation.  You’ll be excited to discover how many people want to hear from you.