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Why Aren't Your Sales People Selling?

Tony Cole

Tony Cole

Tony Cole, Founder and CEO of Anthony Cole Training Group

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How to Avoid a Sales “Choke”

  
  
  
  
  

Guest Post By Walt Gerano, Sales Development Expert

When working with prospects and clients, I’m generally a couple of moves ahead; I think well on my feet and I know what to say next. But, I must admit, that sometimes, I get excited or upset during a sales call because I get caught off guard by with a question or response from a prospect.

When was the last time you asked yourself, “Why did I do that? Why did THAT happen?”

Upset Sales Person

Do you know how to respond to critical sales moments… or do you choke? The moments I described earlier are what we call “choke situations”. You know, situations where we tend to get emotionally tangled and taken off-course by our prospect.

Have you ever felt or thought any of the following:
          - Frustrated?
          - Worried?
          - Intimidated?
          - Lost for words?
          - Stumbling over words?
          - Found yourself talking too much?
          - Wished they hadn’t said something or asked you something?
          - Wondered what you should be saying next or didn’t exactly know
            what you should do next?
          - Felt like the think you just said could have been the wrong thing?
          - Gotten back in the car and say, “Why in the world did I say that?” or
           “Why didn’t I say that?”

Well, the answer is, of course, that we all have.  The next question is, “What’s the impact on your business?” I’ll let YOU answer that one.

Ok, so if that’s part of the problem, what’s the cure? Well, I’m going to give you 5 steps to follow to avoid “choke situations”:

  1. Be sure to maintain what we call “clinical detachment”.  In other words, don’t get emotionally involved. By the way, that DOESN’T mean you need to lack enthusiasm.
  2. Sometimes in the course of an interaction with a client or prospect, they’re going to throw you a curve ball. You can hit a curveball IF you know it’s coming… so be ready. 
  3. Listen intently to what they say. Listening does NOT mean that you aren’t talking.
  4. Don’t think ahead - stay in the moment. Pay attention to what’s going on. Observe their body language, what they say and how they say it. 
  5. Have good pacing.  Slow down. Don’t be afraid to allow silent pauses in the conversation.

Now, your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to identify 3 situations where you find yourself getting emotionally involved, i.e. choking.  And decide how you will respond differently the next time it happens. Be patient; it’s a process. Remember, your main job is to qualify the prospect and you need to have a pipeline of enough qualified prospects so you can execute your strategy from a position of strength, not out of fear.

Thanks for stopping by. Now, have a great day.

***************

Read more by Walt Gerano on his blog, Selling For Life

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Go Huskies! Go Sell!

  
  
  
  
  

I’m normally one to watch a movie, read a book or listen to a song and tie it to sales and/or sales management.  And, even though I use a lot of sports analogies, I rarely use sport stories or examples in my blog post or Sales Brew Newsletters.  But given the recent victory by my alma mater, THE University of Connecticut, I want to share some observations about their road to the Final Four and eventual Championship.

Basketball hoop

This is what I observed about the Huskies and, to be fair to all those in the Final Four, the other teams that they played against or who played in the tournament.

The question, the point to be made is this: Why did they win?

1.      Grit - In Dan Pink’s book, Drive, he discusses what gives winners the edge, and often it’s just GRIT: “A non-cognitive, non-physical trait.”  Time and again, I saw the Huskies and others in the tournament just go to a different ‘’place” mentally and/or emotionally.  They turned it up a notch and just refused to lose.

2.      Excellence in the simple things – In the championship game against UK, the Huskies did not get to the free throw line many times, but when they did, they were excellent.  As a matter of record, they were PERFECT - 10 for 10 from the line.  Kentucky on the other hand was not as excellent – 13 for 24. For the tournament, UConn shot 87.7% from the line – a tournament record.  (UConn won by 6 points – imagine what the outcome could have been if UK had just been good at the line! 79%)

3.      Execute the system – In the middle of the second half of the game, UK makes a run and gets to within 1, takes the lead, loses the lead, gets back to 1.  During this run, the Huskies stopped executing their system – their offense.  You could see it.  Even if you don’t know basketball and you had watched them the first half compared to how they where playing during the run, you would see that they stopped executing the system.  What got them BACK into the game, kept them in the game, and then kept them in the lead for good, was they got back to their system.  There is a point where Napier, the point guard, pushes his teammate, Boatright, to get back in position to run the “play”.

4.      Take chances – They call them “turnovers” when a team loses the ball to the opponent.  Many of the turnovers that UK had were a result of UConn attempting to disrupt – steal the ball from - UK’s offense.  They converted almost every steal to points.  You have to take some risk, and when you do, you have to do everything possible to convert the risk effort.

5.      Coaching and Preparation: Mentally – Ken Ollie had his team ready for the competition.  You could tell that they were prepared to take it to the other team, they were prepared for the other team to make runs, they were prepared to take advantage of the “free” opportunities.

6.      Defend the territory – If you watch an animal defend its territory, then you get the feel for what the UConn defense was like.  They smothered the ball, they rebounded, and they “forced” turnovers.

Summary:

  •  Grit
  • Excellence in the simple things
  • Execute the System
  • Take Chances
  • Get coaching be prepared
  • Defend the territory

 Question:  How does this pertain to you and what you do? Take a moment and leave a comment.

 Go Huskies! Go Sell!

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5 Keys to Building a Successful Sales Team – Laying The Ground Work

  
  
  
  
  

As I think about this concept, I realize that I may actually discuss more than just 5 keys.  These elements, or contributing factors, can be called “keys” but they can just as easily be called the 5 elements of successful sales teams or the 5 contributing factors of successful sales teams.  5 Keys sounds too finite or definitive but, although I’ve never claimed to have the definitive answers to building successful sales teams, I am convinced that if you have strong Performance Management, Recruiting, Coaching, Motivating and Mentoring, then you have a very good chance of success. 

However, as I sit here in Delta’s seat 2D(pleasant surprise – I got bumped to first class) returning from the BISA Annual Conference, I realize that I need to build a little ground work before I get into the FAB 5 of building successful sales teams. 

groundwork

Ground Work – Here are some things that I’ve come to believe about building and leading a successful sales team:

·         The manager’s primary responsibility is to put the best team in the market place.

·         The manager must be able to discern between what is controllable, what is not controllable, what they should attempt to control and what they need to let go.

·         Jim Collins in Good to Great nails it when he states that “if you have to manage your people, then you’ve hired the wrong people.”

·         The central theme of Rham Charam and Larry Bossidy’s book, Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done - There must be a clear process that is consistently executed in order to get things done

·         The Harvard Business Review definition of the manager’s job as aligning resources for the teams to execute the business strategies.

·         To begin implementation of our Sales Managed Environment, our clients must understand and commit to the following:

o   They must lead for results, manage behavior and coach activity.

o   Management is not about being nice or being mean.  It’s about holding people accountable to THEIR commitments and having a meaningful process to reward success and a disciplined (not punitive) approach to correct failure.

·         The manager must be willing to face the reality that their systems, processes and teams are perfectly designed for the results they are currently getting.

·         The key to changing results is to change behavior, improve skills and execute the process.  The key to changing behavior, and improving skill and execution is attitude.  The key to changing attitude is to changing beliefs.

More to follow…

 

Resources:

www.anthonycoletraining.com/resources

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Want Sales Success? Practice. (We’re Talking About Practice?!?)

  
  
  
  
  

Several years ago, a video with Allan Iverson (then with the Philadelphia 76ers) went viral.  Apparently, there was a problem between him and his coach Larry Brown about a practice session that Iverson missed.  When questioned about it by the press, Iverson goes on and on and on (see video) about practice.

Iverson

Switching sports – let’s talk baseball.  Teams are now reporting for spring training in various locations in Florida and Arizona.  Supporting the local economy and their teams that arrive for spring training, fans flock to watch practices and games.  For many, this is just as much a spring ritual for the fans as it is for the athletes on the field.

Derek Jeter of the NY Yankees will be 40 in June of this year.  He was drafted in 1992 by the Yankees.  He’s been at this a while.  Let’s conservatively pretend that he didn’t start to hit Major League Batting Averages until 2002.  Assuming that is the case, he has approximately 615 at bats per season and has faced 6.5 pitches per at bat.  I’m going to round the number to 4,000 pitches per season.

Defensively, let’s say he has averaged 140 games per year since 2002; that would mean he has played 1,734 games and spent 15,612 innings in the infield facing at a minimum of 3 batters per inning.  I won’t bore you with more numbers, but let’s say that he’s made a few fielding plays in those 15,612 innings.  Let’s also say he’s pretty good:  Rookie of The Year, Gold Glove (5), Silver Slugger (5), World Series MVP (1), Hand Aaron Award (2), Roberto Clemente Award, All Star Appearances(19), and has been the All Star MVP.

Derek is contracted through 2014 - even though he only played in 7 games last year.  So, as the team prepares for the season down there in Tampa, Florida, what do you suppose Derek is doing?

Practicing.  He will practice infield, base running, batting, bunting, advancing runners, fly balls, throwing and catching.

Why?  Because that is what it takes to be the best.

Why then, as professional sales people, should we see ourselves any differently?  Why do we shy away from training programs?  Why do we hesitate instead of embrace role-playing?  Why do we feel that we practice and improve our skills simply by executing our sales activities day in and day out?

I wish I had the answer to those questions, but I do not.  What I do know is if I would intend to sell more, sell more quickly, be more effective, then I must:

Practice, Practice, Practice

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The High Stakes Game of Selling

  
  
  
  
  

I once spoke with a regional president of a bank that did not believe that selling is like a game.  I am not one to argue.  However, as I consider his comment, I still believe two things:  1) Selling really IS very much like a game and 2)  People ought to be able to defend their answers.  I don’t care how they do it as long as they defending their position with more than just saying, “I don’t believe…”

I’ve read Money Ball by Michael Lewis and now I’m reading Trading Bases by Joe Peta.  I made it through Money Ball because it was entertaining and I could see the relationship between selecting players to play the game of baseball and selecting sales people to sell.  So far, I’ve not had that success with Trading Bases – there’s just too much data.

                        moneyball book cover

For those of you who know me, you’re probably thinking, “What?!? Tony has too much data?!? No way!”  Well, it’s true I love useful data.  I love to look at data to find out what has to happen with a sales team to help it become more successful.  I love to help sales people gain insight from data to help them sell more business, more quickly at higher margins.

BUT the data in this book has me dazed and confused.

Whenever I read a book about using data to improve, I think about two things: 1)  Using predictive data to help sales executives betting on the success of their next hire.  2) Helping sales professionals improve the odds of closing more closable prospects.  As for #1:  I only know of one really good source for “betting on sales talent”; that is the Objective Management Group Sales Evaluation and the Sales Evaluation and Impact Analysis.

It’s very, very good.  I would bet on that data every day of the week.

As for #2 – How DO sales people improve their odds of closing more business?   Well, this is what you should do to improve your odds:  1) Make sure you are working with prospects that your company has products and services for.  2) Make sure you are calling at the “yes” decision making level in the organization, family or business.  3) Make sure you have taken the time to uncover the problem that has to be solved AND your prospect has told you that this is a “have to fix” problem.  4)  Make sure that the money available to solve the problem is enough to pay for your product or service.  5)  Make sure you have studied the ripple effect of change – i.e. who will push back on a decision to change, purchase or move forward.  6)  Make sure you deal with the ripple effect.  7)  Make sure you know the decision making process and you have done everything you can do to get a decision when you present your solution.  8)  Eliminate the incumbent.  Make sure your prospect is committed to making a change.  9) Eliminate the “think it over” option at time of close.   

Do these things and you will have more sales success.  Record how well you do these things and your “winning” becomes more predictable, which means you can bet on your wins.

Free Assessment Tools

Call 513.791.3458 and ask to talk to me about Sales Success and On-Track Management.

Anthony Cole Training Website

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Drivers of Sales Success: Desire

  
  
  
  
  

Desire is critical for great success in sales and in all walks of life and endeavors. I’m not sure that’s a fact, but it’s certainly my strong opinion. I don’t know how anyone can deal with the challenges and obstacles to great success without a burning passion to succeed. But, then again, that’s just my opinion.

I walked off of a football field for the very first time in my hometown of Hammonton, NJ. I was 9 years old and was trying out for the Hammonton Hawks Pop Warner football team. I walked up to my dad and he asked, “Well, whaddya think?”  I said, “I’m going to go to college someday and play football!”  Dad replied, “Well then, you better go run some laps around the field. You have to be in great shape to play football in college.” Off I ran, 8 laps, 2 miles.

Football goal

13 years later, I finished my football playing career on the football field of Holy Cross University in Wooster, Massachusetts. We lost 41 to 40. I cried like a baby. It hit me all of sudden that I would never again play the game I loved so much and devoted so much time to.

I don’t have the same passion and desire to succeed in selling. I have passion for success in selling because of my passion for success in other areas. And because selling is what I do, I have to be successful at my profession. Don’t get me wrong; I love what I do. I love talking to executives about their companies, their challenges and their objectives. I love looking for solutions, love working with their people, and love helping others succeed. I am a coach by nature and that is what I love doing.

The passion that drives me in sales - my desire for success in sales - stems from other areas.  I’m afraid of poverty. I hate failing. I hate the idea that I won’t provide well enough for my family to have the life that they deserve to have and that I want them to have. I have a son that has significant challenges that can cost a lot of money. I have a daughter that will someday want a fine wedding and my wife and I love to back country fish and hang out in the Keys. I want to spend more of my remaining days doing the things I love doing: Spending time with my wife Linda, hanging out with my son, taking a bike ride with my good friend Jerry, going to see Mike in DC and dancing with my daughter at her wedding.

This is my passion that drives me to succeed in sales. What’s yours?

Additional Resource:  Ignite the Fire Within Workshop (Keynote)

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Hiring Better Sales People (pt.1)

  
  
  
  
  

How do you go about finding sales talent?  What challenges have you had trying to hire better sales people?  When you replace someone, because they leave or you let them go, is the replacement better, the same or worse than the recently departed?

Manager with Bag on Head

At Anthony Cole Training Group, we spend a lot of time helping presidents of organizations answer the burning platform question: 

            How do I drive consistent sales growth? 

Often, if not always, one of the answers has to do with hiring better sales people.  That simple statement does not have a simple solution.

One of our business partners is Objective Management Group.  President, David Kurlan, and his staff have developed THE #1 Sales Evaluation Process in the World.  Not only does it provide information on skills, traits and tendencies of the sales people and sales managers, but it also provides great insight into the systems and processes that exist in the company that are either supporting or hindering your sales growth objective!

One of the systems and processes is recruiting!  I don’t remember where I originally heard or read this phrase, but I know I’ve stated it a great number of times in my blog:  “Your companies, systems and processes are perfectly designed for the results you are getting today.” 

           That includes your recruiting process!

If you are not getting enough of the right candidates to talk to, if the candidates you interview fail the interview, if you interview quality candidates, but cannot attract them to your company or… if you are achieving all of the former, but your new hires are failing to succeed quickly or even succeed at all, then something is wrong with your process.

Today, I want to just talk about the first step:  Establishing the profile of the candidates you are looking for.  We use OMG’s program called STAR – Sales Talent Acquisition Routine.  The first step - in the process to hire better sales people - is to establish the right profile and then STICK to that profile.  Do NOT settle for something less than the ideal, perfect candidate.  And... make sure that, when you are evaluating the resumes, pre-hire evaluations and interview notes, you are comparing them to the correct standard.

I’m reading a book by Perry Marshall that has to do with understanding the Pareto Principle as it applies to sales and marketing.  He talks about how organizations of all sorts look at the wrong data to determine success.

Example: Remember when you had to take a particularly difficult test in school?  After you finished it, you talked with others about how you would be “graded on the curve.”  What that simply means is that, if the average score on the test was 50% and you scored 75%, you would probably get an “A”.  The question is:  Did the “A” truly reflect your skill or know-how of the subject matter? Or did it merely reflect how you - or someone else - scored against the average?  The answer, as painful as it might be, is that it compares you to the average. 

The same may hold true for some of your candidates.  Many, though not all, pre-hire evaluations provide you with an evaluation of how your candidate’s score compared to an “average” score.  But is that really what you want?

That, in itself, can be problematic in hiring better sales people. However, it’s not just about the test.  It’s about every step along the way.  In your process, do you:

  • Describe the job… or what it takes to be extraordinary in the role
  • Describe what they are selling… or what kind of competition they have to be successful against?
  • Do you make it clear that your organization puts high pressure on someone to perform? And do you find out if your candidate can survive in that kind of environment?
  • When you interview someone, do you create the same environment that they will encounter regularly and have to be successful in? (i.e – Are you difficult on the phone? Do you make them establish rapport in the initial interview? Do you make them try to close you for the next step?)

To go back to my example about the science test, do you find yourself hiring people that scored 77% to 85% on the test instead of those that scored 100% - plus correctly answered all of the extra-credit questions?

This is the first step.  Here are some resources that might help you figure out how to redesign your recruiting system and process:

Cost of ghosts

Recruiting Process Grader

White paper on Recruiting Sales People

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Busting Sales Myths #2 - Being Lucky and Unlucky in Sales

  
  
  
  
  

RunningShoe

As a younger sales guy, and still as an older sales guy (sales development expert), I took many opportunities to listen to, meet, or read about what other success gurus had to say.  I believe it was Larry Winget, (but it might have been Mark Victor Hansen), that said outcomes occur as a result of “The Law of Causes and Effect,” rather than “The Law of Accident.”

The Law of Accident:

I recently had an accident.  I was out on my morning jog in New York City.  Running up Park Avenue from 45th, I was just getting ready to cross 56th.  It was a beautiful morning in the city.  I was anticipating getting to Central Park, turning left, coming back down 5th Avenue, stopping in St. Patrick Cathedral (like I always do when I run in the city) and then heading back to my hotel, the Roosevelt.

The next thing I know I am lying on the road in the middle of 56th and Park.  My knees are bleeding, my right hand has a significant chunk of skin missing just below my pinky knuckle, my shoulders hurt and I have a little blood on my face just below the right eye.

Contrary to what many people think outside of the City, there were people there to help me.  They helped me get up, asked if I was alright, walked me back to the corner, took my billfold – only kidding – and double checked to see if there was anything I needed.  I said I was okay.

I won’t go into all the details here about what happened between then and now, but let me get to the now.  Today, I head into surgery.  Apparently, I have torn the triceps in my left arm and I have a fractured metacarpal in my right hand on the pinky side.  I’ve been wearing a brace on my right hand to deal with the fracture and today they will address the triceps with a surgical procedure that will put me in a splint for 8 weeks.

As I’ve tried to explain to people what happened, it’s very hard to explain torn triceps and broken hand as a result of jogging.  I’ve had to come up with some very creative stories and have had to handle some good natured “verbal abuse” from my closest friends and associates.  I understand – I deserve it.  But, obviously running wasn’t the culprit; it was the impact with the street that caused my injuries.  I tell everyone, “It was an ACCIDENT!”

Not true though.  What really happened was Cause and Effect.  In reality, I violated the first of 3 steps to busting the myth of “Lucky and Unlucky”.

1.      Anticipate – Normally when I run in the city, I anticipate the different breaks in the road structure, the unevenness of the curbs and the hectic pace of the pedestrian traffic.  That day, I stopped anticipating and started day-dreaming about the rest of the run and my return trip home.  The cause of the fall had nothing to do with anything other than me not paying attention and not anticipating a bump, crack or hole in the street. In sales, you must also stay alert and anticipate potential problems. Sometimes a lost sale is simply due to not paying attention.

2.      Prepare – Once you begin to anticipate what things can happen in your sales approach, you prepare.  You must always be ready with a plan of action for dealing with the “bumps, cracks and other hazards.” I really should have had a 2a. 

2a.  Prepare how you have to perform.  In other words, if you are getting ready to meet with a prospect that is aggressive then you better make sure that your role-play partner plays that part.

2b.  Prepare various strategies based on the various situations you believe you have to anticipate.

3.      Practice – Selling requires a unique set of skills.  Many skills.  We assess sales people for 4 primary selling skills:  Hunter, Qualifier, Closer and Consultative Seller.  Each one of these skills has contributing attributes that need to be honed through practice.

From a sales manager’s perspective, you cannot allow your people to claim “luck” when they are successful.  If you do this, then you will allow them to be “unlucky” when they are not successful.  They will blame the incumbent, a personal relationship, an unfair selection practice or the competition.  They won’t say that they aren’t lucky, but they may tell you that they need some luck.  You have to be strong enough to deal with this and tell them that luck isn’t going to do it.  Anticipating challenges to opening or closing deals will help them change their outcomes.  Being prepared for each and every opportunity is what will change their outcomes. And finally, practice, practice and more practice is what will bring them success.

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Busting The Sales Myth #1 - "I Don’t Have Time To Prospect"

  
  
  
  
  

If you are a salesperson or a sales manager, you have either said or heard, "I don't have enough time to prospect."  This is a myth and the chart below illustrates that for you. 

Prospecting Chart

So, what does this chart convey?  It shows that it doesn’t take much time to dial 100 times. Out of 100 calls, a sales person will generally connect with about 7 people - typically short conversations. Of those 7 calls, there may be 3 who agree to talk again and set up appointments.  So, in the end, the sales person has invested a total of 1 hour to make those 100 dials. If there are 5 work days, that amounts to 12 minutes per day. So... do you have 12 minutes today to prospect?

But proving or disproving this myth isn’t the critical issue that I want to address. The critical issue is that you, as a sales leader, must do something when you have sales people that are not prospecting. This means that you must:

1. Recruit sales people that don’t have the prospecting/hunting problem to begin with
2. Stop allowing your sales people to use the “I don’t have time” excuse
3. Create a disciplined approach to changing behavior in your sales people

Let’s address each of these actions individually.

#1.  Hiring the right people:  If hunting is critical to your sales team’s success, then you must make the sales skill set for hunting a priority when recruiting. We just completed an evaluation of 7 members of a sales team.  Of the 7, only one had 65% of the required skills to be a hunter.  What this means for you: You must screen for this critical skill set in your pre-hire assessment process.  Make sure that you are looking at actual sales hunter skills vs. personality traits.

#2.  Excuses:  Starting today, when you hear an excuse for any outcome – but specifically about something getting in the way of prospecting – simply ask:  “If I didn’t let you use that as an excuse for not prospecting, what would you do or have done differently?”  (Stop, shut up and wait after you ask the question!)

#3.  Discipline:  Discipline is NOT always about being punitive, though it can be. Often when it comes to discipline in an organization, most people think PIP – performance improvement plan. But the PIP generally comes too late. Start early. Don’t wait until the situation becomes critical. Catch your sales people early when they first stop prospecting.  When you see that they are just 10% off of their prospecting activity goals, implement a disciplined approach to change the behavior.  (i.e.  Every Thursday morning at 7:30 AM, I will be at your desk to make sure you are making your 20 required calls for the week.)

There are some other things you can do improve prospecting: 

  • Build an ideal week for the sales team and then help them manage themselves to be a “slave to the schedule.”
  • Implement huddles to collect sales activity data.  This works 100% of the time to increase sales activity.
  • Make sure that each sales person has an individual success formula that they are committed to executing.

In the end, all sales people, or at least nearly all sales people, need help staying on track for prospecting.  So, help them instead of beating them up.

Here are some additional resources: 

Evaluating Current Sales People

Improve Hiring

Building Success Formulas

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Coco the Sales Dog

  
  
  
  
  

Coco the Sales Dog

Whenever I do a workshop or a keynote (link for video clip of following discussion )for group that is about selling, I almost always talk about one of the 9 Keys To Successful Selling - the key of persistence.  And I generally make my point by asking the audience a question and having the following dialog:

How many of you here today have a dog?  Have you ever had a dog?  Know someone with a dog?  Good, that covers everyone. You ( I pick someone from the audience), what kind of dog do you have?  Is it big or small?  How long have you had it?  Is it an active dog or one that just lays around the house waiting for something to happen?

We have a dog in our house; her name is Coco. She is a shih tzu poodle and she's been with us a long time. When we first brought her home, she was brown like cocoa; however, within a year, she turned grey.  We thought about changing her name but we didn't think we should change her name to Grey or Grace or anything like that, so we kept the name Coco.  

Now, when the doorbell rings at your house, what does your dog do? You, Sir, what does your dog do? And you, Ma'am, how about your dog?...Right!  It starts barking.  And where does the dog go?... Yes, straight to the door!  Does the dog just slowly kind of make its way to the door?  Noooo!  It runs to the door, body gyrating, tail wagging, maybe jumping up and down a little. You make your way to the door, while the dog is looking at you with a look that says, "What are you waiting for? There's someone out there!"  (During this conversation I'm prone to run around on the stage, wagging my tail acting, or attempt to act,like a dog.)  So, you finally open the door...and what? (I very deliberately put in a long pause and look expectantly out over the audience) I finally ask..."Is it ever for the dog?" (The crowds laughs with understanding)

At a very young age, when someone would ring the door bell, Coco learned to start barking and run to the door. No matter what time of day or night, when the doorbell rang, Coco would bark, and run to the door. It could be just minutes apart, days apart or weeks apart.  It didn't matter.  And now, if that doorbell rings, Coco is still running to the door just like she did the first time and the last time.  She waits there impatiently, looking at me expectantly with a look that says, "C'mon! Hurry up and open the door; maybe this time it's for me!"

But, it never is.  It is never for Coco.  Not once has the neighbor dog come over to visit with Coco. (More laughter) [Click here to watch the video]

Mark Trinkle works with our company and has for several years now.  He has a beautiful daughter, Madison.  Occassionally, Coco is at the office. One day, Madison came with her dad to the office and Coco was there. She asked Mark what Coco was doing at the office and Mark told her that she runs around the office. When Madison and Mark got home, Madison announced to her mom (Kim) that she met Coco and Coco runs the office.

The story about Coco and the doorbell is a story of persistence and mental attitude.  An attitude that is critical for those in prospecting and sales.  It's an attitude of "maybe this time", even after all the rejection you have faced. After all the years that Coco ran to the door thinking "maybe this time", she never gave up.

About 6 months ago, Coco, the sales dog who ran the office, was diagnosed with lymphoma. We provided Coco with medication to slow down the progress of the disease, and over the last several weeks, we also gave her some pain meds to ease her discomfort.  Over that time period, her runs to the door ceased.  Along with poor vision, poor hearing and ailing body, she was more prone to just sit at the top of the stairs and quietly observe the comings and goings of everyone.

Truly, I don't think she gave up.  I think, if she were able, she would have preferred to run to the door and greet whoever was there.  Because over the years, she learned that even if it wasn't for her, she still wanted to greet the visitors just the same.  Because over the years, our visitors - The water guy, the window cleaning people, the lawn people, the nurses that care for Anthony, Alex's school chums, Steven (our nephew), Jeni (my sister-in-law and our CMO), Mark, Madison, Walt, Chris, Whitey, Jim, Don, Rick, Rich, Tom, Doc, TMackey, UPS, Fedex, USPS, Girl Scouts selling cookies, Jim and Betsy, Traci, Pam and an endless number of other people - all became prospects and, eventually, clients of Coco.  They loved her, and she loved them. She greeted them, they petted her, talked to her and, sometimes, if they knew where the snacks were, they provided her with a treat.

Years ago, when I was a kid back home in Hammonton, NJ, I lived on a farm.  My dad, Ray, was the foreman on the 400-acre blueberry and peach farm.  Dad raised hunting dogs. Exclusively rabbit hunting dogs.  His all-time favorite was Tootsie.  She was a "low to the ground", long-earred, black, tan and white beagle.  She was pregnant and, unfortunately, died giving birth to her puppies.  My dad took her to the vet, and the vet told my dad that there wasn't anything he could do. His best and most humane option was to put her to sleep.  My dad was tough as nails.  Never saw him cry until that day.  As a young, cocky teenager, I didn't get it.  "Come on, dad, it's just a dog."

Now, I understand.  Yesterday, we had to put Coco to sleep.  Life just got too tough for her. Our vet told us the day would come, and we would know it when we did.  I got up yesterday and started the usual routine of starting the coffee, turning off the alam system, and looking for Coco so I could let her outside.  Unlike most mornings, she didn't follow me out of the bedroom.  I had to go and find her.  I found her under the kitchen table and she wasn't moving.  I went over to pet her. She woke up and struggled to stand.  I picked her up and brought her to her water bowl where she drank like she was never going to drink fresh water again.  I carried her outside where she attempted to "do her business", without success. Then she just stood there and didn't... couldn't, move.  I picked her up and brought back in to her place on her dog bed in front of the fireplace. When I put her down, she just fell over, no longer able to stand.  I knew the day had come.

Our daughter, Alex, came down from UD (University of Dayton).  She, Linda and I went with Coco to the vet.  We held her, we cried, we said our goodbyes and thanked her for all the wonderful love and fun she gave us.  I told her she would be in heaven (all dogs go to heaven) and she would once again chase rabbits and birds and, once again, run to answer the door.

Friends, thank you for indulging me today as I share my...no, our loss.  Just part of the grieving proces, I think.  But, I also wanted to leave you with the Coco the Sales Dog story. It has entertained people for years in all my keynote presentations, and I hope it entertained you here today.

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