sales management and sales experts

Why Aren't Your Sales People Selling?

Tony Cole

Tony Cole

Tony Cole, Founder and CEO of Anthony Cole Training Group


Does Your Team Need a Wake Up Call?

IgniteFireBoxTony Cole tailors workshops and keynotes to ignite the sparks of extraordinary motivation in your sales teams!

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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.


  •  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 Successful Sales Teams – Let’s Talk Motivation


Over the last 5 years, when conducting keynote sessions or workshops, senior sales executives overwhelmingly want to know – How do I motivate my sales people and keep them motivated?


The answer that I give them is one they never like, but they soon understand:  You cannot motivate them nor can you keep them motivated.  Let me make this clear; I am not a student of motivation.  I’ve read many, many business books, management books and self-help books.  I do not profess to be the expert in this area.  However, I do understand it well enough to make the following comments. 

But, first, my personal story about motivation:

It was late August in 1963 when I went to my Dad and told him I wanted to play football.  He told me he knew someone that coached Peewee football in town, which was Hammonton, NJ.  He said he would get the number for me and then I could call the coach and tell him I wanted to play.  That night, Dad handed me a slip of paper, I made the call and I was signed up to play for the 9 year old team and we immediately started practice.

I do not remember all the details about practice.  I remember the field was a dirt field, probably still is.  There were 3 other groups of boys practicing, running, throwing and catching.  We did various football drills, exercises and stretching and we finished with wind sprints.  I came off of the field to where my Dad was standing and he asked me, “What do you think?”  I said, “I’m going to go to college someday and play football.”  He replied, “Well then, take off your helmet and shoulder pads and go run some more.  To play college football you have to be in great shape.”  I ran two extra miles that night (and for many nights after that) until I was sweaty enough to go home.

My Dad had to coach me and manage me in a lot of things in my life like “Don’t pick on your little sister, Tresa”, but he never had to coach me again about running or being in shape.  It was my goal. It was what I knew I had to do because I believed in and trusted “the manager” that told me I needed to run and be in shape.

Once, when Tresa and I were working together making blueberry crates, I was picking on her.  She ran home and told our dad.  Dad came across the street, opened the door and just looked at me.  Dad was a tough dad.  Then he said, “You wanna pick on your sister?  YOU make all the rest of the crates before you go to practice.”  I explained that practice was in 2 hours.  He said, “Then you better stop talking and get to work.”  You need to understand that the work Tresa and I were doing would take us all of another 3 hours if we BOTH did it.  Now, I had to get it done all by myself in 90 minutes to make practice. And I wanted to get to practice.

Two hours later, I was at practice.

Over the next 13 years, I ran a lot of sprints (and a lot of miles) through the blueberry fields of home to get in shape.  My dad and I would lift weights together across the street in “the old brick building”. When we would finish lifting, we’d play ping pong to loosen up the tight muscles.

I finished my career as a player in November of 1977 in the Stadium of Holy Cross in Worchester, Mass.  We lost 41 to 40 and I stood there on the field and cried.  Cried like a baby because I knew I’d never play again. Goal accomplished.  I loved my dad.  I loved football and everything about it including the conditioning.

This is just a simple story about a young boy who played hard enough and well enough to earn a scholarship to keep playing the game he loved.  I was able to do that for a variety of reasons, but as I think back today, it was mostly because I loved the game so much that no one ever had to tell me to get ready for practice, get my gear together, get in shape, practice hard, study the playbook, be fair and a good sport.  I was my own motivator.

In 1989, while I was in Cincinnati working as an insurance agent for David Zimmerman (who actually recruited me to play at UCONN), I attended a life insurance conference.  The main speaker was Mark Victor Hansen, who later became the creator of all those “Chicken Soup” books.  During his presentation on “visualizing is realizing”, he said the following:

“Motivation is an inside–out job”

This is the moral of the story and the lesson of motivation. Your sales people don’t give a rat’s a** about shareholder value and year over year growth of the division or the department.  They care about their kids in school, paying off college debt, building a deck on the back of the house, saving for the wedding, the vacation home and the retirement years.  That is their motivation. That stuff is on the inside.  If your people don’t have it, you cannot give it to them.

You CANNOT Motivate them, but you can do THIS!

You can create an environment where they believe their dreams can come true.  You can foster the ability to pursue those things that are near and dear to their heart.  You can create a recognition program (or incentive process) that recognizes the things that are important to them.  You can find a way to mesh what they want, with want you want, and with what you have to have for success in your role.  THIS you can build; THIS you can control.  Do THIS and you won’t have to worry about them running to be in shape.  They will just do it.

Tony’s Online Course on Motivation

Harvard Business Review Article - Three Things That Actually Motivate Employees

Evaluate Your Current Talent -  Order a Sample

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How Do You Measure Success in Sales... and in Life?


This is short and sweet... and probably a relief to those who are tired of my longer blog posts. I was reading a poll question in the Harvard Business Review Group in LinkedIn. Sometimes I respond to these type of questions; other times I simply move on to the next question, discussion or poll.

But today, the question caused me to pause and reflect. The question was: How do you measure success? 

When I read the question, I immediately thought of one of my favorite poets/thinkers/authors - Ralph Waldo Emerson. His succinct definition of success may be the ultimate standard by which all other definitions of success could be measured. Tell me what you think.

              poet thinker

To laugh often and much; 
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and
Endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.
                ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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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.


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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29 Years Later – Success We Didn’t Know About


Linda and I have known each other for 30 years.  This November, we will have been married for 29 of those years.  Over the years, I have claimed that this was the best sale I ever made.  I had competition, I had a reluctant prospect, and my value proposition was shaky at best.  But, I did have Desire to Succeed, Commitment to do everything possible to Succeed, and I took Responsibility for all outcomes.  These are all key elements for making it in sales.

We have family dinner on Sunday nights.  Normally, the group includes our family:  Linda, me, Anthony Jr.,  Alexandra – our daughter, my mother-in-law (Pat),  Linda’s uncle (Fred), Linda’s sister (Jeni) and Jeni’s son (Steven). 

Two weeks ago, we helped our daughter, Alex, move into her very first apartment.  After dinner was finished, the dishes washed and the cake served and enjoyed, everyone started to leave.  Normally, Alex isn’t one of those leaving.


We were used to her going off to college and then coming home for the summer and holidays.  When she went away, we always knew that she would be coming back.  Now, it’s different.  Now she comes here with a bag of laundry, has dinner, we watch a bit of TV or play a game, and then she leaves to go back to her new home.  She used to go to college, but this is different.

So, what does this have to do with selling?  It has little or nothing to do with selling.  But if I stretch this, I can make a connection. Depending on your station in life, your age and your priorities, there are a couple of things to consider. 

  • Nothing last forever. The sale you made today is reason to celebrate today.  The sale you didn’t make today isn’t worth worrying about and carrying into tomorrow.
  • If you’ve done a great job of building a relationship, it should last forever and distance and time really does make the heart grow fonder.
  • Sometimes your clients outgrow you, or you outgrow them.  That doesn’t mean you don’t still care about them, worry about them or love them.  It’s just time to move on/out.
  • When it’s time for the prospect to make a decision, there isn’t a whole lot you can do at that point. All you can do is assure yourself that you’ve done everything you can to improve the chances of a good outcome.
  • Raising your children is like prospecting. You have to do it everyday.
  • At the end of the day, you won’t be remembered for the sales goal you hit or didn’t hit. You’ll be remembered for the time you spent with people when they where in need and when they were not in need.  You’ll be remembered for how you treated people, how hard you tried, your values and integrity.

Linda and I have done all we can do in preparation for decision time.  We are confident of a positive outcome and comfortable that no matter what:

  • We still want Alex to text when she gets home.
  • We still expect Alex at Sunday dinner.
  • I expect her to introduce me to her “boyfriend”.
  • We expect we will still worry when we know she is out for the evening.
  • We expect that we will not know when she is out for the evening.
  • We know that no matter where she is or what she is doing she will face decisions.  Some easy, some not so easy.  We know that our love, coaching, caring, training, teaching and guidance will influence those decisions.
  • Or…we will hear a story about her decision and the story may be prefaced by the phrase “alcohol was involved.”

We wish you all the best, Alex, as you spread your wings and fly!

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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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Selling & Practice Management - Firing Friends


How important is it for you to succeed?  The answer to that question will determine how you approach a difficult business decision you might face if someone you work with is also a friend.

This question not only applies to someone in management that has people reporting to them. It also applies sales professionals who have developed great friendships with clients that are no longer additive to their book of business.

oracle racing 2 resized 600

I just finished reading, The Billionaire And The Mechanic – How Larry Ellison and a Car Mechanic Teamed Up to Win Sailing’s Greatest Race, The America’s Cup, by Julian Guthrie.  Larry noted that the painful parts of running a business also apply to running an America’s Cup syndicate. “If you want to win, you have to be willing to make very hard personal decisions,” Larry said.  “If you want to be the best, you have to hire the best, and you have to constantly be looking to upgrade your people. It was very hard for me to say good-bye to the friends I had sailed with and won with for years.  But if you own a professional football team, you cannot let someone play quarterback just because he’s your friend."

This struck me as extreme, but it makes sense in the context of striving to be the very best.  If that is your objective, then you must have a team that allows you - actually, puts you - in a position to accomplish that objective.

If you are a sales manager, find the best sales and sales support people.  If you are in sales, then you must develop and maintain relationships with those that are the best for your business.

Hire the Best Webinar

For an additional resource, read Perry Marshall’s The 80/20 of Sales and Marketing.

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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, 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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