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?

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Sales, Goals & Life... and Lauren Hill


Once again, I’m flooded with stuff happening around me that has nothing or very little to do directly with sales… and I cannot help myself but to connect these thoughts and events to what I love to do – coach and teach sales and sales management.

I think it was 1992 when Pat Riley, as part of a speaker’s event, came to Cincinnati and spoke at the convention center.  I don’t remember a thing from his speech other than his comment about being taken to the cleaners by the media after losing the 1984 NBA championship to the Celtics.  He said (paraphrasing):  They [the media] just don’t understand that the NBA Championship is in the Toy Department of Life.

Lauren Hill Layup

For reasons unknown to me at the time, that line has stayed with me all this years.  As I approach the completion of my 60th year, I think I understand that what I thought Coach Riley was saying is that basketball - and in fact, any sport - is just a game.

At the same conference, Steve Palermo spoke.  In July of 1991, after umpiring a MLB game between the Rangers and the Angels, Steve and a couple of other umpires were dining at a local Dallas restaurant when they heard a couple of waitresses being assaulted in the parking lot.  They rushed out, a shot was fired, and a bullet struck Steve in the spine.  After surgery, he was told that he would never walk again.

The day that he spoke in Cincinnati, he approached the podium using two crutches. He stood there, talked to the crowd and, when he finished, he took questions.  Someone in the crowd asked, “When do you think you will be able to walk well enough to umpire another MLB game?”  Steve responded, “I don’t know; maybe today.”

It was more than just a hopeful response; it was a response of commitment and conviction that, if he continued to do the things he needed to do to walk, then maybe, just maybe, today would be THE DAY.  I thought he was saying that pursuing your professional career is something that requires constant vigilance and work.  But, I was wrong.

So, in walks Lauren Hill. Perhaps you’ve heard of her. She isn’t just making the news on ESPN and other sports media outlets.  She’s being seen and heard everywhere.  She’s a freshman basketball player at Mt. Saint Joseph, here in Cincinnati, Ohio.  But, she’s a freshman with a difference; Lauren has an inoperable brain tumor.  It was diagnosed in her junior year of high school. They told her at that time that her life expectancy was 2 years.  Last year, she played basketball her senior year in high school. This year, she enrolled in Mt. Saint Joseph and joined the basketball team.  An updated MRI earlier this year changed her prognosis.  She was told that her life expectancy was now December of this year.

Originally, this season’s first game was not scheduled to be played until December.  However, Mt. Saint Joseph, working together with the NCAA and Hiram College (their first opponent), made arrangements to get the game played this last Sunday.  As soon as the game day was set, news spread like wildfire and everyone wanted to come show their support for Lauren. Normally, the Lions play in front of about 100 fans, but the amount of interest in tickets for the game required a change of venue. Xavier University stepped forward and provided the Cintas Center which was sold out in less than an hour. Local and national stations made arrangements to televise the game to include thousands who were unable to get tickets.  All of the workers who normally help stage events at the Cintas Center volunteered their time for the game.  So, instead of just a few family and friends, over 10,000 people in the Cintas Center and millions nationwide watched Lauren’s dream of playing college basketball come true as she stepped out onto the court and, in the first seconds of the game, shoot a left-handed lay-up to score.

How does all this come together for me and what can the message be for all of us?

Selling and managing sales people isn’t a lot different than playing and coaching.  You recruit the best you can find.  You coach them, you practice the strategy, you go into the market and find people to play/sell to and, when it’s over, you either win or you lose.

I thought Pat Riley was saying that winning the NBA championship was in the toy department of life.  I was wrong.  I believe that he was saying that losing the NBA championship was in the toy department of life. Winning is important.  Winning sales is important.  But losing one?  No one will ever remember the ones you lost.

Steve Palermo wasn’t talking about working hard to walk again because of his pursuit of his professional career.  He was talking about working hard, having a “can do” attitude, and an attitude of “MAYBE TODAY’ because he was in pursuit of doing something he loved to do.  Aside from his wife, baseball was the love of his life.  He could not imagine a life without baseball.  Steve later became a supervisor of MLB umpires. 

For Lauren, there will be no championships or second chances.  This is her life.  Playing in a college basketball game was her dream and eventually her dream came true.  For Lauren, playing basketball was/is in the toy department of life.  At age 18, it’s supposed to be.  Everything else pales in comparison to the fight she now fights – to keep breathing.

I ask you to stop and think a moment when you read this.  Not for me, but for yourself… and for Lauren.  Pat and Steve, no reason to worry about them, they are fine.  But for Lauren and her family, there is a very rough road ahead. For you?  I don’t know what your dream and goals are.  I don’t know what you aspire to, but I would suggest the following:

  1. Make sure you are waking up every day and getting a chance to do what you love to do
  2. Make sure that you put losing in perspective – it’s never fatal or final.
  3. Winning is fun; it’s exciting. In sales, it pays the bills and helps you accomplish the dreams and aspirations you have come true.
  4. Ask yourself everyday – What’s Important Now (WIN) – and then go do what’s important now.
  5. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself to pursue what appear to be insurmountable goals and achievements.  You never know what you can achieve if you don’t give it a shot.

Don’t miss these!

Tony Cole video: Someday
Mark Trinkle audio:  What is Your Dream?


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Do Your Sales Contracts Have An "I Love Selling" Clause?


This is an unusual sales management blog post from me because it will be short. It is short because, this morning, I’m short on time. I am scheduled for a meeting at the Cincinnati Freestore Foodbank at 8:00am. From there, I go to the airport to fly to Hershey, Pa., where I will be presenting 3 Keys to a More Productive Sales Force and then I’ll be on my way to NJ. Not that you care - you're here to talk about selling.

I Love Selling

What I wanted to share this morning is two thoughts from a speech I recently listened to.  These thoughts are from Michael Jordan’s acceptance speech when he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. I’m going to go back and listen again as I am sure there are even more great nuggets of information that apply to living, sales and sales management.  However, here are the two biggies for today:

  • Motivating People: There are two things here; 1) Sales managers are consistently asking me, “How do I motivate and keep my people motivated?” I have always answered that the best way(s) to keep sales people motivated is to a) hire motivated, passionate, committed sales people and b) create an environment where personal goal setting is part of your sales managed environment. Michael added a new angle on this for me. He named a long list of people and events that had motivated him. Maybe the most important motivator was when he did not make his high school basketball team. He was bound and determined to prove to the coach AND the guy who made the team in his place that a mistake had been made.

  • Passion for the Game: This one is really cool. The owner, Jerry Reinsdorf, had asked Michael to NOT play basketball during the off-season as Michael was too valuable to the franchise to risk injury.  Michael’s response was, “Did you read the ‘I love basketball’ clause in my contract?”  He said that Jerry responded, “What ‘I love basketball’ clause?”  Michael said, “I have an ‘I love basketball’ clause in my contract that says I can play basketball anywhere, anytime, anyplace simply because I love basketball.”

My points in bringing these two items up today are this:

  • It is your responsibility to find multiple ways to find sales people that are motivated for various reasons, and it is your responsibility to find out what those motivators are/how they are motivated so that you can keep them that way.

  • Put an “I love selling” clause in your contracts and tell your new hires that you expect them to love selling and to sell anywhere, anytime, anyplace.

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Sorrow and Joy – Life and Selling


This morning, I was sitting at our kitchen table reading some headlines to my son, Anthony, as he waited for the transportation van to take him to the Goodwill CARE program that he participates in every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  I said goodbye to him as he left for the day… and then continued to browse through Sunday’s Cincinnati Enquirer.

Louisville Slugger

I forget who the comedian was, but I remember the line, “I read the obituaries every day.  If my name isn’t in there, it’s a good day.”  Sounds like something the late Rodney Dangerfield would have said.  I’m flipping through the paper, come to the obituaries and I instantly recognize a face, a young face.  Joe Rippe, Jr. passed away on July 30th after his long battle with brain cancer.  It startled me, saddened me and frightened me.

You don’t expect to see a picture of someone you know in the obits.  Joe and I knew each other a long time ago, and though I hadn’t seen Joe in years, I considered him a friend.  It’s startling to read that he is no longer alive.  I am saddened for his family.  Loss is never easy no matter how you try and paint the picture of “now he’s in a better place.”  Yes, Joe is in heaven.  That has to be better than battling cancer. That doesn’t mean he won’t be missed and that there won’t be sorrow this year and every year around special dates and holidays.

It definitely frightened me.  I’ll be 60 in December.  (Now, THAT is out of the bag, let’s move on – save all your smart comments for later... ha-ha)  My very good friend, David O’Dell died of brain cancer when he was only 40.  Another great friend and business client, Jay Irwin, died of a heart attack between the 9th and 10th hole of a golf course when he was only 55.  I admit this isn’t a LONG list, but it’s a list.  I’ve had polyps removed, had radioactive seed implants for prostate cancer and, two years ago, had an eye biopsy to check for ocular cancer.  It’s frightening to think about all the things that can take us from this world.

In the same paper, in the sports section of USA Today, there was an article about Paul O’Neil - formally of the Reds and the NY Yankees.  In a ceremony on Saturday, they placed a plaque with his likeness in Monument Park behind center field of Yankee Stadium. He will be there with other greats like Ruth, Demaggio, Gherig, and someday, Mariano Rivera.  This honor must have given him and his family great joy.

I met Paul 14 years ago when we were sharing a small gym coaching elementary school basketball.  I was coaching my daughter’s team and I assume he was coaching his son’s.   My son, Anthony, was about 15 months post-cardiac arrest and anoxic brain injury.  Before his health ‘accident’, he loved sports.  He thought Paul O’Neil was great!  I approach Paul one evening at practice, I told him about my son’s condition and inquired if there was anything he could sign that I could give to him.  He said he had the perfect thing and he would bring it next week to practice.

I missed the follow week’s practice due to illness.  I returned the following week.  As we were beginning practice, Paul walked into gym, saw me and came right over.  He said, “I brought something for your son last week but you weren’t here. I have it at home I’ll be right back.”  I didn’t even have time to tell him it could wait till next week, when he was out the door. 

15 to 20 minutes later, he came in with a signed baseball bat.  I brought it home to Anthony, told him the story, and he smiled.  He hadn’t regained his ability to talk yet, so he just smiled.  Not just any old smile, but a great big smile of real joy.  He was grateful that I had thought of him and that Paul O’Neil thought enough about him to provide him with this bat.

Reading this article I felt joy for Paul.   Not for what he did on the field or in the clubhouse, although I’m happy for his accomplishments, success and this recognition.  But, reading the article brought back a memory of joy for what he did for a family he didn’t even know.  I still see Paul drive through the neighborhood.  When I do, I wave and he waves back politely though I’m sure he has no idea who I am. And that is okay.

This is a sales management blog… so you must be wondering, “What is the connection between Joe Rippe’s passing, a baseball bat from Paul O’Neil and selling?”

Selling and managing sales people is similar to these events in that they can startle, frighten, sadden and bring joy all in a matter of minutes.  The key here is that the world doesn’t stop and wait for you to recover from any of these events.  The world just turned a couple of more clicks as you read this today.  The world will keep on turning as you deal with something that startles you, saddens you, frightens you or brings you joy.

Take them all in stride, keep an even pace.  Don’t get too frightened, too sad or too joyous.  Life is life, selling is selling.  When it is all said and done, you will not be remembered for the sales you made or the ones that got away.  You won’t be remembered for the failed sales people or the successful ones.  You will be remembered for the impact you had on people’s lives.  You’ll be remembered for the time you took, the caring you had, and the effort you put into doing your best.

You get the chance every day to influence.  How you do that will eventually show up in the papers.


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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.

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