How a Pizza Place Saved My Bacon

Hot Homemade Pepperoni Pizza

I read CEO of Beyond Philosophy Colin Shaw’s posts a lot about the “Customer Experience.” If you have ever read his stuff, then you know that he writes a lot about making sure the emotions of your Customers are addressed with a deliberate strategy. I have always thought about that idea as a broad concept, but today I got a much better idea of what Shaw means in a real world example.

A little backstory is probably necessary here. When I quit my day job nine years ago to raise my children myself (Sorry, Sheryl Sandberg…I feel like I personally fail you every time I write that sentence), I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into on a day-to-day basis. Honestly, I don’t think many first-time parents do or humans might have gone extinct by now.

One aspect that surprised me the most was the expectation of hosting incredibly elaborate birthday parties for my progeny. Now, growing up, I had never hosted nor attended a party for anyone I knew that was fancier than what they would do at McDonald’s . It was (ahem) a little while ago, to be sure, but not so long ago that you had to watch out for the glaciers or anything…

So when I discovered that birthday parties today required fancy steps like invitations (the McDonald’s invite was done over the phone in the kitchen with the long twisted up chord), I was perturbed. When I then discovered the need for “entertainment” either as a rented inflatable or an acrobatic show featuring six original cast members from Cirque du Soleil, then you can imagine my feelings. Add to it the need for a Pinterest-worthy theme and a related take home gift for the party attendees, you can understand why the thought of a party made me feel the need to lie down for a bit.

However, if there is one thing I have learned as a mom, it’s that lying down doesn’t do anything except predictably result in some “emergency” that simply cannot resolve itself without Mom’s intervention, e.g., Someone needs a drink of water or the “She won’t stop touching the door handle!” dispute requiring Mom’s impartial mediation. So instead, I embraced the party, like a Super Mom.

We had a party with a bouncy house. Then I had a party at the bouncy house place. Then I had the Lizard Wizard come, followed the next year by the Mad Science crew. The last party I threw was a garden party where everyone painted flower pots and planted them with seeds. Truth be told, they were good parties…but I wore myself out. Whether I was sick of throwing parties or not, however, the birthdays still keep a coming, and my kids aren’t quite old enough to be “over the whole party thing” yet.

So What’s All This Have to do with Customer Experience?

As I mentioned, I was still on the hook for the party whether I had the energy for it or not. This year, I decided to take my oldest, a few of his buddies, and my other two kids to the movies and then to a local pizza place afterward. The plan was simple, required no top-to-bottom house cleaning, and featured two of my nine-year-old son’s favorite things. It was a winner for everyone involved.

Gino’s Pizza is a local pizza joint. We decided to host my son’s apres movie lunch there. This pizza place is not Chuck E. Cheez (I don’t even care if I spelled that right…I can’t stand Chuck E. It’s like a gambling simulator for Vegas-bound kids. I escape that place with a thrumming headache and a fierce desire for a martini…). Gino’s doesn’t host ten simultaneous pizza parties every Saturday. From what I can tell, they don’t host any parties on a regular basis.

Despite this lack of experience in party throwing, they were fantastic. They were extremely accommodating, had a table reserved for us right in the middle of the restaurant, and served us awesome pizza. Honestly though, while these things are important, I would have been satisfied. Not thrilled, not unhappy, but satisfied.

My experience with Gino’s doesn’t stop there, however. Alex, the manager, also helped me by storing the cake in his refrigerator while we went to the movie, helped me mend a broken candle (the R in the “Celebrate” candles box broke in transit; it was his idea to use frosting to glue it together–pure genius!), and then cut the cake for everyone. Lucky for me, he had paper plates and forks, since I didn’t bring any. He even ran out to his car to get a lighter to light the candles. Finally, he came out to give my birthday boy a couple of extra quarters for the video games all the kids were climbing on in the end.

And yes, I am a dolt for not thinking of a single one of these details on my own! Frankly, in some ways, he threw the party for my son. He saved my bacon with that lighter. I suppose I would have had to rub two sticks together and hope for a spark to conduct this important birthday ritual.

I would never have expected him to do all the things he did. He went above and beyond. I felt important and cared for as a result, which if you read Shaw’s posts then you know that is the feeling that creates Customer Loyalty and Retention.

In Gino’s case, I even went out and wrote a glowing Yelp Review, an activity I rarely bother with in experiences good or bad. It just goes to show in a real world example that when you put yourself in the Customer’s shoes and literally help them get their party started, you will reap the rewards of repeat business and positive buzz.

So my question to you today is: How are you adding the flame to your Customer’s candles and saving their bacon?

Terri Lively is a career marketing professional that helps her clients break through the clutter by injecting a bit of humor into the business world. For the past 15 years, she helps her clients create marketing materials that effectively communicate their message and get results, across all types of media. More about Terri can be discovered at http://www.terrilively.com.

What We Can All Learn About Sales from the Meat Guys

Meat

A few months ago, I was enjoying a pleasant afternoon at home with my front door thrown wide open. Not only did it facilitate a lovely cross breeze, but it also allowed my kids free access to do laps around the house. Everyone was in good humor and even I; the perpetually stressed mother-of-three-work-at-home mom was relaxed and cheerful.

I had just stood up from my desk headed to the kitchen for a snack when he stuck his head in my open door. He was scruffy-looking at best, ratty-looking at worst.

“Hello!” he said.

I froze, wondering where in Hades had he come from, but recovering quickly I smiled and said hello back. I wondered if he was there to rob me or pitch me, a fair question for the door-to-door types that inhabit the world we live in today.

Luckily he was pitching that day, for frozen meat as it turns out. It was a product I didn’t expect. Oddly enough he had my attention because as a mother-of-three-work-at-home-mom I rarely have my larders as stocked as I would like. Normally I hustle these types of sales calls away as quickly as possible, but today based on my good humor and the fact that he literally had a foot in the door, I let him continue.

His pitch was enticing: seafood, beef, and pork delivered to my door, frozen and individually wrapped for as little as $3.99 a pound. It sounded good although I still had a healthy dose of skepticism about buying meat door-to-door. So I did the worst thing ever; I asked a question. Within seconds, a rattier, sketchier fellow was at the first scruffy guy’s side with a creepy smile and a flimsy business card; aka “The Supervisor.” He was smarmier than a paperback romance novel and oilier than pork he was trying to pass off as high quality.

Considering my description of the events so far it should be obvious that I ended up buying the meat, right?

I know. To be honest, I am as surprised as you are that I bought it. When I look back on this, I feel exactly like the first Igloo-dwelling  native American must have felt after buying a truckload of ice from sales representatives based out of Walla-Walla, Washington.

What We Can Learn about Sales from the Meat Guys:

Timing is everything.

Prospects are going to have times when they are receptive and times when they wouldn’t be interested in solid gold bricks for $5. Regarding the Meat Guys, you could say everyone is a sucker if you catch them at the right moment.

Like I said before, I was relaxed. It was a beautiful afternoon of harmony and productivity with happy children and happy mommy enjoying each other’s company. All this bliss and tranquility made me soft. I forgot my usual pejorative dismissal of door-to-door salespeople.

Have great collateral material that reflects the quality of your business.

Collateral material is essential to making your business look legit. It makes an impression and becomes an extension of your brand. Moreover, it gives the customer something tangible to read later with your unique selling proposition and contact information. Despite a general move to digital collateral, printed material is still important to many people when making a buying decision.

In this case, the Meat Guys’ cruddy, poorly designed and written brochure helped me convince myself that they were above board. The facts that they had no website, no local phone number, and a general nefarious appearance were nullified by the trifold, full-color brochure printed on the flimsiest paper stock ever made and handed to me with sweaty, shaky hands.

Get the product in the prospect’s hands.

In a previous post about Green Eggs and Ham, I mentioned how Sam, the pleasantly persistent sales rep for the Unfortunately Colored Ham Company gets the product into his prospect’s hands, which eventually gets the yes. This tactic is great, particularly when you have a great product. The Meat Guys know this, too, so they wasted no time in unpacking boxes of meat right on my kitchen floor.

Seeing the individually portioned meat strewn about the linoleum had two effects. First, that it was a variety of meat that didn’t look weird or gross (that is until you thaw it out). Second, that I would feel awkward telling them to beat it and then have to stand there in uncomfortable silence while they packed up the multitude of boxes and left.

Have clear payment options.

If your prospect is considering your product, be sure to make clear how they can buy it, and make sure the options are easy. So, in other words, payment options for the average consumer should never include money orders or wire transfers.

The Meat Guys were accommodating to the extreme. All I had to do was write a check, leave the “To” line blank and include my driver’s license number. Simple enough, right? Not the least bit fishy. Heck, maybe I should include my social security number and answers to my favorite security questions while I am at it?

The experience matters.

Your prospect should have a good experience with your transaction. They should feel comfortable and safe. They should feel they got a good value for their money and a new vendor on which they can rely to deliver a quality product.

As a completely nonspecific example, they shouldn’t lay awake at night for hours terrified that they just handed over their identity to be sold on the black market of an Eastern Block country to finance the shopping spree of a diabolical dopplegänger with a penchant for expensive home sports equipment and Jimmy Choo shoes. Or wonder if that stomachache she feels coming on is a result of an acute stress attack or the early signs of food poisoning.

Albert Einstein said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” I agree with this. We should try new things. I tried the new thing of buying meat from the back of someone’s truck. It should be apparent based on this decision that apart from a mutual appreciation for trying new things, Einstein and I have nothing else in common!

Needless to say, I won’t be a repeat customer. If I ever saw those guys in my neighborhood again, I would heave one of my weapons-grade crab stuffed filets of sole to get their attention, march out to their low-riding meat wagon, and…ask them if they want me to rewrite their brochure! Just kidding. Their brochure is perfect brand experience for their business–flimsy, tacky, and low quality.

Since I would argue that most of you have a better gig than distributing questionable meat products from the back of your truck, you already have a leg up on the Meat Guys. Sales are as much about timing, presentation and tactics as anything. Those that seize the opportunity get the sale (seizing opportunity, like stopping your car in the middle of a residential street, leaving the door flung wide, and barging through an open door to startle the inhabitants into listening to your pitch). While I don’t like their product or the experience, I do see the genius in their system. To the Meat Guys, I say simply well played.

And also for next time…No Thank You!

Terri Lively is a career marketing professional that has unique experience in the areas of messaging and client relations. Terri helps her clients break through the clutter by injecting a bit of humor into the business world. For the past 15 years, she helps her clients create marketing materials that effectively communicate their message and get results, across all types of media. More about Terri can be discovered at http://www.terrilively.com.

Want great tips on freelancing or writing? Consider following my blog or email me at terri@terrilively.com.

Winners and Losers

The Winner is always part of the answer,

The Loser is always part of the problem.

The Winner always has a program,

The Loser always has an excuse.

The Winner says, “Let me do it for you,”

The Loser says, “That’s not my job.”

The Winner sees an answer for every problem,

The Loser sees a problem for every answer.

The Winner says, “It may be difficult, but it’s possible,”

The Loser says, “It may be possible, but it’s too difficult.”

When a Winner makes a mistake, he says, “I am wrong,”

When a Loser makes a mistake, he says, “It was not my fault.”

A Winner makes commitments,

A Loser Makes Promises.

Winners have dreams,

Losers have schemes.

Winners say, “I must do something,”

Losers, say, “Something must be done.”

Winners are a part of the team,

Losers are apart of the team.

Winners see the gain,

Losers see the pain.

Winners see the possibilities,

Losers see the problems.

Winners see the potential,

Losers see the past.

Winners are like thermostats,

Losers are like thermometers.

Winners choose what they say,

Losers say what they choose.

Winners use hard arguments but soft words,

Losers are soft arguments but hard words.

Winners stand firm on values but compromise on petty things,

Losers stand firm on petty things but compromise on values.

Winners make it happen,

Losers let it happen.

Author Unknown

Monday Morning Quarterback: Sales Call Penalties

Yellow penalty flag on a white backgroundFootball is back. I know because I practically developed bedsores from watching games this weekend. We follow college and pro so that makes for a long weekend around here. We like football like Jon Gruden likes quarterbacks and snarl-smiling.

It occurred to me, however, that football players have it easy. Sure, there are the painful injuries and constant pressure to cause injuries to others. And don’t even get me started on the importance of nailing the celebratory trademark pantomime, for the pros anyway. Football players do have it easy though because they have a team of officials there to let them know when they have done something against the rules.

Consider your last sales call. When you made an egregious error, did anyone blow a whistle? Throw a flag? Discuss it with five other people in detail? Unless your manager was there for a ride-along then probably not…but that doesn’t mean you didn’t make an error and that it didn’t have consequences.

If you read my posts, then you know that my game strategy is all about filling in the blanks for salespeople and managers. To that end, here is a list of proposed penalties for sales calls.

Facemask.

Phony almost never sells a widget—unless it’s a con. Chances are, you aren’t a con artist, so be the best version of yourself you can be. That’s when you are going to succeed in building relationships with your customers. Wearing a mask of what you think your client wants you to be almost never works in your favor in the long run. Save the mask for performance art performances by your neighbor’s kid or family parties with your in-laws. Give your clients the good stuff and you’ll be the MVP, most valuable partner.

False start.

Listen, hustle is a great thing. All the captains of industry have it. But hustling right into your pitch at a sales call is obnoxious. Be sure to start your business by asking questions, both open and closed types, to get a feel for the room first. If you sense that your client or prospect would rather get down to business, then by all means, have a natural conversation that gets them to say, “So why don’t you tell me why you are here today?” Most clients know how to do this if they are busy and don’t want the full chitchat session; let them carry the ball here. Besides, you may learn things in your opening questions that require an audible at the line of scrimmage. Don’t miss out on these important clues because you were talking when you should have been listening.

Delay of Game.

Don’t you hate when people are late? So do your clients. Plan your day with extra time built in so you are never the one holding up the meeting. Being prompt and getting the sale go together like Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth.

Illegal touching.

You need to connect with your prospects and clients and build a relationship of trust that can foster opportunities for growth. How you connect touch-wise, however, needs to be businesslike. Stray too far from businesslike touching and you might end up in court, or at the very least off the account. Personal touching allowed in a sales call should be a short list; handshake, occasional touch on the arm, and if you have a good relationship established, maybe a hug. If you do go for the hug however, make sure that you do the torso-separated kind with your hands in safe territory of the upper back. Anything lower is, well, illegal.

If you are in a particularly glamorous industry or Italy, you might need to do cheek or air kisses. I have never been able to pull this off without looking like a dork, so I avoid the cheek or air kiss at all costs. If you are taking on the challenge of a cheek kiss, be sure that it is dry. No one likes a slobber spot on his or her cheek to start off a meeting.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct.

Calm, cool, and collected. No matter what is coming at you from the other side of the desk, counter, or headset, your job is to keep it from escalating. Those listening skills I mentioned before are critical. You should be all ears for this verbal exchange because you will likely find out how you can make your client happy, which is your ultimate goal here. Customers, clients, or prospects have needs and wants, even when they are spittin’ mad. So learn what those are and be polite, even if they aren’t. If you lose your cool, you lose the account. Game over.

If a football player so much as puts a toe out of line (literally) there are whistles, flags, and men in black and white running from the four corners of the field, who define the problem and assign the penalty. Players benefit from this even though they don’t always appreciate it because then they know not to do it again, at least not when the officials are looking.

Football players, in this respect, have it easier than you and I. We mostly never know the real reason that a client or prospect penalizes us with their BFN (big fat no).

Wouldn’t it be great if you had someone there to officiate your sales calls? Just imagine how your client or prospect would jump when the ref blew that whistle in the conference room. Talk about being memorable!

But since we live here in the real world where football players have all the lucky breaks, including their including their tibiae and patellae, you are going to have to be your own ref.

I think you are up to this task. After all, you’re a man; you’re 40 (or you’re a woman, which makes you 29)! So go out there and show them that you are the champion and keep on fighting ‘til the end. Hustle, hit and never quit because pain is temporary; pride is forever. Show them why you do what you do, what you are made of, and how you are going to go the whole 9 yards for them, every time. Whatever you do, play hard all 60 minutes and leave it all on the field.

Are you ready for some sales calls?

What penalties have you seen in sales calls? You make the call in comments below.

Terri Lively is a career marketing professional that has unique experience in the areas of messaging and client relations. Terri helps her clients break through the clutter by injecting a bit of humor into the business world. For the past 15 years, she helps her clients create marketing materials that effectively communicate their message and get results, across all types of media. More about Terri can be discovered at http://www.terrilively.com.

A Playlist to Celebrate the Joys of Cold Calling

Tired businesswomanCold calling stinks…but it works. Ask any seasoned sales professional and they’ll back me on this.

I spent my entire career trying to prove cold calling, or prospecting, didn’t work, convinced each day that I took on this distasteful activity I was wasting my time. Some days it amounted to nothing. On those days I felt vindicated for thinking my sales manager was a real tool for making me do it.

The other days, however, when I landed the big accounts as a result of my cold calling, I learned the bittersweet truth that cold calling stinks, but it works.

I Googled sales songs. There are plenty of playlists to get you pumped up at a sales meeting and plenty to help you go get ‘em at the Trade Show. I noticed, however, that there is a real void as it pertains to playlists to pick you up after enduring repeated and sometimes hateful rejection while cold calling.

Consider this void filled. Here is a 30-minute playlist with not a single song from this century that can take you from depressed to deliriously optimistic after suffering the indignities of cold calling.

We’re Not Gonna Take It:

Been dismissed by rude gatekeepers, hung up on, sworn at, and escorted from the building? We’re Not Gonna Take It will restore your self-esteem. Bonus points for anybody who turns around and shakes his or her fist at security singing the chorus like Dee Snider in the video.

I mean cold calling can really make for a tough day:

Okay, maybe not that tough. Yeesh.

Mr. Blue Sky:

Constant rejection can create a negative attitude in the most positive sales professional. This song is the perfect antidote for what Tony Robbins calls Stinkin’ Thinkin.’ Mr. Blue Sky will cheer you up with its pure awesomeness. In fact, I assert that this song is almost as awesome as their hairstyles.

Man in Motion:

For a song that will make your braver, and stronger than a 1980s heartthrob in a mediocre Breakfast Club for twenty-somethings movie, look no further than Man In Motion from the St. Elmo’s Fire soundtrack. The movie was cheesy, and so is the song, I guess, but I always feel like I can sell ice to Eskimos after I listen to it. With lyrics like, “Just once in his life, a man has his time. And that time is now that I’m comin’ alive!”, be sure your windows are rolled up because you are bound to embarrass yourself otherwise singing along to it.

Proud Mary, Ike and Tina Turner:

Listen, cold calling is tough. Who can deny that Tina has survived a lot? She’s tough. Considering what she rose above, surely a few hang ups and door slams pale in comparison. Proud Mary empowers us all to take care of business while oozing fierce determination and confidence.

Author’s Note: My kids took a video of me dancing to this in my office while I was writing this post. They are still laughing about it. I don’t care because they don’t know how to post on Facebook yet!

The Gambler:

I don’t ordinarily cotton to country music, but nobody can deny that this hit by Kenny Rogers teaches us all about negotiation and the art of closing gracefully with the sage wisdom, “You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.” After all if you did happen to get the sale, you never count your commission while you are still sitting at the table in the new client’s office. There’ll be time enough for countin’ on your phone in the parking lot!

Eye of the Tiger:

If ever there was a song that could make you believe you had sales superpowers, it’s this one. Back in high school, I once listened to Eye of the Tiger 18 times in a row before a big swim race and then swam a full 3 seconds faster than I ever had. For those of you that didn’t ever swim competitively that’s a lot! But if you don’t believe me, believe him:

He pities the fool who doesn’t listen to the song after a hard day of cold calling.

La Copa De la Vide (Cup of Life):

I don’t know where you were in 1998 for the World Cup, but I was pounding out a living with a poorly rated radio station in Kansas City. My paycheck was 100% commission, and my client list was the yellow pages, which is a recipe for starvation if you don’t figure out how to prospect. For you millennial-types, the Yellow Pages was an actual paper book that listed businesses by their type with their landline phone numbers (No, really). This song made sure I didn’t starve. My cup of Ramen noodles runneth over thanks to Ricky Martin’s incredibly motivating song.

Ricky: Do you really want it?

Me: (thinking of dinner) Yeah!

Ricky: Do you really want it? Here we go. Go! Go! Go!

Me: Ale! Ale! Ale!

I took music appreciation in college. I don’t remember my professor’s name, but he said something that has stayed with me to this day:

Miss Ince, is it really necessary to arrive five minutes after class starts every day?”

Just kidding. He did say that, but that isn’t the one I was talking about just now. He said that music comes the closest to expressing the inexpressible. Now, of course, he was talking about classical music, not classic rock, but I think the concept applies either way.

So when you need to express your frustration with a rough cold calling day, then pick yourself up, dust off your Nine West pumps, pick up the scattered sales accouterment strewn across the pavement after getting tossed from yet another office building for “soliciting,” by some overzealous ex con, and play this playlist as loud as you can stand it—while you find another office park to conquer.

What songs would you add to the playlist? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments.

 

Terri Lively is a career marketing professional that has unique experience in the areas of messaging and client relations. Terri helps her clients break through the clutter by injecting a bit of humor into the business world. For the past 15 years, she helps her clients create marketing materials that effectively communicate their message and get results, across all types of media. More about Terri can be discovered at www.terrilively.com.or email me at terri@terrilively.com.

Photo Credit: Kalim from Fotolia.com

Darth Vader’s People Management Skills Get Results


When I first managed a team, I had big ideas of the kind of manager I wanted to be. I wanted to be fair, just, trustworthy, and approachable. My goal was to be a kinder, gentler boss that my team thought of more as a friend than a manager.

I quickly learned that this approach has some drawbacks, not the least of which was that I wasn’t getting the results I needed. Where had I gone wrong? I was practically puking fairy dust and butterflies at my team, but it wasn’t working. I was beside myself with disappointment.

In my despair, I turned to my comfort movies one weekend and discovered the mentor that I had been lacking up to this point in my career: Darth Vader.

Now he isn’t for everybody—just the managers who really need results.

Here are just a few lessons we can learn from Darth Vader’s people management skills in action:

Read your management books. A few years ago, a popular book “The One Minute Manager” made the rounds on every manager’s reading list. Author Ken Blanchard suggested that managing people should never take more than a minute, whether it was negative or positive. He informed us all that even a reprimand should take no longer than one minute.

Darth Vader takes no more than one minute to whip this underperforming commander into shape when his efforts to build the second Death Star are falling short of expectations:

Don’t waste time with disappointing performances from your team. All managers will face a hard decision when someone on the team whose routine poor performance foretells their future dismissal. Since most people don’t relish being the bad guy, however, many managers drag it out longer than they should, which can result in lower morale for the rest of the team.

Darth Vader embraces being a bad guy and acts quickly:

Also Darth Vader gets bonus points for the immediate and crystal-clear communication of his expectations and the consequences of not meeting them to the ill-fated team member’s replacement: Coming out of hyperdrive close enough to the remote ice planet Hoth alerting the rebel alliance of your presence, bad; not disappointing Darth Vader, good.

Consistency is key. As a manager, treating all your team members the same is essential to building a team with a foundation in trust.

Darth Vader is consistent—disappointing news is always met with a gasp:

Want to pursue a questionable pet project? Don’t forget to manage up. Middle managers need to manage both down and up. Be sure that you are giving your boss the information he or she needs so you can get the green light to pursue your pet project—like converting the last hope of the Jedi to the dark side of the force.

Everyone has a boss, even the Sith Lord:

Embrace technology. These days, it’s important for managers to make sure that they are able to use technology to make their jobs easier and earn the respect of their team. It doesn’t instill much confidence for your team about your ability to lead effectively if you are constantly asking them how to sync your phone to your tablet or “What Instantgram is?”

Darth Vader loves technology, and he uses vintage stuff! Just look at what he is able to accomplish using technology from the late 1970s:


Use a recruiter when you are too emotionally invested in the candidate. If there is someone that you really, really want to join the team (a long lost son perhaps?), be sure that you can disguise your intensity. If you can’t, however, use a recruiter, otherwise your negotiation with the candidate can end in maiming, screaming, and his or her leap to certain death.


Darth Vader won’t ever be on the speaking circuit. After all he died a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. His lessons live on, however, for all middle managers to use in their daily struggles to manage the team to the best of their ability.

Are his methods extreme? Sure. Did he have any friends at work? Not so much. But what he did have was results, particularly in project management. Before you decide Darth Vader’s style is not for you, remember that his methods resulted in the completion of two fully operational Death Stars.

Who is your managing mentor? Please share what they taught you in the comments below.

Terri Lively is a career marketing professional that has unique experience in the areas of messaging and client relations. Terri helps her clients break through the clutter by injecting a bit of humor into the business world. For the past 15 years, she helps her clients create marketing materials that effectively communicate their message and get results, across all types of media. More about Terri can be discovered at www.terrilively.com or email me at terri@terrilively.com.

Green Eggs and Ham: The Only Sales Manual You’ll Ever Need

I am an ex-salesperson. For anyone in outside sales, you know this is a career both revered and reviled by most people. I bet more than one of you suffered accusations of selling snake oil in your lifetime.

Outside salespeople are always sent to training. I went to Bryan Tracy. I saw a guy with the Miss Clairol black hair color…Tom Hopkins. I even went to something called, Professional Selling Skills. I’m not knocking these events; I learned a ton, and I highly recommend them to a sales person just starting out.

If you don’t have the budget or the attention span for these sales programs, however, just read Green Eggs and Ham. Do so, and I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s the only sales manual you’ll ever need.

Why? I’ll give you five reasons:

#1: Sam introduces himself in a memorable way.

The prospect must know who you are. You need to be a person and even more importantly, a person they like. Who can deny that Sam introduces himself in a memorable way?

Personally, I can’t pull off wearing a red top hat or holding a sign while perched on my weird-looking dog’s keister (and neither can you), but I can hand them a business card and introduce myself right up front. Adapt Sam’s strategy to a more streamlined and personal introduction and you are already off to a great start.

#2: Sam doesn’t get put off by the fact the dog/bear/sheep creature doesn’t like him.

Seriously…what is that thing?

When you make a prospecting call, you are interrupting someone’s day. Your prospect had a ToDo list as long as his or her arm before you decided to drop by or call. In addition, he or she is usually not too excited you made it through the gatekeeper. Don’t let this stop you. There is always a reason to give up. The truly successful salespeople keep smiling and selling despite these reasons.

#3: Sam gets the Assumptive Close.

In my sales career, I learned that all of us snake oil types had different Closes. Closes are techniques you use to get your prospect to yes. If you want to be in sales, you must know your closes.

One of these tried and true techniques is the Assumptive Close. The assumptive close is where you just presume that the prospect is going to say yes, so you provide them the option of where or when they want the snake oil. “Sure I understand, Ms. Prospect. Can I come to your office to discuss the terms of our agreement on Tuesday or Wednesday?”

Sam gets the assumptive close. He tries it repeatedly for 41 pages:

Would you like them here or there?

“Would you like them in a house? Would you like them with a mouse?

“Would you? Could you? In a car?”

And so forth. Sam’s a fan of the assumptive close.

#4: Sam doesn’t take no for an answer.

Certain members of my family have been described as pleasantly persistent. If you don’t know what that means, just re-read the book. Sam is never deterred by the creature’s insistence that he doesn’t like green eggs and ham. He sticks to his strategy and over time wears out the thing’s resistance.

In real sales, this can be tricky. Do what Sam does, and you may find yourself on the wrong end of a harassment lawsuit.

But it is important always to keep the door open. If the prospect isn’t interested now, ask if there is a time when the company reviews their vendors so you can reconnect then. Another good foot in the door option is to invite him or her to an event or a sales booth at trade show for a personal demonstration. Whatever you do, make sure that the “No” you are getting today isn’t final so you can try again on another, better day.

#5: Sam gets the product in his prospect’s hands.

In almost any sales situation, the key to converting prospects is to get the product in their hands. You know what a great widget you have, but your prospect doesn’t. If you can get it in his or her hands and have the widget show them how wonderful it is, you are that much closer to getting the yes you want. Getting the product in the prospect’s hands is obviously harder to do in intangible sales where the widget is a concept, but there are ways. When I sold radio time we made a spec commercials so our prospects could hear what their professionally produced :60 Radio ad would sound like.

Sam offers the creature a free sample of his green eggs and ham, imploring him to “Try them! Try them!” And even though the sample he offers has been in a strange house with a known disease-causing vermin, traveled in a box with a fox, in a car, up a tree, on a train, through a tunnel, in the exhaust pipe of a boat and finally underwater…the creature eats them. Better yet, he likes them.

So there you have it. I just saved you and your sales manager a ton in training budget. It turns out that everything you ever needed to know about sales was explained to you as a child in a book that uses no more than 50 words.

Now get out there and sell some snake oil!

Terri Lively is a career marketing professional that has unique experience in the areas of messaging and client relations. She crafts strategies for her clients that want to enhance their content. For the past 15 years, she helps her clients create marketing materials that effectively communicate their message and get results, across all types of media. More about Terri can be discovered at www.terrilively.com.