Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

Family Style Dinner with Strangers

In Communication, networking, relationships on October 23, 2018 at 10:19 pm

“The only weird thing about eating there is you share a table with total strangers.” This is the advice I received regarding eating at a little family style fried chicken joint in Sweetwater, TX. I travel a great deal for work. One of the highlights of my travel schedule is the great locally owned small restaurants. Especially in small towns. Sweetwater doesn’t have many locally owned restaurants to choose from. It’s located on the busy I-20 corridor between Midland and Abilene. The usual suspects are present: Whataburger, Popeyes, etc.

I’ll be honest with you, I’m not a huge fan of fried chicken at restaurants. With this in mind, I wasn’t sure what to think about the prospect of trying this out. I was pleasantly surprised. Not only was the chicken some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever put in my mouth, they serve nine to ten sides that you pass around the table and spoon onto your plate.

To me though, the highlight was eating at a table full of strangers. My co-worker and I sat next to two salesmen from Abilene. One had eaten there many times before and the other it was his first time too. We conversed for the majority of the meal. Once they finished eating, they hurried off to meet with more prospects. We then struck up a conversation with an older couple at the end of our table. The man had been coming to eat at The restaurant since 1959. The crazy thing, they don’t even live close to Sweetwater. They are from east Texas. They were driving home from Midland and made sure they left in time to make it to Sweetwater before the lunch rush just to eat the chicken.

I love chance meetings with total strangers. Just a brief moment to get a glimpse into the life of another person that you will never meet again.

If you ever get the chance, be sure to stop and eat at Allen’s if you are passing through Sweetwater, TX. Take your time. Talk with those around you.


Show and Tell

In Communication, Sales on August 1, 2016 at 5:05 pm

Remember when you were a kid, and one day out of the year you got to bring something special from home and share it with the other students? I can remember this like it was yesterday. Standing there holding a peacock feather that I got from our family friend’s peacock farm. Not only could you tell how excited I was to show this item to my friends, I practiced for days what I would say about it. Everyone was at full attention as I held this 4 feet long feather and told them about this beautiful bird. Show and tell. Tell a story, and provide a visual.

As sales professionals, you should do the same thing. Have something to show your prospect. If you have a sample of the product, great. If you can do a product demo, even better. Holding a pen and pointing to a point in your literature works well too. In fact, you can guide the prospect to where you want them to focus by pointing or making a circular motion with your pen at the desired spot on the brochure. And if you have absolutely nothing to show, please use had motions. Allow your prospect to see your passion.

What will you bring for show and tell?

I Can Hear You Smile

In Communication, Marketing, Sales on July 25, 2016 at 5:03 pm

And so can others. I used to work in durable medical equipment sales as a marketing director. My office was located with the billing department. They have the difficult job of fighting with insurance companies to a) make sure that the customer’s insurance will cover the equipment at a minimal cost to the patient and b) ensure that the company is reimbursed according to the reimbursement schedule provided by the insurance companies.

I’ve always believed that you attract more flies with sugar than you do with vinegar. To this point, I would walk by and hear the billing clerks speaking with whomever they had on the other line and thought to myself, “I would make it as difficult as I could on this person because of the tone they are using with me on the phone”. When the clerk would hang up the phone, I would tell them to smile while they are speaking, even if it is a fake smile, because it would change the tone in their voice. A few of the clerks would take my advice and guess what, those clerks ended up having better reimbursement numbers and shorter reimbursement times. On bad days (let’s face it, we all have them), I would write the word “SMILE” on a sticky note and place it on their keyboard. They would usually hang up the phone and tell me how evil I was. Regardless, it worked.

We all conjure up what we think a total stranger looks like when we speak to them on the phone. Wouldn’t you feel better knowing (or at least thinking) the person on the other end of the line was smiling while they were speaking with you. Give it a try. Smile while you are talking on the phone. I can hear it on the other end of the line.

The Networking Ladder

In Communication, networking, Personal Development, relationships on July 20, 2016 at 5:00 pm

I’ve been asked why I spend so much time networking at the bottom of the ladder. First of all, I really do not see networking as a proverbial ladder, but I understand where the question is coming from. In other words, “if you are trying to get to the CEO, why are you spending so much time with the subordinates?”

Clearly the question comes from someone that does not understand the nuances of networking. It takes a strong base to reach the top. If your base is strong, you do not have to worry about tumbling down, loosing momentum while ascending, or the wind blowing your ladder over. Again, this is looking at networking a company, purely as a proverbial ladder.

Yet another example of why to do this is the old Walter Mizner adage: “Be kind to everyone on the way up; you’ll meet the same people on the way down.”

I have spent a great deal of my career in medical sales. Calling on physician, nurses, executives, etc. In my days of calling on doctor’s offices, I learned very quickly that my access to the physician was dependent on the way that I treated the staff. While the physician held all of the prescriptive authority, the receptionist, nurse, and business manger held the power to “pencil me in” to the doctor’s schedule (or not). I became better friends with the staff than I ever did with the physicians that I called on. And as a result, I had better access in the clinic than many of my competitors.

But truthfully, if you really want to know why I spend time networking with individuals that have no control over my business or my sales success here is the answer: BECAUSE IT IS THE HUMAN THING TO DO. I do not talk to people only because they can “do something for me” today or tomorrow or twenty years from now. I do it because people interest me. If it happens to benefit me or my business, great. If not, I still see it as a victory.

People are human regardless of title, maybe it’s time we recognize that. Happy networking.

Focus vs. Fluff

In Communication, Personal Development, Sales on July 19, 2016 at 5:05 pm

One of my greatest strengths is also a tremendous weakness. 


When I am truly engaged and working, I can drown out almost anything. I have the ability to cut to the chase immediately and ensure that business is handled in a timely manner. I get things done.

Though sometimes I am so focused that I forget to address the fluff (my word for relationship building words and phrases). Don’t get me wrong, I think fluff is important, I’m just very task driven. 

Some get lost in the fluff. In sales, I call these individuals “professional visitors”. They have the best relationships, but the business never really extends beyond the surface encounters of the visit.

There is a fine balance and when you find that balance you start to reach more of your sales goals. Have you ever witnessed that sales person that can go into an account and appear to be just visiting but also able to get the pitch and the close in without anyone really noticing? They’ve got the balance and people love them. That’s why they get the business. 

Start paying attention to your sales call tendencies and figure out what you are. It is important to be yourself, but if you can tweak things just a bit, you and I can both achieve balance.

Fluff up your focus a bit, or focus up your fluff. 

Expect Disappointment

In Communication, Personal Development, relationships on July 17, 2016 at 11:30 am

Expectactions are a funny thing. Several people expect the world of others. They expect them to act a certain way, dress a certain way, and return favors. I had a former employer tell me during an interview that I was never going to look as good to him as I did during the interview. Harsh, but true. His point was that if he lowered his expectations that he was seldom surprised with outcomes.

I’ve often told people a piece of advice that my church pastor passed on to the congregation during a wedding series: the one thing you should expect from anyone is disappointment. Again harsh, but true. When you expect to be disappointed you actually set others up to look like rock stars. 

I’m sometimes told that this is a cynical way to view the world, but it helps me keep my sanity. What are your thoughts?

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

In Communication, Sales on July 14, 2016 at 5:15 pm

…but really, I don’t. Over your sales career, you are going to run into clients / prospects that want you to be there with them every step of the way. You will receive calls from them almost daily requesting status updates and expressing their uncertainty of the purchase that they just made. 

You have a choice. You can pander to their every whim or you can manage their expectations. Really there is a third option (firing them), but let’s not go here yet.

If you decide to indulge their every call, text message, email, fax, snail mail, Pony Express message, etc. you are going to have to do this for the rest of the time that they are your client. Make sure it is worth it. Your time is valuable.

If you manage their expectations correctly, you shouldn’t have to worry about calls at all hours asking you for status updates. Provide them when you say you are going to provide them. Give them the facts of the transaction proactively. Let them know that you will update them as soon as updates are available and not before. Under promise and over deliver.

The more you focus on managing expectations, the less stress they will cause you, and the less likely you are to feel like you need to go to the third option of firing them. There are valid reasons for firing a client, but don’t let “high maintenance” be one of them. Just manage expectations properly.

I think you understand.

Conversation Evolution

In Communication on July 13, 2016 at 12:21 pm

The airport is a fantastic place to observe how our society has evolved over the years, specifically the way we communicate and who we communicate with. Walking through Washington Reagan airport in DC (DCA) today I passed by the shoe shine stand. Two gentlemen were getting their shoes shined, and you guessed it: looking at their smartphone. I’m not judging at all. Look what I’m doing at this very moment; posting a blog from my smartphone.

I’m as guilty as the next of doing this. Cab rides, waiting rooms, restaurant tables. I don’t see the use of technology in the settings as positive or negative, just evolved. Before smartphones, you could connect with total strangers seated next to you at the airport gate. Now you can connect with whomever you please. Strangers on social media. Family via phone conversation. Friends via Skype. Or even…the stranger next to you. 

Who do you connect with in a room full of strangers?