Category Archives: Management

Outside vs. Inside Voice – You Can’t Take It Back!

Group Of Business People With Their Mouths Taped Shut

I had a run in with the District Manager at a large retail account of mine many years ago. We had “philosophical differences” regarding my coverage of one of their stores, and one incident in particular upset him.

My relationship was less than solid with that location’s management team, and I received very little support from the sales associates. During my third year working with the account, the senior manager requested that I conduct another product knowledge meeting for his team on a Saturday morning. I had done that type of training before, but had become frustrated by their lack of support.

I will never forget what I said to him in response to his request that I take time out of my weekend to do training. My wording was all wrong. I said that I would not receive the “bang for the buck” to go and train his team now, and would wait until I received more support from them.

I did not mean for it to come out that way, but it did, and I had to live with the consequences. I remember the rest of the story like it was yesterday. I was numb all over and I felt like I was going to throw up! He stormed in to his office, and started dialing the phone to my regional office. I swear there was smoke coming out of his ears! It was after 4 pm, and my General Manager had typically left by then. But as fate would have it, he was still in the office that day!

By this time I had walked in to his office, I was pleading for him to get off the phone so we could work through the issue together. He was requesting a new sales rep from my General Manager (while I was standing right in front of him). To my General Manager’s credit, he was able to calm him down, and I was able to talk things through with my boss the next day. My management team knew this man quite well, and was aware that he was not my favorite person. I explained my side of the story, and eventually was able to convince the store’s District Manager to keep me on as the rep for both locations.

I was not worried about losing the underperforming branch, but was terrified to lose the local branch that I had worked so diligently to grow over the years. To say the least, I choose my words very carefully in the future, to avoid other conflicts.  I retained both branches, but the weaker place never met my expectations.

It is difficult to keep your emotions in check and not say what is on your mind in certain situations. But using your “outside voice” instead of your “inside voice” can have negative ramifications, especially if you catch somebody on a bad day! I learned that the hard way. I will never forget that feeling deep in the pit of my stomach when I almost lost one of my biggest accounts right before my eyes!

  • Have you ever wished you had used your “inside voice” rather than your “outside voice” in a specific situation during your career?
  • If so, what were the results of you speaking out loud?

Email me at to share your story, and I will post the best response on my blog next week!

Flexing Your Leadership Style – “People Follow You”

When I recently discovered  that Jeb Blount had a new book out called “People Follow You”, I was very excited! I have been thoroughly enjoying his content since I started listening to the “Sales Guy – Quick and Dirty Tips” podcast last year.  I really enjoyed this video on leadership and am sure you will too! Stop by and check out the website for his new book at:

Belated Happy New Year and a Huge Shout Out!

Hey there everyone!

Just a quick note to say Happy New Year! All the best for a health, happy and prosperous 2013.

Starting a blog in 2012 was an absolute pleasure, and I am striving for bigger and better things in the coming months.

Speaking of this blog, I noticed something very cool on my blog in December, and just had to give a huge shout out to one of my followers.

Her name is Tina Del Buono and you can follow her awesome blog called Practical Practice Management at:

When I started to write close to three years ago, I remember exactly where I was when I said to myself, “I wonder if anyone will care about what I have to say?” In that moment of uncertainty, it would have been easy to return to my “regularly scheduled life” and just put the pen down. But I kept moving forward, a little bit every day, with the hope that I would create a bit of a following when I launched my blog.

I have been incredibly fortunate that people like what I am doing, and many people comment.

And then there is Tina. After I noticed some statistics in early December, I was hoping that she would hit a very special milestone with my blog before year’s end. And she did!

She has taken the time to make 100 COMMENTS on my blog!

I can not thank her enough for helping make my blog a success with her insightful comments and support of my work in general. I am touched when anyone takes the time to correspond with me in any way, but 100 times in 11 months was just an incredible accomplishment!

You can also connect with Tina at:

Twitter – @PPM4U

Linkedin –


Let’s make 2013 the best year yet! Have a great week.


Where The Heck Did My Desk Go?


One of the first rules that I learned as a parent was infants and toddlers thrive on routine and consistency. As adults we tend to lose our way much of the time, and planning and scheduling becomes a dirty word.

Sales professionals can get lost without planning and scheduling as well. If we thrive on routines early in life, should the need for “the expected” not extend throughout our lives? Think about how much more efficient you would be if you stuck to a schedule even 70, 80 or 90% of the time?

A classic story that I heard during my career involved an executive and the sales team at his office. He walked in to the “sales bullpen” mid morning one day, and saw all the reps sitting at their desks. He asked his manager if he could “reorganize” the sales area when they left for their territories. The reps were very surprised the next morning when they found their desks stacked on top of each other in the warehouse! He did it to prove a point, and strongly believed that by mid morning, they should be out in the field making sales calls and getting orders.

As often as possible during my career, I have operated under the system of a “Daily Powerplay” for 4 days each week. Many sales experts have their own theory on this, but somewhere between the hours of 9 am and 4 pm is the ideal time to be in front of customers.

This is a sample of my schedule:

7:30 am – 9:30 am

  • Return emails and phone calls
  • Complete any outstanding follow-up To Do’s
  • Phone cold calling (if applicable) & setting up appointments

9:30 am – 4:00 pm

(Daily PowerPlay)

  • Sales Calls, lunches with clients/prospects, training sessions or golf (and other relationship building time) with clients

4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

  •  Similar to the morning, clean up as much as possible by the end of the day

The key to a good schedule is to know yourself, and when you are at your best. If you are “in the zone” first thing in the morning, then conduct important cold calls or face to face meeting then. If you gain momentum later in the afternoon, conduct these activities then instead. I colleague of mine was not functional until around 10 am, and he was still one of the best reps in that organization. He worked later than most of us, and our boss was comfortable with that. It was all about the numbers, and it would have been counterproductive for the company to expect him to do a big presentation at 8 am.

If you expect to leave the office every day at 9 or 930 am, do so when possible.

There should be very few excuses why you cannot leave the office when you intended to. Less important things than face to face selling can always be dealt with later. Speaking from experience, issues come up from time to time, but they should not derail your plans very often. Go sell!

The key to the “Daily Powerplay” is the fifth day each week is an office day. I typically use Mondays as the day to catch up from the previous week, and plan the next four days. Some people prefer the office day to be on Fridays. Be careful though, there is always the temptation to start your weekend early.

  • Do you have a daily planning and scheduling system?What changes do you need to implemented in your daily activities to start a schedule and/or follow one more closely if you don’t already?
  • Do you stick to it?
  • If so, how often?

Do more of what is working for you, and stop doing what is not. Evaluate your processes and planning regularly, and tweak systems as you go along. The pain of spending the time making a plan and sticking to it, will be much less in the long run than being disorganized, without focus, and becoming frustrated by the lack of results.

The Five Star 5 – “Dinner? Not Again!”

How do you spell sales team dinner? “B.O.R.I.N.G.”

Ok, it is not always boring, but over my career the team dinner concept has been uneventful most of the time. Why not mix it up and plan an event that will be memorable to the team in the future?

If you are having trouble deciding what to do, ask them! Reward the winning creative idea with a gift card.

I can honestly tell you that I barely remember anything that happened at team dinners over the years. But from my list below, I have vivid memories of laughter and fun that will last a life time. You don’t have to make a big splash with an expensive outing for this to be effective. Just try something new to show the team that you are thinking outside the box.

I could blog for a couple of weeks straight sharing stories from participating in these events:

  • Weekend retreat at a Sales Manager’s cabin
  • Go Cart Racing with the sales team
  • Movie Night with the sales team
  • Golf outings (many gatherings were at dream locations in the picturesque Rocky Mountains)
  • Professional sporting events

Job Search Day 1 – Don’t By Shy, Apply. You Never Know!

I had four hours to kill last week on an airplane, so I decided to revisit old content that I had archived. I was surprised by how much information I had on job searches; all the way from getting started on a search, culminating with evaluating offers. I will save most of it for the future. Perhaps release it in eBook format!

Until then, here are three of my favourite posts that I dug up and edited. Enjoy day 1!

I absolutely love being the dark horse in the interview process. If I was not expected to get a role, I took it as a personal challenge and stepped my game up to the highest level possible. It is always fun going through the process under those circumstances. There is no pressure on the underdog; just go in and do your best.  I would get this type of information by asking the recruiter who I was competing against for an opportunity. Sometimes it was better not to know, but on occasion I would ask and they would tell me.

I know for a fact that I was hired in at least one role that I had no business getting based on minimal experience in a technical field. It was down to four candidates, but I did not let the knowledge that the other candidates had solid industry experience affect my confidence in any way.

I had no pressure on me and did get the role which felt great. I impressed the toughest manager that I ever ended up working for in my career in that interview, and he gave me a shot. I have always told recruiters and/or hiring managers that all I need is the chance to impress during the interview process. Actions speak louder than words, and meeting people face to face confirms that I will shine, and am not just a bunch of credentials on paper.

Do not be afraid to apply for roles that need previous sales or industry experience. What do you have to lose? If they don’t want to meet with you, that is their choice, but at least you are giving them something to think about.

Remember, it is not uncommon for sales reps to work for several different organizations in a specific industry during their career because they have product knowledge and many business contacts. But bad habits can creep in to their day-to-day activities, and I am hearing from mangers recently that they will give more consideration to new reps entering an industry and/or sales all together. It is a breath of fresh air to bring new blood in and not “recycle” the same reps over and over.

Why is that?

New sales reps have a clean slate. They have no preconceived notions about the industry or particular customers. They are excited to have the opportunity to start in a sales role and grow with an organization. Many managers realize that they can train new employees, and teach them product knowledge, as long as they have the skill set to succeed long-term.

My most successful sales role started without industry experience or product knowledge. I was very nervous at first taking the role, but once I learned the product line and account base, it was smooth sailing from there. My tried and tested systems worked once again. I just had to “insert” the new products!

Is Sales Management Still Broken? “Hands-On” vs. “Hands-Off”

I recently posted a question on Paul Castain’s Sales Playbook LinkedIn discussion group about the “Ideal Sales Management Style”. The responses varied, with the majority concluding that a combination of  “hands-on” vs. “hands-off” was the best solution. I agreed with that analysis. I am with my 7th company in 16 years of corporate life, so I have a very good idea how I like to be managed, and how I manage now.

I had no intention of discussing this thread on my blog until I saw the comment below. I received this startling entry from Kevin Dankosky about two weeks ago, and it has really stuck with me. I will abstain from my opinion, rather eagerly anticipating your take on his incredible story!

“Funny this question comes up. I went to visit an old childhood friend for lunch last week and we were talking about his career in health care sales. He is about 15 years my junior. Let me predicate this by saying that I’ve always more of hand-off type of sales manager who is very selective about his hires, trains them well and then treats them like gold – 99% of the time they do a great job.

So we are having a nice lunch and he gets a text message from his boss reminding him (and the other regional sales people) of the daily conference call at 1:00 (it was 12:30 at the time). We are having such a good discussion at lunch we run a little late so at 12:58, while taking me back to the airport, he has to put the conference call on in the car through the radio.

I was shocked, the sales manager has everyone check in .. Joe here, Mary here, Larry here, Curly here .. then the meeting begins. Details on all the main target accounts, timelines on closing deals, number of sales calls made today, number of cold calls made, etc. Fortunately I got to the airport (20 minutes later) before the end of the call.

I was shocked. If I were a sales rep and that occurred on a daily basis, I’d go nuts. In addition to having been a sales manager and sales person, I’m also a coach and teacher. I think it’s up to you as a sales manager to know each person on your sales team and find out what makes them “click”. Some will need more hands on attention while others need just a nudge.

Regardless, if you feel the need to “ride” them each day, you either don’t have confidence in them or you have a power obsession. Again, if you hire the right person, train them well, support them and treat them well, the rest will fall into place. I guess that’s a long way of saying I’m more “hands-off”. – Kevin Dankosky

Oh yeah, if you love sales and business and you are not a member of Paul Castain’s Sales Playbook Linkedin Group, what are you waiting for? Here is the link:

No spam, no personal promotion, 30,000+ members. It is the best place to hang out that I have found and it has changed the way I sell and manage.

Which Stage Are You At?

I really enjoyed this motivational picture this morning. I think many of us are working on this daily!

For those of you who have been watching the Olympics, I hope you saw the women’s soccer game between Canada and the USA yesterday. It was an incredible match, and both teams should be very proud of their efforts.  Not one player on the field quit playing their heart out until the final buzzer sounded.

How close are you to achieving your goals, and how hard are you prepared to work for them?

This little picture should be a great reminder of that. Keep it close by!

Civica Library & Learning Blog

Finding this familiar? You are better off with the Nike way – Just Do It!

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Do You Want “Jalopinoes” With That? (what ???????)

I went to a hockey game with a good friend of mine several ago. During the standard 15 minute intermission we stopped by a concession booth to grab a bite to eat. We were having a great conversation and lost track of time. 15 minutes had passed, and the line had barely moved.

Then we really started to pay attention to the guy who was serving us. He was slow, lethargic and very methodically serving people. By the time we finally received our food, 10 minutes of the next period had expired.

But the story gets better. I had ordered nachos with cheese. He proceeds to ask me,

“Do you want jalopinoes with that?”

I responded with a laugh,

“Did you mean jalapeno peppers?”

“Yeah, whatever… jalopinoes”.

That was one of the funniest interactions that I ever had at a fast food counter! I wish I could recreate his voice in this post.

Sitting back and watching this young man work slower and slower, as the line got longer and longer with no manager intervening was memorable, for all the wrong reasons. They were obviously not motivated to do their job to the best of their abilities, had no enthusiasm, and would have rather been anywhere but there. Maybe that was “just how he rolled”, but certainly a little encouragement and support from the managers could have helped him speed up and engage people a little better.

Now on the flip side…..

When was the last time you had a memorable service experience at a fast food restaurant?

I did, over and over, and it was only ever to order food in the restaurant and take it out, or go through the drive thru. It took a few visits to realize that it was a different experience than other similar restaurants. The owner who worked behind the counter a lot of time was a difference maker. The employees (typically young teenagers) bought in to what he was teaching and how he was training them. The positive attitude was very noticeable. Everyone was unflappable during busy times. I had never seen a fast food restaurant be so in synch with people lined up to the door!

I often observed the owner encouraging the kids, and tactfully discussing things with them when they did something wrong. The incredible part was he owned two different locations, and the experience was exactly the same at each one. Kids as young as twelve and thirteen years old showed work ethic and levels of maturity unheard of at that age. They always had smiles on their faces, and never hesitated to engage customers. They certainly realized how important their customers were to the company’s success.

Some of the kids used humour in their approach. One girl sang a song to us in the drive through, as a way of asking for our order. Another girl quoted our order total in pennies and not traditional dollars and cents. The owner was involved with many local charities, and it was well documented in the community. I know that he taught the values of helping others to his staff, and that certainly helped in their development as they became young adults. The team work within the group was very solid as well. I never saw one person say “That is not my job” or comparable when they were working.

One manager, one leader can make all the difference in the world. There is a reason that I am able to recall this so vividly, but rarely remember details of the hundreds of other fast food experiences during my life (except for the “jalopinoe incident”.

He could motivate, teach, inspire, and get the young adults to buy in to his plan. He was able to properly tell them when they did something wrong, without them feeling bad about it. And when you include consistent smiles on their faces and prompt service, it made for an enjoyable experience every time!

His team had “IT”, and I truly do not know what “IT” was. But when you walked through the doors, you could feel the different vibe almost instantly.

Think of your experience as a leader in your career and personal life.

  • What things have you done over and over that brought you success?

Great job and keep doing those things.

  • Now think of things that you did once or twice, they were successful, but you stopped doing.

Start doing them again! If something works, repeat as often as you can.

Why do you think that certain sports coaches have success wherever they go?

They have tried and testing techniques and keep repeating them. The message may be tweaked over time, but they never stray too much from what gave them initial success.

Remember the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

Why Hierarchies? The Pizza and Beer Syndrome by Broc Edwards

I have been following Broc Edward’s blog for quite some time, and always enjoy his content. This post on hierarchies caught my attention earlier this week, and I wanted to share it today. His insight on this topic is excellent, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did..

fool (with a plan)

Why do organizations look the way they do? Why are command and control hierarchies so popular? They seem like relics from days gone past. We spend a lot of time complaining about all their sins and proposing alternatives so why don’t we see flatter, collaborative, and self-directed organizations? They should be more adaptable, create more engagement, and be higher performing. Yet we keep perpetuating the command and control hierarchies that we spend so much time railing against. Why do we say we want one thing and make the choices and actions that lead to another?

Good questions and here’s the answer (you might want to write this down): pizza and beer.

No, really. Call it the “Pizza and Beer Syndrome” if you like. We can learn a lot about organizations by looking at human behavior. After all, organizations are a reflection of the philosophies, strategies, and approaches of individuals.

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