Category Archives: Rewind

Raw Talent vs. Passion – And The Winner Is…

I went to a Van Halen concert last spring.  It was a huge letdown after waiting 28 years to see the first incarnation of the band, and I won’t be seeing them again, EVER! If you are not a Van Halen fan that is ok, this is a broader message than just about their music. I have wanted to see The Van Halen brothers with David Lee Roth since I first heard of them as an eleven year old in 1984. I am still not sure how I was able to convince my parents to buy me a cassette tape with a baby smoking on the cover!

The show did not come close to meeting my expectations. Would they have been incredible if I had seen them in late 1984 or early 1985 before they broke up? I have a hunch it would have been amazing. But this is 2012, and it seemed like a job to them, and they “had to be there”. There was no chemistry between David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen, and they seemed to be going through the motions.

The hastily introduced “Jump” as the last song and did not even come out for an encore! News broke a week later that they had cancelled their summer tour. “Allegedly” there is serious infighting within the band. Other reports are now saying that fatigue has been an issue for band members, and the tour will take up to two years.  They are taking precautions not to burn out.

Rewind to 2004 when Van Halen was touring with Sammy Hagar once again, and Michael Anthony was still playing bass. It was my birthday, and I had an incredible time. The band was in synch, they were having a great time, and Sammy was signing autographs for the fans in the front row. There were already rumours surfacing that Sammy and Ed were not getting along, but I did not get that sense that fall evening in Edmonton, Canada.

Eddie Van Halen is one of the greatest guitarists ever, but I have never gotten a warm and fuzzy off him. Sammy is not a guitar playing or singing virtuoso, but is an above average musician and vocalist. What he lacks in raw talent, he more than makes up for with passion and love for his “career”, and the fans that have supported him for over 40 years.

Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony have formed a new band named Chickenfoot with Joe Satriani and Chad Smith (from the Red Hot Chili Peppers), and their shows are electric. They are having the time of their lives, and care deeply for those they are performing for.

I had a chance to see the band in Vancouver when my friend was working for them, and I did not go. I am still kicking myself. I hope to see them again in the future. If I had a choice to see Sammy Hagar/Michael Anthony or Eddie Van Halen/David Lee Roth perform one more time in my life, hands down it would be Sammy and Mike. Eddie may play the guitar like no other, but raw talent is not the only criteria where I will spend my hard-earned dollars on. It is on my bucket list to go see Sammy Hagar play in Cabo in Mexico at his birthday bash one year. And that WILL happen. I can’t wait!

How does this all relate to business? You don’t need an “off-the-charts” IQ, or raw talent to achieve massive success. You need to show up regularly though. You have to care about those paying for your products and/or services, and be willing to go “that extra mile” when they need you the most.

The passion that you exude for your audience/customers, the depth that you are willing to go to help them get to where they want, will pay dividends in the long run. I needed Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth to “knock it out of the park”, and they let me down.

  •  What band’s concert have you attended, or company have you “dealt with” that just  blew you away?
  •  On the flip side, what band let you down at their live show, or company disappointed you, and you will never “deal” with them again?

 

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Is It Time To Hit “Reset” With Your Team?

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Managing, coaching and/or leading a team can be a very rewarding role when things are going well. There’s a method to the madness in motivating and inspiring team members. When things don’t go well, the accountability has to fall back on the manager, and tough questions need to be asked. One of the questions that has always intrigued me is,

“Do you know your team members?” (yeah, yeah I do!)

No…

“Do you really KNOW them?”

I heard a story once about a sports star who was allegedly upset that his General Manager did not phone or visit him while he was in the hospital recovering from surgery. This caused a great debate – whether the manager should have had to make personal contact, or if it was satisfactory that his support team did the checking in.

I had a strong opinion on the situation initially, and concluded that the player was another over paid athlete who was whining and wanted a “big hug” from his adoring fans! A radio announcer quickly put it in to perspective for me. He said that although it was ridiculous to expect a General Manager to make calls to a player in the hospital, he needed to know his  players. If all it took to keep a multimillion dollar player happy was an occasional phone call or visit to the hospital, was it really that big a deal? Maybe he only had to do things similarly with a handful of players, but it would have kept harmony within the team. Speculation ensued and the player ended up being let go in a very public dispute.

“The Blind Side” movie provided another great lesson about knowing players.  A high school football coach had an offensive lineman on his team who was having difficulties blocking opposing players. The coach got frustrated, and did not know how to teach the player to block better, and protect the quarterback. The player’s mom was watching that practice, and went on to the field and gave some insight to her son. She knew that he had scored very well on testing at school when the topic was protection. She gave him examples of how he had protected the family and others close to him over time, and how it related to the football team concept.  It really sparked something inside him.

From that point on, he did an incredible job protecting the quarterback. The mom commented to the coach that he needed to know his players better. Every time the player struggled and was not blocking as well in the future, they just had to remind him again that this was his “football family” and he needed to protect them too!

In today’s business environment, now more than ever, Sales Managers and Executives need to understand the strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies of each of their team members. In the sales profession, some reps will be better at presenting, others will have more technical knowledge, and some will be customer relationship building standouts.

Work your butt off to understand the different personalities that you are managing, and adjust your style when  dealing with each of them . Focus on assisting them in areas of weakness, and capitalize on their strengths. Well-rounded reps will be much more successful on your teams in the long run than those who are one-dimensional.

Managers need to be prepared to change-up their leadership strategies based on their team member’s needs. If your team genuinely knows that your number one priority is their success, life at work should already be good if not great. If things aren’t going well with your team, ask yourself:

  • How well do I know each individual?
    • What motivates them day-to-day?
    • What are their long-term goals?
  • What can I do to get to know each person better?
  • How can I further their career development? (i.e. one-on-one coaching, encouraging continued education, job shadowing, mentoring)

Taking time to get to know your employees gives you valuable insight into leading your team effectively. Happy employees are more productive which is a win-win for everyone.

Have A Laugh Fridays – Incredible Toastmasters Speech!



Think back to those times when you laughed so hard, you had a hard time breathing for a moment, and even cried a little?

I had that experience in the fall of 2012 when I attended the regional Toastmasters Conference in Edmonton, Canada. Andrew Legg blew the audience away and won the humorous speech contest giving us his take on the “Different Stages Of Laughter”.

Please take a moment to share this one with his network, it is a truly remarkable job by a Toastmaster, not a professional comedian!

Have a great weekend!

How Does Music Motivate You?

I love music! I have loved it since I received my first cassette tape (oh wow) when I was ten years old. That Christmas I received a ghetto blaster too, and my love for music was solidified. My wife is always amazed at the “UBI” (Useless Bits of Information) that I know about music. But when you love something, you are a sponge for every little detail!

Family, sports and my career are the most important things in my life, but my passion for music is not far behind. If I had more time, I would go to a concert per week, and travel the outdoor music festival circuit all summer. Getting together with friends under blue skies and the stars to bond and watch incredible music have provided me with some of the greatest memories in my life.

I have connected with many people who have the same passion for music. I have been an active participant in Paul Castain’s LinkedIn Group called “Sales Playbook!” for well over a year now. I have enjoyed posting discussion questions during that time, with two of those threads being very specific to music. The number of comments posted, and the depth of the discussion far exceeded the results that I have received on any other question! People apparently love to talk about music!

Three years ago, I had a one hour drive to work, and I listened to a lot of music on the open highways. I soon realized that I did not have all of my favourite music on a specific iTunes Mix. I had to fiddle with my iPod while driving (now that would result in a distracted driving ticket if caught). I was experiencing some work challenges and my attitude was all over the map. I needed something to help me get back on track at a moment’s notice, or even get me pumped up to a higher level than I already was.

The result was the “Get It Done Mix”. I wanted the title, and not just the music, to have meaning. Every time I looked at my iPod, I would see the words, and it would subconsciously help get me going too.

I am not here to tell you what to call your favourite mix, or what kinds of music to put on it. My point is that if you love music, YOU NEED ONE, if you don’t already have one. Only you will know what feels right. My rule with the “Get It Done Mix” is to never skip a song. If it is all of your favourite tunes, there will be no need to skip!

The nice thing about current technology is that you can add to your mix as you discover more music that you love. Don’t worry about making the “perfect” list, just get one started and let it evolve over time as you discover (or remember) songs that pump you up! If you are as passionate about music as I am, you can connect certain songs to very specific times in your life. Focus on the times that made you very happy, and make darn sure that those songs are on your mix!

When I first checked out Paul Castain’s website ( www.yoursalesplaybook.com ) I went directly to his “Playlist for the Aspiring Sales Rock Star”. I was initially drawn to him by his love for music. I soon realized that his sales content and messages for life were second to none as well! Paul provides incredible suggestions for a music mix if you want to check it out at:

http://goo.gl/rSXw1

The sales profession and business in general can be very demanding. Incredible swings in emotion can happen even hourly. I do not know how many times that I have played my mix over the years when I needed a pick me up, or to take me to another level of awesome. While driving, I recommend taking some deep breaths to help relax you if the mix is being used at that moment to calm you down!

The true test if your music mix is working may occur when you are driving. If the people in the car next to you catch you singing, drumming on the steering wheel, or nodding your head to the beat, then my mission is complete!

What songs MUST be on your playlist?

 

Wanna talk music and take a break during your busy day? Stop by the best place to talk music on LinkedIn – The Daily Music Sanctuary. Paul Castain has given myself and my good friend Roger Demas the incredible opportunity to oversee this group. We have met many fantastic people, and are having a blast. Hope to see you there soon!

http://linkd.in/OeKGgr

 

The Five Star 5 – See, Leadership Can Be Simple!

Sometimes as leaders, coaches, or people of influence in general, we over think how to motivate teams.

Several times last year, my son’s hockey team of 4 and 5 year olds had one hour power skating lessons. I was amazed by the instructor’s ability to keep them interested the entire time, even with sessions as early as 6 am on weekends!

This list should seem obvious to us all, but how many of these simple points do we miss with those that we lead?

  • Smile, encourage and be enthusiastic
  • Have fun and make them laugh
  • Know the audience, relate to them on their level
  • Be engaging – ask great questions that they will be eager to answer
  • Fully explain what you want them to do. Leave nothing to the imagination
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Have A Laugh Fridays – “Violent” Sales Meeting

Pretty self-explanatory! Best part is the employee’s explanation right at the end! 

Have a great weekend…

Lessons Learned At Front Doors “Down Under”

I must admit something. “Hot Calling” is not a new and improved way to cold call. I took a door-to-door sales role in the summer heat of Australia on a backpacking trip in 1998. I called it “Hot Calling” in my head to make it sound more appealing! Everyone I told about this job after the fact thought I was crazy, but I explained to each of them how enjoyable the experience ended up being.

I needed some extra money when I was traveling the South Pacific. I ended up getting a job with a company promoting children’s encyclopedia programs. I did not realize the amount of door knocking and setting up of appointments that I would be required to do. My job was to secure follow-up visits with families, then more experienced sales reps would come back later and try to close the sale on a complete set of books. Yes, Google was still very new at the time!

A fellow backpacker told me the day before I was to start the job that they had a horrible experience performing this role, and I should quit immediately. I ended up giving it a shot anyways. I was planning on making new friends and having a great time. I went in with a positive attitude, and hoped for the best.

I trained at head office in Sydney and soon realized that I was in for an interesting journey! Thoughts of my stutter were front of mind, due to the nature of the role. What better situation to get nervous in then when somebody opened their door, and I had about 10 seconds to convince them that they should invite me in. I sucked it up, and continued with the training.

The managers made a point of having us role play door-to-door scenarios every day before we went in to the field.  Initially I thought it was a waste of time, and I was disappointed that it took me away from the pool. It was our warm-up period, and would typically be done in the mid afternoon. We would walk the neighbourhoods later in the day when it “cooled off”.

The most important lesson I learned from this experience was how to handle rejection; and there was a lot of it! I had to be quick on my feet, handle their objections swiftly, with the goal of being invited in for a conversation. It was a positive step for them to open their door, but an entirely different challenge of getting them to commit to a future presentation.

Other skills like persistence, keeping positive and being enthusiastic were pivotal too. Each door was a new one, so I always put the previous one out of my mind quickly. A sale could be waiting for me at the next house, and I always had to be at my best.

Another key attribute that I worked on was focus. It was difficult to stay focused when it was still 30 degrees Celsius or warmer when I was working, but I made it through. I would often ask people for water, run through sprinklers, and wear a large cricket hat to protect me from the sun. In 6 weeks on the job, only one person would not give me a glass of water when I asked!

The team lived just like a big family. On a weekly basis, we all had specific chores to fulfill like cleaning the pool, buying groceries, and cooking for the team. Whatever needed to be done, we all pitched in to get keep the house and our “adopted family” running. You can bet that we let team members know when they slacked off from their responsibilities.

As I look back now, the daily role play for warm up was the key to success. It was like athletes preparing for a game. They need to warm up to get physically and mentally ready.  As I practiced regularly, and knocked on more doors, I became more comfortable by the day. As time passed, my stutter was less of a consideration as I spoke to people during the pressure packed opening greeting.

The management team did a wonderful job motivating a group of young adults from around the world to do a less than glamorous job.  We learned how to do one of the most difficult sales roles by staying positive,  plugging away, and most importantly co-existing with team members that were strangers when we moved in together.

To this day, every time somebody says, “You did what?” when I describe the job, I am more than happy to share the story of my “Hot Calling” experience “Down Under”.

  • Have you ever door knocked during your sales career?
  • If not, have you have cold called face-to-face or on the phone?
  • What did you learn from the experience as you reflect back now?

The Five Star 5 – Your Life Can Change In A Split Second!

I was thinking about the Canadian Olympic sprinters the other day, and hoped that they were doing well. Here is a post from last August that really meant something to me. Life can change at a moment’s notice. Are you able to handle the ups and downs?

I love sports, always have, always will. Sometimes I get too emotionally involved in the outcomes. One of those times occurred last Saturday when Canada participated in the 4X100 meter men’s relay final at the London Olympics. I had not heard of one Canadian sprinter since Donovan Bailey and company won gold in the relay 16 years ago in Atlanta! But I heard these guys were young, confident and ready to make some noise behind the Americans and Jamaicans.

The Jamaicans killed it again led by Usain Bolt, and the US finished second. But on an incredible last 100 meters, the anchor sprinter for Canada moved up from 5th place to 3rd, and they finished with a bronze medal. OR SO THEY THOUGHT.

Shivers ran over all over my body as I watched the boys celebrate with true elation on the track. Memories rushed back to me off the great wins Canada had in the past on the track. But in a cruel twist of fate only minutes later, they looked up at the scoreboard to see that they were disqualified. One of the runners had stepped on his inside lane line which is illegal. Those smiled quickly turned to tears, and the same people that they had been celebrating with on the sidelines only minutes before, were now consoling them. Shame on the officials for posting them in the bronze position before all the video was reviewed.

Life can change for you at a moment’s notice (literally) and you have to be ready for anything. In this case, unfortunately for our incredible track athletes, it was a game of less than inches. The outpouring of support for the guys and their coach from Canada has been incredible. When they start competing again they WILL be on the podium, and I fully expect them to get a medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Here is a link to a newspaper article on their story:

http://www.torontosun.com/2012/08/11/canadian-4×100-team-disqualified-following-third-place-finish

5 things that I learned from this experience:

  1. You can be incredibly close to massive success and still have it ripped away from you. How you respond is the key.
  2. You win as a team, and you lose as a team. Support each other unconditionally.
  3. Never discount the benefits that come from an experience, no matter how negative it is perceived at the time.
  4. As much as it hurts, the sting always goes away.
  5. Keep smiling, have fun doing what you love, believe in yourself, and visualize the massive success that you will achieve in the future

Tough Love Lessons – Are You Just the Life of the Party….

Or Do You Actually Bring Something To The “Business Party”?

I am going to have a recurring theme on my blog called “Tough Love Lessons”. I will warn you in advance, they tone of these posts will be “in your face”, and may not apply to you. But there are people out there who need wake up calls in a variety of areas. If you know anyone who this applies to, please share the post with them.

For those of you who are already in the sales profession, or are thinking about a sales career, there are many opportunities to entertain customers and/or prospects. Events like lunches, dinners, golf tournaments, and trade shows are very common.

These are excellent opportunities to get to know people better, but there is also the potential to embarrass yourself! If you have consumed too many refreshments (or whatever else), you are going to look very silly.

Many people have gotten a “pass” at least one time in their careers for foolish behaviour, but if it becomes the rule that you are the “life of the party”, your credibility is thrown right out the window.

During my career, I have often laughed at the comment,

“He’s a great guy (or she’s a great girl)” for one reason……

But there is usually a “BUT” after.

In this scenario, the sales rep is great to socialize with, but they don’t really bring anything to the “business party”. This is a horrible stigma to have during your career. They are fun to be around, but they are not doing their job! OUCH.

Doing your job to the best of your ability is why people should remember you first.

This is not a 9-5, Monday to Friday type career; so if you are thinking about the profession for “free fun”, think again. There is so much more to it than that!

If you get a bad reputation early in your sales career, you are done. I have seen it happen, and don’t think that you would not be blacklisted as a “party-rep” too.

Oh yeah, one last thing….

You never want to be remembered as “that guy” or “that girl”.

This is the person that was a “memorable fool” at a business event, and people talked about them for years later when recalling the stupidity that transpired.

Never be that person who is late for a trade show or training sessions that management has paid good money for you to attend. Drag yourself to the event no matter what, or you may be looking for a new job sooner than later.

I’m out!

“I’m The King Of The World” or….

“It’s The End Of The World”?

This is a post that was originally written and published about this time last year. I thought this would be a good time to bring it to everyone’s attention again. Hope you like it!

With the 100th anniversary of the sinking of The Titanic this past Sunday, I thought it was time to turn some old notes in to a post!

I might be the only person in the world who has not seen the Titanic movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.  But I do know that Leo screamed, “I’m the King of the world” in a pivotal scene. That phrase inspired this post.

I had a funny thought one day and combined “I’m the king of the world” with “It’s the end of the world” as a way to remember to keep emotions in check when performing a sales role.

Keeping control of emotions has been integral to my success in recent years. I have always tried not to get too high, or too low whatever the situation has been. Of course, I still get excited when I succeed, and disappointed when I fail. But I try to “limit my rides” on the roller coaster of emotions.

I am not saying don’t get excited when great things happen, or upset when things don’t go your way. I focus on minimizing the peaks and valleys. Once I accomplished this, I did not feel as emotionally exhausted at the end of each day.

About three years in to my tenure with one organization, the bottom fell out. I had a drastic drop in sales with a key account, and the reason for the decline was out of my control. It really did feel like “it was the end of the world”. I was miserable for what felt like weeks, but realistically was only days.

I had a brief meeting with my boss during my “pity party”, and agreed that there was nothing that could be done about what had transpired. We decided to focus on growing the business through other channels. Remarkably when the dust settled by year’s end, my numbers had increased year over year! I refocused after the setback occurred, tweaked my goals and ended up having a record year for the territory.

Emotion is great, and those who know me well are aware that I have always worn my heart on my sleeve (just ask anyone who has played hockey against me). You are only as good as your next sale, so keep moving forward. A loss or setback is like a bad shot in golf, tennis, or a goalie allowing a bad goal. Forget about it and move on quickly, learn from it, and stay focused.

With respect to wins, don’t get overconfident. Things can change quickly in sales. Keep focusing on securing more wins and building on past successes. It is just important to realize that if you “ride the roller coaster of emotions” too often, you are going to get off feeling very very dizzy!