Archive for April, 2009


Management Rewards, Management Strategies, Sales No Comments »


Dear Manager,

The development of new working relationships is an ongoing dynamic of a management career. Be it the opportunity to manage one’s own organization or simply a new working relationship with a field sales agency, our personal style will speak volumes. We have become someone’s manager.

Management styles can take on many faces. What is the most effective approach for you? Certainly this can only be determined by each of us as individuals. Effective management has a foundation of strong values and consistency. We all build a platform, a basis from where to proceed. Having worked with many managers, there are some obvious qualities and axioms we can all sink our teeth into. As a manager, our single greatest hazard is to be considered irrelevant.


With these three qualities in their purest form, it doesn’t really matter what approach we take. Always a two-way street, these single qualities in consistent form will ensure success to all players, and in all areas of endeavor.

In a meeting with a new manufacturer once, I enjoyed the opportunity to see a truly nice guy win. This absolute gentleman was not only at great ease with himself, but with his objective for the day. With simplicity and significant class, he proceeded to endear himself to everyone in the room. By the end of the day, there wasn’t a single person in the room who didn’t wish he was their brother.

In his very personal way, he had captured the imagination, enthusiasm, and motivation of our group in a way I had rarely seen from an “outsider” in the past. His genuine style and clear expectations set the stage, and everyone finished the day with a feeling of benefit and a sense of high anticipation. This guy was a pro! He provided them with respect, honesty and the motivation to create the discipline. I have certainly seen the contrast, as have many of you!


Individuals with a false sense of power and ego will look to surround themselves with a similar breed. While this may be an effective and fulfilling approach for some, I have found it to be rarely effective for a mature organization. In many instances, the individuals being managed will clearly have greater knowledge and a much higher level of experience and presence than the individual being asked to manage them. Confidence may be at conflict for managers who find themselves in this scenario. By contrast, what greater opportunity for a manager than to work with individuals who are more experienced and knowledgeable than themselves?!

I have also seen management relationships fail due to the lack of professional space. Individuals who fail to understand this critical balance are headed down a road of disappointment. We are not here to be everyone’s best friend. Professional space will promote the respect that is essential to any working relationship. Familiarity breeds misunderstanding and an opportunity to take unfair advantage. In the long term, it can create a perceived sense of favor available only to a select few.


We’ve all seen new managers who simply try too hard. Rather than listening and responding with their influence, these individuals find themselves selling their positions from the outset. All new relationships require time to develop, allowing all parties to grow into a level of comfort.

It’s only human nature for a small amount of suspicion to exist in the beginning. Understand this reality by allowing the relationship to develop and evolve on its own terms. Encourage the relationship to come to you. Allowing relationships to grow slowly will provide greater respect, understanding and confidence in one’s individual needs. Begin by looking at this development in terms of steps:

THE FIRST STEP begins with a relatively low profile. Nothing can be learned through your own voice. Asking questions and listening should represent 80% of your initial involvement. If you are looking to get up to speed, a sincere willingness to understand will be your greatest ally, and perceived with a high degree of respect by those seeking to assist in your transition. Respect and power are always earned over time and by example, they can never be effectively dictated.

Observation will be your second greatest tool. Ask to observe and participate in meetings or sales presentations. Once again, there should be no need to prove or justify your relevance at this time. This can be very difficult, and you must bite your tongue on occasion. You will see obvious opportunities that need to be addressed, but now is not the time – file them for future reference.

Proceed with the belief that there will be another, more appropriate opportunity. You will be surprised at how many of your concerns will simply evaporate for lack of future relevance. The ability to observe demands that we hold our initial comments to ourselves. The perception of being critical will only close you out.

In the absence of imminent collapse, show confidence in the status quo and stay completely out of the day-to-day decisions for the organization. How can you possibly establish policy in the very early stages? A lack of a global understanding of the organization puts you at a very decided disadvantage. I have seen individuals make this fatal mistake; they have consistently fallen flat on their face. Seem so obvious, and yet they will consistently fail again, now for the second time!

THE SECOND STEP begins with a healthy dose of encouragement. With your many observations in hand, you are now in a position to align yourself with those individuals in whom you have the greatest confidence. Build a support team to assist in finding a greater depth of knowledge and direction for the organization. Ask more probing questions. Now is your opportunity to ask if your earlier thoughts had been tried. Ask for assistance in your efforts to come up to speed. When asked, individuals will line up to support you.

Begin to provide suggestions from your own frame of reference. Explain real-life scenarios of similar circumstances from your past. This approach suggests a greater understanding of others’ dynamics, and is much less threatening. Similar to my previous example, always stay within your own style and personality.

Trying to be someone you are not will be apparent to those you are trying to manage. Remember, validation comes from within, not from those around you. This is the greatest risk in trying to be a personality type that lacks authenticity. It should be obvious, yet the most difficult things to learn are often the least complicated.

THE THIRD AND FINAL STEP is the reality that the honeymoon is over. After a period of weeks, those around you will feel the level of comfort and confidence you could have only wished for in the beginning. You will be looked to for direction; it’s time to prove yourself. With the knowledge, observations and experience you have secured, it’s time to move forward.

You are now in a position to take a very pro-active role in the direction of those around you. Never fail to ask direct questions prior to coming to a conclusion. Continue to seek the counsel and draw upon the experiences of those who have proven their value. A know-it-all only shows lack of respect for those around them.

Remember, a polished and refreshing style always commands attention. As suggested earlier in this article, good guys can, and do, finish first. There are individuals for whom we all enjoy rising to the occasion, fully supportive of their efforts. These are invariably the individuals who rise to the occasion in meeting and understanding our needs as well.

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2009. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.ORG as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM


Management Rewards, Sales Strategies, Sales With Purpose No Comments »


Dear Manager,

As managers, we are often required to direct our attention to areas of, shall we say, the less-than-optimum performance of our organization. Our goal is to always maximize our strengths and minimize our weaknesses. Unfortunately, an area of concern will not simply vanish on its own, at least not without a price.

If we are to successfully address these types of issues, we must look for a fresh approach, one that is honest, confident and realistic. No one needs (or wants) to hear the same old shtick! A steady stream of “what ifs,” “could have beens,” “should bes,” “if only they hads,” and “I told them sos,” will often clutter and camouflage the issue at hand. Comments and observations such as these do not reflect the reality that our only hope is to react to the hand that we have drawn. We must deal with today’s reality: “It is or it isn’t, “We will or we won’t,” “We can or we can’t.” Simply put, “ it is what it is.” So, how will we respond?

As an organization, will we choose to rally behind the need, adjusting our focus and approach to continue to assist in improving the product? Or, will we immediately decide that the expectation is too great, and no further time or precious efforts should be wasted? These become the only real questions.

I have found a consistent reality in my twenty-plus years of business: if I am challenged by a certain area of my sales presentation and performance, then many of my counterparts are challenged, as well. Rarely do we stand alone in our struggles, let alone in our areas of success. The immediate goal then becomes to attain a level of performance exceeding that of our peers. With the emotion gone, the playing field is level and the objective becomes much more real and attainable. We know damn well that we’re just as good as they are … and better than most!

Once the challenge becomes crystal clear, the feelings of self-doubt and inertia are gone. We can almost see the finish line.


It’s up to us, as managers, to provide something real that our staff can wrap their collective arms around and implement in the field. Inspiration and renewed focus will take us toward the finish line, yet only a collective strategy will ensure our victory.

1. Begin with your strengths. Each area of challenge holds specific and significant aspects of strength. Are we taking full advantage of these areas? Now is the time to focus and expand upon these strengths within our current account base. Is it time for larger departments to be established? Promote expansion of your strongest departments, suggest better placement and heightened visibility of their most successful categories.

Now, can these same strengths be applied to customers who are not currently participating? Focus on the positives! Use the information you have attained to promote equal success with others. In each case, take a position by leading your customers to the success you know they will have.

2. A customer’s perception becomes “their” reality. Old perceptions die hard, and rarely without our active influence. Become a student and authority of the specific product category. Get to know the subtle but obvious changes, transitions and updates that may not have been noticed or understood.

Remember, you are looking to address your observations in direct contrast to the customer’s false perceptions and misconceptions. Point out the obvious changes in your current presentation. Show that it holds little resemblance to the presentations of the past. If it’s obvious to your eye, it can become obvious in theirs as well. This is no time to be subtle in your comments.

3. Present your facts. In the evolution of any product, conclusions can and will be made by your customers, with or without foundation. Come prepared for your presentations! Initiate dialog with enthusiasm. Speak with your customer’s staff members to determine specific areas of strength and weakness. Take inventories of these strength categories prior to your presentations.

Be prepared to document to the buyer areas that should be re-ordered, let alone obviously expanded upon. Know each of the categories strengths in detail, and do not allow your buyer’s instincts to draw them to a false conclusion. It certainly takes time to prepare, but the facts will rule!

4. Make a full presentation. There are always short cuts to making a full and comprehensive presentation. This is no time to shoot yourself in the foot. A partial or half-hearted presentation suggests lack of inspiration on your part. A slightly overstated presentation suggests commitment, confidence and resolve. Come better prepared than in the past, have a wider range of samples, know your objective and anticipate your success … before you walk in the door.

5. Leave your own perceptions and conclusions at the door. We have all found ourselves in situations where customers have expressed enthusiasm in products we would never have guessed they would be interested in. Resolve to show or at least review all aspects of your presentation. You can never anticipate what may light that fire, even if it has been presented on previous occasions. Certainly focus on your strengths, but never miss that opportunity to review the entire line before you conclude each and every presentation.

6. Pick a product of the week. As professionals we maintain a constant awareness, a sixth sense of products and categories that need and deserve heightened visibility in our presentations. I have known sales associates who take on a challenge each week to focus on one of these very specific categories. It becomes a challenge (and a lot of fun) to see just how many of these products or themes can be successfully placed by the end of the week.

This process does two things: it establishes the category in your day-to-day selling process for the week, and makes it a part of the continuing evolution of your entire presentation. Pick a product, bring out all of your samples, and pull out all the stops in its presentation. At the end of the week compare your sales to the previous week – what a rush! Now, pick next week’s product!

7. Create an assortment. We can all get lulled into selling from a perspective of individual items and manufacturers’ established promotions. Problem: what happens if one of our target items is not available as part of the assortment? Solution: Create your own!

Spend time with your sales materials to establish themes, groupings or dollar-related assortments for multiple sales. In your presentations, explain the value of these assortments then simply ask, “How many of these assortments would you like?”

8. Become more involved. If you have constructive and positive suggestions for improving your presentations, (and you do!) don’t keep them to yourself. Contact the manufacturer with your observations and ideas. Certainly you have been frustrated, wondering “Can anybody hear me?” Never give in to apathy. Find individuals who impact what you do, and take ten minutes each week to email them your thoughts and inspirations. This will go a long way in answering the question that plagues manufacturers, “Is anybody out there?”

These and similar formulas will never guarantee success on their own. Implementation falls on the shoulders of those in a position to affect change. Rather than simply suggesting “fix it,” we have provided our organization with a game plan and strategy for our collective success. Will we win them all? Unfortunately not. Will we win more than our share? Without question.

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2009. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.ORG as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM