Archive for August, 2009


Sales Management Abundancy, Sales With Purpose No Comments »


Dear Manager,

I often look back over the years and review the evolutionary changes in my company, and realize how business has evolved for all of us. Have we learned from the past, or are we continuing to live in the past? I would like to look back on yesterday, review today, and look to the future of sales and management.

With the evolution of how businesses and consumers manage their lives in the years to come, what is our future? The lessons of the past suggest there will continue to be major changes in how we analyze and manage the marketplace. With the sheer speed of communications, I am convinced our evolution has picked up its pace dramatically. As we look back five years from now, we will either have adapted well, or will no longer be involved in our current career.

My father was in sales for many years. I remember him being on the road for weeks at a time. I now know how difficult this time in his life was. In the 1950’s and 60’s it was very common for factories to ask their salespeople to cover a number of states. Dad was asked to cover all or part of seven western states. This meant weeks on the road in non-air conditioned cars and motels, many small towns, small diners, and most evenings devoted to the day’s paper work. Manually maintained ledger books were the only accepted form of accounting for one’s sales and expenses.

Perhaps these were simpler times than we know today. There is no question in my mind we have the opportunities to work smarter. Dad provided very well for his family. He did what he knew how to do, and did the very best job he could. Most individuals are a direct reflection of their parents, and he emulated the work ethic of his father. Would he have enjoyed a much smaller territory, more time with his family, and the many advantages we enjoy today? Without question. The very last thing I wanted to be when I grew up was a salesman!

When I was in college I developed a product that was (I thought) perfect for gift and craft stores. Since the only one interested in selling the product turned out to be me, I hit the road. Did I mention that I never wanted to be in sales? The early years took me to five states. In order to make the trips more profitable, I began to represent multiple lines. At that time, factories had very little territory data available. “Simply do the best you can” was a common form of goal-setting, and success was measured by “Oh, by the way, how are your sales?” It was much easier to please in those years!


Our sales regions are, in most cases, much smaller than in those years. With the metro areas supporting multiple associates, travel, expenses, and nights away from family have been dramatically reduced. I continue to have a great deal of respect for those individuals who need to spend weeks on the road in rural areas. These individuals are the true sales warriors. Many metro area associates have no clue of the demands of selling in these regions.

If productivity has grown significantly over the years, so has documented accountability. Computers have provided us with near instantaneous answers to questions that were not even thought of in the past. There is no longer any place to conceal a challenged territory, or a performer inconsistent with their peers. The information is right before our eyes. Sales management is one of the largest beneficiaries of technology. There is no place to hide.

This new information demands that we look differently at our day. Productivity is now quantified. Revenue Producing Hours, RPH, hold our current and future success. With so many priorities in our lives, discipline relating to RPH is crucial. As sales people, we must protect these hours in each of our days. The one area that has neither changed from the past, nor is likely to change in the future, is the number of Revenue Producing Hours, on a daily basis. In very real terms, we are being asked to squeeze more juice from the same size orange. This can only be accomplished through our ability to manage time very, very well, in order to achieve greater results. The key for all of us is to create a plan, rather than to simply accept additional stress.


I’m sure you have noticed that the technological train is headed down the track at full throttle. There is no stopping it now! Are you going to be blown away by the vapors, or do you have reservations at the next stop? If this is the only question, then there is only one option. Don’t hesitate or delay, as seats may be limited!

If you have been sitting on the sidelines, hoping that the train would derail, then you had better make plans for a new career. Technology will play a critical part in your future, period. What would our current business lives be without the advantages of a cell phone, blackberries, and specialized computer programming; let alone the internet? Even those who have been slow to become fully computer literate they too have enjoyed huge benefits from those who are! If you remember how the last power outage crippled your ability to communicate and process information, then you can begin to understand how dramatic the changes will be in the next ten years.

Will technology herald the end of the field salesperson? Will products be bought and sold from monstrous web pages? Will reorders simply be placed electronically? At some level, all of the above will become reality! In fact, it is reality for some industries today.

At all levels, technology will demand greater skills from the seasoned sales professional. There is no question that personal and professional contact are critical to the sales equation. Sales are increased by 30% to 50% when conducted face-to-face. I believe that professional individuals will continue to flourish as technology continues to mature. Problem solving and the “the personal touch” cannot be replaced by technology. Hold on tight to these skills.

Today’s “order takers” are the dinosaurs of tomorrow. Those who are unable to take ownership of their sales region, manage their RPH effectively, and consistently drive to expand their business will no longer be needed. It will simply become more efficient and cost effective for customers to work with outsourced professional techno-marketers in the cyber-world.

The actual writing of orders in the field is currently the area of greatest transition. Many industries have already adopted the use of electronic means to develop and transmit their orders. By comparison, current options make past applications remind us of a telephone made from two cans and a long string.

With much more capable portable computers, catalogs as we know them will be gone. Orders will be entered on the computer screen. Need a different angle on a specific product? Allow me to enlarge and turn. How many do you need? No problem, I’ve placed that quantity on hold for you. In fact, your credit has been approved and your order is being printed. It will be in our warehouse for packing this afternoon and shipment in the morning. No delays, fewer mistakes, and greater opportunity for reorders due to a much quicker turn around. Imagine the immediacy of new introductions – simply wake up to them on line. Backorders will no longer exist. Efficiencies in our factories and warehouses will meet unheard-of expectations.

Oh yes, expectations. As these advantages continue to become “the norm,” they will inevitably all be taken for granted. The competitive edge in American business is about to take a major shift. Product innovation and development, the foundation of business as we know it, will take a back seat to instantaneous convenience and service at levels we cannot even begin to currently understand.

My greatest concern is for the survival of the creative, mom-and-pop start-up operations. They are the foundation for some of the best aspects of our lives. It will be exceedingly difficult for these businesses to compete with the speed and convenience of the “tech guys.”

I hope you have enjoyed this retrospective and crystal ball. Our future has never been quite so clear. We are collectively well beyond the “when,” and thundering down the track to “now.”

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, Management Strategies No Comments »


Dear Manager,

How do we define ourselves? Have you ever considered how many identities we maintain? We all carry primary and secondary identities in life: owner, manager, boss, spouse, parent, civic leader, etc. Stranded alone on “Gilligan’s Island,” no identity is required. There is no one to care.

To paraphrase a recent statement by baseballs Sparky Anderson, “The only meaningful identity we have in life is that of our integrity. We are all born with it, but only a few will leave this world with it.” We have grown up with the understanding that one’s identity or title is exceedingly meaningful. If this is true, to whom should it be meaningful – the individual, or those with whom they come in contact? This is where things begin to blur. Could this be where some American politicians have compromised their fundamental sense of values? It is the clear contrast of substance versus form.

The greatest individuals I have known have all lived a very simple life; a great deal more substance, a whole lot less form. They enjoyed great success, managing to keep the playful aspects of life, and their identity, in proper balance. I feel so fortunate to have been shown their contrast, their depth, and their compelling sense of priority in simply “doing what is right.”

These individuals rarely live “in the now.” They are in a constant thought process and actual transition relating to their evolution. They watch, with a bit of humor, those individuals who are leveraged into their master identity. This letter was inspired by their teachings. It is dedicated to their meaningful legacy of substance.

We all have many identities. Most we develop over time, others come our way through decisions we have made. Our center stage is usually devoted to where we have found success or what the majority of our waking hours employ. The balance of our identities seem to take a subservient role to their master.

We have all noticed that, for some, their primary identity consumes them. Similar to an actor who assumes their stage role in real life, all waking hours are devoted to their personal identity. These individuals may come dangerously close to losing touch with their own reality. The phrase, “Get a life.” was coined for these individuals! Take them out of their dominant identity, and there is truly nothing left. This is the risk we all take if the balance of power shifts to a single and dominant focus.

There is a tendency to take one’s own perception too seriously. Certainly, what’s most important to me in my waking hours will be of much less importance to anyone else, and vice versa. Each of us has our own priorities, interests, triumphs and challenges. No one else can possibly feel our pain, or be expected to.

Our identities included, we can all be replaced. Our legacy in life can never be defined by our identity. There is great irony in the belief that upon our passing, our master identities will in some way carry us to the golden gates. This is how truly ridiculous individuals can become. Have you ever seen a peacock strut with its feathers on full display? Have we become confused with “what we do” as compared to “who we are?”

For years, business and management has been selling the virtues of creating an identity through the “Title Game.” How many Buyers or Assistant Buyers are there at the local department store? How many Vice Presidents does one Bank or Corporation truly need?! In many instances, these identities have been granted as an alternative to compensation. A title can also be a golden hand cuff. How much is a title worth? Advertise a title, and watch humanity come knocking on your door.

This phenomenon is not unique to the business world. We’ve all read the letters in advice columns from parents who have just sent their youngest child off to college. After so many years of complete focus and devotion, their identity is now seriously challenged. Their self-worth has taken a serious hit, their anguish is genuine, and they are desperately seeking help in re-defining themselves.

If we rely on others, or in our stature in life to define us, when it no longer exists, we have no definition! Wayne Dyer, a renowned psychologist and writer once said, “If we define ourselves by the feeling and outlook of others, I should be focusing my counseling on them … so that you can feel better!”

We spend our lives developing our identities. As our life evolves, so will each of the identities we choose to assume. One’s career, marriage, children, retirement, and death are considered to be the five most dominant stages in one’s adult life. If we can be consumed by a single identity, what happens when the inevitable and ultimate change in our life’s description takes place?

Much of our identity comes from our chosen profession. Our first stages in life seem to be in total preparation for the career we are to develop. At what time do we begin to prepare for our next transition? Our work ethic has taught us to work until we no longer can. How can anyone possibly maintain a professional identity once they are no longer working? And yet, are we not all working for a reason: for a better life now, and in the future? Is there not a means to an end? There must be a life of even greater significance and a few more simple pleasures.

Society has taught all of us the Work Game: Our only value to society is through our productivity in the work force. Continued growth through ownership is essential to maintaining our stature and identities. My point is not that we shouldn’t enjoy the abundance in our lives. The question becomes, when does the need for continued expansion of possessions end?

Why do so many work into their seventies and beyond? In the absence of a sincere desire to continue one’s career, one of two reasons typically apply: poor preparation for their later years, or a serious lack of personal distinction outside of their current master professional identity. We have all heard of individuals who, once retired, felt a tremendous lack of purpose, became ill and quietly passed away. These individuals worked very hard, for many, many years. For what?

How can we possibly maintain our identify through others or through “what we do?” All aspects of life are temporary. Children, job descriptions, one’s title and current identity are all temporary by definition!


I believe this to be the ultimate oxymoron. What do we truly own? Every possible aspect of ownership is temporary. What we have will be sold or passed along to others. There is no aspect of perceived or material ownership that can transition our current life span. The only aspect of life for which we can take ownership is our feelings, our integrity, our spirit and our substance. Only these aspects of life will survive us.

The first challenge for all of us is to not take our identities quite so seriously. Balance relating to all of our identities provides us with flexibility, opportunity and future growth. With our last breath, no one will truly care about our job description. What will carry on is the spirit that was brought to the lives of others and the integrity with which we lived our lives. All other aspects of our current identity seem to shallow and to be very small by comparison.

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