Archive for December, 2009


Management Rewards, Management Strategies No Comments »

Vol. LV

Dear Manager,

How quickly the years pass. With the beginning of a new year, I believe we should both reflect on the past year, and define some short and long term direction for the future. Some may give this merely a fleeting thought, others devote significant focus to this area of reflection.

With the New Year I have found it to be an excellent time for all of us to take a personal day. Why not find a favorite place to collect our thoughts, and examine the short and long term objectives of both our careers and personal lives? At this gift giving time of year, it’s time to fasten a bow on a gift for yourself.

Few of us take the time to define our plans and strategies relating to our career, let alone a personal accounting. Our daily focus (particularly this time of year) is so centered on “the immediate need” and meeting all of these responsibilities, that there is little time left for oneself. Schedule it! Without a doubt, this is the single best gift and commitment you can make to your organization’s long-term health. Why are we finding less time for self?

Some individuals simply aren’t at ease with personal time. They have grown away from themselves. These individuals would never consider a vacation by themselves, see a movie on their own, or take a long walk in a park or on the beach. If you haven’t done any of the above, it is time. All too often, it seems we need others to define us. Now isn’t that scary! At a time with so many demands upon our time, it’s time we begin to take steps to better appreciate our “own company.”

I will never forget the first time I lived on my own. It was at a very difficult time in my life after a divorce. Having gone directly from my parents’ home and college, into my first marriage at a very young age, there had been no time to establish my independence. I needed to start from scratch. The first few months were full of busy days, followed by lonely nights and very long weekends. With time, I began to take back control, eventually finding personal satisfaction in the peace of my own home. Such a turning point is one that I am sure many of you can personally relate to.

We can all lose ourselves in our work and home responsibilities. What have you done to retain or restore the personal sense of satisfaction and freedom “of self” that you once enjoyed?

The demands and responsibilities we find in both our personal and professional life are unending. These demands are only increasing as our world shrinks through technology. As the 21st century and its “web” of technologies unfold, survival demands that we delegate time for self. Losing touch with oneself can often go hand in hand with:

WANTING (and doing) IT ALL

We have all heard of the Super Moms of the past decade. These are the individuals who maintain two full time responsibilities, at home and in their career, regardless of their personal needs. These individuals, some very adept at doing so, have chosen to take it on – all of it. There are many personal and professional compromises in the process, yet millions have embraced this way of life. The required organizational and productivity skills, not to mention stamina, are daunting. In doing so much for others, oneself becomes an afterthought.

Now let’s take a look at the Super Manager. This is an individual who assumes not only responsibility for their role at home, but also for the “family” within their organization. Again, there are many personal and professional compromises in the process, yet millions have embraced this way of life. The profile of this manager suggests that they have risen through the ranks within an organization, or have developed a mature organization of their own.

These individuals seem to have a sixth sense relating to when opportunity presents itself. At an earlier time in their career, most likely due to lack of experience and confidence, opportunities seemed few and far between. Now, years later, it seems that the candy store has swung its doors wide open, creating what amounts to an opportunity feeding frenzy. Some of these individuals, however, have become opportunity junkies. This is the problem.

As managers, we often see opportunities lost due to our staff’s lack of experience, and our inability to scoop them all up. What many managers have failed to accept is the fact that there are many, many, many more opportunities to come. None of us can, or will, have (or need) them all. With maturity and success, we now have the skills to pick and choose only the best opportunities at hand, yet we still silently cringe at letting one pass us by. It’s a little like picking fruit. While the ones at eye level are ripe, the ones a little higher look a bit larger…so we take them all. I am convinced it is not a matter of greed; it’s just so darned hard to pass one by. If one peach tastes so good, just think how good ten will taste!?!

This is where the compromise comes into play. While we are picking all of the fruit, the rest of our lives are passing us by. Weeks, months, years can pass with little else to show for our efforts. Yes, there is a price to wanting it all. Not only in our personal lives, but in those individuals we consider to be a part of our family at home and at work. If these thoughts don’t send you straight home from the orchard, nothing will.


If this becomes the conclusion, then a new year is certainly as good a time as any to make the needed adjustments! As referenced earlier, begin by taking that day of personal definition. Is it a trip to the mountains, a beautiful lake, or simply to the park at the end of the block? Begin by defining what you consider your spot. Take a legal pad or journal to assist in defining your current thoughts, direction and priorities. I guarantee this small step will refresh like no other “opportunity” you have found in recent months.

The next step comes with scheduling an annual break from your office. Over the years, I have taken annual vacations, either alone or with my wife. While I have enjoyed numerous trips with friends, or all of the kids, over the years, I believe that true down time can only be effectively accomplished alone or with your partner. Friends and associates have asked over the years, “How do you find time for a vacation?” It’s very simple. If it’s a priority, it’s scheduled months in advance, period. The standing joke in our office for years was to contact us only in the event of “multiple deaths.” This is the type of priority that down time necessitates.

We have all worked with or managed individuals who were clearly dealing with the intense demands and stress of their careers. On one hand, they were often our top producers, and we certainly wouldn’t want to “discourage their commitment.” On the other hand, having experienced this type of individual in the past, this personality is on the fast track to a short-term burn out. On more
than one occasion I have strongly suggested that a break was in order, an afternoon exercise class, or some form of personal renewal. Anyone worth managing is worth protecting from themselves, yourself included.


So, are you still feeling guilty about thinking of your own personal health and that of your partner? Our culture has inbred us to believe that personal time, let alone vacations, are a luxury only available at some future time. European culture expects its citizens to take from two to eight weeks each year to renew their spirit. As I look back, scheduling personal time was perhaps the single greatest decision that I made as a manager twenty-eight years ago. It not only made me a better manager, it saved me from myself.

Next time you fly off to that favorite retreat, pay close attention to the pre-flight instructions from your stewardess. “…should we experience a loss in cabin pressure, be sure to apply your own mask prior to assisting others…” Save yourself first!

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2010. 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 Strategies, Sales Management Abundancy No Comments »

Vol. LIV

Dear Manger,

Just how many languages can one manager speak? With each conversation, a manager must converse with consistent understanding, yet address a wide range of individual needs and varied potentials. It can be difficult to compose a simple letter, knowing that it will be interpreted and implemented from a wide range of perspectives.

The “Tenured Associate,” who establishes their own standards and expectations relating to their performance, may feel there is very little to learn from their manager… they have heard it all before. The “Veteran Associate” may feel that just when they’ve finally arrived, someone has thrown them a curve. The “Apprentice Associate” is simply trying to stay above water, surviving the sense of being totally overwhelmed. How do we manage from so many perspectives?


Individuals we manage have established their own set of lessons, thus forming building blocks. Each block represents a unique set of personal experiences, making each different heights, weights and measures. Given the diversity of these blocks, things that may be obvious to one can be a foreign language to another. Management’s job is to look beyond the surface in determining each individual’s needs and current skills. All too often, managers try to teach third year French to first year students. Parlez vous Francais?

Think of this in terms of the selling process. Have you ever participated in a sales presentation with a technically skilled sales person who was absolutely talking over the head of their intended customer? All ability to make the sale had been lost.

When working with a “Big Buyer,” we know we are dealing with someone who expects a fast pace, total preparation, and the ability to quickly get to the bottom line. Time in front of them is limited; our presentation and professional skills will be tested to their limits. By afternoon, we may be working with a buyer for whom an appointment is a social occasion! The esthetics of your presentation now become paramount, not to mention allowing time to get you caught up on their family, upcoming vacations, and local gossip.

Similar to using a different presentation style for these two customers, it is our responsibility to adapt and adjust to the needs and capacities of those we manage. Read this sentence just one more time, as it is a very difficult challenge! How do we reach this goal? There is only one way, and that is with effective questions and highly developed …


Who doesn’t enjoy hearing the sound of their own voice? Now is not the time! As managers, it is time to truly listen to the objectives of those around us. In total, we are here to promote personal growth for ourselves, and for all members of our organization. Few would suggest that personal growth is not important to all of us. In other words, this is a common objective and language for all of us. We must fully understand the goals and objectives of those we manage. All too often, management fails to…


Managers are responsible for creating organizational objectives for those they manage, just as they can expect those around them to develop their own form of objectives. While both “yours” and “theirs” have merit, “theirs” will consistently reach the finish line long before “yours.”

Review each individual’s short term objectives, asking them to document their thoughts by first developing a set of plans for the following six months. As with any plan, the most difficult step is the first one. Collectively determine what the first step will be, and the time line for its

Showing your own commitment to personal growth, share your own short term objectives for the organization. Highlight specific areas that are important to you, and explain the steps you are taking in meeting the needs and expectations of the whole. Frequently, those we manage do not understand the dynamics and responsibilities of “exactly” what management does. Now is the opportunity to share some of these thoughts and challenges.

The third step in this process is the one we foul up the most. FOLLOW UP holds the key to any successful conclusion. Often management does a great job of establishing the foundation for growth, only to drop the ball on its implementation. Weeks and months pass without any accountability.

What signal does this send? It suggests that we were never serious to begin with, that we never really cared. Once again, we were simply going through the motions of “what managers are supposed to do.” Don’t look now, but this is what many expect will happen. In this scenario, lack of sincerity breeds lack of support for organizational goals. FOLLOW UP, FOLLOW UP, FOLLOW UP!


Once the short term goals have been established, take a look at formalizing some of the long term goals. We all get trapped in the now. Sharing extended objectives will not only establish a foundation for the present, it will often help to focus on the innermost dreams we all aspire to.

All of us are looking for “the formula” to improve our quality of life in the years ahead. A reduction of the day-to-day pressures, the pace, and financial stress, are on the top of all of our lists. What scenario and set of circumstances will create this reality? Is there a blueprint that can retain or improve our well-being while reducing a portion of today’s burdens?

We can all work very hard in the now, as long as there is faith in a better life in the future. This is where the language skills and mutual understanding become one for all parties. By knowing and supporting another’s dreams for the future, we just may be creating a greater sense of urgency to achieve the now. Rather than dancing around different perceptions and interpretations, find a common language that all will understand. There can be no greater success than in following a collective vision toward a dream.

Warm 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, Sales Management Abundancy No Comments »


Dear Manager,

Each new year comes the anticipation of new opportunities. Many manufacturers have major introductions, roll outs, or the birth of a new product line. These introductions have taken months of preparation. Are we prepared to take full advantage? Perhaps not.

The new year can often bring a loss of rhythm as productivity in the preceding weeks falls to its lowest level of the year. Personal time is essential, but protect your rhythm at all costs. Preparation takes time, yet can be perceived as less essential. Why do factories have sales meetings prior to the beginning of a new year? In order to force us to prepare. Otherwise, the basic materials and information could simply be forwarded to us. Preparation is the single greatest failing of most sales associates. It’s our Achilles heel!

Have I always been fully prepared? No. Have I seen sales people who, six months after an introduction, are still without a basic understanding of the products and concepts they are being asked to sell? Yes. Have I seen the obvious benefits to those who found the discipline, understood its value, and come out of the gate at full stride? Absolutely.

Manufacturers have a responsibility to keep their introductions sales-friendly and simple to understand. I have seen many introductions totally lost in their translation to the field. Bear in mind that a broad, yet single-page interpretation for the field will out perform a three-page thorough analysis every single time.


(And it’s not) we would all improve upon our preparation and commitment of having the basic knowledge that should be expected by those for whom we sell, and by those to whom we sell.


So, what are your best selling products? Best sellers, by nature, are the only foundation we have. Will they always meet everyone’s expectations, everyone’s individual tastes, or always perform at a consistent level? No. Will these products perform 75% of the time regardless of expectations, location or one’s taste? Yes. Begin the process of knowing your strengths intimately then continue to broaden the foundation as new products are introduced.

This information is available to you in multiple forms. Begin with the manufacturers. Ask for best seller information as soon as it becomes available. Keep this information at your fingertips, or make notations in sales materials. Begin to analyze your own re-orders; look for patterns. In the new year, rely on last year’s final appraisals, adding items or categories that are similar, or can be considered second generation to last year’s best sellers. Maintain a watchful eye for trends, customer response, and information from fellow sales professionals.

Now that you have developed this information, use it. It is your responsibility to pass this information along for their review. Throughout the appointment, explain to your clients the process you have taken to ensure that the purchases they make from your factories are the best possible. Also, acknowledge that you fully understand that, in certain instances, this information may not be viable for their location. To ensure that they are not intimidated by your consistent approach to suggestive selling, agree with their negative position on occasion. Offer to follow up with additional information on your next visit. Don’t be afraid to negative sell a product to enhance their level of comfort and your credibility.

Before long, they will be asking your opinion with every turn of the page. You will know that you have arrived when they suggest, “Why don’t you simply write this order for me?” Confidence has been earned for having invested in their success.

We will only reach our potential by being very knowledgeable and willing to take a position. With focus, and familiarity of similar selling situations, the information we can provide will outperform our customer’s “good judgment” nine times out of ten. We will never be 100% right, and yet neither will our customers. Without question, preparation will increase your sales. Know your strengths, sell your strengths!

We have all been in the following situation: A customer sits down with a very opinionated view of exactly what interests them, and where the potential of your products can be found. This type of customer might as well come right out and say, “Keep your pen warm and your mouth shut.” Invariably, these customers will purchase the least desirable categories and products in your presentation. Upon follow up, they are quick to tell you that your products simply didn’t perform. Why? Because they have not purchased from your strengths.

We have also been in a situation with a buyer who simply has no clue or sense of awareness regarding what they are purchasing. They will ask to order an item that, from your experience, has little or no potential for their location. The best approach I have seen in these situations is: “I know you like this product, in fact I like it very much myself, but I have found this other product to have performed much better.” From their perspective, why would you suggest they switch to a new product unless it was in their best interest to do so? At all costs, avoid your customers’ willingness to invest in “dogs.” It will reflect on you in some form and, in many instances, it should.


This begins by explaining the value of the information you will be providing to them in the selling process. Position yourself in such a way that you and your customer will work from a single catalog or source of information. Suggest that you begin at the front of the presentation or catalog. Whenever possible, turn the pages for them. With a smile on your face, ask that they return to important items that they may have missed. I have been known to ask customers to simply humor me!

When was the last time during an appointment that you failed to have the most current information relating to special terms or a promotion? This is critical information when desiring to sell from a position of strength. I know many sales people who keep a cheat sheet of promotional details with them for each appointment. It can be very difficult to stay on top of all the information we receive, let alone remember it. These promotions are established to enhance our sales and enhance our income. Come prepared.

Selling from a position of strength also requires a basic awareness of the industry as a whole, and of your competition. I know associates who never fail to ask their customers if they may assist them in finding additional resources other than those they personally represent. Are they looking for products, and simply cannot find the supplier? Who better than you to assist in the process, while enhancing your value in the eyes of your customer? Obviously, this suggests an interest in their needs, in addition to that of your own.

If we become students of our presentations, and very knowledgeable, we will become indispensable. Quality factories and quality sales professionals demand of themselves the ability to sell products that will be a success in the marketplace. The alternatives are products that are merely taking up space through lack of performance.
Even with the very best of intentions, there will always be a lesser performing category or product. In each instance, get it out and move on quickly!

All of this takes us back to knowing our presentations, and knowing them very well. Many of us do an adequate or good job. What if, in the new year, we could be perceived as strengthening this vital role to that of excellent or superior? Once the expectations for oneself have been defined and accepted, the position of strength is yours.

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