Archive for April, 2010


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


Dear Manager,

All aspects of management demand that we be good salespeople. All consumer products companies are devoted to, and at some level “controlled by,” the KING. Have we not all been taught that yes, the “CUSTOMER IS KING?” In an effort to illustrate the customers’ importance, these regal soles have also been granted the supreme status of “always being right.”

Have you ever known of anyone who could even come close to always being right? Are you kidding? No way on God’s green earth! I believe we all realize these axioms are based on a generalized philosophy of one’s approach to doing business. Problems only arise when we accept these values in literal form rather than general form. You guessed it! There’s a group of individuals who currently expect us to accept this adage in “very literal terms.” Yes, it is a majority of our current and future customers.

I have no problem accepting these ideals in their intended context and frame of reference. Nordstrom, as well as many others, have outperformed their peers for years by bringing a much greater sense of focus and priority to meeting the needs of their customers.

In the legal system, there is a standard litmus test that all contracts must pass to be considered valid. The standard that has withstood centuries of litigation is: for a contract to be valid, benefit to both parties must be established. A contract that only benefits one party will never hold up in a court of law. If you look at it from a purely legal perspective, just how right are all of these customers?

The customer is, in fact, always right, with the following exceptions: in the case of being misinformed or being misguided. Misinformed or misguided? Impossible your might say!?!


These are the customers with whom we hold the greatest opportunity to evoke positive changes. It is certainly not their fault that they are, or choose to be, so poorly informed. Look upon it as your civic duty and a public service to show them the light. Let’s look at the buyer’s perspective.

In most cases, from their perspective, the defining element in any sale or contract seems most often to be focused on price. Price is a very tangible and precise medium in the negotiation process. Your customers will hound you about price at the beginning, middle, and end of many of your presentations. Within reason, we must certainly be competitive in this arena. I also believe that for the highly skilled professional, pricing issues are very rarely the defining element. This is where we must become the teacher, to assist the misinformed.

If price were the only issue, half of America’s economy will not, could not, would not, exist. In the absence of price considerations, quality, service, performance, confidence and personal relationships guide the vast majority of all business relationships. All too often, we allow our customers to emphasize and overstate pricing issues, as compared to true value issues associated with the balance of “the contract.”

If a product costs $1, what is its actual cost if, in fact, it is never received? In this scenario, would free provide additional value? Creating “added value” seems to be the buzzword of the new century. I’m not sure that anything has been added, such as octane to gasoline, but I do suggest that we need to be able to define and establish true value to our customers. Yes, our customers need to be better informed. We are in a position to do so, and the only ones willing to do it.

If price is a much more precise and tangible factor, how do we better define these secondary features and benefits, bringing similar clarity and definition? Ahhhh, this is where selling becomes pure. This is also what will define and protect salespeople in the new economy.

By nature of the buying and selling relationship, we must do a better job of bringing significant definition to the role we play, its value, and its priority.

If I had to define a single factor, one that translates to more sales in American business, it would be – without question – relationships. Fortunately, loyalty based solely on performance and established mutual benefit will rule in the buying and selling of commerce in the United States. Relationships suggest an understanding of the mutual value relating to service, confidence, performance, and in many cases, quality as well.

The problem comes in our ability to quantify this value. I believe many of us side step this most important of opportunities. Few of us wish to self promote, particularly to individuals with whom we enjoy a strong working relationship. It may become easier to allow them to focus on price, and hope that these “other considerations” will assist in a fortuitous outcome and conclusion. Come on. Are you truly willing to bank your fortunes on the potentially misinformed? If so, it may be time to get out of sales.

It is now time to bring definition and specifics to your value as a resource, and the ultimate sale and contract. What are your consistent service, confident hand, and past performance worth? A heck of a lot more than price! Incorporate these equations into each and every one of your sales presentations. With practice, this can be done effectively, not in a self-serving way, but in an informational way for those who may be misinformed.


In literal form, one would also have to conclude that all business is good business. What happens when the Nordstrom customer purchases a gown the day of a prom, only to return it the next day (only slightly used) due to “its obvious and clearly apparent poor fit?” Even for the standards of excellence that Nordstrom has established, this has got to be a challenge. Yes, there is such a thing as bad business.

Once again, our customers often rely too heavily on their regal throne of righteousness, never to acknowledge that a one-sided contract has been established. Conversely, we as sales people are often so hungry for the sale that we are willing to attach a dollar bill from our own wallet with every delivery. Unfortunately, I believe there are not enough of us who will stand up and define a relationship, and its understood contract, invalid. We have all created valid relationships that have lost their foundation of mutual benefit over time. These relationships are often derailed by the misguided. It is our responsibility to illuminate their path, or terminate the relationship, turning off the lights as we shut the door.

We must first define who the misguided parties are. More often than not they are hiding behind significant volume streams, years of commitment, and prior profitability. Others never fulfilled their commitments to us, or overstated their ability to provide value. Still others were simply a poor business decision on our part from the outset.

In the above instances, a conversation and conclusion relating to mutual profitability can only create benefit. Either they become valuable, or the losses have been eliminated. First, define your objective. If the objective is to proceed, then create a success formula that you feel you can both live with. At all costs, protect future potential with this client. If necessary, suggest alternative resources for your products. In your presentation, be sure to explain that you would certainly never expect them to continue an unprofitable relationship. They certainly must share this perspective!?!

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 Rewards, Management Strategies No Comments »

Vol. LXI

Dear Manager,

I have discussed many topics over the years relating to the fundamentals of management. My strongest monthly issues seem to be those containing concepts and conclusions about which I feel the most passionate. These are the topics that appear to hit home on a consistent basis, finding application in your business lives.

With this as my foundation, I would like to tackle an area that seems to be the most elementary concept, yet is most often poorly implemented. We have all worked with hundreds of individuals in the many phases of our business and in our management careers. Some were outstanding professionals, others seemed to just get by, and some simply didn’t make the cut. If there were a single principal that determined the “have-its” from the “don’t- have-its,” what would it be?

The mystery talent is: follow up and follow through. I take it back, it takes no talent, only a keen sense of ones own integrity and personal resolve. How many times have we heard the old axiom, “My word is my bond?” I’ve got to tell you, we hear it much less in today’s business climate. Yes, I may be getting ready to rant and rave!

I’m not suggesting business is less honest than in the past. I’m suggesting business has gotten a bit less sincere, a bit less willing to commit, played more on the fringes of “what can be gotten away with.” I believe this transition, if true, is very disconcerting to many of us. We are being forced to look below the surface more than in the past. This makes it much more difficult to accept as many conversations at face value. Let’s review some of these “hazardous” personality types.


I’m sure you’ve met and worked with individuals who were willing to agree with almost anything you suggested. On the surface, they are very appealing individuals, and the tendency at first blush is to assume “we must both think very much alike.” You soon realize that their personality causes them to agree with whomever, wherever, whenever, as conversations arise. They are pleasers. The problems begin when these individuals can’t possibly fulfill all of the commitments they have made to you, themselves or anyone else. The word NO is simply not in their vocabulary.


This individual is someone who simply can’t assess their own limits. Time carries no definition, with little sense of urgency for themselves or their commitment to others. Their perception of a “job well done” is only conditional on its completion rather than its time frame. Eventually, the basics get accomplished, based on their standards and their acceptable timetable. Those with any sense of urgency must simply wait their turn. Similar to the agreeable type, (but with no time frame) they will assume “responsibility” for whatever is asked of them.


These are the individuals who have a “valid explanation” for their inability to perform a task. “Didn’t you hear there was a flood in Caracas?!” I’m convinced that this type of person spends half their time preparing excuses, rather than meeting the task at hand. It can be so much easier to abdicate any sense of control or responsibility due to “unexpected circumstances.” In many cases, the byline of these individuals relates to their own disappointment in the follow through of others! They are constantly being misinformed, being taken advantage of, or simply being let down. Obviously, they have no control over the actions of others? “What was I to do?”


This is the individual who has little or no interest in meeting anyone’s requests. Rather than suggest this fact, they simply never follow up. When asked for an update, they simply delay the outcome further. Eventually, the majority of their tasks will no longer be relevant and, with time, will simply be forgotten. Like others, they will exhibit sincerity at the outset, but it is simply a tool for manipulation. Their intentions are obvious, and consistently directed at what they deem “significant.”


This is perhaps the most interesting approach to the malaise of poor follow through. Over the years I’ve heard lots of excuses, but this one always sends me over the edge. These are the individuals who accept no responsibility whatsoever. Anything outside their realm of “expertise” is NOT THEIR JOB. These individuals often loosely delegate responsibility to someone “they deem” responsible. This may include simply leaving a task on someone else’s desk, leaving a voice mail containing only minimal information, or neglecting to convey the appropriate sense of urgency.

By nature, these individuals have a tendency to also be clock-watchers. If they can delay a project till the end of the day, they can claim, “It never should have been given to me in the first place!”

I might accept the above conclusions in a third world nation and economies, but not in American Business in the Twenty-first Century! Do these individuals think that we are stupid? Are there instances where we are a part of the problem? Probably some of both.

Sometimes, it’s everything I can do not to smile when someone in their most sincere response heads down one of these roads. With every word, I’m saying to myself, they can’t be thinking I’m an idiot, they just can’t be. Or has American Business also lowered the standards for good business? Are we showing acceptance of mediocrity and lesser performance relating to adequate follow up? Aren’t follow up, and its responsibilities, part and parcel to common courtesy?

If there are signs of these “personnel disorders” within your organization, or in others who impact your business, it’s time to respond. Similar to a child who is misbehaving, my next glance is always directed to the parents. In this case, these individuals are adults. As managers or as their clients, we now assume the role of parents. Ironically, the response, and its discipline are similar. Accountability starts at home!

We must proceed with the premise that everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt at the outset. There is nothing worse than looking for trouble that doesn’t exist. Once these individuals’ “subversive tactics” are defined, the show begins.

Begin by stating very clear expectations. With those whom we trust, there is a tendency to be less specific. In all instances, be infinitely specific.

Ask direct questions relating to their understanding of the timetable. These individuals rarely like to be pinned down. Suggest they “get back to you” should there be any indication of problems. Finally, ask that they restate your “mutual” objective. No one can misinterpret a conversation that was verbalized by each party.

It is essential that you proceed with these steps with no unusual tone of voice, or suggestion that the outcome will be less than acceptable. Your sole objective is to improve upon an unacceptable situation. If accomplished, all parties will clearly benefit.

At this point, the leash has been shortened significantly. It’s time to bring it to a close. If an acceptable conclusion has been accomplished, then congratulations are in order. If not, completely review the original conversation. Ask the individual to restate their initial commitment, including the agreement to follow up with you in the instance of problems. State “your confusion” relating to the outcome that had been so clearly defined. In a very limited period of time, these individuals will improve their “survival skills” or quickly take themselves out due to the pressure. You must form your own final conclusions and respond accordingly.

Inconsistencies, mixed signals, false perceptions, and “misunderstandings” are simply costing all of us a tremendous amount of productivity. If it’s only twenty percent of our organization’s potential, we are all wasting one day each week. It is always the simplest of axioms that endure. “Over commitment and under delivery,” isn’t one of them.

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