They Said Yes, Now What?

The most successful salespeople know that when their customer says yes the relationship is just beginning. Less successful salespeople too often think that when the customer says yes the relationship is now closed.

That’s one of the reasons when I do Sales Training I try to avoid the term “closing the sale.” I use “earn the buying commitment” instead. I want the salespeople to understand that nothing is closed. Nothing is over. The customer has made a commitment to the salesperson and their product and they expect a commitment in return. 

“Closed,” at least when it comes to relationships has a terrible connotation to it. Nobody, not ever, has wanted to be “closed.” I mean really, is there a worse place to be than in the “closing room” at a car dealership?

When the customer says yes they expect every promise and every commitment that the salesperson made to be honored.  They expect them to be honored in a timely fashion with no hassles. They expect the price to be as quoted. They expect the delivery to happen on the date promised. They expect all paperwork and billing to be completed correctly. They expect their calls to be returned and all questions answered. They expect their calls returned quickly. 

They expect whatever it is they have purchased to work as promised and be free of defects. 

In short, they expect exactly what you would expect. The thing that amazes me is how many people will sell something only to “provide” a lower level of service then they would be willing to accept if they were the customer. 

As a professional salesperson, and as a human being, you will never go wrong fully honoring your commitments. When you take care of your customers your customers will take care of you. 

How Free is Free Speech?

When a Social Media platform decides to boot someone off it’s service we hear about the obvious violation of that person’s First Amendment rights. It’s obvious because the First Amendment clearly states that anyone can say anything at anytime and in any way that they want. 

Except it doesn’t actually say that. 

Did you know that the most recent survey says that 88% of the American public has a “deep” respect for the Constitution of The United States of America. The founders of The Republic would be proud. But I’m afraid they would also be discouraged to know that only 28% of Americans have actually read the “people’s document.” 

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression from government interference. It prohibits any laws that establish a national religion, impede the free exercise of religion, abridge the freedom of speech, infringe upon the freedom of the press, interfere with the right to peaceably assemble, or prohibit citizens from petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted into the Bill of Rights in 1791. The Supreme Court interprets the extent of the protection afforded to these rights. The First Amendment has been interpreted by the Court as applying to the entire federal government even though it is only applicable to Congress.

It means that a person cannot be held liable, either criminally or civilly for anything written or spoken about a person or topic. So long as it is truthful or based on an honest opinion you’re okay.

The Supreme Court has also recognized that the government may prohibit some speech that may cause a breach of the peace or cause violence. I guess that’s why it’s illegal to yell fire in a movie theater unless there’s actually a fire.

Knowing what the First Amendment says might be useful information to have before someone starts claiming that their First Amendment rights have been violated. Understanding what it doesn’t say is equally useful.

It doesn’t say that your employer can’t punish you for saying something they decide is offensive. If they make a rule saying you can’t say “orange juice” then they can terminate you for saying orange juice. So long as they apply the rule to everyone equally they have not denied you any “right.” 

Hiding behind the First Amendment to say hurtful things or things that offend the majority of people only “protects” you from government intervention. It doesn’t, and shouldn’t, protect you from the opinions of other people or whatever “rules” society deems appropriate.

I do think we have gotten a little carried away with what we call offensive these days. “Protection” needs to work both ways. It’s just too easy to ruin someone’s life or career by saying they “offended” you in some way. A little common sense might be useful, if someone is offended by somebody else saying “How are you?” then who really has the problem? 

The First Amendment does not say that you are free to say whatever you want, whenever you want, anyway you want. It only says you are free from government intervention if you do. 

So say what you will, just don’t be surprised when the consequences come calling. There is no protection from saying intentionally harmful or hurtful things and there are no excuses either. 

What are You Waiting For?

Almost everyone reading this has something they “wish” they could do. Many of those people think to themselves, “if only.” Well I have a question for the “if only” people. “If only” what?

What, exactly what, are you waiting for?

The most successful people don’t think in terms of “if only” they think in terms of “I’m going to.” Less successful people see obstacles as walls blocking their path. The “I’m going to” crowd sees them as bridges to their next adventure. 

It’s never too late to do the things you’ve always wanted to do. But let’s be clear, I’m not talking about the things you say you want to do. I mean the things you really want to do. The stuff you can’t get out of your mind. 

Leaving behind the “if only” group and joining the “I’m going to” party may mean taking a risk. It may mean leaving your comfort zone. But the rewards are simply awesome. 

You’ll experience life in a whole new way. You might even experience your real life for the first time. Your real life is the sum total of ALL of your experiences, not just the one’s you’re comfortable with.

You’ll tap into your full knowledge bank, using insights and skills you perhaps didn’t even know you had. You could even meet the real you, the one who had no idea what you’re made of unless and until you venture outside of your own familiar, safe world.

Leaving your comfort zone allows you to leave behind the mediocre parts of your life and experience new skills. You’ll pick up even more knowledge and confidence. The other benefit of stretching your comfort zone is it never shrinks back to it’s original size. Your increased confidence to try new things stays with you, making the next new thing even easier to try. 

Before you know it you’ll be leaving the “I’m going to” group in the dust and joining your brand new group, the ones known as the “I did it” people. 

If you haven’t done anything yet today that scares you at least a little bit then figure something out for tomorrow…then do it. Don’t let another day pass in the bubble of your comfort zone. The next time someone asks “what are you waiting for” you’ll be able to answer, “not one damn thing.” 

Who to Believe

It’s hard to know what to believe these days. You can find “facts” to support pretty much anything you want to believe. It’s just as hard to know who to believe. People who seem to be thinking and talking logically one day appear to be completely off the rails the next. 

But I do have one solid recommendation on who to believe that you can take to the bank…maybe even literally. 

That recommendation is you. Yes, I wholeheartedly recommend that you believe in you. The most successful people, regardless of their walk of life, have that one thing in common. They believe in themselves. 

Believing in yourself changes everything about your life. You’ll not only see things differently but the things you see will actually be different. You’ll be less judgmental of other people because your focus will be on your life and what you want to accomplish. You’ll no longer feel the need to measure yourself against other people because you know, without a doubt, that you have what it takes to succeed.

You’ll discover that you do in fact have enough time. The old excuse about not having time falls away when your priorities are in order. You no longer waste time, you invest it. You invest it in accomplishing what’s best for you and those you care for. The activities a less confident you did with regularity to avoid taking risks will no longer be a part of your day. A self-confident you becomes a productivity monster accomplishing more in a day than most people do in a month. Yes, that is the real you when you believe in yourself!

Self-confident people attract other people and you very well may inspire other people to believe in themselves. Think about people who inspire you. You not only can be like them…you ARE like them, you only need to believe it. 

When you believe in yourself you become immune to the unjust criticism of others. You are able to accept the comments and decide for yourself if there is anything helpful to consider. Then you are free to use whatever part of the criticism you feel helps you succeed. When you believe in yourself all criticism becomes constructive, no matter how it was intended. 

Believing in yourself doesn’t eliminate life’s ups and downs. It does however make them a ton easier to deal with. You KNOW you will overcome whatever obstacles appear in your way. You are certain of it, there are no doubts, only possible solutions to consider. 

But here’s the best part…every single word I’ve written is 100% true for every single person reading this. This post isn’t about someone else, it’s about you!

I believe it, I believe it with all my heart. All you need to do is believe it too. Once you believe it, really really believe it, every obstacle becomes smaller, every possibility becomes clearer. You begin to live a life of purpose, on purpose. You begin to live the life you deserve.

Believe! 

Leaders in Name Only

I haven’t written about this topic in a while but it remains timely. Sadly, I’m afraid it will always be a timely topic because there will always be individuals who occupy positions of leadership with no clue as to what actual leadership looks like. 

They are managers who may or may not even be attempting to lead. So, before we go any further let me say loud and clear, with no doubt whatsoever, that managers and effective management are vital to any organization that hopes to grow or even survive in these times. 

However managers and management are vastly different than leaders and leadership. Both are essential for long-term success. The challenge for many managers and management teams is that they make the mistake of thinking that what they are doing is leading. It is often not. 

Sometimes, hopefully most of the time, good managers are good leaders and good leaders are good managers. Being effective at both requires that you understand the difference between the two. 

Managing and management is about a whole host of things. THINGS, as in inanimate objects and stuff. You manage things like property, inventory, buildings, plans, and budgets. If “it” can’t think for itself and is incapable of becoming emotional when you yell at it (a copier comes to mind) then you manage it. 

Leading and leadership is about people. Only people. All people. You lead people. You don’t even lead a company, organization, or team. You lead the people who make up that company, organization, or team. 

No, I’m not splitting hairs here. The difference in mindset between someone attempting to manage people and someone actually leading people is huge. Attempting to manage another human being as if they were an inanimate object is the cause of the vast majority of personnel problems within organizations. 

I’ve known very few managers who thought they were treating their people as inanimate objects. But how the manager feels they are treating their people is of little importance. How the people feel they are being treated will determine whether or not they have a chance to reach their full potential. If you’re not interested in helping people achieve their full potential that’s a sure sign you’re a leader in name only. 

Most people don’t read the owners manual that comes with the “stuff” they buy. That’s kinda how a manager attempts to lead people. “Seen one ya seen ‘em all” is a manager mindset. They manage all their buildings the same and they manage all their people the same too. 

Leaders read the owners manual for everyone of the people they lead. They know that every single person they lead is a unique individual with their own set of goals, objectives, hopes, dreams and yes, problems. 

They get to know their people because they care for them as people. They want them to succeed, they want them to grow. They know that their own success as a leader is completely dependent upon the success of their people. 

So while the manager may “spend time on” their people the leader “invests time with” their people. The difference in how people respond is like night and day. 

We could go on and on about the differences between managing and leader but I’ll spare you for now. Let me however leave you with a couple of questions to consider. First, do you understand, really understand the difference between the two? What would your people say if I asked them? 

The second question is key because when it comes to leading an Authentic Leader knows it is the followers who make the leader. If your people don’t see you as a leader then you have some work to do cause if you’re not leading they aren’t following. No matter what you tell yourself. 

Second Hand Opinions

I’ve heard a lot of things about a lot of people that weren’t exactly true. I’ve heard even more things about myself that weren’t at all true. 

People like to talk and an absence of facts is no reason to keep most people from talking. Some people just don’t hit it off. Something about a person turns them off and then they share that “fact” with someone else and it takes off from there. 

That’s why it’s important that you don’t use second hand opinions to make your first impressions. Never decide on a person’s character based on the opinions of other people. 

Several years ago a rumor started spreading around my workplace that I had a severe drinking problem. I apparently was pretty much hammered all the time. I heard about it from a few people and mostly laughed. It was easy to ignore because in all the time I had worked there I had maybe started 3 or 4 beers but never finished one. 

My wife and I had quit drinking alcohol many years before when someone very close to us was struggling with drugs and alcohol. Their counselor had recommended to us that we quit as a way of supporting the person and we did. Before you start thinking we made any great sacrifice you should know that at that time I could polish off a case of beer in maybe a few months. We weren’t exactly big drinkers. It was not a big deal to us to quit but it did send a powerful message to the person we were supporting. We still don’t drink today. 

So I wasn’t all that concerned with the rumor; it was so far off base that it was laughable. Except that some people believed it. After all this time and despite vast evidence to the contrary, some people still do. 

I was forced to try and put a stop to it when a senior person in the company “confided” to a customer, who was a long-time friend of mine, that I had a real problem with alcohol. It was somehow less funny when the rumor got out into the wild where it could take on a life of it’s own. 

But even then it’s was only my reputation they were talking about…not my character. I’m far more concerned about my character than my reputation because my character is who I really am, my reputation is only who people think I am. 

That’s why when I talk with one of my mentors I have never asked about what other people may think of me. I do however always ask if they see me living my values because my character is value based. 

How do you form opinions about other people? Do you listen to rumors or do you listen and watch the person for yourself? Do you let other people tell you what to think of someone or do you decide for yourself, based on YOUR experience with that person? 

Second hand opinions are very often inaccurate. If you doubt that I’d encourage you to think about all the things that people “know” about you that just ain’t so. Those people are forming opinions about you with a distorted view of who you are. 

I’ll bet you’re not exactly happy about that. So don’t do the same thing to other people. Withhold any judgment until you have firsthand information. Only then can you make a “self informed” assessment of that person’s true character. 

It’s one of those “do unto others” things. It’s also one of those things that separate an Authentic Leader from someone pretending to be a leader. Don’t pretend, never form your “own” opinion about someone with somebody else’s “facts.”

They Who Hesitate….Seldom Lead

I used to shoot trap…a lot of trap. For those of you unfamiliar with that particular activity here’s a brief explanation.

Trap shooting (or trapshooting in North America) is one of the three major disciplines of competitive clay pigeon shooting (shooting shotguns at clay targets). The other disciplines are skeet shooting and sporting clays.

It’s only my opinion but for me trapshooting was by far the easiest of the three disciplines. The more I practiced the better I became…and I practiced for hours a day. It was normal for me to shoot at least a case of shotgun shells a day. 

I shot competitively all over the country and it wasn’t unusual to go a long time without a miss. A good shot was measured in the target being turned to dust less than a second after it appeared. Any other kind of hit was better than a miss but not by much.

One day I was invited to go trapshooting with my uncle and a few of his friends. They had never seen me shoot competitively but had heard I shot a lot of trap. So we got to the trap range and I was the 4th shooter out of five. We were on our third round of 25 targets when I finally broke a target into several bigger pieces. All the other targets were what a trap shooter would call “smoked.” I wasn’t even close to missing a shot.

My uncle and one of his friends suggested I was shooting too fast. I asked, “too fast for what?” They said you can’t keep hitting targets if you keep shooting that fast. We were shooting from 16 yards, the shortest distance on the trap range. It was almost inconceivable to me that I could miss from that distance. 

I asked for their reasoning on why I should hold off on pulling the trigger once I had the target lined up. They said something about haste making waste to which I replied “he who hesitates misses the target.” In trap shooting by the way that’s exactly true. The longer it takes you to line up your shot the more likely it will be that you will miss. That’s true for a lot of reasons but one of the main reasons is the pellets in your shotgun shell are more spread out. That makes it easier for the target to fly right through them. 

There are not many areas of life where hesitation pays dividends. That’s true in leadership as well. One of the five most common characteristics of weak leaders is that they hesitate. They wait for everything to be lined up perfectly before they are willing to pull the trigger. Many times they wait so long that they don’t pull the trigger at all. 

That’s not leadership!

Authentic Leaders possess the courage to “take the shot” when necessary, even without everything being perfectly aligned. They take a risk to chase success knowing full well that they could wait forever for the perfect opportunity to arrive. 

Authentic Leaders recognize windows of opportunities that lessor leaders fail to see. In fact, if Authentic Leaders don’t see an opportunity they create one. What they don’t do is hesitate. 

What they also don’t do is mistake patience for procrastination. One could create a bigger window of opportunity while the other, procrastination, slams the window shut. The most successful leaders, really the most successful people, are careful when using their patience. They know all too well it can easily become procrastination and procrastination is frequently mistaken for hesitation. 

The most effective Authentic Leaders do what needs to be done when it needs to be done. Whether it be dealing with conflict, making a difficult decision, or trying something new they know that delay frequently leads to a missed opportunity.

Don’t wait for the perfect time to lead. Use the information you have today. Use the skills you have today. Use the resources you have today to take action today. The key to success is likely in your hands already, hesitating to use it only makes it less likely that you’ll use it at all. 

Don’t miss your shot, be bold, don’t hesitate, Lead Today!