Saturday Morning Sales

Kevin Latchford


Reflection Over Resolution - December 31, 2016

I’ve talked and written about New Year’s resolutions in the past. They are generally not for me. I understand the meaning behind them, the fresh start to the calendar year, and the opportunity to begin anew. I get it, I really do. However, I still believe that what you promise yourself and others through a New Year’s resolution are things you should be doing all along.


Think for a moment about all the times you or another that you know say, “my resolution for this year is to lose weight and be healthier”. Or, how about this one, “my New Year’s resolution is to be a more patient person, not lose my temper so quickly, and to be willing to hear others out before infusing my opinion”. Again, why does the flip of the calendar push us to make resolutions. More so, why do so many make these resolutions based on in-the-moment emotion. Take for example the idea of losing weight and being healthier. The jokes are abundant on this topic because people are coming off a glutinous holiday time where they ate and drank as they pleased and now feel guilty about the pounds they put on. Beyond this situation, many cannot relate the idea of their desired weight loss and healthier lifestyle to other factors, such as their blood pressure, cholesterol, sugar levels, stress factors, etc. It’s the New Year and this seems like a doable resolution.


Now, don’t get me wrong, like I stated before I do get the idea of a New Year’s resolution. But, I believe more in using this time for reflection. Beyond choosing an item or two of change arbitrarily and calling it my New Year’s resolution, I take time throughout the holiday season to reflect on the good things that have come my way. And with the good, so too must I reflect on the not so good. It is through my belief in reflection that I will strive to be a better person – husband, father, manager and sales person. Reflection will point me toward being a better version of myself where a resolution will likely address one small factor. How can I better the whole versus just a part?


Most of the time when I debate someone on the topic of reflection over resolution the typical response is I am aiming too high. Really? I generally win the debate when I use the weight loss resolution example.


Other: My New Year’s resolution is to lose 15 pounds and get healthier.

Me: Why?

Other: Because I’ve put on a few extra pounds and I want to get thinner.

Me: Why?

Other: Because my pants are starting to fit a little snug and I need to lose weight.

Me: Why?

Other (becoming frustrated): What do you mean why, I just told you.

Me: Ok, but what will you losing 15 pounds do for you?

Other: Kevin, are you dense, I just said I’d be able to fit into my pants better.

Me: Oh, ok. (And then I walk away)


A short time later, still frustrated, Other stops me at the New Year’s Eve party and wants an explanation on just exactly what I was getting at by continuing to ask the question Why. This is where reflection comes into play. You said you wanted to lost 15 pounds because your pants were starting to fit snug. However, you never explained how you gained the 15 pounds in the first place. Did you indulge in a few too many craft beers? Did you stop exercising all together? Is there a medical concern your doctor found that caused you to gain weight? Are you under stress at work? Are you having marital issues? Is a family member facing an illness? All of these questions can point to the trigger that caused you to gain weight in the first place. Reflect upon the year past and consider the reasons or the factors that played into the weight gain. Then, should you still want to call it a resolution, layout a roadmap for losing the 15 pounds while addressing the root cause(s) of the weight gain initially.


Translating this into my sales career, I too have put on a few pounds over the past year, and I plan to lose the weight. I’ve been working toward becoming a more patient man, but I have a way to go. I consider myself a good husband and father, but can be a little short tempered at times. I enjoy craft beers, good bourbon and I love to cook, yet I may overindulge from time-to-time. I try to be a faithful man in my religious beliefs, but I’m far from what I would call ideal. I know I can do a better job on my attendance record at church. I like to read, try to read for enjoyment, but oftentimes make easy excuses to skip that book I’ve had sitting on the shelf for 10 months. Addressing these types of things will make me a better sales person because they will make me a better person overall.


Reflecting upon my shortcomings will lead me into the process of laying out a roadmap for addressing each item. You may call these resolutions; I call them reflection points. What’s the difference? Going back in this post a little bit, resolutions tend to be statements made when the calendar year flips. I’m going to lose weight! I’m going to work on my patience! I’m going to be a better husband, father, manager and sales person! And, while these statements have power, they lack the game plan.


My advice as I close out the calendar year 2016 is simple. Find some alone time with a notebook. Jot down your thoughts or statements as if you were making resolutions. Then ponder each and ask yourself Why. Why is this a resolution? How did I get to this point of making it a resolution? What were the causes throughout the past year that have come to a head now? Once you’ve written down the various items you would call resolutions, have reflected upon the reasons why they are resolutions, then and only then will you be able to draw your roadmap for accomplishing each. Oh yeah, one more point, be realistic. Unless you starve yourself, you won’t lose 15 pounds in a month or two. Realistically, you’ll lose that 15 pounds in five to six months and become healthier along the way. Reflect and plan accordingly. Happy New Year – I hope 2017 is a safe, enjoyable and successful year for you.

I’ve Been Sold: A Major Purchasing Experience - December 24, 2016

We have all made major purchases in our lives. Homes, cars, boats, vacations, etc. all come to mind. Some purchases can be pleasant experiences while others can be more burdensome. Then there are purchases that, regardless of the price tag, were excellent buying experiences. Here is a personal example of one such buying experience.


Taking a step back, allow me to explain how I came to making a major purchase. My wife, kids and I like to travel. Living in the Cleveland area can sometimes get old, especially when the weather is gloomy for long periods of time, so we try to visit Florida once or twice per year. Occasionally, because we also like to ski, we’ll take a trip to Pennsylvania or New York or once in a while out West to Utah. What it really comes down to is spending quality time as a family away from the daily routine.


So, this past week we went to Southwest Florida to sit on the beach, get away from the cold of Northeast Ohio (especially since we’ve already had one major snow storm), and to give the kids a little break from school. My wife and I also had the idea that we’d check out the timeshare program that a few friends are a part of that offers national and international travel opportunities. Well, be didn’t just check it out, we bought in.


The sales process started when we arrived at the hotel and were greeted by the representative that would set up our buying experience. She applied no pressure whatsoever and instead offered guidance on the process. Everything was set, from the car service, to childcare, all down to the minute. I was already pleased with the process, but then it got better.


As a career sales person myself there are certain attributes that stand out when I am being sold. None could be more important than knowing who you are meeting with and being prepared. Now, we were not made aware of who our sales rep would be, but Roger knew who we were. Sure, I had completed a questionnaire with some basic information on myself, my wife, and my family, but Roger did more homework. He was assigned to me because the support staff read my LinkedIn bio and he was more of a match than the other sales people in the organization. Like me, Roger had moved a few times early in his career, then became a successful business owner through his sales skills, all before retiring to Florida.


Roger doesn’t have to work, but his wife doesn’t want him sitting around the house either. Because he was successful before retirement there is a certain amount of pressure removed from his sales approach. The (very positively) lack of pressure combined with the homework he did before I came through the door immediately brought my guard down and I was much more open minded to the sales process.


What impressed me more about Roger was his relaxed nature. I could hear other sales people at times and they were a bit more animated. Everyone I met seemed nice and professional. But, it was Roger’s approach that sold me. He knew his product and he knew how it would match my family. He knew buying into a timeshare program would be a major investment for me and he was prepared to outline various buying options. He wasn’t afraid to acknowledge when he did not have an answer to a question, rather he did the homework right then and there, or he brought someone into the meeting who had the answer. Most importantly, he knew how to be a professional sales person, which put my mind at ease.


There is something to be said about being prepared, doing your homework on your customer, knowing your own company/product/service, and carrying yourself in a truly professional manner. It means you can sell to a career sales person and they will enjoy the sales process. Thank you, Roger. Now I’ll start planning my next vacation.

Time To Leave The Nest - December 17, 2016

Okay, I must admit, the title for this week’s post is a little odd for a sales related blog. But, I’ve been reading several pieces recently about kids preparing for college. While I still have a couple of years before my oldest takes off, I have friends whose kids should be receiving their college acceptance letters soon. And, a few of the pieces I’ve read recently talk about the old idea of leaving the nest. You’ve done your best as a parent, provided guidance, and now it is time for your children to prepare to be on their own.


In much the same way there comes a time when the torch of sales management needs to be passed along. It should go without saying that you don’t promote someone into a management role and abandon them, but like the parent, you should guide to the point where they can leave the safety of the nest and be on their own.


I’ve been quite fortunate over the course of my career to mentor younger sales people toward success. Whether in a big brotherly way or as a manager, I’ve always tried to instill certain values in my sales people, so they too can appreciate being career minded sales professionals. Every so often I’ve had the opportunity to mentor and guide others into management roles. Some of these individuals have gone on to greater success than my own while a few weren’t necessarily cut out for being in a management role overseeing others. How do you know when the time is right to encourage the new sales manager to leave the nest?


I have been working closely with a freelance client over the past month while at the same time facing this situation directly. I’ve been able to use my own, direct experiences to help guide my client. It is almost one year since I promoted a senior level sales person to the role of VP of Sales. Similar to my client, I was much more day-to-day hands-on, and recently have backed off. In essence, I went from being turned to almost every day of the week for guidance, to now being utilized for 30 minutes once per week for a simple review session. The time has come that he leaves the nest.


I’m certainly not implying that he is or should leave the organization. Quite the opposite in fact. My VP of Sales, like the sales manager at my client, has achieved a level of success that confirms we made the right promotion decisions. However, what I am inferring is my VP of Sales no longer needs me to be his day-to-day (or even once per week) supervisor, but instead he can now stand on his own, make his own executive level decisions, and grow into a mature (seasoned) sales manager.


The signs have been there for some time. I could see his maturity growing for months as each sales opportunity was getting bigger and more complex. The key to where we are now is the ability to manage his own sales while mentoring others. It is a balancing act to say the least. A truly competent and successful sales manager is someone that can juggle their own calendar while assisting others in their sales efforts. It does not come easy and requires a lot of patience. But, once this milestone is reached and maintained for a few months, then and only then are you ready to leave the nest. Sales management skills are in place and it is time to increase responsibilities. 

More From The Old Movie Post - December 10, 2016

Last week I ended my post with a question: how do you guide a millennial sales person toward success? I expected a few answers, but I was overwhelmed with responses. It took only a day or two to receive emails, voicemails, and a few conversations by phone, but many evenings compiling the feedback. Here’s what I’ve got in summary format.


First and foremost, having heard from a few millennials on this topic, they don’t want to be lumped in under one umbrella. The term millennial has been getting a bad rap a bit these days. Those that reached out to me, by age fall into this category, but they are far too eager and aggressive for success to be lumped in with the rest. They, like others I’ve talked to, prefer to be referred to as younger sales people.


Second, what seems top-of-the-list for both the younger sales people and those above them in management is the expectation of instant success (aka a sense of entitlement). It seems many of the comments I received were concerned about not necessarily “paying dues” or “coming up the ranks”, rather the younger sales people with a sense of entitlement wanted success, but expected it to come much easier. They, in essence, were open and willing to cutting corners in sales processes in order to get the customer to say yes.


In the digital era we’re in, with marketing via electronic media at your fingertips, it would seem many younger sales people believe it should be easy to obtain a lead, a prospect, and ultimately a client. I, myself, have been in an engaged review of inbound versus outbound marketing. Many younger sales people believe inbound marketing is the answer to becoming a wildly successful sales rep, but they forget that regardless of whether the lead comes to you or you to the lead, you must understand how to correctly and professionally communicate, foster a relationship, and meet (many times face-to-face) with the prospect in order to gain the needed trust for the prospect to buy.


I referenced having done reading and research on millennial employees. In almost all cases there is a sense that millennials want success, are willing to work hard/smart, and at the same time want a work-life balance. The downside is again, the expectation or sense of entitlement that is displayed behavior, and sales managers are becoming frustrated. In sales, in particular, there can be an extensive amount of training required to fully understand a service or product. Each company has “their way” of selling and going to market. Younger sales people must understand and grasp the concept that sales is not a 9:00 to 5:00 position. I recently witnessed a fairly successful, younger sales person state he's yet to work more than a 40 hour work week. It is typically 40 (or less). Yet, this person is seeking guidance on how to tackle additional responsibilities, and grow their book of business. Younger sales people must realize that nights and weekends can become opportunistic times for reading, researching and planning.


And finally, even when incredibly well educated and bright, many younger sales people lack respect for those that have gone before them. Sales today is not much different than sales 10, 20 or 30 years ago. Human interaction and relationships can be complicated no matter what product or service you sell. Understanding how to engage in conversations, read body language, gain perspective into what may drive the buying decision, etc. all comes with age (ie experience). All too often the complaint with younger sales people is their lack of willingness to learn from superiors.


Success can come easily at times, quickly at times, and when one least’s expects it. Quick hits can be a nice, albeit, little boost to your confidence and revenue goals. Sustainable growth, which leads to a sustainable sales career, comes through patience in process, a genuine willingness to learn, an understanding that you may not be the smartest person in the room, and a desire to want the long-term, sustainable sales career, not just a quick buck.


Young sales people are the future of the profession. For the few out there willing to take the cautious yet necessary steps, methodically one-by-one, the sustainable and successful career is yours for the taking. For that younger sales person seeking the shortcut, with the sense of entitlement, do us all a favor now and find a different career path.

Lessons From Old Movies - December 3, 2016

It’s funny that the topic of a few old movies came up this week, because this is the time of year where I thoroughly enjoy watching old movies. Once a year I sit, typically by myself (my wife & kids don’t enjoy these movies), and watch White Christmas, It’s A Wonderful Life, Wall Street, Glengarry Glen Ross, and several others. I know what you’re thinking, “a bizarre mix of movies, huh”. Well, these are a bizarre mix. You see, some of these are old favorites with White Christmas probably being my most liked, but the others are just movies I feel the need to watch once a year. My wife even went to far as to call me an “old soul”.


I feel a bit of nostalgia when I watch these movies. Even though I work in the digital arena most days, there’s something about these older movies, especially those from the 1940’s and 1950’s, that allow my imagination to run wild a bit. I can almost imagine being in my career during this time. There are several reasons for why, so I speculate, but the personal interaction element is the single-most.


For the past few weeks I have done a fair amount of reading and have participated in several presentations about working with millennials. Generally speaking, these topics have been around employing millennials, what they want from an employment perspective, etc. However, none focused much on the expectations an employer should have from hiring/employing a millennial, and none especially touched upon those entering the field of sales. So, I went out in search of information on my own, scouring the Internet. I read a blog article here and there, but none really pointed me in any direction with guidance for the sales manager.


What I did find was a bit disheartening. The young generation of sales people seem less concerned about meeting with prospects and clients face-to-face, rather expect the sales process to be easy, quick, and financially beneficial. There is a lack (or perceived lack) of interest in a young sales person wanting to develop a personal relationship with the client.


I guess the reason I like older movies, those that pre-date the cell phone, really comes down to this: if you wanted to engage in a conversation with someone, you had to do it face-to-face. There was no hiding. And, when I think of my own sales career, I truly believe I’ve been successful because I have always relied on my ability to communicate one-on-one, face-to-face where building a relationship with a person was step one to the remainder of the sales process.


I’m keeping this post brief this week, in essence ending here with a question, and hoping you’ll participate by answering. My post next week will be the follow-up. How do you guide a millennial sales person toward success?

Thankful: Actions Speak Louder Than Words - November 26, 2016

Here we are once again, Thanksgiving time, and as in all of my years past I am taking time to reflect on what gifts have come into my life. Of course I am thankful for my wife and children, my parents love and support, my co-workers, clients and friends. I am thankful for the lifestyle I have and for the enjoyment I can take in hobbies and my children's activities. And, I would expect you feel the same.


However, in the business of sales, being thankful needs to be much more than words, gratitude must be shown in actions. Now, I’m not talking about running out of the office and taking a client to lunch. Such activities, the client entertainment during this time of year, are so overdone. I’ve written several posts about this topic in the past. What I mean by actions speaking louder than words is simple: show your client how grateful you are for their business.


Here is a personal example: I have a clothing manufacturer as a client that primarily serves the outdoor worker and outdoor enthusiast community. I’m confident this client knows how grateful I am for their business. I say it often face-to-face and in notes (written and Email). I also purchase an item of clothing from them every time I visit and I proudly wear their clothing whenever meeting with their team. In an effort to show my true gratitude, beyond what should be considered the norm, I made a monetary donation to an environmental organization for which my client supports, and I did so in their name.


On another occasion, with a not-for-profit client serving underprivileged children, I enlisted the help of my own kids. We worked with friends and neighbors to collect toys, games, video consoles, clothing, etc. and donated these items to this organization to show our support. I am not only grateful for their business, but grateful such a place exists in Cleveland in support of children that do not have what other children have in terms of these day-to-day items.


Giving to charity or one’s community is certainly a personal choice. In reflecting upon all I have in my life, and realizing my career in sales is a large reason I am where I am today, I cannot ever sit back and think I did it all on my own. Without my clients trusting in me and my company, I would not be where I am. Saying thank you goes a long way. Showing gratitude in my actions will last long after my words fade.

Co-Selling Works - November 19, 2016

There is an old quote from Abraham Lincoln that I often translate to sales, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client”. In other words, in legal practice, you can’t always go it alone. You may need assistance or guidance from time-to-time, especially if your own “life” depends on it. And so goes the same in sales. I translate the Lincoln quote at times to mean “He who tries to close the deal by himself has no one to blame if he loses the deal by himself”.


The world is full of lawyers, some good, some average, and some just plain bad. The world is also full of sales people, some good (the ‘A’ level sales person), some average, and some just plain bad. What makes a lawyer good or a sales person ‘A’ level? It is a simple answer to write down, but not necessarily simple to act upon: the willingness to ask for help.


This is often a hard lesson in one’s career to learn, yet those of us who’ve been at the sales game for a while, have learned the lesson the hard way. We’ve all been there. We’ve all tried to be the cowboy who rides in on his white steed and saves the day by closing the deal all by ourselves. It is an awesome feeling when it happens. But, what a terrible sense of failure when it doesn’t. And, to make matters worse, many of those times when it doesn’t come your way, there may have been an alternative by asking for help.


I was asked recently by a friend to speak with his now adult daughter. She has been out of college for about a year and a half, in a sales role, and is struggling internally with how to approach management. She is fearful that she will be turned away or that by asking for guidance or help would be a sign of weakness in the eyes of her superiors.


Taking a small step back in the story, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share that Colleen has been rather successful in her short time as a sales person. She has learned quickly how to cold call, write proposals, and is embracing consultative selling more and more each week that goes by. She has had a small taste of success, but now has had her first real taste of failure. Colleen lost a fairly large deal she believed was well within her grasp. And, she is struggling with the reason why.


Colleen, for all intent and purpose, did everything right. She counseled the client off and on through the pre-sales and sales process. She brought in experts for review calls with her prospect. She went so far as to tell me, “Mr. Latchford, I dotted every ‘I’ and crossed every ‘T’, I just don’t know why they didn’t go with me”. I pushed her a bit in reviewing the steps and then it dawned on me. She didn’t ask anyone in her organization for help, as in anyone from her management team.


It was obvious from the beginning of the sales process that Colleen, although accomplished already, was young in her career. I’m not talking about her age, but rather her experience in her role. She did almost everything right, but she never asked anyone from the management team to be involved in her sales process, not even from an introduction standpoint. In her mind, she should have been able to close the deal on her own, and was fearful that her VP of Sales or the President of the company would find it disappointing that she’d need their help, or that she couldn’t handle it on her own. She couldn’t have been more wrong – and it cost her the deal. The prospect wrote a pleasant thank you, but explained the competitor made it a point to introduce senior leadership as a part of the sales process.


Asking for help is NEVER a sign of weakness. Rather, asking for help is a sign of maturity. Your senior leadership team does not need to be inundated with mundane requests for help ten times per day, but will never say no when it really counts. Colleen learned a hard lesson by not asking for help, but I'll bet she doesn't let that happen again. Don’t be afraid to approach your superiors, that’s what they’re there for.

Post Election: Block Out The Noise - November 12, 2016

I must say that I’ve never witnessed behavior in a business setting like I’ve seen over the past few days. It doesn’t matter the volume level, I call it all noise. From quiet whispering to outright screaming matches and everything in between, there has been quite a bit of hostility in people’s tone of voices.


The presidential election has brought out the best in some people and the worst in others. Voting in general is a privilege and it should not matter who one votes for as their candidate of choice. It is a personal choice. But, as much as it is a personal choice, taking a stance publicly and vocally can impact your position with your management team, in a negotiation with a client, or in the eyes of your co-workers. Being a part of the noise may not serve the purpose you may ultimately want.


Please don’t get me wrong, free speech is a wonderful thing, something we should all celebrate and champion. However, in the career of sales, one that likely pays your bills, keeping your opinions to yourself may be the better option over contributing to the noise. I’m sure by now you’ve hear the term “sales chameleon”. The sales professional needs to blend in with his or her surroundings in order to win the deal or win the day. So often sales people agree with this approach, pride themselves are being “good chameleon’s” and yet at times do not know when to bite their tongue.


Over the years in my career I have witnessed individuals commit professional suicide over their opinions and remarks. I’ve written many posts about sales being a game and how to play the game of sales. Blocking out the noise is a part of being an ‘A’ level sales person. And, it doesn’t have to be a presidential election, it can be commenting on your favorite NFL team when standing in front of a diehard fan from the opposition. I’ve been in meetings in Pittsburgh when the topic of Browns vs Steelers comes up. Instead of running my mouth, I’ve poked fun at the rivalry or simply let comments pass. Why stir the pot if it just needs to simmer.


So, this week I’m keeping the post rather simple, and just offering a little piece of advice based on the past few days of observations. Here you go: Sales is a game and ‘A’ level sales people know it is a game. You must recognize that even though you may have a strong opinion about a political, religious, sports, or business topic, it is sometimes best to stay quiet. There is no need to contribute to the noise. And, if you are wise and can block out the noise, others like your management team, co-workers, clients and prospective clients will take notice, and you will be regarded as a steadfast sales person. Keep business business and personal personal. There’s always a time and place to voice your opinion and the workplace isn’t always the best place.

Managing Emotions - November 5, 2016

While there are a variety of career options where emotions come into play, there are none more so than in sales. You’ve heard the term emotional rollercoaster, well that is a phrase that perfectly describes the life and times of a career salesperson. Managing emotions can be difficult, but when done so, can separate the ‘A’ level salesperson from the rest of the pack.


No one is bulletproof when it comes to managing their emotions. Emotion in one’s personal life, like their career, can be a heavy weight to bear, and sometimes creeps in and ends up on display. It may be the death of a family member or the birth of a child. It could be watching your hometown team make it to Game 7 of the World Series or it could be the 9th defeat in a row for your beloved NFL team. It also could be the loss of a client or the win of a new deal. Regardless of the event or activity, sometimes emotions build up, and you simply let those emotions show.


I awoke rather early this morning, feeling overwhelmed about my life this past week, having ridden a rollercoaster of emotion from last Saturday through last night. I attended a funeral for an old friend who was just 46 years old when he passed away a few days ago. I received news that another friend and former colleague celebrated the birth of her son. I worked closely with a long-time client that was more than a bit upset with my firm over what amounted to be miscommunication. I identified a great, new business opportunity through a partnership program. I received news that a family member was diagnosed with breast cancer. And, I attended parent-teacher conferences for all three of my kids, all with very positive feedback and remarks on their progress year-to-date. It was one hell of an emotional rollercoaster this past week.


My wife also woke up a little early today. Like me it was a long week with emotions all over the board. However, she did not have the client high’s & low’s to deal with, nor the amount of activity on her calendar as I did. She commented about how well I’ve handled these up’s & down’s this week, speaking directly about being on an “emotional rollercoaster”. She asked how I was holding up and if I felt exhausted. I had a simply reply: “I haven’t stopped to really dwell upon one thing or another, I’m just taking everything in stride”.


Throughout my career in sales I have been faced with a number of challenges. Managing a hectic calendar, juggling personal matters with networking events in the evenings, and growing my individual sales funnel all have prepared me for the unexpected. I’ve learned over the years to put each and every life instance into perspective. There are few things in life that I have complete control over. I cannot manage traffic on the highway, and so from time-to-time I may be late for a meeting. I’m not a doctor and therefore cannot help a friend or family member that has fallen ill. And, just the same, I can try my best to remain healthy, but I also cannot hide from the common cold. There are so many scenarios that play out in my daily life that I simply cannot control or even foresee, but I’ve come to accept anyway.


Recognizing that unexpected things happen in life is step one in managing emotion. Second, putting each unexpected item into perspective, that is ranking each on a level of importance, helps me prioritize my daily schedule. Third, I make sure that my family comes first, company second, and everything else after. And, lastly, if I feel emotion taking over, I try to walk away for even just a few minutes.


Managing emotions will help you get ahead in both your professional and personal life. Sometimes you just need to accept that emotion is human and showing emotion happens. 

Time To Move On - October 29, 2016

Here I go again, writing about the significance of understanding that sales is about relationships, and the reality of relationships is that at times you have to let go and move on. I’ve watched colleagues for years work on their sales skills by reading a book, watching a video, or attending a seminar. These are some very bright, well educated individuals. However, they take the text book definitions and attempt to apply lessons learned without understanding some of the key principals – relationships are learned through experience.


Think about this for a moment, you don’t learn how to date someone, propose marriage, and walk down the aisle through a lesson in a “How To” book. You date someone, then you date someone else, you make mistakes, you learn from your mistakes, and then you apply the lessons you’ve learned through these experiences. That, my friend, is relationship management.


What some of my colleagues lack at times is the perspective I have from being a parent. Having children ranging in age from grade school to high school, I’ve become a believer in “little kids little problems, big kids big problems”. And, through my parenting experiences, I feel as though I am yet again learning life lessons that I can apply in business and in sales. Sometimes simply being an observer of my children offers me reminders of lessons learned through experiences in relationship management.


Over the past week or so I’ve been witness to two scenarios with my children that remind me of a golden sales lesson – you have to learn when it’s time to move on. In the first scenario my youngest daughter found herself in a rather uncomfortable situation. One of her close, longtime friends was not being kind to someone else over text and social media. My daughter tried to explain to her friend that she was being mean. Unfortunately, her efforts were futile and while she should have walked away she did not. She was punished by my wife and me, and now she realizes that it is better to walk away, move on, and possibly even change the dynamics of her friendship, in order to do what is right.


Another example is based around a young man that attended grade school with my son. This young man has moved on to high school and is beginning to make new friends and build upon his new high school life. However, in doing so, like many others moving on in life, his own mom does not believe he’s having a good experience. In fact, she believes his older, grade school friends are turning their backs on him and leaving him out. She has turned to making false accusations toward other young men and other families. She believes her son is being excluded intentionally and refuses to acknowledge that these boys are growing up and moving on with their lives. She refuses to move on and in her refusal she’s not accepting that her son needs to also move on.


In our careers, in sales, just as with personal relationships with our friends, significant others, and our children, lessons must be learned with experiences applied. In other words, my reflection this morning while having coffee reminds me that my children must learn life-lessons even when they’re difficult lessons, and then apply these experiences in the future. Sometimes it is best to move on. In sales one must always realize that lessons are learned more on the street than in the classroom. Sure, foundational ideas can come from a book, but nothing can replace the experience of learning hands-on. Lessons will be found in wins and losses. You’ll earn new client relationships and lose some. And, some must be lost, must move on, in order to grow.


My daughter, as well as the young man now in high school, must move on. They must seek new relationships in order for themselves to grow. Sales people need to grow, add new client relationships, and yes, sometimes this means moving on or allowing others to move.