The Advantage Letter by Dave Martin
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Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Volume 19 | # 454
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No horse gets anywhere until he is harnessed. No steam or gas drives anything until it is confined. No Niagara is ever turned into light and power until it is tunneled. No life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated, disciplined. » Harry Emerson Fosdick

Too Much Window Dressing

My wife opened the door last week to speak to a young man selling replacement windows. She agreed to a later appointment for a presentation.

My initial response was, “No way.” Then, I figured, what the heck. We actually had considered new windows in the recent past.

After our first appointment was cancelled due to an overbooked sales rep, the guy who eventually showed up was the sales manager of the company.

I made a few things clear up front to help him understand us and our needs. We weren’t interested in financing. So, don’t waste time on “low monthly payments”.

(That was likely about 50% of his pitch.)

I also asked him not to subject us to a drawn-out sales pitch in which we’re constantly asked unnecessary questions just to get verbal agreement.

But he apparently couldn’t.

Actual question: “Would you agree that a stronger window is better to have in a storm than a weaker one?” Hmmm…can I use one of my life lines on that one to call a friend?

It was obvious that he had a scripted sales presentation to make. When he took out change and used it to demonstrate how much money “escapes” through various inferior windows, I felt my nostrils flaring just a bit.

I (calmly) pointed out that he could just give us the numbers. Watching him count out nickels and pennies wasn’t helping his cause.

And no salesperson alive today should ever cite facts, figures, studies, etc. that are in any way misleading or inaccurate. We all have instantaneous fact-checkers (smart phones) in our pockets.

By the time he eventually gave us the insane “starting price” and then began telling us about the various discounts he was “authorized” to give us to bring that cost down, our eyes had long glazed. The two hours (yes, two hours) we spent with this guy did more harm than good to his prospects with us.

I don’t think he was a bad guy. And his product seemed like a quality one.

But his sales approach abused our time and intelligence.

It’s not likely that you’ll spend two hours with any one existing or potential customer this week. But regardless if your conversations last two minutes or two hours, always strive to respect a customer’s time… and intelligence.

Solid companies with great employees and products convey that simply and straightforwardly.

How open and honest will your chats be this week?

The Next Draft of the Story

One of my favorite holidays is fast approaching. (Okay, besides Easter.)

Nobody gets vacation days for it. But it grabs the attention of a huge segment of America for three days.

That national pseudo-holiday is the NFL draft. I joke with groups that no Human Resources event in America generates the kind of attention that the NFL Draft does.

And truth-be-told, I’ll probably know more about a guy drafted in the middle of the second round, for a team I don’t even follow, than I’ve known about some folks I’ve actually personally hired.

An unmistakable part of the allure to me is seeing young people realize a dream. Up until that point in their lives, it’s a fair bet that these young men have dedicated more blood, sweat, and tears to the game of football than anything else in their lives.

Some have real stories of adversities they overcame to make it to that potential life-changing day.

And every year around draft day(s), I find myself wondering which young men, whose names we will know well sometime in the future, aren’t getting phone calls from NFL teams that day.

Since February of this year, I’ve often included a slide in presentations that points out that 21 of the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks were undrafted free agents.

All were guys who at one time experienced being told they weren’t quite ready or good enough to play with the best of the best.

But later, they themselves helped define what the best of the best in their profession looks like.

I’ve long referenced the NFL draft to make the point that even the most detailed and exhaustive talent evaluation processes in the world can misjudge folks’ potential.

Or sometimes, a team may like a person but simply doesn’t have a spot for him right now.

But things change and opportunities arise. In most instances, the undrafted guys who eventually do get an opportunity get that break because they remain ready.

They may have to find another way to make a living while waiting for their chance, but they continue to work hard at being ready to impress if and when their phone does ring.

Rejection today doesn’t mean rejection tomorrow. The same is true for those of us not wearing cleats today - whether it’s the promotion you’ve been hoping for or the sales prospect not quite ready to say “yes.”

Good things happen when we don’t quit, when we keep working, and when we stay in the game.

The relationship between commitment and doubt is by no means an antagonistic one. Commitment is healthiest when it's not without doubt but in spite of doubt. » Rollo May

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these columns are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of any affiliated entities or sponsors.
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