52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week # 5 – Blink – The Power of Thinking Without Thinking – by Malcolm Gladwell

If you have read any of Malcolm’s other books you know that he is a great story teller. I actually listened to this book on Audio while driving to and from work and more than once 41lrqAEHKBL._SX335_BO1,204,203,200_this week I found myself sitting in the driveway at home and parking lot at work just listening to the various stories Malcolm uses to illustrate his points. It was great entertainment, kind of like watching a documentary on PBS, but I’m not yet sure what I’m going to do with this information, if anything.

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week # 5 - Blink – The Power of Thinking Without Thinking – by Malcolm Gladwell

A colleague recommended this to me, he had heard great reviews. I was familiar with The Tipping Point having read it maybe 3 years ago and I was happy to pick this up for my Week 5 binge reading. The points are well laid out and the examples of “first impressions”, “gut instincts” and “thin slice” decision making skills are very entertaining. It seems that true professionals and perhaps some gifted individuals are able to tap into the subconscious to process information faster and more accurately than commonly believed. A large portion of the book describes how this can be a good thing and why sometimes our body actually shuts down and actually processes less than the normal amount of information. It’s a great summary of the science behind the physiological responses our body has to stress and common situations in life. The language could have very easily become heavy with jargon and facts, but instead I found the plain language and layman’s examples fun and engaging while still conveying the meaning, maybe in a more efficient manner.

I do struggle with what to do with this new found insight though. I wanted the book to give me a few pointers on how to actually make these decisions faster and more accurately. I wasn’t able to come away with the actionable items I was searching for, it was entertaining but not helpful. I literally just finished the book today so it could be that I haven’t yet had the time needed to ponder that practices needed and the actions I need to implement. Maybe I’m just overthinking it, the entire book seemed to be about how overthinking actually leads to bad decisions. When you take a test and the advise is to trust your first answer maybe I should just trust my first instincts and take this book for it’s entertaining value. It could be that this book is just an eye opener, the onus is on me to develop my skill and ability to the point where I can nurture my inner decision maker.

I recommend the book, but only with the right expectations. Pick up the book to learn something new and to be entertained. This isn’t a self help book or a guide to split second decision making mastery.





52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week #2 “HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Leadership” – Featuring Peter Drucker

In week 2 of my year long journey through new books I found this gem. It’s really 10 small bookHBRTop10LeadershipReadss/articles combined into one, but it’s not light reading, it’s a lengthy 240 pages and it’s packed with info. I’ve read Harvard Business Review for about 10 years now, picking and choosing the topics to read but I really enjoy this packaging. It’s like a Reader Digest format where it’s really the Best of… Series.

52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week #2 “HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Leadership”Featuring Peter Drucker

In this particular package there is a little bit for everyone. I think I could probably read the book 10 times and get something new out of it every time. I find that’s the case with most of my reading on Leadership in general. Our current situations and personal biases filter out what we deem as relevant and we hone in on that significant piece of info. It’s tough to step back and figure out a book like this. When I read a book about Leadership I’m usually in the mode of “What’s in this for me, NOW.”  I want something that I can immediately implement and this book does have those golden nuggets for everyone, but I think the real value is in looking at the long term impact. Leadership is a choice, even for those that are thrust into a particular position, its takes a choice to become a good Leader.

This book takes into account 10 different voices, but there are some threads that tie together good leadership. Leadership happens on purpose. Learn from the past, don’t be afraid to fail, live in the present and plan for the future all while being emotionally available and conscientious. Many of us aren’t headed in any real given direction, we just get by day to day and struggle to look too far in the future, surrendering our fate to those with a higher pay grade. The people that Lead on a regular basis, the front line Managers, the Team Coaches and the Project Leaders are the people that don’t look too far into the future and only plan for the immediate task at hand.

We like to pretend that our lives are like a Sitcom or a single episode of something like “Murder She Wrote”, we solve the problem at hand and wait to see what next week brings. We don’t realize what the yearly arc’s are in our life until it’s too late. Hind site is 20/20 and it’s easier to see what’s happened to us, it’s tougher to look into the future and determine that goal, let alone put together a plan to get there.

When you read this book, try to think of it as a conversation with the various authors. I’d encourage you to write questions in the margins and see if they are answered in a later chapter, or better yet try to answer them yourself. See if you can tie together the various studies and perspectives in your mind, you’ll find more value in between the lines you draw yourself.

Click here to buy this book and see for yourself!


52 Weeks of Book Reviews. Week #1 “Selling 101″ – Zig Ziglar

As part of my New Years Promises this year I promised that I’d read at least a book a week for the entire year. To help me keepSelling101ZigZiglarCover that promise I’ll post a quick review of each book here on this SalesFu Blog. I’m don’t have one of those fancy Amazon affiliate accounts, but I should probably look into that and see if i can link it up.

The first book we are going to talk about this year is short and sweet- Zig Ziglar’s Selling 101.

To be honest I had no idea what I was buying. I didn’t realize that this was more of a Pocket Version than a full fledged book on it’s own, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. You should be aware that this book is indeed small, it fits into my inside jacket pocket and into my Levi’s back pocket. That being said, it’s like the Mighty Mouse of sales books, it packs a decent sized punch and can save the day if you give it a chance, plus it’s kind of nostalgic.

I’m in my 40’s and I’ve been reading Ziglar’s stuff for my entire adult life and it still rings true. This book will do 1 of 2 things for you, it will either remind you of all the basics that you already knew or it will open your eyes to how much more there is to this business than just offering a product. I’m OK with either outcome actually. The principals that Zig outlines in this book are just the tip of the ice berg, it’s like the CliffsNotes version of all of his other works. The title says it all actually, this is indeed Selling 101, a basic foundation to build upon.

There are many people in the Sales Industry that got there by accident. These are the people that just lucked out, maybe weren’t the best students and maybe haven’t read a book in years. This is a good little book because it’s not intimidating, you can get through it in a couple of lunch hours and pull some useful info out of it. The best part is that even though Zig passed away a few years ago, he is still selling. This book is designed to Motivate you to better yourself, and with that desire you’ll want to go further on the journey with Zig. Luckily his legacy is carried on by his family and you can buy all of his other books, his certifications and classes online. This book makes me want to buy more from him, and it’s a win-win.

In the mean time I’m going to listen more, sell with integrity and proceed with a couple of simple plans.


4.5 Steps to know- When to ask for the Business.

Last week I was asked by an up and coming salesperson, “So, when would I know what Closing technique to use?”.  I dug a little deeper on this question and he wasn’t really wondering which close to use and how, he was really asking a much more fundamental question- “When do I Close?”.103764377_400x400_pad

 “The Buying Sign Close”

It seems that many of us are info/benefit dumping until we hear this line from the customer- “OK, so what do we do next?” and then we get the credit card or signed purchase agreement. Now lets be honest, the products or services we are presenting aren’t exactly new right? You probably have some competitor though it pains you to admit it and that competitor at least has a product or service in your same category. The customer isn’t giving you that massive buying sign because you didn’t ask them to. In answer to the salesperson’s question above I said, “I close when the conversation gets to the natural end. I prep customers and let them know that if I find a (product or service) that fits their needs I’ll ask for their business. In addition I also close whenever I hear the 3rd buying sign”. I realized we hadn’t covered the Buying Sign close or talked about when identifying when you’ve EARNED the right to close, so read below and Close more deals!


STEP #1 Listen and Identify Buying Signs. Buying Signs to me are any type of questions from a customer, even objections are buying signs to me. If someone is asking me questions about my product/service it usually means that they intend to BUY, even if it’s not from me. IF the customer didn’t want to do anything they wouldn’t prolong the conversation with questions. They’d try to get off the phone, elevator or whatever meeting I pinned them down to as quickly as possible, sometimes they don’t want to be rude but they still just want to get out of the room. Typical Buying Signs- So do you guys service your own product? Do you use local providers? How long have you been doing this? Can I fax you documents or do I need to mail them? How can I do business with a company or person I’ve never done business with before?


STEP #2 – Track the Buying Signs. I usually keep an internal count of the buying signs I’ve heard and depending on how strong they are I typically jump straight to this close after the 3rd buying sign. If the customer asks 3 serious questions about the service or product it’s time to ask for the business.


STEP #3 – Close. “I think it’s obvious we are going to do something here for you here today. While we are figuring out what fits your needs let’s agree to something. I’ve got to jump through a few hoops to get you the best (product or service), we’ve got to ask some Formality Questions, Put a Credit Card (or billing dept contact) on file and then confirm some more of your information while we tailor this order for you. What’s the card number or billing address? (Bridge Close works well here the key is the first 20 words which transitions to a close of choice).


STEP #4 Finalize App Details.  After I get the deposit I verify a few items like contact info and fill out any other details I may have missed earlier. THEN we go back to the structure of the product or service and I typically make a STRONG recommendation.  “So Mr Customer, no matter what we do today we are going to get something better than your current situation. In my professional opinion I recommend the XYZ for you, it has the better features, more for your time, money, ROI or offers peace of mind. I think that’s what you were looking for right?” Or “I’ve done enough files of this nature to be considered an expert here so I’m confident that we should move forward. I would like to wait to determine the exact amount of service you need until we have the appraised the situation. We typically start with  ABC  but let’s be conservative and say we’ll start with X amount of service. Can we start with this amount of service and then adjust it up or down after the test period?”

When I work a Buying Sign Close I frame the initial trial as a joint production with lots of feedback from the customer. The least amount of  service and the possible need for much for allows us to adjust things, typically for the better. Since we are happy with the worst case scenario that means we’ll be giving good news through the process and you’ve started the buying relationship.


STEP #4.5 ** BONUS TIP. The Strong Recommendation. I first learned this technique many years ago while working at a restaurant in Hawaii. Tourists would come in and they’d often ask about what Wine to order with a particular food. I was 21 and really had no palate or experience with wine but I asked a lot of questions of the bartender and people more familiar than I was. I made friends with a Sommelier and asked him how he handles this question. He said he makes a recommendation, backs it up with a few good reasons and sticks with it like it was the obvious choice. Pretty soon I was expertly recommending the Pacific Rim Riesling because the Sweet Flavor offset the Spicy Asian Fusion, the body was light and didn’t weigh down the experience and the acid cleansed the palate for the next bite of flavor. I soon found that no matter what I recommended, as long as I had a few good reasons for making the recommendation my customers went with my recommendation 90% of the time. The point here is that when we make a strong recommendation and back it up with a few good reasons our customers will listen to us, 90% of the time. Sometimes this is called the Law of Authority in Psychology circles, it’s scientifically proven to work!


Happy Selling and if you have any questions about this feel free to reach out to me!

SalesFu – Character and Integrity

Character and IntegrityKicktras


       Who are you when no one is looking?  What do you do?  I’ve met people of questionable moral fiber; unfortunately some of them have had immense wealth and success.  I’m just not sure how they sleep at night.  I find that it’s much easier to be authentic and treat others how I’d want to be treated, or at least how they would want to be treated.

My wife just asked me about one of my morning routines.  Every morning I write 4 words on the bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker – Write, Right, Health and Wealth.  These 4 words have driven me for the past year but she asked me specifically about the word, “Right” and why I feel the need to actually include it here.  She’s wondering if I really need to remind myself to do the right things, shouldn’t people just do the right things all the time?

Well, yes we should do the right things all the time.  It’s not always easy though.  I think that the people with strong Character and Integrity face the same challenges as everyone else; they just make the decisions that may not be as popular or easy but have the better long term outcome. Should I read to my children when I get home from work or should I turn on the television and zone out with them in the same room?  I think that the right thing to do is to make sure I spend time reading to them and showing the discipline to finish a longer chapter book and to help them create strong positive habits.  Sometimes I still turn on the TV though.

I believe that having good Character and Integrity is integral to being a great salesperson.  True professionals help their customers and feel good about it.  If your customer gets off the phone with you and instantly thinks that they just got “Sold”, then you are doing something wrong.  The customer believes that you are the swindler, the charlatan, the guy that says whatever is needed to get them to open up their pocket book, you aren’t authentic and your customers believe you are peddling snake oil.

Human beings aren’t great lie detectors, but we know when something just doesn’t feel right.  You know it.  I’ve heard salesmen say things over the phone that were blatantly false to try to earn rapport.  Movies like Boiler Room and The Wolf of Wall Street make it seem like it is common practice to deceive a customer over the phone and say whatever it takes to earn a deal.  I have watched both of these and I love some of the dialogue, it still gets me pumped up and excited to be a salesman today, but I know that I can only sell something I actually believe in.

If you want to impose your will on the world, then ultimately you need to be responsible for what you are asking for and how you accomplish your goals.  Be honest with yourself, those around you and your customers.  Acknowledge your mistakes, learn from them and take responsibility for them.  When you are right, don’t gloat.  Just keep moving on.  You don’t have time for games; you’ve got a mission to accomplish.


        Don’t lie.  Don’t steal.  Don’t cheat.

Fess up when wrong and don’t rub it in when you’re right.

Invest in Yourself & Improve your “SweatAbility” Factor!

Invest in Yourself & Improve your “SweatAbility” Factor!cropped-Kicktras.png


This week we are straying from the normal sales tip regarding technique or skill. Instead I want to give you a tip about time management and encourage you to be selfish every now and again. I encourage you to all draw your own chart with your own daily/weekly activities in between phone calls this morning, at lunch or when you get home tonight.


Think about your day and the activities you complete. We all tend to be creatures of habit and in sales we are often very reactive instead ofactive. In our positions, it’s easier to react to a phone ringing than it is to actively make outbound dials and make it ring. We are also creatures of habit in that we tend to approach our sales calls the same way, we all have our standard presentation lines. The truth is that we all have our own systems for obtaining and tracking business, right? Every system works a certain percentage of the time. Some systems are just better than others. For example- If all we did was answer the phone and ask for credit cards within the first 30 seconds, that system would work, just not very often.


I propose that we all take action to shake up our systems from time to time.  Are you where you want or need to be right now? What action can you take to effect change yourself? I suggest that you think about your business and reinvest in yourself. Spend some time everyday improving your sales skill, listening to calls, breaking down your own systems and building them back up. Read some sales books: Gitomer, Ziglar and Tracy are all at the library and easily on Amazon. and Do you want to be a leader? Read some books on the subject from Jack Welch or read articles from Harvard Business Review. In order to become better than you are now and to maintain long term success it’s important to be selfish every now and again, lock yourself in a room for 30 minutes a day and improve your long term success factor exponentially.


The Equation for Success is your SweatAbility Factor. Sweat X Ability = Success.


Sweat refers to your Effort and Willingness to Work Hard. It’s easier to increase this factor, just make a few more calls or work more hours. But that isn’t very much fun is it? Eventually this Factor runs out, we get burned out if we rely on hard work and Sweat to make up for Ability. See Quadrant I Below.


Ability refers to your sales skills and how efficiently you perform your job. It’s your sales IQ among other things like organizational skills. Most people think that their Ability is capped at the current level, but it’s actually easier to improve your Ability and takes less time than just working an extra 4 hours every week. See Quadrant II below for long term success and growth.


What activities do you currently have that fall into each category below? Are you spending the right amount of time in each? What will you do to invest in yourself today? How will you improve your Ability Factor?


SweatAbility Efficiency

SweatAbility Efficiency