Archive for August, 2010

Nelson Mandela

Last night I had the opportunity to visit with a good friend about the movie “Invictus”, an inspiring depiction of the life of Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela is arguably one of the most influential people of our day. Mr. Mandela changed a nation. He changed a people.

Many of us look towards men or women like Nelson Mandela with admiration and yearn to be an individual of equal character, influence and impact. My observation to my colleague was that while we may aspire to become men or women of such caliber how many of us are willing to pay the price to become that person?

Mr. Mendala spents 27 years in prison many of those years on Robben Island. After being released he led his party in negotiations that led to multi-racial democratic elections. He became the first South African elected president in a fully representative democratic election. These were touch times in South Africa – truly an understatement on my part. Instead of becoming embittered and angry he tempered his feelings and became a man of great gentleness, a man of vision and determination for a better day and a man of leadership.

While many of life’s experiences were forced upon him Mr. Mandela he decided to act and turn those experiences to his benefit and the benefit of his people rather than be acted upon and become the victim. He once stated,

“There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.” ~ Nelson Mandela

You may find yourself trudging through tough times. Notice I used the word “trudging” and not “working”. If you find yourself “trudging” through life’s experiences I’ll bet you are miserable, you are downhearted and you are merely surviving. The key is to quit “trudging” and start “working”. Working is active. Work exemplifies faith and a determination for success. As you work to achieve your goals you will inevitably encounter obstacles. Remember achieving success requires a heavy payment of your commitment, your determination and your hard work. Are you paying the price?

Here are some key principles that will help you achieve your success.

  1. Get and Keep a positive attitude
  2. Set clear goals that while achievable require work to achieve
  3. Commit to achieving your goals
  4. Build a plan and stick to it
  5. Dig deep and work hard
  6. Stay focused and look for opportunities
  7. Expect challenges and be determined to work through them
  8. Don’t get discouraged
  9. Have fun and take time to play
  10. Help and serve others

A modification of Mr. Mandela’s quote for business might be

“There is no easy walk to business success anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.” ~

Remember the road to success in life or business is not easy but is within your reach if you are determined, committed and willing to pay the price of success.


I want to change gears today and discuss the “True Value of an Opportunity”; not the opportunity of a sale but the opportunity of your current sales position.

Take a moment….

Where are you today?

Are you where you want to be?

Are you heading in the right direction?

Or have you awaken to the fact that you are no where you intended to be?

Is it time for a change?

We all reach a point in our careers that we consider change. Change could mean a new position, a promotion or even a jump to a completely different career path.

At these crossroads we often seek advice from trusted colleagues. Word of advice – DON’T LISTEN TO THE NAYSAYERS!  Yes, you want objective advise but avoid those well meaning, who like the old comic reflects the sentiment “You can’t Soar Like an Eagle when you Hang around with Turkeys”. Seek advise from those individuals who consistently encourage you to become more than you are today.

What is holding you back?

If you have a new opportunity confronting you be willing to take the leap. You may be surprised, the leap may launch you to new heights – heights you never expected.

Yes, you may walk away from something good. Or maybe, if your honest with yourself, your current opportunity is only good because you’re comfortable.

Honestly evaluate what’s holding you back?  You may discover complacency, security, a commission check, association with good friends etc are really kite strings holding you from soaring even higher.

When I look at new opportunities evaluate the following:

  • What are the long term benefits?
  • Does the new position provide new areas of growth?
  • Will I expand into new roles?
  • Can I significantly impact the new company?
  • Does the opportunity afford me more time with family?
  • What new business opportunities, business circles and professionals will I now be able to experience and develop?

Notice I haven’t discussed the opportunity for earning additional money. To me money is secondary. And I assume financial rewards accompany new opportunities. Remember producers are compensated not paid. If you can produce and provide value you will be compensated even if it’s in the long run.

What is the value of your current opportunity? Maybe it is your time to stretch the wings.  Your wings may have become stiff with complacency but stretch them a little further. Take the first step. You know the hard one, the one that is the hardest followed by a small dip, then an exhilaration as the wind of opportunity catches your outstretched wings taking you to new heights.

This morning I read a Twitter Post on technology that caused me to think about the importance of creating value in the mind of the customer. Her twitter post was…

“Boy! Seems like everyone has an opinion of what technology I should use. If you’re paying for it, I’ll totally agree with you. ;)”

I think her sentiment is shared by many who are hunting for technology solutions. My interpretation of her comments is that she feels like she is being sold a solution that may wow her socks off, she may not really understand and the price certainly hasn’t been justified. Instead of buying she is frustrated with being sold.

Whose fault is this?

You could easily blame the customer, justifying the lack of customer buy-in as “She doesn’t understand the true needs of her problem”

If that was our response you need to go back to the sales drawing board.

If the customer doesn’t see the true needs of the problem you haven’t done your job breaking down the problem.  Instead you probably spent an inordinate amount of time selling features without demonstrating how the features address the individual pieces of the customer problem.

If caught in a similar situation these simple but effective selling tools will help.

  1. Listen, Listen and Listen again
  2. Ask probing questions
  3. Listen, oh and listen some more
  4. Understand the problem
  5. Restate the problem based on the customer’s responses
  6. Explain and demonstrate how product features address specific problems
  7. Ask more questions
  8. Listen
  9. Clarify how features address specific customer problems
  10. Introduce features of your product that bring additional value or ROI to the customer.

Notice we haven’t discussed price with the customer. Reserving pricing questions to last is extremely advantageous. Why?  Because when you create a direct value to problem relationship price becomes a secondary question. The closing of your sale becomes less about price and more about value.