Business Growth Ideas #286 This week: Forecasting, A Reader responds, Barbecue?

Sales and marketing Newsletter

Quick notes to help you grow your business in less time with less effort. . . sometime next week.

In this issue:

– Techniques for FIT
– Being Human
– Random Stuff

Techniques for FIT

  • If your job involves making judgement calls, a decision process is nice to have. If you rely on a team making judgement calls, a decision process is a must-have.
  • All salespeople need to be active because if the choice is to be there or be good, being there is best. Once activity is the norm, focus on improving the conversation.
  • Listing how your customers are better off after working with you is a good reminder of your work’s worth. Having your customer list the ways they are better off after working with you indicates to prospects what your work is worth.
  • Tending to your market’s needs creates opportunities. This includes their existing needs, but opportunities multiply when addressing anticipated needs. Exiting the pandemic your markets will have a lot of 2022-23 needs to be ready for.

Being Human – A reader responds

“Money, like vodka, makes a man eccentric.” – Chekhov 

Flaming_vodkaImage: Nik Frey

There are times readers send thoughts worth sharing. Last week I wrote about how there’s a part of being human which demands knowing how a story ends, how a mystery is solved. This tendency works against us when we’re selling to prospects or launching a new product. We can see where we want to go, we’ve been there before, and we’re anxious to get the prospects to the end of the process.

The problem is our prospects haven’t been on the journey before. It’s their first time hearing the story.

I want to share Peter Massey’s response because I learned something reading it:

After a very busy May, I’ve been catching up on your newsletters. I really enjoy them, and they usually provide much to ponder.

This one particularly piqued my interest – not from my time in business, but from the “way back” years when I was in the theater. Your observations in the “Being Human” section reminded me of the acting pedagogy of Dr. Robert Cohen, under whom I trained. Dr. Cohen is well regarded in the theater community and his principles are widely taught in intro to advanced acting classes. The heart of his system is GOTE: Goal, Obstacle, Tactics, and Expectation. A tricky thing when you are creating a character as an actor is to know what you want, and to EXPECT that you will get it. Nobody sets out to fail – even if it seems that way, in the failure there’s probably a win in the eyes of the one who failed (sympathy, an excuse to pursue something else, a lesson learned to increase the likelihood of success later on, etc.). Dr. Cohen loved to point out that this is what actors get wrong when acting in Chekhov plays – they seem depressing, so they are played with an anticipation of failure, or at least ennui. In fact, much of Chekhov is really funny – when played for the win, we see absurdities in these characters which they fail to see, yet we start to root for them. And it’s a much more enjoyable experience – who doesn’t like to laugh (especially during what is billed as a “moody Russian play”)?

What makes the story interesting is seeing a character, completely vested in his goal and fully expecting to get it, experience what actually happens. The character can no more know the future than can we, and in navigating the circumstances the character learns, adapts, and overcomes – or fails. The story does become more interesting if the character learns from others and his environment (the Obstacles), and shifts his behavior (Tactics) to compensate – or even re-evaluates the Goal. Even in the most predictable plot lines (Hallmark, anyone?) to the extent the characters go through this process, we become more or less invested in their success and want to see the journey.

This seems a daring thing to apply to the sales process, but successfully doing so would certainly make it more interesting, relevant, and memorable to the prospect. The difference between being told a story, vs. coming along for the ride. It made me think of all of the times (way too many, in fact) when I was very clear about my needs and limitations with a salesperson who was in fact selling something of interest to me, and it seemed that I was talking to the wall. True, the salesperson had a goal and an expectation of getting it, but viewed all obstacles as inconveniences, rather than learning opportunities. No tactics were adjusted, nothing was learned – and I lost interest. Quickly. And often became pretty annoyed (as I do when enduring a Hallmark movie marathon). When I can get caught up in the ride, I’m much more likely to see my own victory clearly, as defined by me (not by the salesperson). And that’s a great way to do business.

I hope things are going well for you. I look forward to your future newsletters!

Good stuff. Thanks for sharing, Peter.

Random stuff


Barbeque or other

What do you know about barbecue?

I may have mentioned working for a firm from Memphis and during a management symposium talk turning to this subject. I was new to the group, so the manager from New Jersey pulled me aside and said, “Greg, if you’re not from the South, you probably think of barbecue as something you eat. I did. Down here when they talk about it, it’s an event. Something that consumes your day.”

I’ve recently joined the barbecue world. Long, slow cooks. Not quite up to an event yet, but I’m getting the hang of it. Using charcoal, adding the wood chunks for smoke, focusing on tending the fire. It smells amazing.

Wednesday mid-morning I step outside to get some fresh air, sniff around and think, ooh, barbecue. It’s a weekday. Someone is going big heading into the weekend.

I turn back inside to talk to my youngest when we notice there’s a lot of smoke in the sky. Bad barbecue? The smoke goes from gray to black, and we head deeper into the yard to see what’s going on.

The neighbor’s house is on fire!

I have to jump a couple of fences and run through Ghost the dog’s yard to get there. The flames in the back of the house are over my head, popping, cracking and I hear glass break. When I run to the front yard I see neighbors and ask if anyone is inside. No one knows. I ring the bell and pound on the door when a nice old woman answers, smoke collecting behind her.

“Ma’am, your house is on fire,” I said.

“Oh, I know,” she said, “I keep calling 2-1-1 but I can’t get anyone to pick up the phone.”

We get our 90-year-old neighbor to safety, wait for the firetrucks to roll up, and watch our tax dollars get to work. Very impressive. With so many of us working from home, it becomes an impromptu, albeit sober, little block party.

An event, one might say.


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