Month: November 2012

Stop Allowing Others To Use You

Although the above headline might seem more at home in a psychologists office. More often than not its equivalent affects more salespeople than they want to admit. Or worse – even know.

A common practice in sales is the supplying of prices (aka quoting) to both current or potential customers. An example of this happens regularly in the repetitive ordering and fulfillment channels such as food, gas, or other commodities. Along with the many others that don’t change as rapidly, yet do change relative to supply and demand.

Two examples might be where the distributor of televisions and such gives price quotes that are taken on a regular basis by their customers as to stock their shelves. i.e., “What’s your pricing on a trailer load of name brand flat panel televisions?” To the time dated variety such as; “We take price quotes on Friday’s for the following weeks deliveries on (fill in the blanks) products.” There are numerous other scenarios, however these will do for expediency.

The problem for many is they’ll give out prices, yet fail to ever get an order. Sometimes out of frustration as in some stab in the dark. They’ll quote a price they know is below their competitors cost. Once again resulting in no order. (or worse – they do!)

Here’s where most just give up citing examples to anyone who’ll listen how they were just being used. Rather than attacking the real issue. It’s not about being used. It’s about how you allow it – while using it to your advantage.

Being “used” in the sales profession comes with the territory. Think I’m off base? How many times have you gone somewhere and asked a salesperson in a store about the feature of this item or that? Had them explain all the differences including price knowing full well you intended to purchase it elsewhere. Have I made my point?

For most salespeople this is frustrating, yet it shouldn’t be. It’s just another aspect of the sales profession that needs to be handled in a way that’s advantageous that’s all. Once you understand how to make it work on your behalf you’ll never be at the mercy of anyone that only wants to “use you.”

Years ago I was sitting across a desk from a colleague. We were both salespeople and became good friends during our tenure as both of us were top producers. At times we would partake in bantering (probably more akin to hurling insults and taunting) about who could out do the other for bragging rights on any given item or such. Then one day I heard him in quite the discussion with a client which for me turned the equivalent of an epiphany.

He stated the following: “Listen, I’m not going to quote you another price. Doesn’t matter how mad you get at me. I don’t care. Just like I don’t care if the only reason you’re taking prices from me is to make sure your favorite guy isn’t taking advantage of you. But I’m not free. To continue getting quotes from me you’ll at minimum need to give me some type of business. Doesn’t need to be a lot, but something that makes it worth my while to continue quoting you. If not, no problem – but don’t call me, and I won’t call you. You don’t work for free, and neither do I.” Then he politely hung up.

I starred in almost disbelief across the desk. In sales one was taught what just took place was near heresy! Why would he say such a thing? So as usual I asked – and I listened.

He went on to say: “Look you and I both know there are people who’ll just use you. Doesn’t matter what you say, they’ll just use what you give them to pound their current supplier. I mean even our buyers do it to our guy’s. It’s the nature of the beast. But I just got tired of calling the ones I knew never would buy. So it was my way of weeding down my call list without being rude. I could always defend my actions with “It’s business.” Then a funny thing happened. Some called back and said, “You know, you’re right.” and gave me orders. A few have grown into my better customers. Some do just that – give me token orders. But that’s OK, that’s the deal. The others – they were never going to buy in the first place, but at least they’re not wasting my time.”

He was right on so many levels. I still shake my head on how many times I was allowing myself to be used. I didn’t fully comprehend that the “allowing” was a decision I was making. I was the one complacent in allowing it. It’s not just some aspect of sales that I had no control of. Nor was it something to just “shake off” as part of the business as so many so-called “Guru’s” instruct. It’s a part of the game that I (and you) control. And if that’s the case, then use it to your advantage.

From that day forward I followed his advice and example. I applied it to not only anything related to sales, but was able to put it to use throughout many other aspects of my business career.

One of the most important aspects of selling is about treating yourself as well as your current or potential customers as peers – rather than adversaries. Once you do, it’s very difficult for anyone to ever “use” you again. Unless it’s with your approval.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr

Adventures In Stupidity aka The NYC Marathon

I can’t help but start with a quote I quipped a while ago when I would be either joking with someone or I was trying to politely express my bewilderment to someones statements or actions. However today I don’t say it with tongue in cheek. I truly mean it.

“Some look at things and ask why…I look at some things and say: You have got to be kidding me!” (It was hard not to type the F bomb)

We find up until the last moments the Mayor of New York City was still fixated that the marathon would take place on Tuesday. In some convoluted rationale he tried to make his case to proceed with the marathon as some form of noble gesture. Noble doesn’t come to mind. A sheer act of stupidity along with his indignant demeanor for anyone questioning his actions is what was more on display than anything else.

As disgusting as all that was I feel just as much blame needs to be pointed at The NY Road Runners, ING, and the runners themselves who were going to participate. The blame for this debacle and the channeling of Marie Antoinette rests squarely on them. Only one axiom seems to be fitting: “Have you no shame?”

There are so many issues one could check off or point to as not only improper, but viewed with utter revulsion. So I’ll touch upon only some, otherwise I could fill the pages of a book having enough left for a sequel of this real life version of some Hunger Games movie.

It is near unimaginable the self-absorption any club, person, or business would have to knowingly set up tents, porta-potties, generators, water supplies, and more while right alongside their fellow New Yorker’s are dumpster diving with their children because they have no food, no water, no power, or sanitary facilities to use. All the while hiding behind some ill-gotten cloak of protection in the form of “We’re not taking away from any resources.” Are you really that foolish?

What I don’t understand while at the same time infuriates me is the total disregard for their fellow New Yorker’s by the Road Runner Club itself. If any organization should have been the first to either declare out right cancellation, or at the least postponement. It should have been this group.

The people who run this organization are right there. They know, they see – yet didn’t care. Nope, set up the starting gate nearly on top of where 2 people lost their lives. I can only hope the board of ING squirmed as they seen their logo displayed proudly over what could be regarded as a grave marker. Their silence in this debacle was deafening, yet spoke volumes.

The both of them should have been the first, and most vocal groups advocating the use of tents, generators, supplies, or any other resources available to be used for helping anyone in need. After all they were setting all this up at Staten Island. The hardest hit with the highest death count that is still rising! Oh no, not that. We have a race to run!

Maybe they were going to offer assistance by instructing runners to keep a sharp eye as to point out any location where some family might find their missing, because all the bodies have yet to be recovered or found. After all, it’s the least they can do right?

Then there are the runners who were going to participate. The runners from foreign lands can be exonerated. They don’t know or quite understand. However, Americans who were to partake, let alone any New Yorker’s. Every single one of you know better. If you would have partaken in that race you would be pinning a badge of shame on your chest that would never, ever, be forgotten or removable.

I have seen some news reports where runners are expressing their distress for the amount of money they spent to get to the race, and how inconvenienced  they are, and more. Let me enlighten a few to something that just seems to be eluding them. Some of your fellow Americans have lost their homes, family members, jobs, and are starving without food or fresh water.

Currently as you express your inconvenience there is also no timeline for them on when or where they might get adequate help or at the very least – find shelter for themselves, and their children. Yet you runners are talking to television cameras to express your hardship? Are you that uncaring, and self-absorbed?

On top of all of this is the absurd defense of the marathon still taking place after the tragedy of Sept. 11. 2001. Here is the most pathetic reasoning or rationale put forward by both politicians, and participants alike.

First off what part of the time frame of September to November eludes them? Do they no longer teach the difference of time frame between months or days any longer? Must be all that new math I don’t understand.

By all the reasoning given by politicians and participants one can’t help but think if the marathon were scheduled for Sept. 15th, they would have set the starting gate on top of the rubble. Justifying it as “giving New Yorker’s back a feeling of normalcy.” So unimaginable, yet with what has been currently displayed – is it so far-fetched?

For anyone whom participates in both The Runners Club, or anything else in regards to the NYC Marathon. You should be demanding the resignation of every board member or person involved in the decision making process of allowing, and pushing for the marathon to go forward.

Every single participant that dons a running badge is directly tied to the disgusting display of not only insensitivity to their fellow New Yorker’s; but the sheer arrogance, and stupidity of their decisions and handling of this whole affair.

If you continue, or are to partake in this event. Even at a later date while the current leadership remains. Then that badge you once looked at with pride will be to the rest of us you’re badge of shame. Think about it.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr

F.T.W.S.I.J.D.G.I.G.T.- Building Your Business

(For those who say I just don’t get it…Get This!)

I started this category a while back because I was growing quite tired when far too many people had decided to explain to me why I was wrong – yet wouldn’t (or couldn’t) express why. Only that I was wrong because “I just didn’t get it.” Then more often than any of them cared to admit, it seemed I was closer to being correct.

Trust me, I’m the first to understand or point out calls I’ve made that have not exactly manifest the way I envisioned. Just one look at the levels being reached in the markets would show I was not only incorrect, but the term “incorrect” would be a kind term. However my reasoning wasn’t wrong.

We are currently in an age where government intervention along with the Federal Reserve have us in historic, and uncharted waters. Nobody knows how this will end, and the story is still being written. All one can do is navigate as this ship plods along. However setting your sails as if there are never going to be rogue waves, or gale winds in the future is the equivalent of economic malpractice. Yet far too many are doing exactly this.

To wit I offer another example where far too many were leaving their business structures in a more vulnerable position than they should have. Building their business solely, fundamentally reliable, or inseparable from a specific social media platform based solely because it’s free. Today’s example is again – Facebook®.

All of the sudden near overnight many “businesses” have woke to find all their connectivity with their “fans” has vanished by some reported accounts of 85% and more. Want or need to alert them to what you or your company are doing? It’s gonna cost ya! Free just became a whole lot more expensive to a whole lot of people who for lack of a better term; “Just didn’t get it.” (I just couldn’t resist typing that)

This is the fundamental issue facing so many newly minted entrepreneurs. They don’t realize that the internet tools that enable them to start, open, or for that matter operate daily can be taken away from them at any moment. If you are not paying for a particular service. Then you can’t count on it to be there today, tomorrow, or for that matter – ever again.

Business is business. There are costs to being in business – even if at the time are free. It’s how you look down the road, prepare for disruptions, make plans for expansion, calculate how others would compete, what a competitor needs to invest to offer service at your level. etc, etc. However most just think It’ll never happen. Problem is, in this ever-growing electronic world. It happens just as fast, and just as unannounced as a major storm can shut down brick and mortar establishments also.

You might not be able to prepare for every disruption – that’s normal. What is not acceptable is acting and conducting business as if there aren’t any. Or what’s most foolish of all – thinking it can’t or won’t happen to you. Just someone else.

For those interested in what is taking place with FB I suggest entering into your favorite search engine the term “Facebook to charge for promoting” that will give you many sources. I would suggest this research to anyone as to get a better grasp on what you may or may not be aware of.

And if you wish to read something I’ve written on this subject previously, here’s a link to a previous article.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr