In Sales, No Means Maybe

I know it sounds crazy, but I’ve actually grown to love cold calling. I like that it’s active, not passive. And it’s infinitely fascinating to deal with human nature on such a personal level that you’ll never be able to get from an email. That’s not to say that everyone is nice or that everyone says yes. In fact, most people say maybe. And even when they say no, many are still saying maybe. At least that’s what I’ve learned in the past couple of weeks.



I sell everything from products to services and talk to a wide variety of people. Meeting planners, small business owners, mom bloggers, promotional products distributors, retailers, wholesalers, etc. I talk to people from all over the world in countries I never even knew existed.

If I contact someone and they flat out say no to me, I cross most of them off my list. So imagine my surprise this week when I was contacted by two companies that said no before. I had to go back and check my records just to make sure. Yep, great big X across the page. (yes, I still write things out by hand) It wasn’t a casual no, but more of a “hell, no” Not interested, no way, no how. These were calls that were completely out of the blue. This time it was a bending over backwards to please kind of call. Okay, I’m stumped. Pleased, but stumped. [Read more…]

Are You Really Listening to Your Customers?

When you travel you get the best chance to observe good customer service firsthand. A hotel is your home away from home, and you have many places to choose from. It’s the customer service that makes the difference between a great experience or a lousy one. So, on my recent trip to NY I got to see some of both.

listen to your customers

listen to your customers

I got to the hotel quite late and was just ready to get to sleep. I quickly found out that the heat had two settings, boiling hot or freezing cold. There was a draft so bad it blew the curtains. And the heating system was so noisy I couldn’t even hear the TV. When I checked in, the only thing I asked for was a quiet room with temperature control. I didn’t care if it was the size of a closet with no frills.

An employee came up to see if he could fix the heat and said he would have to call the maintenance guy in the morning. Really? So, I would have to freeze all night? They offered me a free breakfast and a foot rub to make up for it. Okay, so they didn’t offer a foot rub, but a free breakfast wouldn’t save me from hyperthermia and lack of sleep. They finally moved me to a bigger room which was slightly better, but still very noisy. The whole time I was there I felt like I was talking to a brick wall. No warmth or friendliness. And they definitely weren’t listening. I couldn’t help thinking that the place could have been run better by robots.  [Read more…]

Are You Romancing Your Joint Venture Partners?

Valentine’s Day had me thinking about relationships of all kinds. Not just significant other, but friends, family, and business relationships. Which brings me to this question “Are you romancing your joint venture partners?” A joint venture is one of the best things you can do to increase your business. It’s a synergy between two or more entities where you share costs, risks, and rewards. It’s a way to acquire skills, new customers, and new markets quickly.

joint venture partners

joint venture partners

But, just like your relationships with significant others, you need to romance your joint venture partners. Always think about what you have to offer and how you can help the other person. A joint venture arrangement has to be a win-win for all parties involved for it to work. Partner with people who have as much to offer as you do and then make it worthwhile for them to want to work with you.

A good place to start is with people you already know. And if you don’t know them, follow them and get to know them. You don’t want to get into a partnership with someone who expects you to do all of the work and doesn’t offer anything in return. Just like in your personal life, that gets old quick. Do your homework and learn how the other person operates. I watch people to see how quickly they expand their business and whether they are going to stick with it or not. I like to know that the other person is going to work just as hard as I do. [Read more…]

How to Be a Real Fan

I just got a nice letter from a fan of a movie I did with Dan Haggarty years ago. The movie was called “Elves“. It was a campy horror movie that was a B movie cult classic. I still occasionally get letters from people who have seen and appreciated the movie. It’s probably not for everybody, but if you like that kind of film, check it out.

The letter was detailed and not a carbon copy of a letter that’s sent to hundreds of people in a mass mailing. This got me thinking about how we connect on a personal level. Everyone wants to be appreciated and called by name. We want to know that someone took the time to learn something about us, whether it’s reading our blog or website, or in this case, watching my movie. In other words, be a real fan.

how to be a real fan

how to be a real fan

When I used to work in film casting it was always surprising to me when actors came in to audition and didn’t know anything at all about our company or any of the movies we made. One of them was an Academy Award winning film, but rarely did any actor mention it. I wouldn’t have cared if they liked it or not, but at least having some knowledge about what the company did would have been helpful.

So, who are you a fan of? Think beyond just the A list celebrities. I’m sure they already get tons of mail. Think about the people that you really admire who aren’t on the list. I’m sure, like me, they would appreciate getting a letter that shows that they know and enjoy your work. Be authentic and just speak from your heart. You never know if that person will think of you for a job or pass your information on to someone who could help you.

Read this about a special fan letter to an author.

Also, think about people who aren’t in the spotlight. Or maybe they are up and coming. Someone who does make it to the top will most likely remember that you “knew them when”. And even if they don’t, at least their autograph will be valuable.

Set Long Term Goals Instead of New Year’s Resolutions

setting long term goals

setting long term goals

Studies show that 20% of New Year’s resolutions are broken within a week and about 80% within the year. So, why do we keep doing it? I think the answer lies somewhere between habit and peer pressure. And I think that’s setting you up to fail from the start. Instead of rewarding yourself for doing something good, you’re going to be punishing yourself for breaking a promise. Even if the promise is to yourself and you never tell anyone what it is.

This is why I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I would rather make long term goals and allow myself to fail… a lot. Because it’s through those failures that you learn the most. And you can’t be afraid to fail if you are trying too hard not to fail. If that makes any sense.

Blueprint for setting and achieving long term goals:

  • Check one thing off your list every day – One thing I’ve learned from being an entrepreneur is that you should always be making strides towards a bigger goal by accomplishing small goals every day. Even if it’s as small as just writing a blog post. It means you’re that much closer to your bigger goal. Achieving small goals gives you the courage and enthusiasm to keep going.
  • Prioritize your goals – I have white boards full of ideas, but there are only so many hours in a day. Make sure you prioritize them and do the most important ones first. Writing the great American novel might be on your list, but if you have to pay the bills, your career as a novelist will have to wait. That’s why I like to have long and short term goals. The pie in the sky dream ideas are still going to be on the list, but down near the bottom. [Read more…]