Archive for Management

Who’s making your gut reactions?

Inner childHave you ever been frustrated by a friend or a colleague who was limited in life by the things they heard when they were young? Or you know someone who thinks they can do no wrong no matter what they do?

Both of those mindsets can be caused by transactional analysis. Transactional analysis is the psychological processing in our subconscious that drives our thoughts and actions.

It creates the subconscious tapes that play in our heads and inform our gut reactions.

People react to these tapes in all kinds of ways, though. The three parts of transactional analysis are the parent, child, and adult tapes. But the parent and child tapes are the ones that can trip us up most easily.

Here’s how the parent and child tapes can affect people well into adulthood:


The parent tape is associated with judgements-judgements on what’s acceptable and what isn’t, what’s a normal way to interact with others, and what life goals are worth working toward.

One of my clients, for example, remembers his dad working two full-time jobs for most of his childhood. Because of that, his dad often told him to never work for someone else, but to do his own thing. Years later, this client started his own business.

The parent tape is based on what your parents said, did, and valued when you were a child. It doesn’t have to be explicitly based on what they said, although it was for my client.


People react to their parents’ behaviors in all kinds of ways. The child tape is where that emotional assessment of their parents’ behavior is made and becomes engrained.

A different client has shared with me that her dad was always hard on sales people. He outsmarted them at every turn and was pretty merciless about it. This client, in a rebellious stage, refused to even negotiate with sales people but paid them in full because she felt bad of them. She didn’t want to fight with them because she saw her dad do that too often.

Your parent and child tapes affect the way you react to situations and how you instinctively judge circumstances and people. You may not even be conscious of it!

But once you are aware of transactional analysis, you might be able to see how your parent and child tapes play into your day-to-day life. Once you do, you can decide what part of your tapes is helpful, and what part you want to ignore.

[Tweet “The parent and child tapes of transactional analysis affect your gut reactions. Here are a few examples.”]

Stop blaming the weather and the economy

Blaming othersIf you’re really honest with yourself, you probably don’t always take ownership like you should. You probably have an opportunity to improve there. We all occasionally get caught up in the things we can’t control, and don’t spend the time and energy looking at the things we can control.

The blame game

When I sit down with business people, owners, and sales professionals, it’s amazing how often that happens. I frequently hear excuses from others related to things they can’t control. Depending on the industry, that can include:

“If only there had been a hailstorm.”

“If only it had been hotter.”

“If only it hadn’t rained for months.”

“If only the economy wasn’t so bad.”

“If only prospects were spending more.”

“If only donors were donating more.”

You’re only human! You can’t control Mother Nature. You can’t control the price of oil. You can’t control the economy. You can’t control the exchange rate of the dollar. And you definitely can’t control others!

Stop focusing on the things you can’t control! We’re all guilty of it at one time or another, myself included.

Ultimately, there are only three things you can control:

1. Your behavior

All too often, we focus on the outcomes. While the outcomes are important, your behavior is what directly impacts those outcomes. Your goals and tracking should focus your behaviors-things that you can directly control.

2. Your attitude

A common misconception is that attitude drives behavior. In fact, it’s the other way around. A more accurate concept is faking it until you make it. Change your behavior, and your attitude will follow.

3. Your technique

Once you’ve changed your attitude by changing your behavior, you can start to focus on honing your technique. This will vary based on your role, but ongoing reinforcement training will help techniques to be applied, become skills, and eventually become habits.

Focus on improving those three things, and everything you can’t control won’t matter nearly as much.

[Tweet “Stop blaming things you can’t control for your failure or success.”]

Aim small, miss small

ScopeRecently I saw the movie American Sniper. While watching it, I heard a quote I have used for some time. However, in the movie they put a different spin on it.

In the movie, the sniper instructor told Chris Kyle, the main character, "Aim small, miss small. Aim big, miss big."

As you can imagine I was shocked and surprised in a very good way. They took an analogy I had used for some time and made it famous!

So how does this quote about shooting at a target pertain to business?

One of the greatest things that gets wasted in business is time. Much of that wasted time is spent with people that time should not be spent on, often prospective clients or existing clients.

In most businesses, the owners, leaders, and salespeople either have no ideal prospect profile, or it is way too vague to be of good use.

Without this key business resource it is very likely you and your people will jump at the chance to spend time with the wrong people!

When the phone rings or someone walks in, if you don't know how to figure this out quickly, you can easily end up wasting your time and theirs.

I was recently visiting with a successful financial advisor who has been in business nearly 20 years. He shared one of his greatest frustrations was not having enough time.

As we talked and I asked him questions about where all of his time went, we quickly uncovered that 40%-50% of his time each week was spent with people who were not a good fit for him or his services.

He shared that his mentor and his coach told him to take appointments with basically anyone, especially if they were referred by an existing client! He also shared that his marketing consultant had created an advertising campaign that was drawing great response, but with the wrong people!

He was taking any appointment he could get, and spending money to market to a broad, integrated audience.

Unfortunately, that's a common problem.

When we aim too big, at too broad or generic of a prospect and group, we will miss big. Just like when we aim at too big of a target in shooting.

The way to fix this issue is to have a super detailed ideal prospect / client profile that allows you to aim at a much smaller target. Once you have that, only two things can happen:

  1. You hit it.
  2. You miss by a little instead of a lot.

How often do you and your team spend time, energy, or money with people who are not a good fit for your business? Get a detailed ideal prospect profile to stop wasting resources.

[Tweet “How often do you waste time or money with people who are not a good fit for your business?”]

The Hammer / Nail Issue

Hammer and nailsImagine a sales person that sells only one product. On a sales call, they discover that what they sell doesn't help the prospect in any way. They now have a choice: To honestly say, "I'm sorry, what we sell would not be a good fit for you." Or they can attempt to force a fit.

Which do you think happens most often?

You likely had an answer that came to mind based on what you believe you and your sales team do. Unfortunately, unless you said "force the fit," you are likely wrong. This is called the Hammer / Nail Issue.

In other words, it's a mindset where if all you sell are hammers, you think every problem is a nail.

Most salespeople make this mistake every single day. They seldom, if ever, realize it - because in all honesty the only person's whose thoughts and feelings about it that matter are the prospect.

And when asked, nearly 100% of potential buyers share that this happens on a regular basis to them.

The biggest reason most people have no idea it happens is that most people sell more things that just hammers. So it is not quite as cut and dry.

They tend to sell the one product or service they like the most. That's typically the one they make the most money on, is on sale, or they just really like. That product or service becomes their hammer. It's all subconscious!

The scariest part of the Hammer / Nail Issue is that it is often a company culture issue. A large percentage of the time the senior leaders create an environment where the sales team is expected to operate this way.

Recently I saw this at a restaurant. I watched a waitress push a certain brand of beer to every table around us. People became uncomfortable at table after table.

When she did it at our table, I asked if there was a promotion where she makes money on that brand.

She said yes!

Turns out, the manager over ordered that brand and needed to get rid of it before the owner found out. He was forcing them to push a brand no one wanted.

There are two great ways to tell if this may be happening to you or your organization.

  1. You have more appointments than you would like ending without a clear next step.
  2. You are getting far less referrals that you would like.

The Hammer / Nail issue costs thousands of sales every single day. What is it costing you?

How often do you or your team attempt to force the fit to make a sale? If you don't know for sure, you need to find out.

[Tweet “The Hammer / Nail issue costs thousands of sales every single day. What is it costing you?”]

Change specific conversations

Colorful speech bubblesI've been working with a nonprofit that relies on members. Specifically, the local "chapter" of that group. They shared with me last year that they'd made a change in how they talk to people about prospective memberships.

As is the case with many membership organizations, their fiscal year lined up with the membership year. In their case, the fiscal year started in October.

They also didn't make pro-rating available for memberships. What that meant was that if someone became a member of their organization in September, you have to pay another yearly fee the very next month, in October.

So what do you think their worst month was for membership recruitment?


I may be a little off on the numbers here. They have around 2 million members worldwide, and in September 2013, they enrolled just 20 new members in the local chapter.

In September 2014, they enrolled over 800!

When I asked what they did differently, they said, "We changed the type of conversation."

Of course, being a good salesperson, I asked, "What do you mean?"

Turns out, prior to September 2014, here's how the conversation had gone with prospective members during the month of September:

"Annual membership is so many dollars, but you'll have to renew again next month."

If that's how they were approaching it, it's no wonder most people just waited another month! And the conversations in August were probably not that different.

They determined that their conversation needed to change. So they actually raised their price, and now that gets any new member a year's membership starting whenever they sign up.

And nobody even questioned the price increase!

Interestingly, this nonprofit has a couple hundred different chapters, and they all struggle with this same issue!

Which conversations can you change in your organization to make an impact like that?

[Tweet “Which conversations can you change in your organization to make a big impact?”]

Our best management articles

ManageI've written a number of sales articles, but also many articles on the topic of management. This should be no great surprise, since management is one of the areas I coach and train in.

Let's take a look at the top five management articles over the last few years.

Woman on Phone Frustrated5. Do you make these 4 communication mistakes?

We all have people in our organization that communicates with prospects, clients, customers, or strategic partners. If those people are making any of these four communication mistakes, you need to make sure it's taken care of.

Read more

Diet4. Stop buying prospects food

This one is specifically for sales managers. It's all too common in the sales world to go around buying food for prospects. If your team is doing this, they need to quit it! Read a couple examples of what the real cost is.

Read more

Airplane seats.3. 4 words that changed a life

On a flight, I sat close to an extremely successful business executive who was sharing his secrets to success with a young business person. During that conversations, the executive shared just four words with the younger individual that summed up all his unbelievable success.

Read more

Stainless Steel Pen Laying on Written Page2. The common denominator of business success

I've been fortunate enough to observer many successful people over the years I've been in business. They all shared a common denominator that was obvious to me, yet I resisted engaging in that behavior for a long time.

Read more

question answer roadsign1. How to get answers from almost anyone

When you meet with anyone on your team, or with a client or prospect, you need to get information from them. And often times, they're resistant. In our most popular management article, I shared how to get answers from almost anyone.

Read more

If you found any of those articles helpful, feel free to brows through all of our articles, and subscribe to our newsletter where we share new articles as we release them.

[Tweet “Read our five best management articles from the past two years.”]

5 ways to combat happy ears

Happy earThere's probably been a point where you thought a deal was a sure thing. You came back to the office, and when someone asked you how your meeting went, you told them you had a sure winner. Then you found out later they went in a different direction.

How can you keep that from happening?

In Sandler, we say that you had "happy ears." You were irrationally optimistic about the outcome. Here are five ways you can combat happy ears.

1. Remember behavior drives attitude

This is counter to what a lot of people think. It's crazy how many people believe you can just magically transform your attitude! I can't help but chuckle when people promote motivational speakers, because motivation wears off. You can't send someone to a motivational speaker for 90 minutes and expect it to change their life. Changing your behaviors is what changes your life.

2. Seek an outside voice of reason

Even if you're a solo entrepreneur, or in sales but work by yourself, it's essential to have another person to talk to. It needs to be someone who will ask us questions and challenge us. Of course, it has to be a good outside voice of reason. Remember, not everyone has your best interests in mind.

3. Journaling

Daily business journaling is powerful. It's fantastic for reflecting on your behaviors, decisions, and interactions. It helps you figure out what's working and what's not, and notice patterns in your life.

4. Pre-brief and debrief

We can pre-brief and debrief just about any communication situation! And we can do it with someone else, or by ourselves. Ahead of time, discuss (or write) what you want to accomplish, and how you plan to do that. Then afterward, do the same for what worked, and what didn't work.

5. Ask more questions

I have three guidelines to success: Be suspicious. Be curious. Don't be emotionally attached to the outcome. If you keep those three in mind, the simplest way to combat happy ears comes naturally. Ask more questions.

Remember, happy ears is contagious. Armed with these techniques, you can combat it and prevent unrealistic sales projections, as well as frustration.

[Tweet “Happy ears are dangerous in sales! Here are 5 ways to combat them.”]

Everyone should be looking

EV001716A key to a successful organization is establishing what a good prospect looks like (and doesn't look like), then training all of your team to keep their eyes and ears open for that person. It's not just the job of your salespeople. It should be everyone's job!

One of my clients has adopted this idea. They made sure that all of their staff knows what an ideal prospect looks like for them. And they've had great results!

Their office manager is a great example. Prospecting is not really in her job description, and it's definitely outside her comfort zone.

Despite that, she has had three conversations with people in the past year that led to sales for my client. In this client's case, that's thousands of dollars. And that's conversations she had outside of the workplace, not part of her role as an office manager.

Now, she might not say that she's prospecting, but they've built an environment where it's comfortable for everyone to keep their eyes and ears open for an ideal prospect.

Remember, sales is all about intentional conversations with the right people. In order to create that sort of environment, you have to do several things:

  1. Identify what a good prospect for your organization does (and doesn't) look like.
  2. Communicate that information with your entire staff.
  3. Reinforce the importance of sales with your entire staff.
  4. Publicly thank your team members when they demonstrate the behavior you're looking for.

Observing things like the vehicle a person gets into, the clothes they're wearing, or who they're talking to, can lead to intentional conversations. But your team has to know what they're looking for, and be ready to start intentional conversations. They need to make observations, then start conversations based on those observations.

The challenge is that most of us are far better at avoiding conversations than beginning them. It takes practice, and an environment where it's encouraged. Everyone on your team should be looking for new prospects!

[Tweet “A key to a successful organization is having the entire team looking for prospects.”]

The danger of happy ears

Covering earsHappy ears is a concept we have at Sandler. It's all about hearing something, and making more out of it than you actually heard. If you're in sales, your even more likely to suffer from this than other people. And it can hurt you!

Let's say you go to a sales meeting, then head back to the office. Once inside, you run into your boss.

"I've got one, boss!"

"Great," he responds.

But then days turn into weeks, and weeks turn into months. The prospect never ends up buying. You heard something that wasn't actually there.

That's happy ears.

Happy ears is something that goes on in your subconscious. We don't consciously make a decision to get happy ears. Nobody hears a piece of information and says to themselves, "I'm going to get overly excited about this."

It just doesn't happen that way!

And it can be even more damaging to an organization if the sales manager has happy ears. Because happy ears is contagious! So if the manager isn't careful, he can really spread the problem.

If a salesperson has happy ears and spreads that to a manager, that can lead to false sales projections and inaccurate business planning.

If a manager has happy ears and spreads it to his sales team, that can lead to bad behaviors, wasted time, and a decrease in sales.

If this is something that has happened in your organization, it's time to make changes. Once you have awareness of the problem, you need to determine what methods can help you stop them, then make that change, and work on it until it's a habit.

[Tweet “Happy ears can be a dangerous thing, and it's contagious!”]

Our 5 best sales articles

5 BestWe've been publishing helpful sales, leadership, and management articles on a regular basis for the last two years. One of the things we're able to track is which of those articles is the most popular.

Since you may not have been a reader of ours for the entire two years, I thought it would be beneficial to share the 5 most popular sales articles, according to our email newsletter service.

Woman on Phone Frustrated5. Do you make these 4 communication mistakes?

In sales it's the little things that matter. And that's especially true when it comes to communication! In this article, we cover four little things that matter in how you communicate with prospects.

Read more

Seven-Minutes4. How to avoid screwing up the first 7 minutes of a meeting

First impressions can make a big difference. If you mess up in the first few minutes of a meeting, you may set yourself up for hours of unpaid consulting. In this article, we talk about how to avoid that type of situation.

Read more

Office desk3. The family photo that cost millions in sales

In every communication situation, the other party's expectations and our behavior both play a huge role. We have the ability to blow it pretty quickly. In fact, in one case, communication about a family photo led to the loss of a huge sale.

Read more

Airplane seats.2. 4 words that changed a life

On one occasion, I was on a business trip and overheard one of the most amazing conversations I've ever heard. A young business person was talking with a successful executive, and the executive shared four words that summed up all of his success.

Read more

Diet1. Stop buying prospects food

Plenty of conventional sales knowledge is wrong. One thing that many people do that they shouldn't be doing is buying food for prospects. It's especially prevalent in medical industries, and my daughter who works in a vet clinic shared with me how absurd it is.

Read more

If those articles were of benefit to you, feel free to browse through all our articles, and subscribe to our newsletter where we share new articles with you on a regular basis.

[Tweet “Read our five best sales articles from the past two years.”]