Arrogance: The 7 Deadly Signs

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Here is my watch list for the seven deadly signs of salesperson arrogance:


1. “Our product sells itself”

2. “The only people on our sales team who matter to me are my superiors or at least my equals”

3. “Who cares that our competitor’s accounting manager is afraid they’ll be taken over and is out looking for a job?”

4. “I don’t need to walk our plant. Leave that to those grunts in manufacturing.”

5. “You’ll never learn a thing from a competitor weaker than you.”

6. “We can always rely on X for reference. I may not have talked with him for a few months, but he will never forget how we saved his bacon two years ago..”

7. “Customer complaints don’t matter. Those e-mails are just written by oddball cranks.”

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Outfit Your Mind

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Shined shoes and a crisp collar still transmit a high-voltage impression when you’re applying for a sales job. But it’s what’s above the collar that counts most of all.  The most important thing you need to dress for any sales job interview is your mind.  Learn everything you can about the company and its immediate needs.  Craft your conversation as carefully as your press your suit.


  • Talk their talk. What messages has the company CEO emphasized in recent articles, shareholder reports or public speeches? In a natural way, fold some key terminology and concepts into your conversation.
  • Offer a lifeline of hope to an ailing business or market region. Do you have a workable plan to rejuvenate the soft spot?  What can you reliably promise to achieve in your first three months?  Companies love salespeople who can make key contributions quickly.
  • Point to your successes in team selling initiatives.  In bigger firms, sales pitches are often shouldered by groups.  Show you know how to tap experts in forging a complicated deal.  Spotlight your ability to support the success of others in a low-key way.  Today’s learner organizations prize team play as never before.
  • Showcase your enthusiasm.  Concentrate on a list of 5-10 “sparkle points” before the interview.  Ready your mind to return to these topics if the conversation wanes.  They could be key buzzwords in the company’s vocabulary or descriptions of a new product line.  As a salesperson, you will be judged by your ability to keep a stalled conversation moving along briskly.
  • Close with gusto.  Follow up the interview with an immediate thank-you.  Reaffirm your enthusiasm and stress your energetic readiness.


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In Sales, Being Late Will Be Your Own Funeral

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Diana DeLonzor wrote a book titled Never Be Late Again: 7 Cures for the Punctually Challenged.  In an article in HR Magazine, she canvassed human resource management “and found that 73 percent reported tardiness to be growing worse.”


What motivates people to be late?  Two of the reasons she offers are:

  • ” Some people are drawn to the adrenaline rush of that last-minute sprint to the finish line. . .
  • Others receive an ego boost from over-scheduling and filling each moment with an activity.”

Among DeLonzor’s solutions: “Relearn to tell time.  Most late people engage in ‘magical thinking,’ consistently underestimating the time necessary to accomplish everyday tasks.”

“Magical thinking is the unshakable belief that you can drive the ten miles to work in seven minutes flat, even if day after day you fail to do so.  If once five years ago you actually did make it in seven minutes, from that day forward, seven minutes is cemented in your mind.”

You have to look life straight in the eye.  De-mystify your world.  Can you really afford to believe magic is for real?  Not when time is concerned.

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Unload Your Stress

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A lecturer, when explaining stress management to an audience, raised a glass of water and asked, “How heavy is this glass of water?”

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Answers ranged from 20 grams to 500 grams.

The lecturer replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it. If I hold it for a minute,that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. In each case, it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

He continued, “And that’s the way it is with stress management.  If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy,we won’t be able to carry on. As with the glass of water, you have to put it down  for a while and rest before holding it again. When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the burden.”

You can relieve a lot of stress if you just accept that some days you’re the pigeon and some days you’re the statue.

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The Spin-To-Win Habit

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In sales networking, contact vitality depends on finding ways to stay in touch.  For the first 25 years of my career, I would spend each Sunday night doing what I call Spin-to-Win.  I’d flip through my Rolodex.  I’d study all the little handwritten scribbles:

  • Screen shot 2013-10-21 at 10.14.51 AMHow is the daughter of Client X doing in her first year away at college?
  • How did the disk surgery fate for the wife of Client Y?
  • Say, that Homecoming win must have brightened the day of Client Z, proud alumnus of Pandemonium State!

Never force this information to top billing in a phone call.  Let it surface casually after you’ve broached a business issue.  Sound contrived? If you’re in sales, you better really love people.  Your human concern should naturally bubble up. Whose memory doesn’t need a bump or a nudge?  This process just gives your tracking system reliability.

When I sold Swim with Sharks to my publisher and launched my writing career, you know what was the cornerstone of my pitch?  Fifty-two pounds of Rolodexes I schlepped into the meeting room in suitcases! I showed the publisher the entires and the detailed notes.  I proved I was in command of the sales support network that would help launch in my book.

Today  Spin-to-Win is swipe and swoosh with the latest iPhone app.  You build an entire library of data, and it still won’t weigh more than 3.95 ounces.  The Under-App, the app that makes it all happen, is one you need to implant in your head: the determination to put a fresh face on the details of the people in your sales life at the start of each and every business week.

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The Power Rx of Attitude

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The late Norman Cousins was a famous magazine editor of the Saturday Review and an acclaimed book author when, at Screen shot 2013-10-11 at 9.54.26 AMmidlife, he came down with what doctors believed was an incurable illness.  Undiscouraged, Cousins began an exhaustive study of illness on his own.  In the process, he proved to himself and others that laughter can be a major contributor to healing, since the flow of endorphins increases every time you laugh or feel good. To keep his endorphins flowing, Cousins watched every Marx Brothers movie he could put his hands on–anything  to keep him in a positive frame of mind.  It worked.

Cured miraculously, Cousins spend the last part of his life as a lecturer at the UCLA medical school.  He was fond of telling his students that “the control center of your life is your attitude.  Negative attitudes lead to illness, low self-esteem and depression. Positive attitudes lead to hope, love, caring, fun and endorphin flow.”

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Positive Energy Is a Chain Reaction

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Gordon Dean was a distinguished American lawyer and prosecutor.  One of a original members of the Atomic Energy Commission, he became its chairman from 1950 to 1953.  It’s said that when Dean died in a plane crash in 1958, among his personal effect was an envelope with nine life lessons scribbled on the back. These lessons aren’t about the law or about atomic energy.  They’re wisdom about his philosophy of life:

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1.  Never lose your capacity of enthusiasm.

2.  Never lose your capacity of indignation.

3.  Never judge people – don’t type them too quickly.  But in a pinch never first assume that a man is bad; first assume that he is good and that, at worst, he is in the gray area between bad and good.

4.  Never be impressed by wealth alone or thrown by poverty.

5.  If you can’t be generous when it’s hard to be, you won’t be when it’s easy.

6.  The greatest builder of confidence is the ability to do something – almost anything – well.

7.  When confidence comes, then strive for humility; you aren’t as good as all that.

8.  The way to become truly useful is to seek the best that other brains have to offer.  Use them to supplement your own, and be prepared to give credit to them when they have helped.

9.  The greatest tragedies in the word and personal events stem from misunderstandings. So communicate!

We are all students of life. Want to get to the head of the class? Pay attention and take notes.


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Networking Nuances

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Networking isn’t just about handshakes.  Ace networkers learn to master the navigation and the niceties that earn networkers acceptance, respect and authority.

Here are four road – tested tips:

  • Use a light touch when thrust into spotlight.  Let’s say you suddenly Screen shot 2013-09-05 at 3.14.22 PM ecome very visible in an outside organization.  Your new-found prominence will be instantly suspect and perhaps be more off-putting than advantageous. Be helpful but modest.  Do your best to defer recognition to long-term leaders, read to praise their accomplishments in giving the organization a footing.
  • Create timelines for your networking goals. Be patient.  Understand that it may take 1-2 years to position yourself in a network routes to business objectives far ahead.  Is the CEO an opera buff or dedicated to funding a dialysis center?  Are you building a network path to mesh with those passions?
  • Don’t stall answers.  When you acquire a serious network presence, you’ll be asked for favors in no time.  Don’t be slow to answer calls. . . even if you can’t promise your contact much help.  Networks telegraph who the fast responders and who the slowpokes are.  The biggest mistake you can make is not to answer a viable network member who is reaching out to you.
  • Act confidently and take meaningful risk.  In networking, as in anything else, the wise person isn’t the one who makes the fewest mistakes.  It’s the one who learns the most from them.
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Integrity Deflates Easily

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Ethics and integrity must be the cornerstone of every sales professional’s existence. Let me tell you a true story about Professor Bonk, who taught chemistry at Duke University.  The lessons: First, integrity is always right.  Second, Screen shot 2013-08-29 at 3.51.36 PMdishonesty can be very risky business.

One year, three guys were taking chemistry and all getting solid A’s going into the final exam. They were so confident that the weekend before finals they decided  to go up to the University of Virginia to party with some friends.  Due to bad hangovers, they slept all day Sunday and didn’t make it back to Duke until early Monday morning.

Rather than taking the final exam then, they explained to Professor Bonk that they’d gotten a flat tire on their trip to Virginia and didn’t have a spare, so they didn’t get back to campus until late Sunday night. They wanted to delay the exam until Tuesday.

Professor Bonk thought this over and then agreed they could make up the final on the following day. The three guys were elated and relieved.  They studied that night and went in for the test the next day. Professor Bonk placed them in three separate rooms, handed each of them a test booklet, looked at his watch and told them to begin.

They opened up the test booklet and saw that the first question, about OXYGEN was worth 5 points.

They all thought this was going to be easy. Then they turned the page and saw the second question, worth 95 points: Which tire?

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Overcoming Rejection: Tried & True Tips

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  • Take the criticism, but don’t take it to heart.h
  • Realize 10 setbacks are the admission price for any major win.
  • Analyze every failure and let this loss cost you your focus on the next race
  • Recognize no one person can please everybody.
  • Don’t rationalize the hurt by saying you didn’t want to succeed that much anyway.
  • Tally up what you’ve learned and how you will use it to not make the same mistake again.
  • Let the setback motivate you to try that fresh new approach you have had stuffed in your back pocket for months
  • Don’t assume you are branded with failure and walk around as if you’re wearing a scarlet letter.
  • Don’t worry when you lose. Worry when you stop being a contender.
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