Say What? Category

Communicate: Are You Sending the Right Message?

Ah, communication! We want to communicate clearly and effectively…but we can inadvertently send the wrong message. Here are common words and phrases that can trip us up. I’ll start with “just” and “actually” because using them purposely does not cause problems — using them as a verbal habit does.


We use the word “just” to communicate emphasis, as in “I just don’t know about this deal!” We also use it to soften, as in “I’m sorry, we just don’t have any openings right now.” In both of these situations, we use the word purposely to send a specific message.

However, many of us toss “just” in often and without realizing it. If we’ve got this verbal habit and use telemarketing, that tiny word easily undermines success because it communicates a very different message on the phone. In cold calling land, prospects hear the word “just” as meaning “only.” To understand why this creates problems, take a look at this example:

“I’m just calling to thank you for your business.” (more…)

If we can feel disgruntled, can we also feel gruntled?

gruntledI’m lucky to be on the email list of the Grammar Diva, Arlene Miller. Her latest article is a lot of fun so I wanted to share it. The article plays with words that are negative but have no positive counterpart. For example: We use disgruntled, but is there a “gruntled”?


Shout Out for Dudley and Goodson

Shannon L. Goodson and George W. Dudley are the authors of The Psychology of Sales Call Reluctance: Earning What You’re Worth in Sales. This shout-out and appreciation is for Dudley in particular, who coined the phrase “call reluctance” maybe as far back as 1943. That is a truly beautiful phrase!

Some years ago, I was asked to observe their training program (delivered by someone else, not Dudley or Goodson) and was given a copy of their book. The goal was to bring me up to speed because I’d deliver my “rather have a root canal than do cold calling” program the next day. As I sat quietly in the back of the room, I naturally critiqued the training and looked through the book.

I have some education in psychology (completed a BA) and love to rip apart research and its results. I thought the research portions of the book were very well-done and relevant to some concerns people sometimes have about making calls. I do not recommend or support the depth of effect the authors describe, much less the methods presented in training to address the issues.

Not sure what current editions show; but at that time there were several places in the book where the authors emphasized their ownership of “call reluctance,” including stern warnings about using it. I poo-pooed the warnings because it was so commonly used. My attitude changed a bit as time passed and some of my copyrighted material was ripped off: I wasn’t going to go as far as to sprinkle warnings in my own books, but I understood why they did.

Since then, I’ve periodically made efforts to avoid the phrase “call reluctance,” including removing it from articles, training materials and my own books. This has proved tough to do for one reason: It’s really a perfect phrase. In fact, I just found yet another use of it in this blog, which prompted this post.

Well Done, Dudley

So here’s a shout-out to George W. Dudley and Shannon L. Goodson. “Call reluctance” is concise, evocative, and clear without demeaning. Others may use it with no thought to the artistry that created it, but I think of that every time. The phrase is as elegant as e = mc squared, as beautiful as any of Da Vinci’s sculptures.

(And I will continue to work on using other phrases.)

70% of Sales Process Baloney

Business fulfills each and every one of themInstead of simply busting the latest sales myth I’d like to honor the man who equipped me to do that, and pass a bit of what he taught on. (Myth busted below.)

36 years ago, after putting it off as long as possible, I entered Professor Keston’s classroom to begin a year of required statistics. A year! Tried to sit in back but those seats were already taken by other psych-major-math-phobes. With dread in my heart, I took a seat near the front. By the time I successfully passed the final I was forever changed. (more…)

Yo! It’s a Sales Poetry Slam

Sales poetry slamFew people are aware that Rod Mckuen, Emily Dickinson and Theodor Geisel were in sales before they hit it big as poets. Let’s honor their hidden legacy — and have some fun — with a sales poetry slam. Be it in iambic pentameter, haiku, limerick or free verse, add your own using the comments.


Oh, silent prospect
You beguile with nothingness
I should let go now


Faux-RFP Blues

These prospects like me, of that I’m sure
But not so certain their motives are pure
They’ve answered my questions
Needs, wants, interests, and more
And given full attention when I had the floor
But things became hazy when budget arose
Is this truly about change
Or showing their current what I proposed?


The Definition of Insanity is…

EinsteinTime for a rant

It drives me crazy when people say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result. Pun intended.

The miss-use of a quote along those lines is not just wrong, it reveals ignorance of what a colon does. (The two-vertical-dots kind of colon, not the lower intestine kind.)

Here is the quote — which Einstein said he never said: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Here is how that quote is garbled: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over…”

Let’s be clear on something. The definition of insanity is the condition of being insane. The colon in Einstein’s non-quote is presenting a statement, not a definition. If you want to re-word his non-quote without a colon that should be, “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insane.”

Rant over. Thank you for reading.

Liability Insurance Primer

Got any “errors and omissions” insurance? Do you really need that? (Does it actually exist?)

Whether you need or “should” have liability insurance becomes a sales issue for many consultants, in particular. Since I often provide training to commercial insurance brokers I have access to pros who can answer that question.  This Primer was created with their help — and includes sales tips related to the issue. The primer was recently updated. Feel free to pass it on.

Liability Insurance Guide

I am not a “learning” professional

The training, teaching, and performance development field has its fads and slang — like any other. Ages ago, training was often described as an “intervention,” prompting an image of someone running into a classroom and yelling, “Stop! Stop!” These days it’s common to see we pros described as “learning” professionals.  Now, most of us are into learning on a lifetime basis, that’s certainly true. However, calling us “learning” professionals is so, so wrong. (more…)

Myth Busted: The Elements of Communication

You’ve heard that the elements of communication are body language (55%), tone of voice (35%), and words (10%), right? Who hasn’t? This idea was based on a study done in 1967, and became very popular in the 1970’s. Body language ended up with star billing and its fan club unfortunately continues today. That’s unfortunate because it doesn’t particularly deserve the center stage.

Several years ago, a skeptical friend of mine dug into the original research that started this craze and found a bunch of problems with the concepts and the statistics, especially. Here’s the scoop: (more…)

Is that Fire in Your Belly, or Lunch?

Dear Shawn:

I didn’t get a sales job I really wanted. In the interview, my potential boss said he was looking for people with a fire in their belly. I think in my answer I blew it. How could I have shown him that I have that fire?

Shawn says: (more…)

Busting the 80/20 Rule

vilfredo paretoAh, the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle. This is a truly seductive statistic. It has not only the power of numbers but also a lyrical name.

The idea of the 80/20 rule is that 80% of something good – like revenue – comes from just 20% of something else – like customers. Or for another example: Only 20% of your work is actually productive, as in producing 80% of whatever.

Now, Pareto was a real person who really did throw the 80/20 figure around, but things go downhill from there. Let us begin the myth-busting with clarifying who Pareto really was and where those figures came from. (more…)