Say What? Category

Why Colors and Other Personality Tests are Baloney

“Personality” assessments have been positioned as business tools for many years. From Myers-Briggs, to DiSC, to the currently popular Colors, these supposedly help us better understand and communicate with others—including sell to them. Before covering why such tools are often counterproductive in selling, I want to address their unintended darker side.

Blinding with Science

People are often attracted to these tools because they’re based in science. The idea of using something scientific seems more powerful than relying on our personal skills. And yet, most of those who like the idea of using these science-packed tools have very little training in using them appropriately.

The good news is most people using these tools in business are not in position to hurt anyone other than themselves. Acting on the belief they’ve identified a prospect’s personality as “blue” is no more likely to hurt that prospect than supposing he’s a Libra. (And goodness knows we can easily identify those Libras, right?) Unfortunately, this limitation may not protect others from an even darker aspect to these tools. (more…)

Calling Cell Numbers: Part One

(Updated June 2017) This article was originally published in 2012. The inspiration for an update is two-fold: (1) The uber-annoyed reaction my nephew and his mom have when they get sales calls on their mobile phone. (2) The angst often displayed in LinkedIn sales group posts over whether to call cell phone numbers. Part one of the update deals with why it’s silly to be annoyed at all, part two covers how to handle such reactions.

Many people are extra-irritated when they get a cold call on their cell phone. How did the caller get that oh-so-special-number!? What kind of evil conspiracy is afoot and how do you report these dastardly callers? Before you dash off an angry email to, um…somebody… you need to know a bit about the history of telephone directories.


Why B2B and B2C are (not) Different

(Excerpt from book)

My favorite cold calling myth is this one: calling B2B is different from calling B2C. The idea behind this myth is when calling business owners, C-suite, and other executives we need to use a sophisticated approach because these guys are intelligent. We need to get right to the point because these guys are busy (and impatient). If we do not quickly meet their standards they will shut us down.

All of that is absolutely true: these prospects are busy, intelligent, and will not put up with calls that do not show respect. Now… what on earth happens to these people when they go home and become consumers? Are they suddenly less sophisticated or less intelligent? Does their time magically expand to allow for callers to impose on it?

That’s why this myth is so special — it’s just plain silly. Calls to businesses and calls to consumers are the same. The rest of this article highlights two common errors with both “types” of prospects, and how to avoid them. (The book provides details using full script examples.) (more…)

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…)

Shout Out for Dudley and Goodson

I am careful about using the phrase “call reluctance” and you may need to be, too. Here’s why.

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 is an appreciation for Dudley in particular, who coined the phrase “call reluctance” maybe as far back as 1943. Call reluctance is a beautiful phrase. It’s also trademarked.

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 cold calling workshop to the same group 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. However, I do not recommend or support the depth of the effects the authors describe, much less the methods presented in training to address the issues. But that’s not the point of this article. (more…)

Busting the Buyers Journey Baloney

Business fulfills each and every one of themInstead of simply busting this “buyer’s journey” silliness 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.)

About 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 the elements of communication are body language (55%), tone of voice (35%), and words (10%)? Who hasn’t?

The above 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 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…)