Power of Strategy Sessions —DeWese
This is another Ph.D session at Mañana University. Students from all over America have come to our campus to earn their doctorates in print sales.
Please take your seats and prepare to take notes.
First, I have some announcements to make.
Regrettably, I have suspended Monique for the remainder of this term. She will no longer be participating in our classes. Monique has become too great of a distraction. Instead, I will be teaching her one-on-one in my office here on campus. Hopefully, I can keep her focused and she can return to class next spring.
Some milestones have passed for me since our last class. The first was my 68th birthday. My crankiness index has moved up another level. I am even more obstreperous and much less patient.
Utilize a Different Word
In addition, Attila the Nun, my wife (for any of you new readers) and I celebrated our 48th wedding anniversary a few days ago. Well, "celebrated" may not be the right word. We battled throughout the day and I lost. She does not abide by the Marquis of Queensbury rules and, when I complain, she hits me with convenient heavy objects.
It can suffice that I came away from both events much less tolerant, with many bruises and I am now compelled to call the class' attention to two of my peeves. So take notes.
I want you to stop using the word utilize for one month. Whatever happened to the word use? You can visit the lowliest, dirt-floor tavern and you are apt to hear, "She utilized a cast iron fryin' pan and hit me upside the head while I was sleepin'. I never had a chance to utilize any self-defense."
Come on. Try it. Use worked well for centuries. You will like it, and your listeners won't think you are a just another phony trying to impress them with your superior vocabulary.
Next, stop referring to everyone as an icon. I bet I must hear or read that word a dozen times daily.
Icon used to mean, broadly, a religious symbol. Then Information Technology people began referring to the little software and applications symbols on computers and handheld devices as icons. For example, click on the open book icon to use the Thesaurus in Microsoft Word.
It's not the religious symbols or the software, or even the highway sign icons, that trouble me. What bothers me is the over-use of the word to apply to, well, Uncle Eustis as an icon down at the Elks Hall for his ability to consume prodigious, in fact, iconic quantities of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Iconic, when used to describe a human, should mean that person is or was legendary.
For example, Lou Gehrig is an icon for his baseball hitting and fielding skills and endurance as the "Iron Man." Herb, the number three guy on the bowling team, is not an icon, even though he threw five straight strikes one time.
I was asked to spend some time with some printing company owners recently. The conversation eventually shifted to why many print salespeople seem to reach a level of contentment and stop prospecting for new accounts. Big problem!
The group discussed various solutions. They concluded that books weren't the answer. They all had bought books for their salespeople, to no avail. This broke my heart since I've written several books, but I knew they were right.
They had tried tapes and webinars, with no luck. Some salespeople had been observed sleeping through an entire webinar.
Several of the CEOs had hired outside trainers and consultants to train their sales force. They said it didn't work. The trainers were not relevant. They were too "canned." Their presentations were just "show biz" distractions. They knew nothing about selling printing. That's always very distracting and disappointing.
I pointed out to the company owners that I have sold more than 150 printing companies, and the businesses that earned the greatest value were always the ones where the CEO was heavily involved in sales. Either she/he actively sold their own book of accounts and/or they were actively coaching the sales team. You know...making team calls and strategizing to gain new accounts.
Value of Brainstorming
I also told the group about a book I wrote several years ago that was titled, "A Year of Selling Successfully." The book contained 48 two-hour weekly sales meetings. Each week a different salesperson conducted the meeting. He or she was the facilitator/trainer and my book provided them with the curriculum for the session.
One company used the concept to create in-house new account strategy sessions. The CEO and the sales manager would sit in and, with the entire sales team, they would brainstorm ideas to penetrate a new account for each salesperson. They would spend about 30 minutes per prospect, so it might take several weeks to brainstorm each salesperson's major prospects.
The value of these weekly brainstorming sessions is that the genius lies within your company; not in some book, not in some consultant, not in some tape, but within your company.
And the beauty is that it costs nothing. That printer, by the way, grew from a $7.8 million performer in 2001 to $24.7 million in 2009, in spite of the recession. It still conducts those sessions every week, and they also now supplement the meetings with pizza and, sometimes, fried chicken. In tripling its sales, the firm has not lost one salesperson, but instead has gained four new reps.
Aside from the pizza and chicken, they haven't spent a dime. Wow!
Remember though, when brainstorming, be sure not to denigrate the ideas of others. Write everything down on a flip chart. Everyone must contribute. The sessions should be conducted in a collegial, non-competitive atmosphere.
Alright class, take that back to your companies and try it. See you in October. And, remember to get out there and sell something! PI
About the Author
Harris DeWese is the author of "Now Get Out There and Sell Something" and "The Mañana Man, Books II and III," available at www.piworld.com/bookstore. He is chairman of Compass Capital Partners and also authors the annual "Compass Report." DeWese has completed more than 150 printing company transactions and is viewed as the industry's preeminent deal maker. He can be reached via e-mail at HDeWese@CompassCapLtd.com.