Warning. I have included some very controversial material in this article so I'll start with the easy stuff and finish with the material you may not want to read. I have some insights from three totally unrelated books as well as an unrelated article that I had a chance to read last week. I found common themes that relate directly to sales and sales management success.
I read Craig Ferguson's autobiography, American on Purpose, and laughed all the way through. This was much more than a fall-down-drunk-asshole-Scot finally wakes up and becomes a sober American star-TV talk show host story. Repeated, over and over through his story is the theme persistence. He knew, from an early age, where he wanted to be and what he wanted to be, and despite his demons, he just kept on trying and failing and trying some more. There is no better analogy to developing true sales success than that one.
Jim Griesing turned me on to a video that went viral, The Last Lecture, and I was so mesmerized that I purchased Randy Pausch's book by the same title. It's filled with his life lessons, written to be read by his kids long after he has passed on from Pancreatic Cancer. He has a similar theme, although he uses different words and life experiences to pass it on. I loved his use of the brick wall metaphor - that insurmountable obstacle you hit that stops you dead in your tracks. He says the brick wall is there to stop everyone else while he believes that the brick wall only appears so that you can demonstrate how badly you want what's on the other side. He also emphasized always asking for what you want. The worst they can say is no!
Ed Kleinman turned me onto this article about world-famous violinist Joshua Bell and the Washington, DC. Metro social experiment he participated in with the Washington Post. Objective Management Group's data shows that 74% of all salespeople truly suck at listening and asking good, tough, timely questions. This amazing story, if properly interpreted, tells us just how important it is for us to pay more attention - to the prospects, to what they're really telling us, to why they're telling us, and to what they really need from us.
And finally, if you can't handle topics like reincarnation, the afterlife, life between lives and the controversies about whether or not the soul lives an eternal life, don't read this paragraph and certainly, don't read Journey of Souls - Case Study of Life Between Lives! Michael Newton is the founder of the Newton Institute and a famous therapist who uses past life regressions to help people through their greatest difficulties. His book includes transcripts of conversations with his carefully hypnotized patients to provide a glimpse of what our soul experiences from the moment of the death of our human body, to our time on the other side, and our eventual rebirth into another life. Under hypnosis, the interviews actually take place with our spirit/soul. Newton asks one particular soul what its biggest challenge is when taking human form again. He learned that it's all about "having the desire and motivation to fulfill each soul's goal" in a particular lifetime and that these goals remain quite constant from one lifetime to the next. Compare that with what the top 5% of all salespeople have in this post from last month. There you have it - after we die and before we are born it's still all about Goal Setting, Desire and Motivation!
(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan