Monday, December 12, 2011

Thank you Levy

 My first glimpse of Mike Levenseller was in the old Kingdome when WSU played USC and Ricky Bell ran wild for 347 yards.  Bell still holds the single game rushing record for Southern Cal to this day.   Jack Thompson threw balls all over the yard and "Levy" was the recipient of most of them.  He was by far the best receiver on the field that day.

It was 1976 and that was then and this is now.  Levy has coached a butt load of great young men at WAZZU since, with many of them moving on to great careers in the NFL.  And there's another one in the making when Marquees Wilson finds a spot on an NFL roster someday soon.
I always looked forward to Levy and the boys coming to the Tri-Cities for the annual Cougar Golf Classic.  It was great to spend quality time with the real Levy, not the coach.  We would talk about how he's putting his great hands to work in his garden, and we would enjoy a glass of red wine too.  Humble, hard nosed, focused, and genuine is the best way I can describe the man who has been a Cougar through and through for the past three decades.

There will be a new look next fall when Mike Leach's Cougars take the field.  We won't see Levy on the sidelines calling the plays, and coaching up his receivers like he has since 1992.  If Bill Moos has his way, it will be a sellout, and public address announcer Glenn Johnson will be saying "that's another Cougar first down!" 30 times or more.  The Palouse Pirates will be out in full force.

You can bet one of the people in the stands will probably be Mike Levenseller.

And I bet Leach wishes he still has eligibility left.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

It's a much brighter crimson now

There's no give up in the Washington State Cougars.  And regardless of what people think, this is a testament to head coach Paul Wulff.  After getting drilled by Arizona State 42-0 on the road last year and then losing to Cal 20-13 at home, Wulff's team came back and dominated a solid Oregon State team on the road the next week winning 34-14.  They could have thrown the towel in on the season and quit,  and let's be serious, what more did they have to play for after getting thrashed by the Sun Devils and dropping to 1-8?

I think it says a lot about Wulff and how his players are responding.

Yesterday in Boulder, the Colorado Buffaloes learned that if they are going to compete in the Pac 12 conference they are going to have to play all 60 minutes.  I thought for sure the Cougs were done when they went down 10 points and were having a hard time stopping the Buffs.  The defense has to improve drastically or it's going to be another long season for the crimson and gray.

I just hope Wulff's players saw how emotional he was after the game Saturday.  Wulff has been criticized for his lack of emotion.  It means that much to him and he needs wins badly or he will join many others in the unemployment line.  Yesterday's win was a pivotal one, and if you think the Oregon State game last year was a turning point in this program, you might think again. 

Yesterday's win was a huge one.

It's no secret WSU doesn't have the talent that some of the other big schools in the conference do, but they still possess some big play potential at some of the key positions.  The quarterback position is solid not to mention the big play potential at wide receiver.  My Hermiston Cougar buddy Mike Snyder said it best in the third quarter when he said, "Wilson will be the hero."  He sure was and if he continues to make the big plays this could be a long year for some of the opposing defensive secondaries.  Even I could have hauled in that pass late in the game.  You could build a Walmart in between Wilson and the closest Colorado Buffalo.

After UCLA next week on the road, the Cougs return home for Homecoming on October 15th against a solid Stanford team.  Hopefully Martin Stadium will be rocking as the leaves will start to turn color in the Palouse.

The program has already turned color.  It's a much brighter crimson now.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Some tips on gaining significance in our lives

Is there a chance that you could be at the stage of your life where it's time to change directions or turn it up a notch?  Are you getting complacent?  Maybe you aren't enjoying your job or life as much as you used to?

You may not be alone.

Many of us experience what we refer to as the halftime of our lives or the midway point.  We have accomplished a level of success that we are content with but know in the back of our minds that we really need to push ourselves to achieve something different in our lives.  Something that is more rewarding and gives us that warm and fuzzy feeling inside.

We are all looking for significance.

Here are some tips that just might help you reel in some of those things that you have always been looking for:

Have fun in everything you do.  People want to do business with people that are having fun.  People also want to hang out with people that are having fun.  The fun people in the world have a tendency to attract others.  All of us want to have fun and with fun the success will follow.

Do something you are passionate about.  If you are passionate about what you are doing it will spill over into everything you do.  Passion wins in many people's minds.  Again, people want to surround themselves with people that carry a lot of passion around.  It too draws others closer.

Find that one thing that gives you solitude.  We all need that "happy place" that lets us unwind and forget about the everyday stresses that tend to control us sometimes.  For some of us it might be reading a book, taking in a movie, or maybe going to that special place that helps you forget about work.  Whatever it is find it, you will be glad you did.

Always keep a mentor close.  We all have our own board of directors that we go to in time of need.  They are the ones that bring us back into the right frame of mind that keeps us on track.  They are also the ones that help us make the major decisions in our lives like buying a house or car, or a big purchase.  Mentors are a very powerful piece of the puzzle that all of us should have.  If you don't have one, seek one out.

Start the day on a positive note.  There is nothing better than starting your day with something positive or uplifting.  Maybe it's a coffee or breakfast meeting with a client or friend, or maybe a morning bike ride.  It might even be a walk with the dog.  If you start your day with something positive, it sets the tone for the remainder of the day.

Give to a charity or volunteer yourself.  There is nothing that can give you the feeling of significance more than volunteering or giving back.  Have you volunteered on a board lately or a non-profit organization?  Have you donated to a charity?

To gain significance we always have to sacrifice something.  And it is comforting to know that our significance will last beyond our lifetime.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

6 reasons why it may be time for a new rep

Do you have a product or service that requires a good rep handling your business? It's no secret good salespeople are hard to come by.  Some have the innate ability to take care of the customer, while others just don't like their job and it shows in the way they correspond with their customers.  Sometimes we need to take a hard look at the people that are handling our accounts and make sure it's the right fit.  Here are some reminders on why it could be time for a change:

They very seldom pick up the phone and call you.  In this day and age many people hide behind their computer's mouse and think a quick email is a sales call.  Wrong.  It is more and more important to be in front of people and continue to cultivate the relationship between buyer and seller.  People that don't exercise this will pay dearly down the road.  The old saying stands, if you don't take care of your customer, someone else will.

They act like you report to them and forget YOU ARE THE CUSTOMER.  If you lay out your expectations in the beginning and your rep doesn't follow them, then it is probably time to find someone who will.  Business is more and more competitive all the time and the salesperson that cares about your business or service will win out.

They don't take accountability for their mistakes, often times blaming someone else.  One of the best things you can do as a salesperson is admit your mistakes and move on.  You become more human in the buyer's eyes.  Not taking accountability for your actions can be deadly.  Accountability is key in the sales cycle. 

They show no flexibility.  To be a good salesperson, you have to be flexible.  It's important to stick to your guns but it is also very important to bend a bit.  If you don't, someone else will.  Showing your customer that you are in their corner is one of the most powerful things you can do as a salesperson.

They don't take ownership in your accounts.  To show you care, you have to care first.  This means taking ownership in your accounts and treating them like it was your own company.  This shows the customer that you are in it together and care deeply about the success of their accounts.

They don't continue to strengthen the relationship.  You've tried and tried to keep the relationship going but they don't play.  There is nothing more important in the buyer and seller relationship than building trust and respect.  People that are passionate about building these relationship have much greater success than the ones that don't.  If you are working with a rep that makes no effort to strengthen your relationship, it's hard to swallow, but it's probably time to move on.  You will be glad you did!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Follow your dreams

As I'm sitting here at our new second home in Lake Chelan I just realized something.  I haven't written a blog in a long time!  So I figured this is a good time to change that.

The last few months have been pretty hectic, the emergence of summer and all the work things that go with it.  I'm still overwhelmed by this place, it was always a dream for me to have a place in Lake Chelan.  It's nothing fancy, but it sure serves its purpose.

All of us have dreams, some of which we think will never come true.  We dream in business, we dream in relationships, we dream in the toys we want, we even dream about stuff we wish we didn't.  But one thing stands true in all of this.  If we follow our dreams with enthusiasm, tenacity, hard work, and dedication, they will come true.

I have been coming to Chelan for 40 years or more and one thing always remains the same.  It's that place that I go to that always brings out the things that are important to me.  History, family vacations, beauty, and the ability to put the stressful things in my life behind me.  That's what I'm talking about.

Do you follow your dreams?  What big thing have you always wanted and never achieved?  It's right in front of you.

Follow your dreams.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

This culture still needs the old school way of doing business

I had the distinct pleasure of visiting some markets recently for the first time.  It was very enlightening to visit with station managers and discuss their challenges moving forward, and the opportunities as well.  There's a real concern amongst the business leaders with the culture we are currently engulfed in.  It is called social networking and the Internet.

Social networking is attracting attention at a rapid pace.  Organizations are hiring people that are dedicated to handling the so called social networking side of the business.  Building Facebook and Twitter pages, Tumblr, Blogspot, Word Press,  Foursquare, you name it.  We all know time is money, and putting these programs together can be very time consuming.

Nielsen recently released information that 70% of people make their purchasing decisions based on recommendations from friends and family.  We all have our own board of directors we seek out when making those buying decisions.  It could be a family member, friend, or maybe even a friend on Facebook.

The old school way of doing business will never change.  In fact, it will be more important than ever moving forward.  Establishing relationships will be pivotal for success, specifically the relationship between the company and the customer.  People buy from people they like, and people they are comfortable with.  Someone they know will always be there if a problem arises.

These new media platforms that we are experiencing and enjoying are transforming the consumer.  Don't you hate it when you call a business and you get an automated response?  "Press 2 to reach the sales manager".
Is that what you would call customer service?  Isn't customer service when you meet or speak with a live person?  You can look them in the eyes and really experience what they are feeling?

I've always been a big fan of WOW-ing the customer.  Exceed their expectations.  To WOW a customer means it has to come from your heart.  We must learn to adapt to these new marketing strategies but still keep in mind the old fashioned way of doing business.  One-on-one attention with our clients.  More face to face meetings instead of texting or emailing back and forth.

It's the old school way of doing business.  To be successful, it will be more important than ever moving forward.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

One of a kind car salesman

I will never forget this salesman.  Years ago I was in need of a car to get me around for a busboy job I had at Red Robin in Seattle.  It happened to be the flagship Red Robin, and I was proud to work there.  The only downside was my commute from Bellevue to Seattle.  Back then during rush hour it probably took me 30 minutes or so.  Who knows how long it would take now.

I walked into University Chevrolet in the U-District looking for that perfect car for my needs.  Little did I know at the time that this would leave a lasting impression on me for the rest of my life.  I met a salesperson that I still think about to this day.

What a difference a personal note will make.

My brother-in-law and I sat in his office and we discussed what we were looking for.  After meeting with this guy for a few minutes I noticed numerous trophies and sales awards littered throughout his office.  I didn't count but there had to be close to 50 of these awards.  I was a little dumbfounded because this guy wasn't impressive by any means.  He was an older gentleman, and I would say definitely on the shy side.  He asked us what we were looking for and we ventured out on the lot.  I stumbled across this little Ford Courier and I knew then this was the one.  The interior floor boards were brand new, they did a nice job of dressing up this little truck.  It had a four speed manual transmission, perfect for a 20 year old.  Little did I know in time it would become a hassle in the stop and go traffic from Bellevue to Seattle.

He made an impression on me I will never forget.

I don't know how long I kept that truck, but I would say it was four or five years.  It burned oil, got decent gas mileage, but I slowly became tired of the manual transmission and lack of room.  It served it's purpose and fulfilled my needs at the time.

I received a birthday card for the next 10 years.

What's amazing about this is I probably moved 7 times in the next 10 years and he still found me.  The card was always on time and it was always handwritten.  At the time I couldn't understand all the trophies in his office, because he didn't really do anything that stood out.

Now I do. 

Thank you notes and birthday cards go a long way.  They are unforgettable, at least for me they are.  I try to make a point of sending cards because of my experience with this salesman.

My guess is this one of a kind salesman retired or passed away because the cards all of a sudden stopped coming.  He was older at the time and I could tell he was nearing the end of his career.  He didn't look healthy to me, but he had a heart of gold.  To WOW a customer it has to come from the heart.  He had a lot of heart.

I think of him every time I send a note or card to someone.  Sometimes it's the little things that can go a long way.  It sure did in this situation.

He was a one of a kind salesman.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Has the Internet changed the way we sell?

The salesperson has changed in a lot of respects.  The old school way of taking someone out for drinks and then closing the deal just doesn't happen much anymore.  In this day and age it almost seems easier to shoot off an email to someone and then tell your boss you called on them.  That's hardly a sales call.

Has the Internet changed the way we sell?

For a lot of people it has.  One of the most important aspects of selling is being intuitive and recognizing a person's body language.  The intuitive side of selling is huge, and many people under estimate it, often times ignoring how important it is in the selling cycle.  Without noticing the buying signals we wouldn't have a sale, or would we? 

The dictionary describes an order taker as someone who doesn't put in a diligent effort to increase existing business.  With business getting tougher and more competitive for everyone, it is important to continue to cultivate new business, increase the revenue from the customers you already have, and maintain relationships.  Shooting off an email is not the answer.

All of us are guilty of sending a quick email and getting it off our desks so to speak.  We can blame the growth and magnitude of the Internet for this new age of selling we are in.  One of the best TV commercials I have ever seen is when the president of United Airlines handed out plane tickets to his salespeople and told them they will go see their customers in person.

The Internet definitely has changed the way we sell. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

This is jury duty

I always get nervous for jury duty.  Today was no exception.  And much to my dismay, things haven't really changed that much in the way they herd you through at the Justice Center in Benton County.  Power is still the rule of thumb in this environment. 

Like always, I arrived early because you never know the unknown and you are much better off being there on time to get a feel for the landscape.  We were seated in the jury orientation room,  this is after you  take a tunnel and an elevator to get there.  Everyone checks in with a gal on the computer as they scan your jury number.  If you don't get in line, she will find you.  I chatted with a couple interesting gentlemen, one was a box maker for Boise (formerly Boise Cascade), the other the meat manager at Yoke's.  It was the highlight of my morning.

Then it's time to sit.  An hour and twenty minutes to be exact.  We received our jury numbers to put on our chest so it could be visibly seen by everyone.  One of the bailiffs handed them out and then went back for another cup of coffee.

Judge Matheson sat in for Judge Swisher and gave us our orientation because of a hearing that ran long.  He told us to focus on the importance of deciding "what happened" rather than getting caught up in what the attorneys from both sides will say.  "The witness testimony is the most important aspect", he said.

Ten minutes after Judge Matheson gave his orientation, Judge Swisher came up and informed us we could go home.  It was 9:30am, an hour and a half after we sat down.  The defendant did not show up for her trial and the judge informed us they issued a warrant for her arrest.

It sounds like this happens all the time.

So I'm off for the rest of the week.  We were instructed to call-in Friday after 5:00 pm to see if our number comes up.

This is jury duty.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Big Choices For Many Today

National letter of intent day is so exciting for so many people.  It is the culmination of a long recruiting year for coaches and schools, and it provides closure for those who have to make the difficult choice of where to spend the most important 4-5 years of their lives.

Years that will never be forgotten.

It seems the hype gets bigger every year as schools wrangle kids away from other schools, and it sometimes becomes a huge marketing blitz for their respective schools.  Players and parents are torn because the options can be so varied, depending on their focus and goals for the upcoming years.  Still, it is a very exciting time.

What a lot of these young kids don't know is how much the next four years will really impact their lives.  Will they achieve what they set out to achieve scholastically?  Will they meet that special friend or teammate that will be a friend for life?  How will they want to be remembered in their college days, a time that can be so stressful at times?

I remember when I was in college I stressed about my grades constantly.  We used to joke about "figuring out our grades" as we were studying in the library only halfway through the semester.  It was in college where I really learned to study and earn good grades.

To my surprise, in my professional life nobody has ever asked me about my grades in college.

So as players, athletes, and students make their big choice today they will keep a lot of things in mind as they look ahead to the next few years.  Will they win a championship at their respective schools?  Will they get drafted?  Will they make the Dean's list?  Will they look back and know they made the right choice?

These are all huge questions and thoughts that probably accounted for many sleepless nights the past few weeks, months, and in some cases, years.  And it all comes down to this one day.  National letter of intent day.

Don't let the sports hype fool you.  It's just a side show of what is really important.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Future Is in Multi-Media Campaigns are the General Sales Manager of TV or radio station.  If someone approached you with a multi-media campaign idea that would help generate $165,000-$220,000 in new and incremental revenue for only a $5,000 investment, would you sit down with this person?

It's amazing how many people won't.  And boy are they missing out.

Managers nowadays are so bogged down with their everyday routine that sometimes they don't want to take the time and look at the important campaigns and initiatives that could help them achieve one of their biggest years ever.  They often say, "we have too many initiatives going on right now". 

Is it an objection or do they?

The days of selling airtime exclusively are over for TV and radio reps.  There are too many mediums to choose from and providing more value for the advertising customers is crucial.  Creating a partnership is even better.  A multi-media campaign that combines airtime, a business to business controlled editorial magazine, and a web component are the perfect combination for success.  Magazines are sexy and provide your chance to "tell your story"---something you can't do in a normal thirty second radio or TV commercial.  You can also provide beautiful pictures and testimonials supporting your business, or maybe highlight a new product or service you might have.  Most stations are driving traffic to their websites anyway, another reason to take advantage of a multi-media campaign.

In a recent flood of calls I made for an upcoming marketing trip, it is amazing to me how many people aren't willing to take the time and spend thirty minutes and explore something that could change their year.  Their reps will make more money, the station will incur new and incremental revenue, and more importantly, they will be able to gain a commitment from clients, something very difficult in this economy.

So the next time you get a call from someone with an opportunity like this, set the appointment and take thirty to forty minutes out of your day.

It could mean the difference in crushing your budget forecast, or not making it at all.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Important Reasons Not To Cut Advertising

I hear it a lot.  " I want to cut my advertising twenty percent".  "We are so busy we don't need any more advertising".  Sometimes those are words that are really hard to swallow.

I'm not saying this because I'm biased and in the advertising business.  I say it because to grow as a company you need to build a list of new customers.  How can you do it if you don't advertise or promote your personal brand?  It's a really good question.

In this day and age there are plenty of ways to get your name out there, or drip feed the public about your products and services.  But you can't do it by sitting on your heels and cutting back what was instrumental in getting you there in the first place.  Here's a list of some of the drawbacks you will face if you cut your advertising or marketing dollars:

Your reputation could take a hit.  In my 25+ years of selling advertising, high end office equipment, cellular phones, and even trinkets like gift items, I have found that one thing holds true.  In the relationships that I have established and the people I have visited with, people often mentioned the businesses that weren't advertising anymore.  They referred to them like they were financially unstable.  You don't want to give people this impression because it's hard to get them back in the right mindset.

If you aren't moving ahead, you are probably taking a step back.  Again, you need to add new business, more butts in the seats, more people in the gates if you are going to grow and prosper.  Many people believe in the theory of increasing revenue with the customers you do have, but there are always the customers that disappear or go away.  You must replace them with new customers, thus new revenue flows.

Work to retain the competitive advantage.  If you cut ads, you cut market share.  Cutting costs during a recession is expected, but you also want to retain your competitive edge.  The only way to do this is to stay in the game and let people know you have drive to grow and succeed your business.

View your marketing as an investment, not an expense.  I can't stress how important it is to target and reach out to your customers.  Give them reasons to do business with you.  If you don't reach out to them, they have no reason to know if it's worth doing.   Treat your marketing plan to reach these people as an investment.

Know your customers.  Know them inside and out.  Know how economic times might be affecting them, and respond to their needs.  You may have to revise your products if you have to.  Develop a lower cost alternative that is a win/win solution for everyone, always with your customer in mind.  Make it easy for them to find you.

If you cut, how will they find you?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Live For The Future--Find Your Place

"Almost dying changes nothing.  Dying changes everything."
Have you ever heard that line?  It makes you kind of think doesn't it?  It affects all of us in our everyday lives.  I lost my Dad a little over a year ago and he has been such an inspiration to me ever since.  One of my friends best described him.  "He was a man with a project and always looking to the future".  He was always in the forward thinking mindset, and how he was going to fix things, rather than dwell on the horrible sickness he was living through.  His passion was building custom homes, and it shined through during his entire stay in the hospital.

For working professionals that are successful, this is their thought process.  They don't think about where they came from, but where they are going.  It's so easy for us to look back at all the negative things that have impacted our lives.  We learn from all of them, some were good exercises, while others we would just as soon forget about.

If you were told you were going to die on a certain date what would you do?  How would you spend the last precious moments you had?  Who would you go see?  What would you want to accomplish?

Most people focus on the relationships they have, or maybe places they haven't seen.  It's a great question to ask yourself and what you might do if you were left in such an uncompromising situation.  It sounds terrible on paper, but it is reality and it is a great question to ask ourselves.

We only get one chance.  Sometimes we need to ask ourselves some of these questions.  It will help you find your place in life and your real passion(s).

Live for the future, find your place.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dream Big

Have you ever experienced that little bird that chirps in your ear "you can't do this". All of us have had the experience one time or another. That inner self that tells us we can't do something. Well, there's a way to get rid of that little bird.

Dream big.

It's perfectly OK to do so. Dig down deep and look for that inner self or your gut, that tells you that "you CAN do it". It's there, you just have to find it.

So how do we find it? First of all, think of all those things that bring joy to your life, or your passions. They are there, they are just waiting for the green light or the OK to move forward.

Some of us have a harder time than others finding these green lights, or go signals, but if we dig deep enough, visualize, and are aware of our affirmations, it's there for the taking. Our natural defense mechanisms will focus on all the negative things that could happen. They are our body guards, protecting us against any possible failure. We have to negate the fear of failure and visualize success and all the rewards that will follow. Fear happens to be our biggest motivator.

Affirmations are huge, visualization helps us recognize them. If we focus on all the important ways to get there, all of our dreams will come true. We can wipe away the fear of failure.

We can dream big.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

"Selling with Passion"

Do you have big numbers to hit in the year 2011? Numbers that you think might not be achievable? Maybe it's time to go back to the fundamentals on ways that can help get you there.

Sometimes salespeople can get complacent or in a rut if you will. There's no profession that has more peaks and valleys than that of a sales professional. Here's some hints that might make your year as profitable and rewarding as you want it to be:

Promote your personal brand. If you don't do it, nobody else will. You can do this many ways; social networking, ribbon cuttings, chamber events, after hour business meetings, or maybe a hockey game or sporting event. The more people that know who you are and what you do for a living, the easier it will be. You should leave no doubt in other people's minds on who you are and who you work for. Your profile is a very important part of your persona. Build your personal brand.

Sell with passion. There is nothing that sells more than passion and enthusiasm. People migrate toward people with passion. People want to be around people who are fun. People buy from passionate, enthusiastic people. If you are passionate and enthusiastic about your products and services, they will be too.

Don't pre-judge. There's business people out there that are far better off than they may appear on the surface. Embrace some of these people and you might be surprised what you find out. There's a diamond in every rough and sometimes these people are the easiest to find. If you venture outside the circle you draw, the rewards and success will follow.

Dress the part. We call it "dress for success", call it what you will. We all know business has become more casual these days---but we still need to know who our customer is. Make them feel comfortable by how you dress. Don't make the mistake I did years ago when I called on a farmer in nice slacks, shirt and sweater and I never heard the end of it from the guy. It was a bad mistake on my part. Don't make the mistake I did.

Be prepared. There's nothing more powerful than knowing your product, and knowing it well. Executive your sales pitch. Practice on friends, relatives, or co-workers. It sounds kind of cheesy but it works. Sports teams that executive their plays have much better results than teams that don't. Sales is no different.

WOW the customer. This is most important. Show them value in what you are providing. Exceed their expectations. Don't leave them with the feeling of buyer's remorse. Sometimes it's the little things that can be so big. Surprise them with something special, it could even be on the personal side of things. Don't be a vendor that just sells your product. Create a strong and meaningful partnership. There's nothing more powerful that creating a team. Now you are in it together.

Find your passion. Find that "new thing". Like that new relationship that has fire in it. You want to enjoy the hours you put in. Fight for yourself.

We only get one chance at this thing called life.

To Your Success!