Ain’t No Peddler!

I think we are all proud of our fathers at some point in our lives. Especially when you’re hanging out with your third grade pals comparing notes on what kind of job your Dad has.

I’ll never forget asking my father what kind of work he did when I was just a tyke. I knew he went to work everyday but I didn’t have a clue (or a concern for that matter) what in the heck he did there. Not at least until my friends started telling me what their Dads did. 

I found out that my friend Nick’s Dad drove a truck. Pretty cool job I thought. My friend Ricky’s Dad was a cop. Even cooler! You can’t imagine the disappointment when I asked my father what he did for a living. 

Dear old Dad casually told me, “I’M A PEDDLER”.Now I had visions of my Dad walking down the street with a pushcart yelling: “Get your rags. Fresh rags. Deo Rags here.”

How could this be? What would I say to my friends? I wanted to hide in the closet and never come out. (People wonder why I have “issues” even today.)

Luckily, Dad noticed my ashen face, slackened jaw, and watery eyes as a sure signs that I was on the verge of breaking into tears. He sat me down and actually explained what it was that he peddled.

You see it turned out that my Dad was one of the founders of what turned out to be a $200 million conglomerate! Yet he saw himself as a peddler.

I’ll never forget what he told me on that day too many years ago. He said, “Mark, no matter what you do in life you will need to get people behind you. A peddler is a very noble thing. They are anyone who peddles their ideas. They are people with vision and passion.” That message was never far from my mind as I went through life. I have found that regardless of the role that I am playing, peddling or “selling skills” are critical to success. 

I have been fortunate to have the greatest minds in management and marketing as guests on my radio show. People like Zig Ziglar, Tom Hopkins, Jay Abraham, Jack Canfield, and Seth Godin. All of these gurus agree that selling skills are not just for salespeople.

Tom Peters said, “to put it bluntly: If you can’t sell, you’re dead. Yes, selling is essential – whether it’s your newest consumer product or an idea to increase internal productivity.”

Phil Guarascio, GM’s vice-president for advertising and corporate marketing said, “I sell ideas and visions. The challenge is to help people see things that they may not be able to see for themselves. Now, I’m not a visionary from the blinding-flash-of-light school. Instead, I base my ideas on intuition, on facts, and on specific opportunities. The greatest resistance that I encounter from people whom I’m trying to sell to is grounded in discomfort — which really comes from a lack of understanding. So a great salesperson, in effect, knows how to sell understanding.”

David M. Ogilvy, founder, Ogilvy & Mather advertising said, “In the modern world of business it is useless to be a creative original thinker unless you can also sell what you create. Management cannot be expected to recognize a good idea unless it is presented to them using good salesmanship.”

Regardless of the type of work that you do: management, administrative, clerical, production, quality control, finance, you name it; the most important thing is winning people to your way of thinking. I want to encourage you to find a way to sharpen your selling skills. Get tapes or CDs, attend a class or seminar, read books or magazines on the subject. 

I would also like to invite anyone reading this to attend my upcoming Dale Carnegie Sales Advantage Class in Long Beach, California every Monday night. This class will give you an advantage in your career regardless of whether you are in sales or not. To enroll please contact Dale Carnegie at 562-427-1040.

And remember, if you ARE a salesperson, you’re in good company. As my Dad said, “there ain’t nothing wrong with being a peddler!”

Standard of Care

For several years many small business owners have asked me the same questions:

“How can I grow my business without significant capital investment?”

“What can I do to stabilize the trends in my business?”

“How can I out-market my competition in the midst of price erosion?”

“How can I maintain a consistent level of revenue to ensure a consistent level of profit?”

“Why are my people loyal one day and turncoat the next?”

“What can I do to motivate my staff to invest more time and effort in effectively selling or delivering my product or service?”

“How can I eliminate excuses and inspire commitment?”Because these are the most frequently asked questions, I have invested considerable time and effort in seeking out the EXPERTS and learning their methods in dealing with these challenges.I have made it my mission to vigorously study the masters in management, sales and marketing. The philosophy that I espouse is an amalgamation of what I have learned DIRECTLY from the leaders in business, such as: Tom Peters, Jack Welsh, Stephen Covey, Peter Drucker, Zig Ziglar, Tom Hopkins, Jay Abraham, Tony Robins, Morris Shechtman and many others. I have found that while these business gurus have different approaches, they all seem to agree on six absolutes of successful business management in the 21st Century:1. We are entering an age of uncertainty, expanding knowledge and unrelenting change.
For these reasons, what worked in the past will no longer work in the future. Even the most successful companies must commit to continuous improvement. Uncomfortable introspection must become a habit – -a willingness to eliminate dysfunctional behaviors, and a determination to model a culture that can tolerate unpredictability, uncertainty and vulnerability. Old methods must be torn down and new paradigms constructed.2. “WHO we are” is far more important than WHAT we do.
The increase in knowledge and change has created an “Intra-personal Revolution.” Individual performance and quality of life will reach new heights by focusing on the internal frontier within each person. A good product or service is no longer adequate. We must leverage relationships and personal values to gain cooperation and market share. Leaders must first change BEFORE they can expect their team-members to change.3. Business leadership will be rendered impotent without deep commitment to a pre-defined, consistent value set.
This focus allows organizations to clarify and act on core values, which will ultimately serve to create a tangible and unified culture. Corporate mission or vision statements will be useless without clearly articulated and non-negotiable boundaries that are enforced and protected. Values without boundaries are merely platitudes. There also must be value consistency between decisions. Strong leaders never have two sets of values to choose from. It is more important to make “value-consistent decisions” than it is to make the “politically correct” decisions.4. Accountability must precede profitability.
Accountability does not exist outside of a relationship. People must be accountable to “someone.” No one can be accountable to himself or herself. This will produce conflict and confrontation but that is not bad. On the contrary conflict avoidance must be eliminated. In fact confrontation is the highest expression of love. Leaders must move from “taking care OF their people” to “caring FOR their people.” In this new culture to demand less from our employees is as unfair to them as it is to our customers and ourselves. There will be no consistent profitability without accountability.5. Peak performance must replace adequacy.
Mediocrity, which has become the standard of performance, must become intolerable. Successful leaders should set expectations high enough so they are just barely within reach. They should demand greater effort, invest more time “inspecting” performance and be willing to confront damaging behaviors and attitudes. This will inspire individual growth. Companies cannot grow unless the people in them grow first.6. Companies must become “learning organizations.”
Leaders and their employees who develop the capacity for self-analysis and adaptive learning will have a remarkable competitive advantage. They will win the battle for mind-share and market-share. This includes quantitative as well as analysis both for internal as well as external elements of the business. When the people within the organization resist learning in place of simply performing job functions, stagnation begins.I have seen what can happen when these six absolutes are satisfied…. Businesses become stable, client loyalty improves, revenue and profits grow, employee turnover drops, new initiatives can be launched quickly and effectively, market differentiation occurs, employees give not out of obedience but out of discretionary effort and there is cooperative, harmonious teamwork. People go BEYOND what is expected of them.This is not a dream. It can be a reality. I have seen it with my own eyes. It is important to understand that this is NOT exclusive to my consulting practice. I know several consultants, like myself, who employ similar tactics with similar positive results. You see, in business, as in medicine there is a new standard of care. It is a standard that focuses on preventative maintenance and improving health rather than merely treating symptoms and constantly fixing aches and pains.But as in medicine, the patient must believe they need to become healthier in order to accept treatment. You may be making money, but this is not the only measure of health. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are your sales erratic – up one or two months then down for the next few months
  • Are profits unstable or is there a lack of natural growth in the business?
  • Is there a high employee turnover rate?
  • Is there political infighting, blame shifting or a lack of accountability among your employees?
  • Is there an absence of discipline or self-centered attitudes?
  • Have dysfunctional behaviors like dishonesty, insubordination or emotional outbursts occurred in the workplace during the last six months?

If any of these symptoms are present in your business, its time to think about making some core changes to your business culture. These changes begin with the ability to cope with the unrelenting daily change in our economy. They are an outgrowth of our ability to change ourselves first BEFORE expecting others to change. They are interwoven with our commitment to a pre-defined, consistent value set. And they are an example of our ability to hold others accountable for peak performance rather than just mediocrity.

At the SBA Network we like to say that we influence decisions, improve performance and inspire change. Let us know how we might be able to assist you to inspire change in your organization.