Aliveatwork's Blog


A Golden Rule of Selling – Don’t strike out with your customers by making your pitch all about YOU!

Over the last week I have received 15 unsolicited emails, yes that’s 15 with a capital F,  from a company called Fast Pitch Network. Below is some of the text:

Invitation to Join the Fast Pitch Network – You have been recommended by one or more colleagues to join one of the fastest growing professional networks on the Web today.

Of course this raised a few questions in my mind: Recommended, really … who was it? Did they recommend me 15 times? Is the reason your opt out doesn’t work because you’re concerned that I am missing out on an opportunity of a lifetime? Is this email about helping me or this email all about YOU?

3 Things We Can Learn From This?

  1. Instead of ignoring the needs of your customers LISTEN to them, especially your prospects … I mean really listen to what they need –  don’t go in with a canned presentation!
  2. Ask great questions that help you to understand your client, their business, and where they have their biggest opportunity to grow.
  3. Figure out how you can help them grow and don’t do it by shoving your ideas or your products down their throat!

The truth is that people don’t buy from companies or sales people that don’t listen and believe the customer is there to serve them!

The success of social network companies like Facebook, Linked-In, and Twitter didn’t come from harassing their potential customers into climbing on board. They grew because they attracted customers who saw the how their products or services added value to their lives and their businesses.

The same holds true for you! You will be more successful as a sales professional  if you concentrate on new and different ways to provide more value to your clients!

And as far as The Fast Pitch Network goes … 15 strikes … are you serious? – YOU’RE OUTTA HERE!!!

… You Might Be A Lousi Leader

In this time of political correctness and over sensitivity I wonder if occasionally you just have to call ’em how you see ’em.

So in an effort to not put “lipstick on a pig” I will share with you “the whole pig and nothing but the pig.”

It is amazing  that in this time where resources abound on how to be an extraordinary leader we continue to hear story after story about lousy leaders!

Ironically enough, the word  “lousy” originated from the 14th century word  “lousi” – which means to be infested with lice. And of course the definition of “lice” – a small, wingless insect, parasitic on humans and having mouth parts adapted for sucking or biting. This could explain why working for a lousy leader can suck the life right out of you.

Below is a short list of  examples that qualifies someone as “a lousy leader.”  These are actual stories and are not fabricated in anyway:

  1. If you have ever called  a meeting in your office and stayed on a personal call for 10 minutes while your 4 managers sat there and waited for you for you to finish … you might be a lousy leader!
  2. If you’ve ever told any of your people that you don’t want to be questioned because you’re very sensitive and get your feelings hurt easily … you might be a lousy leader!
  3. If you’ve ever stormed out of a meeting went back to your office and slammed your door shut because somebody said something that upset you … you might be a lousy leader!
  4. If you’ve ever used the dog training technique of locking eyes with your employee and lowering your voice to communicate with them because it works with your dog … you might be a lousy leader!
  5. If you’ve ever asked your assistant to type their own termination letter … you might be a lousy leader!
  6. If you’ve ever gotten drunk at an office happy hour and decided it was a good time to drop your pants and moon the rest of the bar in front of your people … you might be a lousy leader!
  7. If you’ve ever been looking for one of your employee’s of the opposite sex and try to locate them by banging on their respective restroom door calling out names until someone responds … you might be a lousy leader!

I didn’t say it was pretty, I just said it was a pig.

One last thought … If you’ve ever exhibited any of these behaviors you might want to seriously consider a different profession. Ya’ think?

Have You W.I.F.T. Lately?

When I was a kid we spent many hours in the driveway playing baseball using a whiffle ball. A whiffle ball was a small plastic ball that had oval shaped holes on one side of it so depending on the spin you could move the ball in any direction. It gave you the false sense that you were as good as a major league pitcher. I learned to control the ball fairly well and took great pleasure when the batter whiffed or struck out.

It had nothing to do with them! It was all about ME, my ego, and my ability  to whiff as many batters as I could.

As Sales Professionals, especially when we’re in a slump,  we sometimes forget that selling is all about the customer and not about us! In fact, unless you understand that your customers would rather talk about themselves and their business than to hear you talk about you and yours, you will always be an average pitcher.

Selling has and always will be about the customer. And it doesn’t matter how many times we read that, hear that, or say that, their are times when we simply forget and the the sales becomes all about us and we “strike out!”

What if for the rest of the month, or how about the rest of the year, you intentionally made every sales call about your customer?  What if you approached every sales call with the idea of making sure your customers knew that you W.I.F.T?

W.I.F.T – Approaching your customers with the question: “What’s In It For Them.”

Imagine if every one of your customers felt that every sales call you made on them was … ALL ABOUT THEM? How would that change your business?

My hunch is that you’ll smack it out of the park a lot more frequently!


The difference between a Good Leader and an Extraordinary Leader is clear in the minds of their people.

When a Good Leader is present, their people say “Look at what they have done!”

When an Extraordinary Leader is present, their people say “Look at what we have accomplished!”

What do your people say … ?

5 Things Extraordinary Leaders Know:

  1. Their job is to teach and not to do.
  2. They must  hold themselves and their people accountable all the time, not just some of the time.
  3. They are responsible to their people not responsible for their people.
  4. That they never do anything for their people that they can do for themselves … and they can do most things for themselves, if you let them.
  5. Their goal is to help their people find their answers inside of themselves and not inside of the leader.


Are You an Auto Responder?

Recently I had a conversation with a friend of mine who has had experience as a Leader in a Call Center. When I explained my last blog to her she said that most people in a call center have buttons on their computers that give an automatic response. For example with the touch of a button you can say …

  1. Thank you for your patience…
  2. Please wait one moment.
  3. I’m sorry for the delay.
  4. I’ll be right with you.
  5. I apologize for the delay.
  6. I am still looking into this for you.
  7. One moment please.
  8. Thank you for waiting.

Which are the responses I received as I sat frustrated waiting for the service rep to handle my problem. The problem was that she was working on 5 other customer problems … at the same time!

And then I had to look at myself and ask “How many times have I responded to another person in the same manner because I wasn’t engaged in the conversation?”

And You … ?

When it comes to your customers, your people, your kids, your spouse? Are you an auto responder? Do you try to handle 5 things at once when what you really need to be looking your employee in the eye and hearing them? Do you already predict  what your customer is going to say, so you plan your response while they are still talking?

Here’s a thought … KNOCK IT OFF, CUT IT OUT, STOP!!!!!

Here’s one more thought … You are not a machine and either are the people you interact with … next chance you get to interact with another person really listen with your full undivided attention and see what happens!! You might be surprised!

Do You Really Hear Your Customers?

Below is an actual transcript of a chat between between myself and a customer representative from a large online retailer (the name was changed because this isn’t about bashing a company it’s about learning from someone else’s mistakes).

The issue was that I needed  a projector that ordered for a presentation and there was a discrepancy between the ship date on my initial order and the actual ship date I received in a follow up email which stated that my order was on hold pending an examination by their Address Verification Team along with an apology for the delay!

So I asked for expedited shipping (at the expense of the retailer) and was offered a certificate for more money than the additional cost of the expedited shipping … and of course multiple apologies … and a response “we can’t change an order once it is placed” … here’s the chat:

Susie: Thank you for contacting Live Chat Support. How may I help you?

Joe Contrera: I placed this order on 12/31/2010 it is now 1/3/2011 and you are just processing it? What is the problem???????

Susie: Sorry to hear about that.

Susie: Let me look up your order real quick.

Susie: Please wait one moment.

Susie: Thank you for your patience…

Susie: Joe, your order is in the fulfillment process and is expected to ship on 01/04/11.

Joe: Like I said the order was placed on 12/31 it says ships within 1 business day I understand the holiday but tomorrow is not January 2nd it’s the 4th. I paid for extra shipping, I ordered it from even though you weren’t the least expensive but because you have a great reputation. I need the projector … how would you like to resolve this issue?

Susie: I’m sorry for the delay. I’ll be right with you.

Susie: I apologize for the delay.  I am still looking into this for you.  One moment please.

Susie: Thank you for your patience…

Susie: I apologize for the inconvenienced.

Susie: Joe, your order was placed on 12/31/10

Susie: however we do not process orders during week ends and holidays.

Susie: You order started to process today 01/03/11.

Joe: Susie, why didn’t it say that when I ordered it instead of shipping in one day? What I would like is that you upgrade to the next level of shipping, however I would like for you guys to pick up the difference it’s probably 10 bucks or so I think that is fair … don’t you?

Susie: Thank you for waiting. I’ll be with you in just a moment.

Susie: I apologize for the delay.  I am still looking into this for you.  One moment please.

Susie: I understand where you are coming form sir. Unfortunately we will not be able to upgrade the shipping.

Susie: But

Susie: due to the inconvenienced you have experinced,

Susie: I will give you a $20 gift certificate

Susie: which you can use on your

Susie: next purchase to

Susie: This will be sent to your email.

Susie: Once again I apologize for the inconvenience.

Susie: I have not received a message from you. Do you wish to continue the chat session?

Joe: Susie I appreciate the certificate, it doesn’t make sense to me that you would give me more money than it costs to upgrade the shipping when I said I needed the projector? I appreciate it, I also appreciate the apologies, and yet I still didn’t get what I asked for …

Susie: The reason we cannot upgrade the shipping is because we cannot modify an order once it is placed.

Susie: I really apologize sir.

Joe: Thank you and have a nice day …

Susie: It was a pleasure chatting with you today.  Good-bye.


1. Do you really listen to what your customer NEEDS?

2. When your customer has a need and speaks it, do you offer a solution that satisfies THEIR NEED need or do you give them something that satisfies YOUR’S?

3. Do you apologize time and time again, keep your customer waiting, and in the end leave them dissatisfied?

In the end, I will borrow a projector from a colleague for my presentation, I will complete their survey and tell them how dissatisfied I was with my experience and … they will probably send me another gift certificate … that I will never use because I won’t do business with them again.