Sunday, August 27, 2006

Make the Sale--Then Zip the Lip

During my five years as Vice President for Development of Columbia College in Columbia, South Carolina, I became acquainted with Joe Pinner, who was a beloved TV personality with Columbia's WIS-TV. Joe served as a charter member of the college's Board of Visitors, and we established a lasting friendship.

Not only did Joe maintain a long,distinguished media career--with the same station, which is unique in his business--he used his regional fame to support many humanitarian causes. His honors and volunteer record gave him great credibility among his viewers and other admirers.

As I said, Joe and I have kept in touch. In response to my recent blog about sales expert George Harned of Office Depot, Joe shared this gem from his experience:

I have mentioned to you about the time as WIS-TV's Mr. Knozit, Walt Disney World had invited me to Florida to be their guest for what I recall was their 10th Anniversary. I presented my case to the General Sales Manager asking for the permission I doubted would come, as the station usually did not allow such things. I must have been initially convincing about my going by suggesting taping segments for my children's show because when I finished, he simply said "O.K, sounds good"!

Taken aback, I then began to embellish what I could do while on this free junket when he abruptly interrupted me and quietly said, "You would NEVER be a good salesman!" Well, as you can imagine, my enthusiasm was immediately quelled and I rather meekly asked why and he simply said "If you keep going on talking , you might just talk yourself out of going. When I said 'O.K., sounds good', you should have said 'thank you very much' , turned on your heels and left! The same thing goes when a client signs the contract, say 'thank you very much' , turn on your heels and get the hell outta there!"

You're right, Joe. When you have made the sale, zip your lip.

For additional information about communication, customer service and sales, visit my Web site:

Monday, August 21, 2006

High-Ranking Sales Leader Shares His Formula

For almost eight years, George Harned has been my "point man" at Office Depot. Whether I was buying a camera, printer, computer, or DVD burner, George helped me get exactly the right fit. Patiently, he answered my questions and helped me meet my needs economically.

In recent conversations, I learned that George earned a terrific honor. Out of 43,000 Office Depot sales personnel, he ranked 29th. Obviously, he has a sales formula that works well, not just with me but with thousands of other customers. You'll be glad to know that George accepted my invitation to describe his sales strategy for my blog readers. Here's what he wrote, in his exact words:


1. THE APPROACH.....It is very important that first contact with a customer is preformed correctly. Your appearance says a lot about you. Is your hair well kept? Clothes clean and pressed. Tattoos if any, covered up...If not you are screaming to the prospect "I'm incompetent." If a customer walks into my domain and I am busy with someone else I let the prospect know I see them...a nod of the head or a wave of the hand to let them know I think they are important and they will be served as soon as possible....I usually approach the customer...making eye contact and say "Hi, I'm George your computer guru." This sets up the tone of the sale...I'm not going to be pushy nor am I going to ask them if they want fries with that.

2. FACT FIND.....Ask questions...90% of the sale is listening...what do you want the product to do for you...what is your budget...what is the level of your knowledge of the product...this is their talking time....customers love to talk about themselves.

3. IDENTIFY NEEDS....After the fact find...repeat back to the customer what they have told you--the things they desire.. This shows them that you are paying attention and really want to help.

4. MEET THE NEEDS OR THE PRESENTATION.....This is your time to talk...present the product that meets the needs of the customer...this is the time to overcome objections....and set up the close.

5. AFTO.....Ask For The Order...If you have executed the 4 steps above to perfection and don't AFTO...then all is lost...thousand of books have been written on this one aspect...because if you don't do it right you are sending the prospect to another place and to a better salesman.

6. ASK FOR REFERRALS...OK you have closed the sale...but it is not over...YOU MUST ask for referrals and give your new friend at least three of your business cards...I can't count the number of times a new prospect comes in with one of my cards.

GOOD LUCK....Remember...Good salesmen are not born...they are all you can on the subject...I have.

Thanks, George, for this superb advice, and for your ongoing superlative service.

A closing note. With Radio Shack, a former employer, George directed training seminars around the nation. When you read his "Six Steps," you can see why Radio Shack selected him to train others.

To read a description of my speech/seminar titled "Championship Selling," use this link:

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Mike Stewart--Most Versatile Man I Know

Ten years ago, shortly after I had started Championship Communication, a friendly fellow walked up to me after a meeting of the Georgia Speakers Association. After introducing himself as Mike Stewart, he asked: "Do you need any help developing your Web site?"

"No,thanks," I answered, "because mine is OK just like it is."

Politely, he said: "Well, call me if you ever need my services."

Within a few months, I had compared my fledgling Web site with sites displayed by other professional speakers. Soon I knew that my site lacked the professional touch theirs had. So I called Mike, and we initiated a magnificent working partnership, and a genuine friendship as well.

A decade later, Mike and his capable assistant Sarah continue to enrich my site, far beyond the basic framework I was foolishly satisfied with at first. Take a look:

Meanwhile, Mike Stewart has become the most versatile man I know. He was one of the first masters of audio for the Web, and rightly took the moniker, "The Internet Audio Guy," featured on this site: and this one:

More recently, Mike moved into video production, assuming another name, "The Internet Video Guy." Check the site: As a video expert, Mike trains other professionals to produce videos, both for marketing and instruction.

He directs audio, video and marketing seminars around the United States, and in England and Australia.

Yet Mike's skills are not confined to technology. He's a master musician, composing music that sells quite well on the Internet. Recently he recorded his first Jazz CD. And for years he has played in a band. How did one person get so much talent?

The photo above shows Mike where I have seen him many times--at the computer in my office, instructing me patiently and installing new programs.

How glad I am that Mike moved to his new lake home, just a few miles from my Gainesville, Georgia office.

But remember. . .because of the Internet, we have become the "global village" Marshall McLuhan predicted thirty-five years ago. So contact Mike, wherever you live. You'll benefit greatly, just as I have.

And you'll find that Mike is a heckuva nice guy.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Selling and Serving the Mary Kay Way

Lynn Janke is smiling because she is sitting behind the wheel of the second car she won as a Mary Kay Cosmetics sales leader--in just four years, while she was holding another full-time job, and moving up the ranks rapidly there, too!

Lynn became a top-level sales person and sales manager for several reasons.

First, she maintained a dedication to learning. In fact, I met Lynn when I was doing a book signing for The Complete Communicator: Change Your Communication, Change Your Life! I remember vividly that this was around 9:00 p.m., and she was still looking for books that would upgrade her knowledge and skills.

Second, she became highly assertive. To find new representatives, she would stop highly professional women in shopping malls and describe the benefits of affiliating with Mary Kay Cosmetics. As you can guess, that takes not only a venturesome spirit, but a communication style that wins people over quickly.

Third, Lynn displayed a love for her product. Her enthusiasm, bordering on an evangelistic style, was genuine.

Fourth, she identified many ways to keep in touch with clients creatively, using the Internet, telephone, and personal cards as well as face-to-face conversations.

Fifth, Lynn gave thank-you gifts to buyers.

Sixth, she managed her time wisely to balance two careers and keep her life balanced.

Seventh, she became an accomplished speaker, eventually teaching a communication course for Mary Kay representatives.

It's clear that Lynn Janke has offered a fine formula for selling and for serving clients.

Here's a book I recommend: Jim Underwood, More Than a Pink Cadillac: Mary Kay Inc.'s 9 Leadership Keys to Success. You will enjoy the story behind Mary Kay Ash's rise to the top. My favorite saying of hers: "Everybody you see today wears an invisible sign that says, 'Make me feel important.'"

To order my audio CD, "How to Succeed in Sales!" go to:

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Radio DJ Endures a "Mark Twain Moment"

My monthly newsletter--"Winning Words and Ways"--included an article about Mark Twain, describing an embarrassing experience he suffered through during one of his first appearances as a professional lecturer. When he stood up, his mind went blank. For two minutes, he faced the audience without uttering a word. Eventually, he started talking. As history shows, he became one of the most successful and popular lecturers ever.

The point I made with the illustration was that none of us should try to be perfect, because even the best presenters have their off days, yet recover and keep improving.

Bill Platt, who syndicates my articles through his excellent company,The Phantom Writers,responded by recounting a similar mishap with an audience:

Many years ago, I used to be a d.j. at a radio station, back in 1999. I did pretty good at that.

While I was working at the station, a friend of mine tapped me to emcee a fund-raising concert. I had a lot of reservations about doing it, but finally agreed after much prodding.

It went really well until... I announced the band and the curtain did not open. My friend poked his head through the curtain and told me they were having technical problems. He told me to keep talking for about ten minutes.

I was stunned and unprepared. I had a Mark Twain moment. I stood and stared at the audience for about three minutes... Although it felt like an eternity. It was a true "deer in the headlights" moment for me.

Then I proceeded to stutter and mutter for twenty minutes waiting for the band to get their stuff together.

I knew half of the people in the audience, so it was much worse for me.

I did not give in again to public speaking until last year, when I did a telephone interview with a mlm company online. Ironically, they had scheduled me for 45 minutes, and they forced a stop at an hour and a half. I enjoyed it.

I know that I definitely have public speaking in my future again. AND most importantly, your article today has given me the boost I need to overcome my "deer in the headlights" fear.

NOTE: Visit Bill Platt's Web site:

To read my articles about improving your communication skills, go to:

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Orthodontist Followed Great Communication Principles

Recently I had the privilege of renewing acquaintance with a
friend from my hometown, Columbia, Mississippi. His name:
Jim Woods, DDS.

Now living in Clemson, South Carolina, Jim can look back
with pride on an outstanding career as an orthodontist in
our home state. Outside of his office, he dedicated himself
to his wife Joan and their four children, and to extensive volunteer work with the YMCA.

Sure, during our lunch reunion we talked about friends we both knew growing up.We talked, too, about the central role that communication plays in professional success. I asked Jim, "What were the main communication strategies that you used with your staff, your patients and the parents of patients?" One week later he answered:

"I have thought over your kind request (with the input of former staff) and here are some important communication strategies that were used as I dealt with staff, patients, and parents":

1. In all things that you say or do: Be truthful, fair, and kind
2. Technology should never be substituted for personal contact.
3. Listen carefully and take notes as needed.
4. Write (by hand) notes of thanks and congratulations when warranted.
5. Attempt to live and work by The Golden Rule.

Dr. Woods added: "If I had to rate the most important of these, it would have to be numbers 1 and 5."

Having read these communication guidelines, we can readily see why Jim Woods has excelled in his profession and in life.

For more tips about powerful communication, visit my Web site:

Who Is That Mysterious tlhh?


Have you gotten a letter from me that carried these initials in the
lower left corner?


If so, you may have wondered who tlhh, my
assistant, is. I am proud to introduce her to you.

Her name is Terrie Hoopaugh. Terrie lives in Oakwood, Georgia,
near Gainesville, my location. I started using Terrie's highly
professional executive services ten years ago. Not only is
her productivity prompt and accurate, she fulfills her
assignments with the bright smile you see in her photo--every time.

Terrie has carried out some mundane, routine work for me.
An example: typing the names and E-mail addresses of my
newsletter subscribers onto a spread sheet. Yet she has
demonstrated her skills at much higher levels, such as
evaluating the letters I draft, and making creative
suggestions for improvement.

When I asked Terrie what motivates her to deliver outstanding
work and maintain such a highly positive disposition, she answered: "My two daughters will be in the work force one day. I
want to give them an example of what it takes to
succeed--dedication, training, and loyalty. If they
see me practice those principles, that's worth more
than anything I can tell them."

Clearly, Terrie Hoopaugh represents thousands of
virtual assistants who enable entrepreneurs like me
to establish a thriving business, and make more
progress every year. I thank her for her vital
contributions to Championship Communication.

For more tips about powerful communication, visit my Web site: