Archive for the ‘Chicago’ Category

Panera Fun

June 10, 2010

Everyone who know me, knows I am a huge fan of Panera. Those who are friends with me on Facebook also know that there has been much discussion recently about how crazy people always seem to find me, especially when I’m at places such as Panera, Corner Bakery, and various airports. Some of my friends suggested I compile my misadventures into a book. However, since work occupies much of my time, and my blogs, a second addition to Closing the Deal, and an idea I have for a book on improving one’s sales force are slightly higher writing-priorities for me right now, I thought I would put together a blog post containing this month’s highlights. (Also, please note I mean no offense to the businesses these events take place at. If it weren’t for them I’d have nowhere to stop while on the road for free Wi-Fi, some good coffee, breakfast, and a show).

May 4

I’m in a Panera Bread checking email—surprise, surprise–when I walk over to refill my iced tea. A guy is standing by the cups where there is a sign that says “Complimentary Water Cups.” He turns to me and says “They haven’t said a damn thing to me. They must be broken” Can’t make this stuff up!

Top of Form

May 6

Yesterday I had lunch at a Mexican place…not realizing it was Cinco de Mayo. The bartender was complaining…”Why do so many people come to Mexican restaurants on Cinco de Mayo. People don’t go to French restaurants on Bastille Day!”

May 10

Panera Bread is the greatest place to go for comedy. In today’s installment, I’m eating lunch and sitting at a table next to three women while I’m checking my email. One of them says to the other something about her brother “you know, the smart one. The one that’s in jail.” Um, the SMART one is in jail? Where, exactly is the dumb one?

May 14

Another “crazy people in coffee shops.” Breakfast at Corner Bakery. A woman was doing surveys on the French Toast I got, so I jokingly asked “so what do I get?” 10 minutes of who knows what she was saying and then she walked away…comes back a minute later and says “they wouldn’t let me give you a &^%$ing cookie. They won’t even give me a damn cup of coffee!” Trust me, you don’t need any more caffeine in your system!

May 23-26 (Airports)

While waiting to board my flight the other day the guy next to me cleared his throat every 45 seconds. Don’t think it’s annoying? Try it for 5 minutes!

Where has customer service gone? Last week the gate agent was mad at me because her machine couldn’t read my ticket. Sorry you had to key in my seat number, must have been a huge challenge.

More crazy people. Lady started in the aisle seat, moved to the window, then the middle—it’s only a two hour flight; you weren’t flying to Guam!

June 1

More Panera fun…lady on the phone while her pager keeps buzzing and she does nothing. An annoyed guy grabs it and says “Hey Galileo, I didn’t realize the universe revolved around YOU, not the sun!” After a good zinger, I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it was Copernicus who stated that the Earth revolved around the sun.

Spring, Baseball, and Sales

May 23, 2010

It looks as though spring may have finally sprung in Chicago after a long wait. Of course, I was playing softball last Monday night and we were still factoring in a wind chill. At least it should be warmer in Raleigh, where daytime highs are already hitting 90. Thinking about our softball team (which hopefully any day now will start playing to its potential) always reminds me of how glad I am that I started playing baseball as a kid, as it has been a great help for a career in sales. Other than weatherman, professional ball player, and salesperson, what professions are there where you can you fail 70% of the time and be considered the best in the business? I certainly don’t want a brain surgeon who has those success rates…heck, I don’t want a chef with those success rates!  Every call you make, just like every at bat in a game, the law of averages shows will not be successful. In both the baseball and the sales profession, if you go in thinking this time will probably be one of the 70% that does not work out, I am pretty sure you will be correct.

So what is it that both of these professions have in common cause people to keep doing them, other than the potential to make a lot of money? First and foremost, it is a positive attitude, the belief that you will succeed. I was watching Bull Durham for probably the 100th time over the weekend. In one of the last scenes, young phenom “Nuke” LaLoosh has just gotten called up to the majors and he is in the locker room preparing to leave as his mentor “Crash” Davis walks in. (Now that I think about it, maybe that is what the sales industry needs, more nicknames!) Davis tells him that while he might not be successful when he first gets to “The Show,” the key to his success is “fear and arrogance.” What he means is that he has to know in his heart that he is good—better than his competition no matter if he just struck the last guy out or he hit a home run. It is the same thing in sales. The last guy may not have needed your product or service, heck, he may have even hung up on you, but the next call is a new opportunity to show what you have to the right person. Go get ‘em!

Chasing the Sun

March 24, 2010

I have learned to get used to my travel schedule, which usually entails leaving on a Thursday morning before the sun rises and leaving late in the day the following Tuesday or Wednesday to return back to the Chicago office. There is something about chasing the sunset home after a week on the road that just gives you a different perspective on things. It lets me be a poet, a little.

No, you will not see me writing poetry anytime soon. I have never gotten the true appreciation of poetry since an English literature class I took in college where I felt I did less interpreting the inner meaning of the poem and more trying to translate iambic pentameter into prose so I knew what the heck this guy was trying to say. I did, however, find an appreciation of the poet himself who took a completely different approach to telling a story. It is that view that I get to enjoy when I am spending an hour and a half watching the sunset from Raleigh, DC, New Jersey, or Atlanta over to Chicago.

Much of my day is spent running. I’m meeting with clients, usually 2 or 3 a day, where I am helping a plumbing company develop sales process one hour then driving to an accounting firm next to help them determine their own unique selling proposition. On the drive there, I am usually talking to our inside sales manager about the projects we are working on, with our SAM Group membership coordinator about our latest meeting, or listening to a book on CD to see if I can pick up some additional insight for a client. I love every minute of it, but sometimes it is nice to just look out the window and watch the sunset, letting my mind wander to endless possibilities.

Truth be known, after all of the reading and talking, it is usually the time I’m on the plane, taking the different perspective of the poet, that the new ideas come. Over the last few years, my role with the company has changed from being the guy who brought in all of the projects and did all of the work, to the person who “steers the ship” as we have grown from a small “one man band” to the company with procedures, infrastructure, and many people, even through the most difficult economic time in recent memory. With that change over the years, my ideas have become as valuable as my ability to delegate, and that time away from the phone, email, and clients has become the most valuable time of my week.

I still don’t know what Shakespeare was saying half of the time, though!