Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

The Importance of 10 Second Mission Statements and Showering Before You Go to the Gym

September 26, 2010

Earlier this year I requested that all of Randolph Sterling’s team members commit our mission statement to memory:

Randolph Sterling, Inc. is a sales solutions company whose main goal is to assist growth oriented clients improve their overall sales and sales process through management services, process development/improvement, inside sales, and sales peer advisory groups.

Ultimately, we would like to change the perception of salespeople by the public by always promoting solution based conversations and continued learning.

Here is why:

I went to Virginia Beach over one weekend during the Spring. On Sunday morning I rolled out of bed, hair all messed up, unshaven and unshowered, and decided to get a quick workout in before getting ready for the day. Usually, when I travel and work out in hotel gyms the place is empty, so I didn’t think anything about it.

This time, of course, was different.  As I walked in, a woman was walking out to get some wipes to clean off a treadmill and just wanted me to know that she was coming right back (I think she didn’t want me to take her Sunday paper). She mentioned that she travels a lot for work so I asked what she does…turned out she is a director of sales for an accounts receivables management firm in the transportation industry. She asked what I do and I gave her a variation of our mission statement. When I told her, she replied that she was so buried in client meetings that she never has time to develop new prospect relationships and that she definitely needed our services. I ran back up to my room to get a card after she requested one.

Twenty minutes later we were having a business meeting while I was on the StairMaster and she was on a treadmill. When she finished up, I asked when I could get a proposal out to her for us to assist her. She gave me not just her card, but also the card of a colleague of hers who is redoing her company’s website. She mentioned that I should reach out to him as there might be some opportunities for the two of us to work together as well.

This is a testimonial to why having a quick 10 second rundown of who you are and what you do can lead to profitable results…also, it shows why you should always shower before working out! 🙂

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!

On The Road Again…From Chicago to Raleigh to DC to perhaps Detroit and Kuala Lumpur

February 17, 2010

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. After some time back at the Chicago office, was back on the road again. It kind of made me feel a little like Willie Nelson, who made the song “On the Road Again” famous, talking about his travels around the world, and also because I had been so busy that I hadn’t had time to get a haircut I felt like I was starting to look a little like him!

So to start this trip it was off to Washington, DC to check on some opportunities there, then this week and next week, back to Raleigh to run our three SAM Groups, meet with two of our newer clients, and meet with 10 additional prospects. Then it is back to Chicago to develop a sales strategy for a new client in Alsip, IL. We are also working on potential projects in Detroit and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia…does anyone know the temperature in Malaysia this time of year? It sounds like a good opportunity with a client, but if I’m going to be on a flight that long, there better be some nice weather at the other end of the trip!

I have been so happy with the growth of the company. When we first started out (April will be our 7th anniversary) I had hoped that we could change the way salespeople were perceived and we could make an impact in many company’s top and bottom lines. I got excited when we got our first client outside of the city of Chicago…and that company was about 5 minutes outside of Chicago in Evanston! To think that we are able to help clients from coast to coast and internationally sometimes just blows my mind!

So yes, I am on the road again. Sometimes I feel a little like George Clooney’s character in the movie “Up In The Air,” Ryan Bingham, who spends most of his life traveling the country. Luckily, I get to help companies grow and hopefully add more salespeople while his role was to come in and fire them. Still, as a guy who really is a homebody and likes the routine and balance of a “regular” schedule—work, dinner, the gym, friends/family, softball in the spring and fall, basketball in the winter—travel is sometimes difficult.  It is not, however, something I feel I will be doing forever. Yes, I did receive my American Airlines Platinum Card in the mail a couple of months ago and do appreciate the perks of getting on the plane first, the exit row, occasionally a first class upgrade, and of course, the shortest line going through security at O’Hare Airport (and whatever additional perks American Airlines would like to bestow upon my by mentioning them here).  But I would love to use those extra miles to go away on a vacation someplace warm, away from the foot of snow in Chicago. I guess I will have to learn more about Malaysia…or maybe just my own back yard!

What’s Best About North Carolina

September 30, 2009

In a recent post I shared some of the reason why I felt The Triangle would be the perfect home for Randolph Sterling’s newest branch, and thought I’d give you the opportunity to tell me what you like best about NC!

Where Have You Gone, Customer Service? Our Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes to You.

September 30, 2009

Paraphrasing a famous Simon and Garfunkel tune aside, I really would like to know where good customer service has gone?

We spend so much time trying to find new and innovative ways to find new customers, from coupons to rewards programs to tweeting on Twitter (which still makes me feel like a fell into a cartoon and somehow am going to have a puddy tat chasing me!) to updating websites to yes, even blogs like this one here, but it seems that we are losing the basic fundamentals that show us it is easier to keep a loyal customer than to find a new one. I had a few occurrences of this a recent week’s trip to our Raleigh, NC office.

I am a frequent flier on American Airlines. Not because they have the best customer service in the world (they are OK; personally what I think is wrong with the airline industry is a story among itself) but because they fly to most of the places I do so I can at least rack up enough frequent flier miles to be able to insure my bag makes it on the same plane I do and I have a shot at an exit row seat. On this particular occasion, my travel agent waited too long to book my trip, so they put me on a United flight instead because they could no longer get me the agreed upon price on American. That was strike one.

Strike two came when I started to deal with the wonderful customer service at United. First, it was the cattle call they call boarding the plane. I was in group 3 so I am somewhat patiently waiting as they start to board the flight. They call for first class passengers first followed by group 1. Half of the people at the gate get up and start storming the doorway to get in. Person after person walking past me with big 4’s and 5’s stamped on their tickets, however the gate agent is just checking in one after the other. What happened to following the rules? Wouldn’t a gate agent following the rules have made this a more efficient boarding process?

Next, I actually get on the flight. Because of the tardiness in which my travel agent booked the flight, I have the very enviable middle seat. No really, if you want a really good workout, sit in the middle seat between two people who think it is their right to own the arm rests. It is especially fun when you use this time to write blog articles, I can assure you. I did notice, however, that while we are all packed like sardines back here, there are several seats open in the exit rows and forward. I’m thinking—great, if they are open, I will just move up there and give these rejects from the old Stallone movie “Over The Top” all the room they need. A gentleman sitting behind me who was in the same situation thought the same thing, so he asked the flight attendant if it was OK to move. Her response? “No sir, you may not move there. Those are economy plus seats and are reserved for our customers who are willing to pay more for comfort.”

Are you kidding me? First of all, way to insult us by implying that we are too cheap to fork over an additional $35 to not have the guy in front of us sitting in our lap, but why wouldn’t you want to move someone into that seat? The door was closed so he wouldn’t have been taking anyone else’s seat and maybe he would have enjoyed the additional legroom and would have asked for economy plus in the future. What would it have hurt?

Sadly, however, that was not the most ridiculous part of my trip. That came as I attempted to rent a car. I am a corporate customer and a Blue Chip member with Thrifty Car Rental, however the last three times I have tried to rent from Thrifty they did not have any cars. A rental car company that has no cars? At the airport no less? That is like going to a beach, walking into a seafood restaurant and them telling you that they don’t have any seafood left. Each time this happened I tried to talk to someone in customer service and each time I was simply told there was nothing they could do to help me. Too bad buddy, you are out of luck, we just don’t have cars. I guess you had better walk.

My Raleigh office is not too far from the airport, nor is the Chicago office too far from O’Hare, but not exactly walking distance. Maybe I should take up running. If I get really good, I can run from Chicago to Raleigh and won’t have to deal with the airlines or the car rental guys again.

Please feel free to share your own travel  nightmares below or take our poll on the worst parts of traveling.