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One great benefit of being in the training field is that I come in contact with many successful business owners and managers. Some of their stories are truly remarkable. To reach the levels of both sales volume and longevity that their firms have attained, they have obviously done a great deal of things well in their history.

In many flooring businesses, it seems that sales personnel are too often operating without knowing where the “goal line” is. Imagine a football player who is running with the ball down the side line not knowing how far he has to advance to score a touchdown. As he runs by the coach he might hear “run as far as you can” or simply “keep going. I’ll let you know when you get there”. Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? How is this player supposed to stay motivated when he doesn’t know what his target is?

There is a saying “if written directions alone would suffice, the library wouldn’t need to have the rest of the school attached”. This should serve as a clear reminder to all in management who are guilty of directing novice staff members with comments such as “it’s in your manual” or “the information is online”. While this may be true, I believe it also to be ineffectual.

There is a saying that one should “never confuse activity with results”. We all know someone who is just “busy, busy, busy” all day long, but at the end of the day they never seem to have gotten much accomplished. As I often say, “they were majoring in minors”. If the saying “perfect practice makes perfect” is true, I believe there should also be a similar saying stating “positive activity produces positive results”.

When my daughter was young, my wife insisted that she eat at least three bites of everything that she was served for dinner. She did this partially out of principle, but largely to ensure that she was getting a balanced diet. I particularly remember one night when she finally ate three spoonfuls of by then cold peas, long after the rest of us had left the table.

One of the perils of traveling frequently is that you are constantly exposed to others who can make you sick. They won’t infect you in the typical way with their germs, but rather with their bad attitudes. If you spend much time at airports, hotels and restaurants you will be exposed to enough indifference, phony smiles, self-centered behavior and downright rudeness to put even the most positive attitude at risk.

As I write this on the Tenth Anniversary of the 9/11 tragedies, it seems impossible not to feel patriotic. How sad is it that most of us are moved to feel this way only when reminded of one horrific Tuesday morning. Why can’t we show the unity and patriotism that was exhibited in the days and weeks after the crashes on a typical Tuesday?

Common thought is that as much as 80% of initial impressions are formed by non-verbal communications. With this thought in mind, I am constantly amazed by how many sales personnel make their chances of success needlessly compromised. Poor grooming, soiled or ill-fitting clothing, less than fresh breath, facial hair and cheap cologne are but a few of the turnoffs that customers judge us by before we ever open our mouths.

For years we have believed that the written word typically takes priority over the spoken word. It was presumed that published information had been subjected to some form of review and editing process. I am beginning to doubt the validity of this premise today.

While viewing the CNBC program “Titans” featuring Southwest Airlines Chairman Emeritus Herb Kelleher recently, I heard a quote that should be adopted as a mission statement for all service based businesses. He stated “Think small and act small and we will get bigger. Think big and act big and we will get smaller.”
Wow! Think of all the “little things” that every member of your staff can do which individually may not seem to have much measure, but when done collectively can move the ball downfield at a greater pace.