Have the War Now, the Peace Later

My first lesson in business development came in 1977 in Flushing, Queens. I’d just graduated from college and began working for Met Life. I was assigned to a sales manager who changed my life in days. He could terrorize or motivate in seconds, make me scream with laughter or scream with rage almost at will. Yet what he actually instilled in me was his thirty years of life experiences all in one year.

We fought like crazy but most of what I teach today came from our real world selling situations and his deep understanding of people and how to reach them.  From that, I determined that when working with clients, it’s important that you allow the war first before you get to the peace.

Understand the Obstacles

What he meant was understanding ALL the obstacles you’ll face to close a client as soon as you can. He instilled in me the art of listening and calmly determining the barriers to close in a relational climate. He further demanded I uncover these within minutes of each meeting.

For example, listed below are a series of questions you can ask to find out what war you’ll need to resolve:

  1. What‘s mission critical to you and your business going into the new year?
  2. What challenges/headwinds will there be that can slow down this process?
  3. What’s been working with your current provider/consultant?
  4. What would you strengthen if you could?
  5. What’s your perception of our organization?
  6. How do you and your team like to collaborate with firms like mine?

Establish Empathy and Urgency

What is most mission critical is establishing a climate of empathy and urgency. These two behaviors are not necessarily immediate bedfellows. The empathy must come first. It must be genuine. The urgency comes from staying with the challenges your client shares long enough for them to accept them and declare their desire to get rid of them…pronto! As I’ve written…you have to stay in the pain.


What war is your client fighting? How are you helping? – sg

Developing The Diva

By this time of the year, as a leader you, should have a firm grasp on your team’s production and capabilities.

You’ve studied your team and know who your “A” Players, “B” Players and “C” Players are. But then you discover that you have a rogue “A” Player, who is in a “start-of-the-year” slump. What’s your plan for this “Diva?”

A Diva Won’t Ask for Help…Until It’s Too Late

Having a top performer is, of course, a good thing. But having someone who does things their own way, disregarding process and diluting your value proposition for the sale, can eventually cause this superstar to falter.  The person is your most competitive and most independent “A” Player. And they know they are failing recently. Likely, they want, but may not ask for, help.

The issue now is how to get inside their head and establish a path to success WITH them, since they’ve not created it themselves. This is a fundamental challenge of a leader. It forces you to be creative, humble and persistent as a coach. Actually, it’s part of your job as a leader.

Many leaders orphan this Diva believing they’ll figure it out on their own. They won’t.
Unless you rattle their cage in relational way, it will be June and the balance of their year will be just as dormant as the first half you’ve just lived through.

Jump a Level, Change the Climate

Albert Einstein once said; “In order to solve a problem you have to jump a level to solve it”.

In order to reach your Diva you too must jump a level in your approach. I’ve often coached leaders to be persistent yet likable. Your Diva must think they are driving the process…not you.

To succeed at this, you need to change the climate in which you develop your Diva.

Rather than going to their production numbers or pipeline, it’s better to take it slow and begin with forging a climate of curiosity and empathy.

Try asking these questions:

  • How are you feeling about this year given your great success last year?
  • What’s important to you this year?
  • What made last year so successful?
  • What are you proudest of?
  • What areas would you strengthen even more to replicate last year?
  • How should this year run given what you declared you’d produce?
  • What inertia are you encountering now?

These questions put your Diva into the driver’s seat, heck, that’s the only way they’d hear you anyway.

Try it and let me know.

Using Video for Training

Let’s go to the video tape!  Those of you in New York will recall this famous, often-used line by long time sportscaster Warner Wolf. I realize most of my clients would prefer to be chased by a wolf than be videotaped.
However, I must say that after 25 years of videotaping and coaching executives there is no medium like it!

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