sales advice

My near mid-air collision

The air traffic controller with the thick New York accent told me to turn 30 degrees to the left and climb 1000′ due to glider activity in the area. My iPad showed some traffic and my head was on a swivel keeping an eye out. Relief! I spotted the traffic 2000′ below and a mile to the north. I’d never seen a glider from my plane before and it was mesmerizing watching the long wings – it looked like a completely white dragonfly doing pirouettes.

At that moment, out of the corner of my eye, at 7500′, I saw a plane coming from the right, coming in fast.

I never had visions of becoming a pilot like some people. I think if someone had suggested it to me I would’ve thought that I didn’t have the smarts, the skills, or the money for such a thing. But in the course of doing business, I became very good friends with two customers who were both pilots.

Pilots like to talk a lot. About flying. That’s it. Oh And beer. When I was visiting with Rick and Larry they’d tell me stories of flying through the clouds in west Texas or making trips to the Caribbean. Larry had a fondness for landing on grass and Rick had a thing for Cardinals….a type of single engine Cessna.

Hanging with these guys inspired me to take exactly one single lesson. I went up in a Piper Tomahawk for my first time and found that while it was exhilarating, it felt like it was the scariest thing I’d ever done.

Here’s a secret: if you take a flying lesson, the instructor will let you fly the plane. And even though the instructor was sitting next to me, I felt a little like Lewis or Clark, traveling to places almost no one has seen before.

Air traffic control had also asked another plane to make a course change and change altitudes due to the glider activity. At that moment , the glider came from the right and went right over my plane. I guess that it was less than 100′ above my plane. My pulse quickened, I started to sweat. What WAS that?!?!?? I called over to the controller to let him know a glider just flew over me and ask if he saw it on his radar. He said no. The chatter that was previously on the frequency all but stopped when the other pilots heard my voice.

Becoming a pilot in your thirties has some advantages…most being the ability to remain calm. I didn’t get hit by the plane, I didn’t make a mess in my pants, I was still alive. I asked to climb higher even though that doesn’t make it any safer and immediately got cleared to do so.

The remainder of my trip was so uneventful, I had felt like it was just a dream.

When I got home, I called the air park where the gliders were based. I talked to the owner of the glider company for about an hour and he told me that they try to avoid powered planes at all costs, but that sometimes these things happen. He relayed a story to me about how he had taken a representative from the FAA up in a glider because they were considering changes to the routes commercial planes were taking in the vicinity. On that flight, both he and the FAA rep had their closest call ever with another plane.

Flying can be dangerous. Is it more dangerous than driving? Obviously you have a better chance at surviving a collision in a car, but driving kills 100 people every day….about 35,000 per year according to the NHTSA.

Is it worth the risk to experience the magic of flight?  Up to you to decide….let me know after you take your first flying lesson.

sales advice

To Sell More….Talk Less

Almost every sales person I’ve ever met talks a lot. I don’t just mean a lot, I mean they talk too much.

In sales, the customer wants to be the focus of the deal. The customer wants to be the focus of the conversation. The customer wants to be the focus of the relationship. When a sales person comes in and all they do is talk about themselves, it turns off the buyer. BECAUSE, it’s not about you! It’s about them!

Think about your last buying experience and think about a sales pro that really made you feel good about yourself. Was it because they told you what they had for dinner last night? Or how many countries they’ve been to? Or was it because they asked you questions and were honestly, genuinely, interested in you?

I don’t have the gift of gab. I don’t talk too much. Quite frankly, there are times when I don’t talk enough. But I’m genuinely interested in other people’s lives and experiences to where I have an easy time building and fostering relationships. It’s not because I don’t talk too much, but that helps. It’s because I want to know my customer’s likes and dislikes, cares and worries, what they do for fun, and how I can serve them.

If you want to sell more, you need to learn to talk less, listen more, and have a genuine interest in your customer’s life, goals, and company.


Why I Love America

When I was 14, my Dad asked me if I wanted to go to Washington, DC for a ceremony at the Vietnam Veteran Memorial. He told me it was a ceremony for one of his classmates.

We both wore suits to the mall on Sunday morning and ran into another suited gentleman about 30 years old, who said he was also attending the ceremony.  Then he told us that it was his father that we would be honoring today and that he never met him…he was 1 when he died in Vietnam.

My Dad, a retired Major, was able to tell this young man a few stories about this Dad that he never heard.

The gentleman, whose father died, spoke at the ceremony about how, even though he never met him, felt that he knew his father through all the anecdotes and memories his Dad’s friends told him about.  He wasn’t spiteful that his father died for his country and that he missed out; he was respectful and thankful that his father was the type of man who would defend his country.

My own father, the son of an Italian immigrant who left poverty-stricken Italy in 1914, enlisted in the US Army in 1948 as a 17-year-old high school graduate with the hopes he might be able to attend WVU on the GI Bill.

Through hard work, dedication, and some good connections he was able to obtain a spot at West Point, graduating in 1956 with future General Norman Schwarzkopf.

He had a bunch of his own adventures, traveling the world, and Korea and Vietnam in wartime and seeing speeches given by dignitaries.  He was in Louisiana on the eve of the Cuban Missile Crisis and saw John F. Kennedy speak.  He saw Dwight D. Eisenhower speak at his graduation and his own classmate, Stormin’ Norman Schwarzkopf, speak at the conclusion of the first Gulf War.

My own love for America started with these annual visits to our Capitol.  Walking the streets of DC with my ramrod-back straight father, always extremely polite and gentle to those he met.  We saw Ford’s theater and walked across the street to the house where Abraham Lincoln passed; a pivotal moment in my life where I realized Abraham Lincoln was a man, like myself, like my father, and not a fictional character who laid railroad ties.  He loved America, too.

Because we’re free to create our own way.  My grandfather, in order to become a US Citizen, enlisted and was immediately sent to Europe to fight in the trenches during the Great War.  And his wife, my grandmother, studied her tail off to become a US Citizen, too, because she saw through hard work, you can make a better life for generations to come.

I never met my grandfather, but I would thank him for taking that leap; to sail on a ship with thousands of other people, just to get to Ellis Island where you could very easily be sent back.  And then on to West Virginia, to work in the mills where jobs were plenty.

Because of my Grandparent’s, I’ve had the honor of visiting 42 of the 50 states and each and every one has its own distinctive version of American culture.

My two sons are growing up in the greatest country on earth, one where we’re free to pursue careers so diverse, you can make a living thousands of different ways.

I hope that future politicians don’t try to change America; the founders were wise beyond their years when they created the “land of the free and the home of the brave”.


Investing During This Global Pandemic

If you still have your job….keep investing. In a few years this crash will be a distant memory and our 401k’s will have stabilized and come back. Two ways to capitalize on this global nightmare are: Invest more than you normally would in an index fund through a brokerage account (that way you can always get your money) and also take time to better yourself. Currently, I’m learning piano and finding it to be extremely frustrating and relaxing at the same time. If you continue to invest in America and yourself, you will have a generous nest egg when you need it. Stay the course, my friends. – David


When my Dad got sold…

I was probably 9 or 10 years old, at the local Sears with my Mom and Dad and my parents were buying a dishwasher.

My Mom was so excited about this because, you see, we never had a dishwasher. My Mom washed all of the dishes by hand every day.

My Mom was an immigrant….my Dad was in the Army and met her in Germany in the 70s. They moved to the United States shortly before I was born with my two brothers and sister, none of whom spoke English.

Having been born during World War 2 in Germany, my Mom was not afraid of work. I don’t think any German is afraid of work (insert joke here).

But America was and is the greatest country in the world and that means a housewife in the suburbs should have a dishwasher.

If I had to guess, I’d say less than 10% of the US population does NOT have a dishwasher, but it wasn’t always like that.

My Dad grew up in a small house in Follansbee, West Virginia that didn’t have hot water. His mother had to heat water on the stove and then haul it to the bathroom and dump it in the tub. They also had to get deliveries of coal for their furnace and shovel it in the house…and then constantly feed the furnace. My wife’s grandfather had to do the same thing. We’ve definitely come a long way.

Back at Sears, the salesman came over and my Dad said, “I want this one”. It was the cheapest. The salesman said, “let me show you the differences between that one and this newer model…the newer model has a sprayer on the top drawer and this model doesn’t which means your dishes on the top won’t get as clean”. My Dad, went quiet for a second and then said, “Give me the newer model.”

Why did that scene stay so vividly in my head all these years? Was it because I didn’t expect my Dad to get sold to or did I just witness the best dishwasher salesman in the Sears organization?

I honestly think it’s because the salesman was there to help the customer make a smart decision, and not to upsell.

As sales pros our job is to show the customer how they will truly benefit from our product. At this point, almost everything is commoditized, but we do have the best product at the best value and we will make the customer the happiest. What I’m trying to say is, don’t be afraid or ashamed to sell because absolutely nothing happens until something gets sold.


Late Nights with Customers Is Lose-Lose

This is what I often hear from sales reps, “we’re drinking buddies. We got so wasted last weekend!”

They’re talking about their customers…Some of the time anyways and they’re bragging about their “epic hangovers”.

That’s your sales strategy?

I was that guy. I loved drinking, I loved hanging out and I thought I was the best sales rep on the planet.

Looking back, if anything, I lost sales and may have even lost a few years of my life too.

It’s complete bullshit that sales are made in the bar. I spent so much time with such a small handful of customers and I could’ve spent that valuable time with prospects or prospecting or even reading a book.

I completely stopped drinking a few years ago and have been selling more and more ever since because I’m able to think clearer (no hangovers), I’m able to work harder and longer (no hangovers) and I’m way healthier.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t drink at all. I’m saying I drank too much for too long and it was time and money spent poorly.

Spend your valuable time at nights with your family and when you’re able, prospecting, following up, and reading and personal development. You will make more money and you won’t be hungover the next day.


sales advice

10 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Work Ethic

1. Stop watching TV – I’ve all but stopped watching TV but I do make exceptions. I’m trying to learn French and German and I will watch shows in those languages in order to learn. But I definitely don’t watch HGTV or the Food Network. D-U-M-B.

2. Spend 15 minutes every afternoon going over what big things are going to happen the next 1-10 days. This is the time to set meetings and plan your work.

3. Work at night to make tomorrow go smooth. Ben Franklin said, “One today is worth two tomorrows.” For example, I used to deal with engineers on the west coast. I’d send them emails at 7pm eastern and have the info I needed by the time I got up in the morning.

4. Limit your hobbys. I love hobby’s but you have to limit your time doing them otherwise they’ll suck your bank account dry.

5. Close your Facebook and Twitter account. Unless you’re making money off them they’re a huge time suck. I’m glad I never joined either. Twitter is stupid. So is Facebook. LinkedIn seems to have some value, though. I’m sure I’ll get some arguments on this one.

6. Exercise and keep at a healthy weight. Take care of yourself and you will be able to make more money longer.

7. Read books – the Libby app contains more books than anyone can read. And they’re free. Audio books too. There’s a catch – you have to have a library card…but that’s also FREE! Get it!

8. Make your bed every morning. I saw some dumb video where a general told the graduating class to make their bed every morning….then I thought about it. Now I do it every morning and so do my two young boys, ages 8 & 6. I have to remind them daily but I absolutely love it. I’m not sure why but it makes me happy.

9. Slow Down. Drive slower, eat slower, have sex slower. Enjoy the moment and try to avoid rushing through life. These ARE the good old days.

10. Ask for feedback. Ask how you’re doing, ask how your boss likes a specific project, ask your partner what you can do to make them happy. Ask ask ask. Once you start you won’t stop!