A Publication of WTVP

As I was watching FOX News this morning, I came to the realization that I might be the only person in America without a book deal. It seems that day after day, the news and talk shows are full of self-ponfessed experts on sales, management, design, innovation, and the creative process—all with something to sell. And I’ve been guilty of feeding this monster. I’ve bought some of these books. I’ve even read some of them, although I generally bail out about halfway through.

So I asked myself what compelled me to buy these books. Was it the author? Was it the sage advice contained within the pages? Was I searching for a solution, a panacea? Or was I looking for validation of what I already knew to be true? Was it my own human doubt and frailty? Ouch—that must be the truth.

It seems that I’ve been armed with the knowledge I’ve sought for years. The sources have been as varied as the years they’ve spanned: part dinner table wisdom, part cocktail hour enlightenment, part cautionary tale, yet all relevant. And all offered here for free. But remember that you get what you pay for.

• Chapter One: Don’t Be Interesting, Be Interested. Salesmanship isn’t about making people like you; it’s about understanding your customer as a person—not an entity. Understand that each has a story and a history. How did he get here? What has she learned? What are his aspirations? Be curious. Ask the questions. You’ll find a majority of people to be fascinating. And what you learn from them ultimately will make you more interesting.

• Chapter Two: Get Face Time With Your Customers. Fax, e-mail, instant messaging—they’re all wonderful tools that allow us to be more productive. But there’s a cost: all of these remove emotion. They limit dialog. They actually create a barrier, which, if left unchecked, will place distance between you and your customers. As the distance grows, the emotional bond lessens and you leave yourself vulnerable to your competition—or create apathy toward your product or service. You must take the time to meet or speak directly with your customers. It’ll be the most rewarding and insightful part of your day.

• Chapter Three: Never Forget You’re a Servant. We’re all servants in the best sense of the word. We desire to meet the needs of others. Yet some customers can be more demanding than others. Some customers may require more care and attention. It would be easy to make a “dollars to grief” analysis and decide you’d be better off without that customer. Rather than shrink away, this is an opportunity to rise to the occasion. Meeting and exceeding the needs of your most demanding customers will raise your expectations of yourself.

• Chapter Four: If You Think You Can’t, You’re Right. How many times have we spent hours listing the reasons we can’t do something as opposed to spending the time to look for a solution? How often do we immediately dismiss the new idea because it will require more time, effort, energy, and resources than we’re willing to give the project? It’s always easier to say we “can’t” do something than to seek a means to accomplish it. But when you achieve that which others said was impossible, you’ve become a leader and an innovator.

• Chapter Five: Learn To Give Back. It seems we never have enough time to balance our personal and professional lives, and the thought of adding additional commitments may terrify us. But learning to give back to your community, to be active in your community, will be one of your most rewarding undertakings. Never underestimate the difference you can make and the difference your family and friends can make. Teach and preach community involvement. The difference you can make will surprise you.

• Epilogue: Always Check With Your Spouse. He or she might be the only person you know who owes you no deference at all. They’ll never hesitate to offer an opinion, assist in finding a solution, or offer an opposing viewpoint. They often serve as a rudder, assisting you with minor course corrections, generally without your knowledge. IBI