Management Perspectives: Get Passionate!

It never seems to fail. When one is successful, he or she often forgets the things that led to that success. For example, the integrator who starts out 2/01/2004 7:00 AM Eastern

Management Perspectives: Get Passionate!

Feb 1, 2004 12:00 PM, By Gary Zandstra

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It never seems to fail. When one is successful, he or she often forgets the things that led to that success. For example, the integrator who starts out delivering excellent personal service experiences almost immediate success, and with that comes growth and opportunity. With expansion comes new people and new procedures to manage the growing workload. That growth can often lead to the demise of what actually built the company.

The excellent personal service that built the company is replaced by triplicate forms, automated voice attendants, voice mail, and unreturned calls. Business begins to fall off, more than likely because the economy took a dip. In the scramble to survive, the company sheds off the extra weight and realizes that it no longer needs the triplicate forms and policies that were choking it. The company realizes that it needs to get back to the basics.

Triplicate forms and procedures are not bad things. As a company grows, proper procedures and systems are the things that will allow it to maintain an excellent level of service. However, unless the basics are taken care of, everything else that the company does to increase the bottom line will not have maximum impact.


I recently listened to a tape made by Mike Shanahan, head coach of the Denver Broncos, in which he reflected back to his days as an assistant coach of the San Francisco 49ers. The 49er offense was simple and effective — focusing on core skills like blocking and tackling — and it led the team to four Super Bowl championships. When it comes to selling, success stems from this same focus on the fundamentals.


It is amazing what a smile and a positive comment will do. When someone calls you, do you want to hear about how terrible life is? No. If you don't want to hear it, neither do your customers. So smile, be kind, and talk about the positive things. However, always be genuine, for people can spot a phony a mile away. As Zig Ziglar, the master sales motivational speaker, said, “The message is clear. It is not what is happening ‘out there.’ It is what is happening between your ears. It's your attitude that counts. Get your attitude right, and chances are dramatically higher that your economic condition will be good.”

I was at a sales seminar several years ago where the presenter stated that it was simple to be in the top 10 percent of salespeople. His assessment was that all you had to do was show up on time and follow up after the sales call. Simple stuff.


Like most salespeople, I abhor details and abuse my skill of being quick on my feet. I have gone to many initial meetings where I knew nothing about the client and enjoyed the rush of spontaneously answering his or her questions. I would leave the meeting jazzed up and with only mental notes to rely on. The problem was that I would commit to follow up on the call and forget to follow through. Recently, I hired an account executive who put me to shame by demonstrating the power of preparation. He had set up a meeting with a new client, and as we drove to the appointment, he told me about each person who would be at the meeting. That information included each person's personality, role in the process, and his personal history with each one. Needless to say, we had a great meeting. I felt like I had known and done business with these people for years. To top it off, the new account executive took copious notes at meeting. The next day, he e-mailed a summary of the meeting to everyone who was in attendance. His preparation and attention to detail paid off.


It's been said that you need to find the work you love or learn to love the work you have. In other words, get passionate or get out. If you are not convinced that you have the best solution for the customer, why waste your customer's time (as well as yours) in putting together and delivering a proposal? The burning desire to do and be the best is crucial in the sales process.


If you think you need to do the best presentation about your company and solution, then you have it. However, don't forget that it's not about you or your company but about the client. I once witnessed a consultant lose a major project because his presentation was so focused on him and what his firm had done. He was the most qualified candidate, had the best presentation, was prepared and thorough, had a consistent track record, and was nice. However, he blew it by being passionate about his solution for his project rather than being excited about the solution for the client's project.

Your challenge now is to put these five simple tips to increase your selling skills. The choice is yours.

Gary Zandstrais a 20-year industry veteran. He is sales and marketing manager of Parkway Electric and Communications in Holland, Michigan.

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