Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Erica Groschler of TPS Consulting

When you hear “conflict” which of these statements ring true for you?

a)      Oh no, conflict is bad

b)      Conflict should be avoided

c)      It’s better not to stir the pot

d)      Someone did something wrong

e)      Bring it on!

Most of us are not comfortable engaging in conflict – whether at work or in our personal lives.  The messages we received while growing up shaped our thinking and core beliefs about conflict. These messages, (don’t rock the boat, conflict should be avoided at all costs, better not to bring it up) are often reinforced through the various environments we are immersed in – family, friends, school, community, and social groups.

Because a common belief is that conflict should be avoided, leaders and employees seldom step into dialogue about difficult issues that could get ‘messy’.  The negative affect of avoidance on interpersonal relationships comes with a high cost to the organization. Avoiding possible conflict tends to inflate issues and diminishes employee and organizational performance, ultimately influencing an organization’s culture – particularly if the conflict goes underground.

While there is no question that workplace conflict can be messy and at times daunting to address, you can develop the skills and knowledge required to proactively approach a conflict in order to get to resolution.  One model that can support the development of these advanced skills is the Drama Triangle.

Drama Triangle

This model has helped me personally and professionally, and has made a significant difference for many of the clients I’ve worked with through workplace conflicts. The Drama Triangle is something we are all familiar with as we have been socialized with it as young children:

Consider any children’s book you have read, or soap opera, TV drama or movie you have watched.  In every story, these key roles are at play:

  • Victim who has been unfairly treated (think princess in tower)
  • Villain who is taking advantage of the victim (think wicked witch or mean ogre)
  • Hero who is there to right a wrong and rescue the victim (think prince with shiny armour on horse)

Drama Triangle – A Workplace Example:

Abby and Charles have worked together for several years and have an amicable professional relationship.  They are friendly but don’t divulge too much personal information to one another.  Every week they go out with the team for coffee break and conversation is usually light – work gossip, plans for vacations and weekends, etc.

Abby and Charles have an interdependent relationship in terms of their work priorities and need one other to be successful. Both report to Bob who has been working with them for years.  Until recently there has never been an issue.

In the past month, Abby has been coming in late or leaving work early and, as a result, she has not been meeting her deadlines. This has caused Charles to miss his deadlines. Charles is frustrated with Abby because he prides himself on the quality and timeliness of his deliverables.  He feels his reputation is at stake.

Charles supposes there is something going on with Abby’s personal life but he’s hesitant to ask; he believes it’s not his place to probe about anything outside of work.  Meanwhile, he’s getting more and more upset with her but he’s afraid to raise it with her.

Charles has one good friend at work – Don – and shared his frustration about Abby and how it’s impacting his work.  Don has a somewhat closer relationship with Abby and has offered to step in and see if he can figure out what’s going on with Abby and maybe get her back on track.

Let’s look at this through the lens of the Drama Triangle:



  • Charles is playing victim in this scenario because he is upset by Abby’s actions impacting his quality/timely work.
  • Abby may be a victim in this scenario as well due to the fact that she has personal issues going on at home.  Her mother was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer and Abby is trying to juggle her mother’s care with her job.  She feels she is not getting the support she should be from her boss Bob (who knows her predicament), and Bob has not adjusted her workload to help her out.


  • Charles is making Abby out to be the villain because she has not met her deadlines and it has negatively impacted his work.
  • Abby has made Bob a villain because he is not helping her out (even temporarily) as she tries to adjust.  Abby may also be making the organization a villain because the ‘company doesn’t help us out when we are stuck with these personal issues’.


  • Don has stepped in quite easily to play the role of the hero and try to help smooth things over. He has offered to find out from Abby what is going on (enabling Charles to not have to talk with Abby about ‘this stuff’.)

Rather than Charles approaching Abby to share the impact on him and explore what may be going on for her, he is choosing to stew about it, talking about it with others and creating “Interpersonal Mush”. (Dr. Gervase Bushe, Clear Leadership).

According to Gervase, “most of the time conflict is due to interpersonal communication (aka miscommunication)”. He explains that miscommunication results in our sense-making – that is;

  • we make up stories based on what we know (and don’t know), then
  • we build up evidence to support our stories, then
  • we enroll others into our stories, then
  • we discard any facts that do not corroborate with our story, and
  • eventually our stories become our truths.

This “interpersonal mush” hampers the opportunity to create a culture of clear straight talk whereby real conversations occur so that people check out their stories with one another from a place of curiosity.  Beginning with curiosity invites a better understanding of each person’s perspectives. It is through open clear dialogue that they can reach resolution; this means stepping outside of the triangle and focusing on the issue.

Tips for Moving through your conflict

The following are a few tips to help you move from the drama triangle to clear communication:

-   Identify the issue

Clarify the real issue by identifying the facts that have occurred.  It’s easy to get caught in your story-making and feelings about the conflict versus focusing on the facts.  A great strategy is to pretend you have a video-camera replaying ‘what happened’ so that you only focus on the facts and don’t get caught with your thoughts and feelings about what happened.

-   Step outside the drama triangle

Acknowledge that every person usually feels hit as the ‘victim’ first.  Once you’ve acknowledged your inner victim and licked your wounds, focus on the key issue that upset you.  By making this as factual as possible and determining what a ‘win’ would be for everyone involved, you are stepping outside the triangle and maintaining objectivity versus personalizing the conflict.

-   Determine your want

Get clear about what you want as a result of exploring this conflict situation.  Until you determine this, it will be harder to get to a point of resolution.  It’s important that you can articulate this as you work through the conflict.

-   Determine your non-negotiables

Before engaging in a dialogue with the person you are in conflict with (i.e., who you’ve made out to be the villain), it will help you to identify  what you are willing to be flexible about and what are your non-negotiables.   Articulate this and provide context so they understand why these are important to you.

-   Be curious

It is very difficult in a conflict situation, when in our victim position, to consider any other perspective than our own.  If anything, we are looking for other people to corroborate our position and find a hero to right our wrong. If you are truly committed to resolution, you must listen and seek to understand the other person(s) perspective so you can better appreciate what the impacts have been on them.  This is the path to a realistic and sustainable resolution that works for all parties involved.

This model can help you talk through a conflict with someone:

(Young President’s Organization, Clean Talk, and Dr. Gervase Bushe, Clear Leadership)

Walking the Cube and Using Clean Talk


  • State the data on which you base your assessments
  • State it objectively, like a video recorder
  • Whenever possible use their exact words
  • Be sure you have agreement on the data, or else limit the conversation to whatever data you can both agree on


  • I noticed that ….
  • When…
  • When you….
  • Last week when you said….


  • State your assessment or judgment
  • This is not necessarily the truth about anything
  • it is merely what you find yourself thinking
  • your thoughts…your story…your judgment
  • Use appropriate words to indicate the strength of your commitment to your assessment like:


  • I firmly believe that…
  • It’s my opinion that…
  • It’s my story that….
  • It’s my fantasy that….

  • State what you want from the other person
  • Include what you want for yourself
  • The more your want is measurable and specific, the better chance you have of getting it.
  • State your want in the positive – not the negative.


  • We, You or One
  • I need
  • I want you to know….

  • State your emotion
  • Use a real feeling word:
    • Happy
    • Angry
    • Sad
    • Afraid
    • Hurt

Remember that word that end in “ed” (like frustrated, betrayed, disrespected) point the finger – so avoid passive words like these.

If you want to use them then use them as thoughts/assessments not feelings.


In summary, being able to navigate through a conflict with clarity and objectively can allow a person to get clear about the issue, discuss the issue with those involved in a respectful and detached manner and find resolution.

For more information on Conflict Resolution and the Drama Triangle, check out Gary Harper’s  book on the “Joy of Conflict”

And for more on Clear Leadership and Interpersonal Mush

photo credit: mindaugasdanys


by Terry Gault

Well, there may be a topic that CANNOT be compelling with good presentation skills … but I don’t know what that might be.

Here’s an example of one our clients who delivers a terrific and fun presentation on the topic of Fair Division.

The Presenter:
Mark Probst is a Software Engineer at Xamarin.  Xamarin provides a platform for mobile application development as well as a cloud-based testing service to ensure high quality application performance.  As they state on their site:

We knew there had to be a better way to create apps.  We created Xamarin because we knew there had to be a better way – a better way to design apps, to develop apps, to integrate apps, to test apps and more. We’re developers, so we know what developers want from mobile app development software: a modern programming language, code sharing across all platforms, prebuilt backend connectors and no-compromise native user interfaces.

Xamarin has been a client since the spring of 2013 and I think I can safely describe the experience of working with them as a ‘love fest’.  I love working with the folks at Xamarin and they seem to love the experience of working with The Henderson Group.

I have coached Mark on this and other presentations at Xamarin.  This particular presentation was an Ignite talk done as part of their internal Xummit conference this last spring in Orlando.

When I saw this video, I truly felt like a ‘proud papa.’  Mark did such a good job that I told him:

I am blown away.  This is REALLY good.  You took a very complex topic and made it easy to follow and fun.  I love the visuals, your humor, your vocal energy and use of pause.  The talk is completely free of verbal filler.

In particular, his vocal energy and use of pause give him a powerful presence.  In addition, the talk is well structured with a strong opening and conclusion.  Mark generously agreed to let us post this video here.  He stated:

I never put so much work into such a short presentation before, which definitely paid off.  And your help, as well as feedback from David Siegel, were invaluable.


How to Split a Pizza from Mark Probst on Vimeo.



Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Robert Graham of GrahamComm

We got so many responses after our last newsletter about presenting to executives that I thought I’d throw a few more logs on the fire. There is obviously a lot of interest in learning to present Up, where time is short, questions are hard, patience is low and the stakes are high.

Now I’m no Robert Cialdini (if you haven’t read his classic book Influence on this topic, stop reading this newsletter and start that book). One of the skills we help our clients develop in this workshop is Influence. Specifically, when presenting to senior management for only a few minutes, how do you influence them to grant your ask?


There are three actions that are critical in getting the nod:

1. Tie your Ask to corporate objectives
2. Back your claims with good numbers
3. Speak to the counter-arguments

Let’s unpack these a bit.

1. Tie your Ask to corporate objectives

In my conversations with Tech executives, one of the biggest mistakes they cited was the failure of presenters to tie their Ask to the needs and concerns of the execs. A CEO may be dealing with an acquisition, layoffs, bad press and an upcoming board meeting. So when a presenter approaches them asking for a free smoothie bar in the cafeteria, it may be that the timing of the Ask is wrong. Even a more serious request may not be seen as urgent compared to these other pressures.

Lesson: Know as much as you can about the people in the room and their concerns when you are presenting and start your presentation by linking your topic to their needs and problems. If you only have one shot, sometimes it’s worth punting a week or two until the time is right.

2. Back your claims with good numbers

In our Executive Presentations workshop, we have people present real topics to the role-playing execs, who do their best to decide whether the ask is worth supporting. Far too often, people make outrageous claims that they don’t back up. Execs are concerned with numbers, typically stated in acronyms like TPV (total payment volume), GMV (gross merchandise volume), NPS (net promoter score) and others. If you’re asking to hire four new Customer Service reps to reduce complaints, you’d better be able to show that the improved NPS you will realize with better customer service will outweigh the $500,000 or more in salaries and benefits.

Lesson: Run the numbers and see if what you’re asking for makes business sense. While it may be nice to have on-site masseuses for all employees, your executive audience is thinking more about GMV than a good backrub.

3. Speak to the counter-arguments

This one may be a bit counter-intuitive. Why raise issues against your own idea? Granted, it doesn’t make sense to bring up something that is unlikely or would not have occurred to anyone. But if, for example, you’re asking to implement a policy that was tried in the past and failed, you must address that preemptively and tell them why it will work this time.

Lesson: If there’s an elephant in the room, mention it early in your presentation.

After you have incorporated these elements into your presentation, the final action item to increase your influence and the success of your presentation is to shop your pitch to others ahead of time. Candid feedback in preparation is priceless.

Thanks for reading, and good speaking.

photo credit: The Warfield



Here’s a great read about boosting your confidence.

Skill takes time to build. Talent takes time to nurture. So if you want to perform better right now, there’s only one way: Feel more confident. Everyone’s been there. We don’t need research to confirm the more confident we feel the better we perform.

Of course actually finding that dose of confidence, especially when we need it most, is the real trick.

I’ve written about the best way to be more confident and ways to get a quick jolt of confidence. (As well as some ways to use body positions and gestures to improve performance.)

And that’s why I love this guest post from Christina DesMarais, a writer for Inc.com, Forbes, PCWorld, and the Minneapolis Tribune.

Here’s Christina:

Whether you have to give a speech, need to negotiate with someone, want to find a mate, or simply get ahead in life, confidence is your best friend. If you’re lacking in that regard, here’s how to change your thinking or in the very least make it appear as if you’re comfortable in your own skin.

1. Don’t slouch.

Regardless of your confidence level, slouching communicates you lack faith in yourself.

Try posting a note on the edge of your computer display with a reminder such as an up arrow in thick red marker or the words “SIT UP STRAIGHT”. To correct yourself, roll your shoulders back and imagine someone just pulled a string from the top of your head, elongating your spine and raising your chin so it’s in a neutral, forward-facing position.

If you’re really serious about improving your posture you could try LumoBack. It’s a $150 sensor you strap around your lower back under your clothes. Every time you slouch it vibrates to remind you to straighten up. The LumoBack app, which works on newer iOS devices, reports on how well you’re doing, as well as other activities, such as steps taken, how much time you spend sitting and how many times you stood up in a day.

2. Understand that most people aren’t thinking about you.

Self-conscious people worry too much about what others think about them. The thing is, usually other people aren’t thinking about them–at all.

Imagine you had the magical power to read the thoughts of the people around you. You know what you’d hear a lot of? Stuff like this:

Crap, I forgot to stop by the bank… I shouldn’t have eaten that cake Susan brought to work, now I feel fat… I hope Sara flirts with me again tonight at volleyball like she did last week… Why should I have to clean the downstairs bathroom when Bill is the only one in the house who uses it?

Notice how many times “I” might pop up? Humans are remarkably self-absorbed.

3. Nix negative self-talk.

If “diffident” describes you well, there’s a good chance you’re an over-thinker with a lot of negative self-talk rolling around in your head.

Pay attention to what you’re saying to yourself. Every time you think something like “I can’t do this” replace it with something positive such as “I’m going to give it my best shot.” The key is to step out of yourself and look at your self-talk as an outsider. How would it make you feel to hear someone sitting next to you say “I’m so [fat, dumb, ugly, slow, etc.]?” Pretty harsh, right?

Nurture yourself within your thought life, just as you might with someone else.

Continued >>

photo credit: johncpikens

Here’s a great read from Julie Thomas from Value Selling

When a power outage occurs, entire infrastructures are knocked offline.  Communication becomes difficult,  businesses halt, and a difficult travel commute becomes near impossible.

We wonder what the cause is: Is it the weather or is something more sinister taking place? It usually turns out to be a single point of failure. One small error that sets in motion a cascade of power outages across a huge region. Outages shouldn’t happen, but they do.

How many of you have a single point of failure in your active pipeline?  Are you speaking with only one buyer?  Are you taking direction from a single person, regardless of their role in the buying process?  If so, your opportunity could be at risk since the information you are basing everything on is probably incomplete or inaccurate. If that is the case, your entire opportunity can lead to “no-decision.”

Triangulation is a term used both in mathematics and in navigation. The concept is that if one knows two data points, they can measure the distance and pinpoint the location of the third point. In social sciences, triangulation has become a technique used in qualitative research to overcome bias and prejudice when conducting studies.

In sales, triangulation can be a powerful technique in discovering the truth, eliminating bias, and mitigating the risk of a single point of failure in your sales cycle.

Triangulation is built on the principle of threes. The more information and perspective that you have about your prospects, the better positioned you will be to serve them and convert them to your customers and clients. Here’s how it works:

Identify three new stakeholders for each opportunity. One of the most difficult challenges facing sales professionals is getting in the door and securing a meeting or sales call with someone who doesn’t know you and doesn’t think they need your product or service. Often, you will be prospecting the contact again and again. What if you spend some time identifying at least three stakeholders for each opportunity?

Talk to at least three people about the same subject. In your client or prospect’s organization, ask the same set of questions to multiple individuals. You will learn much from multiple perspectives in their responses. You will be able to discern the truth, identify potential biases, and mitigate the risk of taking just one person’s perspective as the complete and total truth.

The technique of asking a similar set of questions of multiple people will provide you with tremendous insight.

Triangulation Best Practices:

  • Work to avoid a single point of contact within your prospects. Build executive, middle management, and user relationships. Each role will have a different perspective and insights. By engaging multiple people, you can begin to identify patterns in thinking and behavior within the organization.
  • Listen for what is the same or different. Hearing conflicting information when engaging multiple buyers will give you clues and identify gaps in information. It will tell you when to look for additional perspectives.
  • Confirm what you have learned.Confirm understanding and ask for clarity where the information from different people is not congruent.
  • Always ask yourself: “Who else should I be talking to? Am I at risk if this information is incomplete?”
Triangulation is a powerful tool in identifying who is involved with purchasing decisions and how those decisions are executed. Validate your selling process by speaking with at least three individuals within each organization. You’ll become more effective and deliberate at risk mitigation and will win more business!
photo credit: tom magliery

by Terry Gault

Five years ago, I attended a presentation night in downtown San Francisco. That evening, the women behind the then-viral blog MuniManners gave a presentation that brought the house down. One of those two women was Angelie Agarwal, who was soon to become Chief Evangelist for Prezi.

Angelie met with me a couple of months later to give me one-on-one training with Prezi — a truly revolutionary presentation tool. At the time, I could see that Prezi offered a big—and welcome—paradigm shift away from PowerPoint. It was a significant departure from the linear and limiting frame-to-frame progression of a typical slide deck. In fact, I was so impressed that I wrote this blog post about my first encounter with the tool.

Given the recent piece in the Wall Street Journal, which raised the possibility that slide-based presentations—and the difficulty people have remembering them—contributed to General Motors’ recent recall disaster, it seems like an apt time to explain why The Henderson Group made the switch from slides to Prezi.

Deciding to make the switch.

In February 2012, I was working with a very senior executive at an established, well-known aerospace company. My sense was that the company didn’t live on the cutting edge of presentation technology (like a San Francisco-based tech startup might), and yet this executive was showing me the prezi he had built for an upcoming presentation.

Seeing his prezi gave me the sense that this new tool was about to become much more mainstream. As a company in the business of helping clients be more successful at how they represent themselves, I felt it was time to join the Prezi revolution.

I am also a video producer with EinsteinFilms.com, so I love that Prezi incorporates movement into each transition. Our brains are hard-wired to pay attention to movement. Just notice how your eyes will unconsciously follow movement in your vicinity, like when someone walks by your desk or outside a window in a public place. The movement inherent in Prezi’s transitions keeps the audience more focused on my presentation.

I vowed that by the end of 2012, The Henderson Group would be using Prezi as our default media for all our workshops. As of today, all of our workshop media is delivered via Prezi.

The final verdict: the difference between Prezi & slides.

The fundamental difference between slide-based tools and Prezi is that Prezi requires you to think about the “big picture” while slides indulge the tendency to recycle and repurpose existing content without truly thinking about delivering a presentation with takeaway for the audience. Prezi forces me to think through my entire message holistically before I even begin to construct my presentation.

The first decision I need to make when it’s time to construct a prezi is this: What is my underlying message? I call it the “Main Takeaway Sentence”—if you ask an audience member, “What did you take away from the presentation,” the hope is that they would reply with this sentence or a reasonable facsimile.

Then I need to ask: What is the central or recurring theme of my presentation? I am confronted with that question because my presentation overview needs to express that theme visually with a big picture right up front.

The next decisions I have to make are editorial and targeting in nature: What do I need to cover in my talk, how long do I have to cover it, and who is my target audience? I must give these thought before I begin the process of constructing a Prezi.

In order to truly “get” what Prezi is about, you need to see it. And what better way to show you than… with a prezi. After all, I’m a visual storyteller.


Creatives explore humans’ archetypal plots By Tim Nudd

You think you’re being all clever and original with your brand storytelling. In fact, you’re not. From Shakespeare to Spielberg to Soderbergh, there are really only seven different types of stories, an Advertising Week panel hosted by TBWA suggested on Wednesday. The challenge becomes finding which one best suits your brand, and then telling it skillfully, believably and—if you’re going to invite consumers to join in the story—extremely carefully.

TBWA’s global creative president, Rob Schwartz, led the discussion, which was based around author Christopher Booker’s contention, in his book Seven Basic Plots, that seven archetypal themes recur in every kind of storytelling. Booker looked at why humans are psychologically programmed to imagine stories this way. Schwartz and his two panelists, Droga5 executive creative director Ted Royer and novelist (and former agency creative) Kathy Hepinstall, focused on how the theory applies to brands—and how creatives can make use of it in developing persuasive stories for them.

Continued at Adweek >>

photo credit: jim pennucci


July 16-17 – Complete Communicator (one seat left!) with Terry Gault

The Complete Communicator work combines communication techniques in an intense, highly individualized, skills development program. Employees learn to communicate effectively one-on-one, in small groups, and standing before large audiences.


August 22 – Super Storytelling with Terry Gault

From that primitive stone-age tribe who sat around and listened to stories in their cave to today’s high tech sales force armed with the latest electronics, the art of storytelling survives. Stories capture attention and make information believable, memorable and understandable.


September 24-25 – Art of Presentation with Terry Gault

Using interactive methods, rather than lectured instruction, participants cultivate a personal style – a style that gains the audience’s attention through confident composure and meaningful interaction. Through the Henderson Group’s unique and proven feedback model, participants receive immediate feedback from instructors, peers and videotape, enabling them to rapidly learn, reflect and improve their presentation skills.


November 6-7 – Complete Communicator with Terry Gault

Over 95% of the workforce must interact with others in order to do their jobs, and communication skills are the number one factor affecting employee relationships with customers, superiors and colleagues.


December 11-12 – Art of Presentation with Terry Gault

Building rapport with an audience and moving them to action requires the ability to confidently present information that convinces and engages even the most skeptical customer. This intensive work educates and motivates participants to deliver high-impact presentations.

For more information please contact Chuck Kuglen at 415-292-7587


What Clients Say>>



Forward by Terry Gault

“I’ve never heard anyone speak about driving new business like this.  It feels like it could be game-changing for The Henderson Group.”

That’s what I thought in November of 2013 when I first heard RC Peck speak at BACN, where I’ve served on the board since April 2011.

We decided to start working with RC in January of 2014.  Here we are in July and not only did RC fulfill on his promise but we have been smashing our revenue goals all year. And yes, with less effort.

Hence, we are hosting a 60-minute Webinar on RC’s “Easy Conversation” process Wednesday, July 30th at 11 AM Pacific.

More on this after the article.


The three lies that keep you from getting more sales.
And the truth that will set you free.

I sometimes joke that three women raised me.

My mom and my two older sisters. Yes, I had a dad. But he was a workaholic, so even when he wasn’t traveling, and he traveled a lot, he would be focused on work when home.

You see, my dad was a career sales person. And he sold for a living. He worked for a company called Siemens Medical Systems. He sold Linear Accelerators, Magnetic Resonance Imaging machines and CAT scanners.

All I could remember growing up is that I did not want to be a sales person. I remember living through some pretty tight years even as a kid, when the sales didn’t fall my dad’s way. There seemed to be a lot of uncertainty in this whole sales-thing and I wasn’t too keen on it.

In fact, sales felt yucky to me and it seemed to load up a lot of anxiety in my body if I were ever to think about it, let alone do it.

So guess what happened?

I grew up.

Started my own company.

And realized that what I just did was become a full time sales person for my own business. It took me a while to realize this but once I did, I wanted to find a better way to sell. One that was extremely effective and had zero yucky emotions for me or the prospect.

So who is this article for?

If you have to bring people to make a choice in a conversation to work with you (or buy from you), then this article was possibly written for you.

It doesn’t matter if the title on your business card has the word “sales” in it or not.

If you have a service/product that is over $1,000 and have to bring people to buy it within a conversation, then you might find value here.

So let me ask you some questions…

Do you sometimes get anxious about having to sell?

Do you feel your service is worth more than what you charge?

Do you love what you do and “sell” because you have to?

Do you feel stuck at your current income despite doing what you’ve been taught?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions then you may have bought into one of the top lies that has kept you (and many others) from getting more and higher paying clients with less effort.

You see, I was sold a basket of lies about sales. And worst of all, I started telling myself these lies. And as you may know, it’s the lies you tell yourself that are the most damaging.

See if any of these three lies resonate with you…

Lie #1 = sales involves convincing.

The first lie I was told is that I must cause someone to believe firmly in the truth of my service. So, what did I do? When I would talk to people I would spend time and energy on what my services could do for them. I would tell them how amazing the service was and how this would help them.

I later learned that what I was doing was trying to convince them to buy. I’m not sure about you but I hate when someone is trying to convince me of something. In fact, most times this convincing thing distances me from the “convincer”.

You get it? Their convincing actually pushes me away.

And this is what happens in sales all the time. People, knowingly or unknowingly push prospects farther away by attempting to convince them how to solve their problems.

Lie #2 = sales involves cajoling.

The second lie I was taught by the “sales world” was that part of my job when selling was to persuade someone. Persuade them with sustained reasons why my solution was best for them.

The problem I found was this sustained persuading felt more like cajoling. This process felt like I was trying to further my own interest above theirs. It felt bad.

The problem was I didn’t really know what the prospect wanted. Yeah, I knew what they logically wanted. But getting to someone’s logical reasons never results in a sale.

All purchases, be it a candy bar, a flat panel screen TV, or a $1,000,000 consulting service happens when the buyer believes they will have an ‘emotional want’ filled.

And this is what happens in sales.

Sellers act a certain way towards prospects that puts the prospect back on their heels and makes them feel like they need to protect and defend themselves.  Sometimes this protecting happens consciously and sometimes it happens unconsciously.

When people are defending themselves they have their guard up and are most focused on survival (not buying). It’s hard for someone to buy when they are in defense mode don’t you think?

But that is what “sellers” are doing to their prospects all the time.

Lie #3 = sales involves concealing.

The third lie is that sales conversations are somehow different than people just having a conversation. I’m not sure where this lie started but I bought into it early.

I felt that somehow the sales conversation had to have all these “tactics” and “angles” and pressure. I was concealing that I wasn’t just having a conversation with someone.  I was concealing the fact that I was trying to “sell” them.

And that feels bad. It felt bad to me. And it felt bad to them.

See, I thought sales was about convincing, cajoling and concealing. When that didn’t produce I worked harder and bought more information.  You know, did the sales course thing.

No results.

Results come from somewhere beyond -  Something that I was unable to see.  I invite you to the possibility that there is something that you’re not able to see.  Something you don’t know that you don’t know. Something that is so obvious it’s hard to see.

The foundation of sales is conversation.  And understanding this one thing, is the truth that can set you free.

And the foundation of that conversation is curiosity and “Our-we-even-a-fit?” type thinking.

It sounds really simple.

I know that.

And in fact there is more to it…but not much more.

And it’s in getting past the logic and into the emotions of what that person really wants. And when you can have that interaction with the person in a conversation, then amazing things happen to your life and your company’s revenue.

-RC Peck


Hey everyone, Terry Gault again.

RC approached me with his 3 question sales technology at the end of last year.  I wanted what he was promising… increased revenue with less effort. So we hired him in January (six months ago).

Since that time, we’ve had our two best consecutive quarters and are on track to have our best year since Chuck and I bought the business in 2009.  Not only that but the process feels easy and I feel like I am spending less time on driving more revenue, not more.

You might have curiosity and want to talk to us about our experience and how our income has changed, if so the next step is easy. Give me a ring at 415-364-8377 or leave a comment below.

photo credit: Dimitris Papazimouris


I am not a fan of the standard Social Nicety Opening.

Imagine if you picked up a newspaper and read, “Hello, I am Bob Woodward.  Thanks for buying a newspaper today.  For the next 17 paragraphs, I’m going to be writing about the Obama Administration …”  It’s not a best practice for writing and not for presentations. Tying a compelling opening into your main point will grab audience attention and help your audience remember your message.

Yet, how often have you heard speakers open their talks with a variation on one of these openings:

  1. “Today, I want to talk to you all about our internal feedback system.  I think that we need to make some changes because … “ OR
  2. “Thanks for coming here today.  I know that you are all busy and I appreciate you taking the time.  My name is James T. Boring and I …”

These come across as soft, bland, and procedural and DO NOT grab attention.  In fact, they have the opposite effect.   Audiences are likely to start tuning you out, assuming that everything that follows will be as tedious and meaningless as your opening.

If you are using openings like this, you have no right to wonder why the smartphones and tablets emerge shortly thereafter.  You’ve been informed.

Work on crafting compelling opening hooks.    For more on how to craft compelling openings, the following posts will offer some great tips and advice, or better yet, joins us at a workshop.

This is the fourth in a series of Pet Peeves.  While the title includes “#4″, the numbering is NOT to be interpreted as any sort of ranking.  We’ll eventually aggregate my Pet Peeves into a ranked list.  I feel fairly confident this will be the first of many and a Top 10 List will not be hard to compile.  (Aarrgghh!!)

More Pet Peeves>>

photo credit: steve snodgrass