by Kraig Kleeman
Publisher / Chairman
Many years ago I saw The Police in concert at Soldier Field in Chicago. Or was that Comiskey Park? I honestly cannot remember the venue. I do remember, however, watching a spine-tingling show that was, in a word, no-nonsense rock and roll. No sissy synthesizers. No raucous rap. Rather, it was song after song of sturdy rock n roll. Yeah-baby! My kind of night!
About a year ago I was fortunate to see The Police reunion tour at Wrigley Field, again in Chicago. It was a high-octane trip down memory lane. The concert featured all three members of The Police as the evening's entertainment. Forget about the back-up singers in Sting's solo band. With this tour we got exactly what we expected... The Police.
My perspective on attending concerts 20 years ago was very different than it is now. I was a kid then with a rather youthful, non-discerning view. I now brood over musicians' lives and ponder their personal ups and downs. Especially when watching a band on stage. I imagine the struggle of finagling fame and fortune as a youngster. I picture how their lives likely changed cataclysmically over the course of time. Marriage, children, health issues, divorce -- let's face it, these guys are as human as you and me. As human as the next guy.
While sitting on the grass at Wrigley Field, I was symbolically struck by Sting's lyrics in the song Every Little Thing She Does is Magic. I made an entry in my personal journal describing some rather poignant feelings that I experienced while watching Sting let loose those illusory lyrics. In reflecting back on it now, the journal entry was both shallow and weighty all at the same time. Please read it below.
July 6, 2008 - Journal Entry
"But my silent fears have gripped me,
long before I reach the phone..."
I have heard this song hundreds of times, and yet I find myself amazed that Sting (were talkin' Sting!) was lamenting his fear of picking up the phone to call a love interest. Earth to Sting -- yer a rock star, dude! Girls fall at yer feet!
Suddenly I pondered another, related thought. I have observed hundreds and hundreds of sales people who are frightened beyond belief to pick up the phone and use it as a prospecting tool. Earth to sales professionals -- it's yer job, dudes!
Sadly, most sales people have not been trained and / or equipped in the art of cold-calling mastery. When I retain a new client, I often execute an observation time: I find that sales professionals are willing to describe what they say on the phone, but few are willing to pick up the phone and actually do it. I have to practically harangue them to make 40 dials so I can properly observe, document, and later benchmark their results against Blaire Group's unique set of critical selling competencies. Their body language seems to communicate another song by The Police, Don't Stand so Close to Me! But my job is to carefully and cautiously comprehend the existing state of affairs, and to determine areas for improvement. So... my presence must, and always does, prevail.
Tele-prospecting is non-optional. It is a required activity to achieve and exceed revenue goals. Most of us would view it bizarre that a rock star (Sting) could be tongue-tied about calling a young woman to ask her out on a date. I find it equally bizarre that sales professionals are not productively picking up the phone and executing competent cold-calling campaigns. More sales executives and CEOs ought to thoroughly scrutinize their sales organizations' true practices and behaviors. A structured observation time may find that their teams are scared and ill-equipped to perform the basics of picking up the phone and productively pursuing new business opportunities.
"Long before my tongue has tripped me,
must I always be alone?"
My astonishment abounds as Sting mountainously mourns his inability to communicate with clarity on the telephone. His lament seems limitless now. He actually thinks that he is destined to a life of love-less loneliness due to his tongue-tied state of mind. Well Sting, you aren't the only person with irrational grief. I guess I have a lamentation of my own: It pains me to see companies invest in large sales teams that are ill-equipped to gain maximum yield in the context of cold-calling, lead follow-up, and sales pipeline development. There is a cure for all of this, no doubt. But it takes courage. It takes change. Sadly, there are a lot of spineless executives out there who lack both.
Sting at The Peninsula Hotel,