Show Rooming Is Our Fault


Show Rooming Is Our Fault

Target got all a tither last week firing off letters to their suppliers demanding they either reduce their costs or focus on giving Target more unique and exclusive products to sell in their stores.

Problem is that folks go to Target, look at a product, touch it, hold it, feel it, ask questions about it and then turn around and go online and buy the same thing cheaper from some online company that doesn’t have the costs to bear for the brick and mortar, the labor and all the rest.

They call it Show Rooming and brick and mortar retailers like Target are getting sick of it. 

But Target is mad at the wrong people.  It’s not the supplier that’s the problem – it’s us. 

Maybe it was the way I was brought up or where I’ve worked but there’s something wrong about using one company to learn and see everything about a product and then going out and buying it online ( or anywhere else for that matter.)   And it happens a lot.

There’s something wrong with walking into the local hardware store, getting that advice on which paint to use to cover paneling, spending some time at the color wheel and then saying “Thanks man!” while jumping in the car to speed off to the superstore to get the exact same paint a little cheaper.

There’s something wrong when the Veterinarian examines your dog, hands you the product she needs to stay healthy and you put it down sheepishly saying “gee I can’t get that right now” only to go on line, look for the same product and order it there for 3 bucks cheaper.

There’s something wrong with going to a car dealer, working the sales rep for 2 days, getting all the answers, taking that test drive and getting all of it down on paper  to then neatly fold it, slip it into your back pocket and then shopping around with all this new knowledge to get better price from some other dealer who sells the same model car.

And it happens to you too.

It’s not real different in sales either when you spend 3 weeks educating a prospect about a solution, prepare a proposal and that prospect takes your proposal and their new education, then turns it over to a competitor and says “Beat that”.  That happens, that’s life but that’s Show Rooming a Sales Rep and that ain’t right.

It’s a lot like stealing I think.  For too many people it’s not a problem to take insight, or time, or commitment, or ideas only to use them against the very people and places that were so skilled or gracious in giving them to you in the first place by going somewhere else to buy.

That’s called Show Rooming and nope, even though its rampant and even a source of pride for some, I don’t like it one bit. 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.


What I Learned Acting In Star Trek



What I Learned Acting In Star Trek

This last weekend we again watched the recent J.J. Abrams Star Trek film from a couple years back.   Awesome movie.

I thought back to when I was an actor in Star Trek from the original series.   Working with the other actors on set was life changing for me.

But let’s talk about this latest movie version of the series for a minute.  It is a look back to the beginning of Star Trek – a “prequel” view at how the original characters, (i.e. the likes of Shatner, Nimoy and Deforest Kelly) all started out; how they formed their relationships and beliefs.  About why and how they go about “boldly going” so to speak. 

It made me think about my original days involved in Star Trek and what influence it had and has on my life today.  My experience acting in Star Trek was huge.  Those days on the “Trek” set shaped some very important things about me and how I act today. 

Maybe you could learn from it too.

Star Trek wasn’t much of a hit when it originally aired late in the 60’s, but in syndication all through the 1970’s, it rocked. 

I have 3 brothers and we were all growing up in the 70’s.  

William Shatner and his crew had nothing on us; truth was, we were Star Trek.

I was Capt James T. Kirk.  My first officer Spock (played by my older, sci-fi book loving, overtly logical brother Kevin), was incessantly harangued by Dr. “Bones” McCoy played by Brother Paul.   Paul and Kevin kind of had that relationship off set at times, so it was a good fit.  My littlest brother James played the role that offers the focal lesson for today.

James always played (he had no choice) …… “The Guard ….Who Went Bad

You gotta have a bad guy sometimes.  It makes it more fun.   It gives you a purpose.  It gives you a “mission”; a mission to succeed, to win and sometimes, to save the world.

Baby brother James had a rough time of it when you think about it.  He always started out as part of the “crew” (which he liked) but only for a while (which he didn’t).   His role, being about 7 years old, was always to guard the ship and crew as he slowly moved from room to room.   (One bedroom was the “Bridge”, the other was “SickBay” and the rest of the little house was whatever dangerous planet we beamed down to).  

Suddenly James (aka “The Guard…Who Went Bad”) was forced to “snap” and turn on the crew, putting our mission at risk.  Racing through the house we would chase James, tackle him,  and even though we had only set our phasers to “stun”,  we somehow always killed him – his body blown to bits all over the living room ( somehow that was better than the “disappearing thing” that happened with the phasers on TV.)   Good Times.

Gotta have a bad guy sometimes.   That sticks with me.   I have to have a purpose occasionally, to defeat something.   My guess is you might too.

Maybe you work hard everyday to beat down this Guard Gone Bad sketchy economy thing.   Maybe you strategize, work weekends and nights to knock this thing out and grow the business despite what seems like an incredibly hard mission.

Maybe you work up a sweat by3 o’clock pounding out calls and working hard to have conversations with your customers  because you are fighting this Guard Gone Bad enemy that is someone’s false perception that you “can’t” do something.  Take that Guard Gone Bad; don’t tell me I can’t do something. 

Maybe the Guard Gone Bad for you is the competition.  You won’t let “these other guys” take your market share, take your sales or take your future away from you.  Nope; skip the phaser, give me the photon torpedo.

Maybe the Guard Gone Bad for you is a demon you are battling inside yourself.  And it would be so easy to give up and check into Sick Bay but ain’t no way that is going to happen.  

So maybe ( no assuredly),   there is something good to be said about finding a foil, about finding that enemy to defeat and about creating and/or finding that Guard Gone Bad.  

Thanks to my cast mates in the original series produced in Norwood, MA in late 70’s and especially to James.  Sorry you got killed so many times bro, but at least it wasn’t in vain. 


Till next time,

Grow The Business.



5 Things You Will Soon Lose (But It’s OK)



Your Resume:  What you think of and how good you are about getting or keeping customers  (the only thing any employer truly should care about)  will soon best embodied by your blazing trail on the web via your blogs, slideshares, tweets, posts and commentary by businesses and customers you’ve influenced ( or not).  Your web fingerprint is a lot more credible than that single pager of spin we’ve grown to love.

 Your Thirst For Big Numbers.  You’ll soon despise having 500+contacts in LinkedIn or 10,000 followers on Twitter.  Instead you’ll yearn for being part of as many smaller networks you can.  It’s a bit sad, but we are embracing ever more tightly, the belief that “the bigger the network is the lower the trust of those within it.”  Tough business this world of trust is.

Your Memory:  Well, at least the loose data stuff.  With the Googlization of the world and how it changes how we use our brains (it’s a fact by the way)  to find out about stuff,  you’ll need just a swipe or a couple of spoken syllables into your (insert wicked smart battery powered thingy here) to get that memory jogged.  Good news it that neuroscience studies show it leaves more focus for the brain to work on more important stuff. 

Your Social Skills:  Tragic but we’ll soon be hard pressed to remember how to make eye contact, know which hand to lead with to shake hands and remember that unlike IM, you have to wait for someone to stop talking before sharing your thought.  Forget “Virtual Meeting”,  “Flesh Meeting” will become two dirtier words. Happily,  when we realize what we’ve lost we’ll get a fresh start on new and improved social skills. 

Your Boundaries:  It will happen.  Meeting at10 am.  Meeting at2:30 pm.  Go home at4pm.  Play with kids.  Nice dinner at6pm.  Watch reruns of 3 and a ½ men (Sheen came back from the dead- it was of course, just a dream).  Meeting at9pm with New Zealand staff.  Sleep.   Meeting at8am in UK client.  Meeting at10 am.   Rinse and Repeat.  Global is big. Global is different.  But global is money. 

Till next time,

Grow The Business.


Royal Numbers




2 billion people watched the Royal wedding Friday.   The most to watch any single event.  Ever.


It’s all about storytelling.  And thus having one of the strongest brands in the world.  Bigger than Apple, bigger than Coke, bigger than Facebook.

1,000 years of Royal stories.    1,000 years of Royal intrigue, power, love and loss.   Stories get told.  Stories stick.  Stories attract.

It’s not a stretch to steal that lesson from Friday for what you do.  If you want people to watch you in droves and stick around for a while, start with one hell of a story.

Till next time,

Grow The Business.



Mondays are busy. All Monday posts are 100 words or less. 

3 To Listen For In 2011


Yep.  Listen closely Sellers.  They’re gonna happen. 

Best be ready.

1) Clickety clack clickety clack.  What’s your name again?” you are asked by the prospect and then you hear the sound repeated: clickety clack, clickety clack.  Yep, she’s typing away and Googling you Mr. Sales Rep checking to see if you are worthy to meet with or even just to listen to anymore.  You best have a very compelling web presence.

2) “When can we see each other?”  It won’t be those 20 lbs you lose creating your sudden irresistibility or even your liberal spraying of Axe that will make this phrase be heard in 2011 but rather, your clients will really just want to see you before they move forward.  What do you look like Ms. Account Manager?  Do you have a professional YouTube video I can see?  Can we Skype our next meeting?  Where can I see your face; on LinkedIn?, Twitter?,  Facebook?   Ironically (yet fittingly), faces will mean more than ever in this increasingly digital but less trusting world.

3) Sploouurgshhthwwppt!  Yes, you guessed it!  That is the sound of a self inflicted needle plunging into the eye of your customer.  Gross yes, but it is often metaphorically a choice people make versus listening or considering us and we just can’t hear it over the sound of the customer sigh.  The stakes are higher now with each and every client impression.   Information is free.  Reviews about you or your company are free.  Products & advice are often free so when we interrupt a customer via marketing or sales in 2011 we had better bring our A game.  .  When you waste client’s time by not bringing value in every contact you just might hear that sound as that crazy busy customer yearns to suffer a different pain.

Till next time,

Grow The Business.


That 70’s Twitter


I was way ahead of my time.   You can be too.

Social Media is still exploding.  Like huge.  The FaceBooks, the Twitters, the Blogs and a dozen other tools are top of mind for consumers and businesses these days.  

Businesses are scrambling to figure out these tools fast because haven’t you heard?  People like you and me who use social media are supposed to have new thinking, new desires, new buying motives and if you happen to be about 20ish, perhaps you may be a new species of human known as a “millennial”.  

Nope, I don’t think so.   It’s not the people that are different so much; it’s the tools.

It’s the tools like Facebook, Twitter and Blogs that the media, the marketers and the businesses are getting caught up in.   But don’t be fooled.    It’s not enough to just embrace and use these tools.  If you are in sales, teaching or marketing; it’s important to think hard about why people are using and loving these tools; what comfort and value they bring; enhance your strategy and then act accordingly.     

You see, I was on FaceBook in the 80’s.  I needed to be if I was going to have a life.  I was actually on Twitter in the 70’s cuz’ I found it cool and informative and I was a heck of a Blogger as far back as the early 90’s.  

It’s true.  I was.

In the 80’s I had my little black book with Judy Lelievre (I was totally in love with her), Stephanie Bond (out of my league), Paula Kelly (we went on a date once) and a dozen other girls’ names in there.  I loved that black book (even without any faces) and every time their phone numbers, or addresses or my opinion rating of them changed, (yep,  I ranked them from a measly one star up to four “wicked awesome” stars), I updated that thing religiously.  I needed to be connected and in the know.

In the 70’s the Twitter feeds were always on the back of the stall door in he boys’ bathroom at St. Catherine’s School.    There I learned the latest thoughts (and some new words) about Sister Mary’s lightning quick back hand and about Sister John’s weight challenges.  Always something new on those doors and like the Library of Congress that now holds millions of Twitter posts; I bet that 70’s Twitter is still etched in metal in the second floor bathroom at St. Catherine’s school likely for eternity.

In the 90’s, I wrote a page every night, printed it on dot matrix paper and copied it for the hundreds of call center sales people so in the morning; my wisdom, guidance (and at that time a lot of capital letters), were placed squarely front and center on the chairs of my people.  Some read it, some chucked it, but just like today; it better be interesting/ helpful or people don’t care.

Here is the point.  Get to know the new tools.  Get to know them really well so you can better fill the desires that have been around for ages.  People always want to have relationships and always want to share an opinion.  They want to know the latest going on and they want a community of trusted friends and colleagues. 

Whether they find some of that on Twitter or they find it on the back of a bathroom stall door; it doesn’t much matter.  What matters is that you help your customers, friends and even strangers fill their desires really really well.

The tools may change but the innate desires of folks rarely do.  Know this and you’ll be ahead of your time too.

Till next time,

Grow The Business.