Wednesday, November 23, 2011

20 Posts I Stole from Smarter People

This is my 200th post and I've decided it's time for a break. I am taking a hiatus from this blog. I have started a business and am trying to put all of my blogging and SEO efforts into it. To read my current blog, CLICK HERE. Small Business Storyteller is a blog about running a successful small business in the age of the Internet. I include a lot of information about sales, marketing, social media, leadership, etc.--a lot of stuff that carries the same theme as this blog. I'll leave this blog open for anyone who wishes to use its resources and I'm keeping the domain name, "How Does That Make You Buy?" because, let's face it, it's awesome!

I love writing about sales and may come back to this at some point in the future. In the meantime, check out my 20 favorite posts from this blog. And this isn't tooting my own horn--it's tooting the horn of the many writers who have significantly influenced my perspective and shaped my thinking over the past few years. If there is anything good that I have to share with you, it is because they weren't kind enough to first share it with me. Yes, I admit it: I am an idea thief. So, take advantage of what I've learned and receive some stolen property. Thank you for visiting!
  1. "Your Mission is Too Important"
  2. "Salespeople and Doctors"
  3. "Stuck in the Snuggly Duckling"
  4. "Four Words That Limit Your Potential"
  5. "The Golden Rule of Sales"
  6. "Losing Interest in Self-Interest"
  7. "Why I Hate Spiders"
  8. "Are You Seeking Employment or Opportunity?"
  9. "Price as the Final Decision Variable"
  10. "The Power of Certainty"
  11. "Lessons from a Bad Therapist"
  12. "Branding in Sales"
  13. "Suggestions, Requests, and the Fear of Rejection"
  14. "What's Your Student/Teacher Ratio?"
  15. "The Anti-Guru Movement"
  16. "Don't Take it Out on the Customer"
  17. "The Philosophy of the Snooze Button"
  18. "Why Are Companies in Business?"
  19. "How to Sell Junk"
  20. "If You Really Care..."
featured image courtesy of gingerpig2000 licensed via Creative Commons

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Top 10 Blog Posts for the Week of November 13, 2011

Fantastic list of articles this week. Themes range from askings questions to overcoming obstacles to social media and technology. Check out these articles and learn from these amazing writers!
  1. Kelley Robertson, "23 Questions that Will Improve Your Sales" A killer list of specific, targeted questions broken down based upon the scenarios in which they are asked.
  2. Matt Heinz, "10 Best Practices for Cold Calling" A solid list of rules to go over before even picking up the phone.
  3. Brian Solis, "9 Laws of Consumer Affinity in the Digital Age" How to attract and retain customers in today's digital marketplace.
  4. Paul Castain, "10 Totally Random Thoughts about Questions" Insightful article about what good questions consist of.
  5. Neil Patel, "6 Ways to Be More Persuasive with Social Media" An application of Rober Cialdini's principles to the world of social media.
  6. Ellen Bremen, "When the Walls Go Up, How Do You Avoid Getting Down?" How to focus when life is cluttered with distractions.
  7. Daniel Newman, "Hope is Not a Strategy" Hope is a good thing but should not be used as a substitute when strategy is more applicable.
  8. Jim Keenan, "The  Best Salespeople are Critical of Their Customers" Great salespeople are not afraid to challenge their customers.
  9. Dave Brock, "Does Sales 2.0 Make You a Better Salesperson?" Technology can make salespeople more efficient, but selling skills must continue to be developed in order to make them more effective.
  10. Gini Dietrich, "9 Ways to Make Yourself Charming" A fun list of ways to make people like you.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Jumping through Trust Hoops

As I've started my own B2B venture, all the reading and writing I've done over the past few years has suddenly become much, much more real. I am dealing with issues in selling to businesses that weren't quite as complex as they were in selling to end users. One of the most profound struggles in selling what I do is something that I've written about before but haven't experienced in its fullness until now.  What I'm talking about is the challenge of building trust. Though I know there are exceptions, it seems the level of trust between buyer and seller is much more important in complex B2B transactions than it was in the B2C environment that I came out of. I, by the nature of the service I am providing, will be working with customers--not simply selling to them.

The Levels of Trust

To someone completely new in business, with nothing to go on but a handful of recommendations, you've got to build trust from the ground up. As I've spoken with people, the feedback I've gotten has taught me that there are two primary types of trust that buyers must have in order for salespeople to be successful with them. These are:
  • Trust in the salesperson's intentions
  • Trust in the salesperson's competencies
The cold calls I've made have been incredibly challenging. I now know that some of the terminlogy I've used in my scripts has alienated peole from even considering doing business with me. You see, they don't know me from Adam. I don't even have a recognizable company behind me so that I can say, "I'm from XYZ." I'm just me, and they--naturally--assume the worst. As soon as they caught wind that I might, possibly, maybe, potentially be asking them for money, they ended the call. Was it because they didn't think they needed what I was selling? Probably not. Was it because they didn't believe I was capable of doing what I said I could do? Maybe. But I think it's most likely because that don't know me and assume that my intentions are underhanded, selfish, and manipulative. "People don't know care how much you know until they know how much you care." And, when you people don't know you care, they assume that you don't.

The people that I've called based on recommendations have been much more trusting of my intentions. As I talked to them, the conversations swung quickly to my capabilities. They trusted my intentions--I was a friend of a friend--but they still knew nothing of my abilities to get the job done. In that respect, they still didn't trust me. They believed that I had a good heart and wasn't out to trick them, but they still didn't know if they wanted to shell out any money to pay for me. It makes perfect sense. I had not yet proved anything to them.

What are your experiences in building trust? Is it a different process now than it was from when you started? Has building trust gotten easier with experience? I'd love to hear your thoughts...

featured image courtesy of skycaptaintwo licensed via Creative Commons

Monday, November 14, 2011

Top 10 Blog Posts for the Week of November 6, 2011

  1. Dan Waldschmidt, "Waiting for Someone Else to Believe in You" Sure, it's nice to have the support and encouragement of others but, if it's a necessity for you, you're doomed from the start. Everyone has their own dreams, goals, and agendas that aren't yours. You have to be the one to give yourself permission. You have to believe in you even if no one else does because, at times, no one else will.
  2. Robert Terson, "Limiting Beliefs" We are only limited by what we believe about ourselves. We tell ourselves that we can't do this or that and end up not being able to do it. We've got to transcend this kind of thinking and start knowing that we can accomplish what we set our minds to.
  3. Gary Hart, "Are You Selling to Phantom Buyers?" The Internet has created a much smaller gap between seller and customer, but the level of contact in inbound web traffic is insufficient. People can come and go as they please when they are on your site, without ever being engaged in dialogue. Sales will always have the upper hand in being able to engage the customer directly.
  4. Rosemary O'Neill, "Are Your Customers Embedded?" How are you including your customers in the development of your business and brand? What have you named after a customer? What idea have you attributed to a customer? Something to think about.
  5. Paul Castain, "Don't Get Frustrated...Get Excited" Failure is a beautiful thing. It's a learning experience. A new discovery of another thing that doesn't work. Success is in the future waiting and the more times you fail, the closer you get. Failure is a cause for celebration!
  6. Mark Babbitt, "It's NOT 'It is What It Is?'" It's what you make it. We don't have to surrender to life's circumstances. In as much as we are able, we can create change. Resigning to the 'it is what it is' way of thinking is an insult to the human spirit. We are capable of so much more.
  7. Vanessa Van Petten, "5 Ways to Make a Killer First Impression" First impressons matter. Some people might never see you again, so your first impression could also be your last one. You want to make it count.
  8. Mark Hunter, "There Is No Substitute for Solid Integrity" Character counts. In the long-run, salespeople with integrity outperform those without it. Don't be tempted to take shortcuts and use shady, manipulative tactics to get a little ahead--even if your colleagues are doing it. Integrity wins out in the end.
  9. Kelley Robertson, "The Power of Networking" Meeting people at networking events is perhaps the best way to create life-long relationships. Introduce yourself to someone. Chat for while. Give him your card. Get his. Follow up. Meet again for coffee. Networking is powerful.
  10. Trevor Stevens, "Do You Smell Desperate?" Salespeople often use terminology that make them seem desperate.  Buyers are very good at picking up on when salespeople need the sale. Don't beg. Don't grovel. Don't say, "What do I have to do to get your business now?" What you have to offer is worth more than that. Act like it is.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Book of the Week: The 100 Absolutely Unbreakable Laws of Business Success

Brain Tracy has quite possible written more about business than I have yet to read in my lifetime thus far. He has a long, successful history in sales, management, leadership. operations consulting, and public speaking. His 100 laws of business success are broken down into the following categories: life, success, business, leadership, money, selling, negotiating, and time management. I could easily write 10 posts on the book alone. Fantastic advice laced with personal anecdotes and practical action items. Great book for anyone in a managerial or leadership position.

Here are, in my judgement, the top 10 laws Brian Tracy discusses in this book:
  1. The Law of Expectations. Our beliefs about our successes or failures are often self-fulfilling prophecies. If we think we can, we will. If we think we can't, we won't. The most successful people in business have high expectations for themselves and their people. What do you expect?
  2. The Law of Control. Successful people have what is called an internal locus of control. External events, circumstances, and other people do not determine their attitude and orientation toward life. They listen first and foremost to the voice inside and, in doing so, are able to take charge of their lives. What controls your life?
  3. The Law of Compensation. You get what you put in. You reap what you sow. You will be compensated exactly as much as you are willing to work. In the words of Zig Ziglar, "You can get anything you want in life by helping other people get what they want." Successful people are not afraid to give excessively. They know that it pays off. How much are you contributing?
  4. The Law of Decision. Great business leaders are decisive. They are not always right, but they are always firm. They aren't wishy-washy, but are always moving forward. If they are wrong, they take feedback, self-correct, and move on. What have you decided lately?
  5. The Law of Persistence. Never give up. Probably the biggest cliche on this list, but true nonetheless. As Tracy says, success only means that you are willing to keep going longer than anyone else does. Successful people know that enduring in spite of setbacks will inevitably lead to success. You can only fail when you quit. Are you still going?
  6. The Law of Differentiation. Jack Welch is famous for saying that, if GE was not at least number 1 or number 2 in its industry, it would not compete. Being able to do what you do different and/or better than anyone else is key to success. If what you are selling is no different than anyone else, you are setting yourself up for a price war. More than that, though, you aren't contributing anything of value to your customers. Successful people aren't afraid to think outside the box and come up with a great competitive advantage. What makes you different?
  7. The Law of Integrity. Successful people have a high degree of integrity. They are truthful, honest, straightforward, reliable, and consistent. They live the life and practice what they preach. They act like people are always watching them and never try to "get away with" anything. Character is foundational. If you don't have that, then you can't be trusted with anything. How is your integrity?
  8. The Law of Abundance. There is no shortage of money to be made. The best way to understand this law is in contrast with the law of scarcity--which says that there's only so much to go around. If I make money, it means someone else is losing it. This belief is destructive and causes not to embrace their full potential due (falsely) to moral inhibitions. The reality is that, when you make money, you creaet more wealth in the economy, because what you are doing adds more value than you were paid (otherwise the person wouldn't pay you). Who can deny that we have more resources available today than we did 100, 50, or even 10 years ago. Technology attests to abundance. Don't feel guilty when you make money; rejoice that you are making the world better. Is guilt falsely holding you back?
  9. The Law of Trust. People buy from those they trust. Think about how you feel about telemarketers or salespeople. Why are you so quick to turn them down? Probably because you don't trust them--you assume selfish intentions on their part. That is why it is so important, in selling, to really get to know your customers--asking questions about their business and expressing genuine concern for their problems--before pitching your products. Successful people know that trust comes before revenue. Are you building trust?
  10. The Law of Clarity. Successful people do not think or act in generalities. They are specific and clear about the goals they seek to accomplish. Brian Tracy suggests making a list of your top 10 priorities. Then, find the most important thing on that list and move it to a separate list. For that priority, write down the specific steps you wish to take to accomplish that goal. Do the same for all other priorities. Successful people focus on getting specific things accomplished. Are you clear about your goals?

I challenge you to live for 1 month in such a way that demonstrates belief in these laws and see if your life does not change dramatically. What do you think? Can you do it?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Importance of Character in Selling

Even if you aren't following the 2012 Presidential election campaigns, I'm sure you've heard of the allegations leveled against Republican hopeful Herman Caine. Women are coming out of the woodwork, claiming that he had used his position of power in the past to get them to have sexual relations with him and then paid them to keep it quiet. Why does this scenario sound so familiar? Oh, that's right! It happens every time someone runs for president.

I'm not defending or supporting Herman Caine or the Republican party; my political opinions are irrelevant. The point I wish to make is in regards to the commonly used ad hominem argument in political campaigns. It's so much easier to attack the person than it is the policy. If you can dig up some dirt on a candidate's character, you can take him down fast! Regardless of how effective he will be at administering his policies and regardless of how good those policies are for the country, if there is not a heart of integrity lying beneath them, nobody cares!

Character in Selling

Salespeople, like politicians, are often viewed as having questionable character. Politicians, after all, are salespeople. When giving speeches, they are really giving pitches. Their product is their ability to serve in office. They are selling themselves and their policies. When dealing with a salesperson, the default is often cynicism. Everything the salesperson says is taken with a grain of salt. If this is where the sales relationship begins, imagine where the relationship will go if the prospect suspects a lack of integrity on the part of the salesperson!

Now, it isn't likely that a salesperson have a charge of sexual misconduct leveled against her, but it is highly likely that her honesty and intentions be called into question. Most people have no problem believing that the average salesperson will willingly lie to get a sale. So, if the prospect even gets a vibe that you are being dishonest or engaging in manipulative tactics, you are in the same boat as Herman Caine--trying to defend your integrity while you should be focusing on showing your prospect the benefits of your offering.

I think it's time we raise the bar. Is it possible for us to change the stereotype? Will there come a day when people respond to questions about our integrity by saying, "That's ridiculous! A salesperson would never lie to me!" Perhaps that's wishful thinking. But let's focus on what we can do--we can choose not to perpetuate the stereotype. We can be honest and straightforward with our prospects. We can focus on helping them rather than manipulating and exploiting them. Yes, there will be dirt thrown on us--attacks on our integrity over which we have no control, but that doesn't mean we have to roll around in the mud. We can set a new standard for integrity in selling.
What about you? How do people perceive you as a salesperson? Is everything you say discounted, or do people trust your character enough to listen to what you have to say?

featured image courtesy of markn3tel licensed via Creative Commons

Monday, November 7, 2011

Top 10 Blog Posts for the Week of October 30, 2011

  1. Konrath, Jill. "Quit Being So Darn Nice!" In this article, Jill eloquently highlights the difference between being nice and being helpful. If you really care about your customers, you'll worry about helping them solve their problems rather than worrying about how pushy you come across to them.
  2. Morrow, Jonathan. "6 Ways to Sell Without Selling Your Soul." Great article on being a salesperson without acquiring the dread sales stereotype. We all sell, but none of us have to be manipulative jerks. We can sell with integrity and Jonathan shows us how.
  3. Weber, Joey. "How to Create Your Personal Brand in 6 Easy Steps." Interested in creating and/or enhancing your personal brand? Joey gives you some pointers on things you might want to do and then gives specific exercises to help you follow through. Great primer on building a better image for the world to see.
  4. Robertson, Kelley. "How to Tell if You are a Sales Zombie." My Halloween post of choice. Kelley draws great paraellels between zombies and sloppy, apathetic, poorly performing salespeople. Sometimes, we all get in to slumps and start to feel a little lifeless in our professions. Take a look at this post and see if you can relate.
  5. Keenan, Jim. "The 6 Biggest Changes in Today's Sales Environment You Nee to Know About." Tradition has no place in sales. You've got to adapt to your customers' buying behavior. Jim lays out 6 profound revolutions in complex sales and explains how salespeople need to embrace these new realities. If you've been selling the same way for decades, read this post and take notes!
  6. Cantrell-Kraig, Molly. "Do You Believe in Luck?" In this post, Molly turns the "good luck" and "bad luck" cliches on their heads. Believing in luck as the main cause of your success or failure makes you a slave to life's whims. I better way to live, a more enabling and empowering way, is take responsbility. Never say you are lucky or unlucky. Be accountable.
  7. Murphy, Shawn. "5 Beliefs That Undermine a Leader's Influence and Success." Leaders, like anyone, can fall victim to negative thinking. The problem is that, when leaders acquire poor beliefs, they inspire others to do so as well. Shawn gives us a solid list of dangerous beliefs a leader may hold in relation to her followers. See if any of these applies to you and then work on changing it right away!
  8. Iannarino, Anthony. "10 Ways to Be More Strategic and Less Transactional." The more transactional are in your selling style, the more commoditized you are in your pricing. If it's just about the single sale, the buyer will weigh you out against all the other "peddlers" out there. If you position yourself, however, as a strategic partner, the buyer will be buying a long-term relationship and that is much more difficult to cross-shop. Anthony provides us with a great list of ways to make that jump from transactional to strategic.
  9. Brock, Dave. "Unsolicited Email, Cold Calling, Prospecting, Nurturing..." Dave shares his thoughts on sending unsolicited emails and making cold calls. There is a violent revolt in sales today against any time of unsolicited prospecting. It's often construed as selfish and "pushy" behavior to cold call a prospect. Dave offers alternative thoughts about the importance of meeting new prospects and opening new relationships via cold calls. Definitely worth a read!
  10. Imbriano, Lou. "Always Give People More Than They Bargained For." Lou tells a great story about his grandfather's generousity in serving clients. Adapting his grandfather's example, Lou discusses the importance of giving more that your clients expect. Outgiving your competition is always the best business model. People respond to generousity.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Book of the Week: SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham

It's hard to believe that Neil Rackham's SPIN selling was written in 1988 and some of its most profound discoveries (especially #4 and #9 below) are still not being taught by sales trainers. I use the word "discoveries," because Rackham's book is unlike any other sales book ever written. Rackham is not a salesperson turned sales trainer. His background is in behavior psychology. While most sales books are written by retired sales people, giving their anecdotal perspectives on what does and doesn't work in selling, Rackham's book is the culmination of a huge research project. Rackham and his company actually follow reps on hundreds of sales calls to isolate trends in successful salespeople versus unsuccessful salespeople. SPIN Selling is a well-written, provocative telling of their findings.

Here are the top 10 takeaways that I believe every salesperson should know from this exhaustive research project:
  1. The traditional sales process only works in low-value sales. Rackham oultines the traditional sales process as: "opening the call, investigating needs, giving benefits, objection handling, and closing techniques." When the sales is simple and required a low investment, this simple process works--for example, in selling furniture, printers, electronics, perhaps even cars. In more complex sales--for example, major account business-to-business sales--this simple formula isn't sufficient.
  2. In major sales, you aren't just selling a product; you are selling a relationship. Rackham tells the story of a selfish, pushy overhead projector salesman that he did not like but bought from anyway because he knew that he would never have to see the salesman again. He then met another salesman the same day selling a new accounting software system--a more complex and more expensive product. While the salesperson was more refined than the previous one, he still seemed over-eager to get the sale. In this case, Rackham told him that he would have to think about it. The more involved the salesperson will be after the sale, the more important the relationship is to getting the sale.
  3. To improve selling, you have to improve the questions you are asking. Though you wouldn't know it from the title, SPIN Selling is a book about asking questions. Rackham's research primarily explores the type of questions successful and unsuccessful people ask throughout the sales call. His theory is that, by changing the type sequence of questions asked, you can alter the success of a sales call. Sure enough, he and his research team discovered a distinct pattern in questioning that was common in the calls of successful reps.
  4. Closing techniques are dangerous in complex sales. Rackham spends a great deal of time talking about the danger of using "closing techniques" such as the assumptive close ("you see that our product is right for you, so if you'll just sign right here..."), the standing-room-only close ("if you wait until next week, there may be a several month delay..."), and the alternative close ("would you prefer a month's trial installation or would it be better for your budget to buy outright..."). The prevailing theory of Rackahm's day (as well as today I believe) is that your success as a sales professional is directly proportionate to your ability to use as many of these techniques as possible. What Rackham and his team find, though, is that in complex sales, successful salespeople actually use fewer of these techniques than unsuccessful salespeople. Closing techniques in complex sales give prospects the impression that you are trying to trick them into buying and cause immediate distrust. One prospect, when a sales rep uses the "closes" I have listed above, ends the sales call with a closing technique of his own when he tells the rep, "I'm going to throw you out of my office. Tell me, would you and your friend in the corner prefer to go of your own accord, or would you like me to call security?"
  5. Great questions mirror the buying cycle of the customer. The problem with the questioning of the unsuccessful sales rep is that it reflects the sales process rather than the purchasing process. S.P.I.N. stands for "Situation questions," "Problem questions," "Implication questions," and "Need-payoff questions." These questions reflect the process a customer goes through when making a purchasing decision. First, they take account of their present situation. Then, they realize that there is a problem is some area. Next, they think about the negative effects the problem could have on their business. Finally, they evaluate the benefits of solutions. Traditional questioning jumps straight to benefits, without even bothering to discover if those "benefits" are relevant to the customer. SPIN selling walks the customer through the purchasing process in a manner with which they are more comfortable.
  6. Don't skip too quickly to selling the benefits of your product. When you go straight to selling the benefits of your product in a complex sale, the customer's trust dissipates. It becomes clear to them that you are only trying to get their money and do not truly care about their success. If you ask questions that follow the process identified above, though, trust is built as the customer comes to see that you are interested in their business and the problems they are having.
  7. The only effective benefits are those that meet explicit needs. Here, Rackham makes a profound point that I have not heard in any other piece of sales literature but that makes an incredible amount of sense intuitively. There is a distinction, he says, between advantages and benefits. Too often, sales people are selling advantages when they think they are selling benefits. Advantages are ways that a product or service generally helps all customers. Benefits, according to Rackham, are ways in which the product or service can help the specific customer being addressed. When selling benefits, most salespeople fail to connect them to the specific problems that customers are having; they tell instead how the product or service is intended to help most cusotmers. The problem is that customers only care about the benefits that are relevant to them. Great salespeople talk only about the benefits that relate to the explicitly stated needs of the customer being addressed.
  8. Salespeople are less likely to ask questions when selling new products. In discussing the selling problems with product launches, Rackham isolates an interesting trend. Salespeople have the tendency to oversell the features and advantages of new products or services. They get too excited and try to sell the customer on the novelty of the offering rather tha its usefulness to the customer. The problem is that the customers don't care whether or not it's new--they only whether or not it will solve their problems.
  9. Objections should be prevented rather than overcome. Flying in the face of conventional sales wisdom, Rackham's research proposes that receiving an objection is NOT a good thing. Traditional sales training says that an objection indicates interest. Therefore, the more times a customer objects, the greater interest they have in doing business with you. In his research, though, Rackham discovers that the most successful salespeople are met with the fewest objections. Why is this so? Because the successful salespeople frame the questions in such a sequence that it prevents the objection from occurring. Focusing on "objection-handling" creates an adversarial tone in the sales conversation and is more ineffective than is traditionally thougth to be the case. Focus should instead be on "objection-prevention."
  10. Opening the sales call is simply about getting permission to move forward. In Rackham's research, the sales calls with the highest levels of success were those that spent the least amount of time opening the call. Unsuccessful salespeople spent far too much time establishing rapport and engaging in small talk. The successful salespeople highlighted the purpose of the call, gained agreement from the prospect, and simply moved forward.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Forgiveness and Empathy in Selling

The Dreaded Problem Customer

In my previous sales job, I remember dealing with problem customers. These were the customers that were never satisfied no matter what I did. Whenever I followed up with them (unless they got to me first), there was always a complaint. I began, regrettably, to harbor resentment toward these customers.

Molly Cantrell-Kraig, founder of Women With Drive, had an interesting post the other day about the power of apologizing. She expressed the guilt she felt for being angry when someone actually apologized to her. Why did she feel bad about being upset with the person who had wronged her? My guess is that it made her realize that she could have just as easily been the one apologizing. This scenario caused me to think about my problem customers.

Customers with Problems

I can count on one hand the times I've been apologized to by my "problem customers," but that isn't the point. The point is that I am not perfect. And, while I often acquire an attitude of indignity when customers are rude or demanding, I should be acquiring an attitude of humility instead. How many times in my life have I been the problem salesman, the problem husband, the problem student, the problem employee, etc. and yet been completely oblivious to it? I complain. I'm rude an demanding at times, I'm sure. Why should I be so troubled when people treat me in the same way?

A better way to see a "problem customer," I think, is to see her as a customer with problems. There is a reason for her behavior. Something causes her to behave the way she does. We are so quick to rationalize and give excuses for our bad behavior but assume the worst of intentions in others. Especially as salespeople, we should know better. We are there to serve our customers, not to be pampered and placed on a pedestal by them. What does that say about our intentions when we become so bitter? Why not be a little more sympathetic? How about showing that we care, regardless of how we are treated in return?

The words of Jesus on the cross come to mind: "forgive them, for they know not what they do." I think it's time we be a little more empathetic in selling. Rarely are customers malicious for no good reason. Let's try to understand them and help them in their darkest hours. Apology or not, forgiveness is in order.

Who have you forgiven lately?