They are always watching.

It’s her new backpack for school, pre-kindergarten.  She is 4 and he is 29.  Her dad knew she would proudly walk to the car if she could don that new prize possession.  He is a good dad.

How does this happen?  And, what does it have to do with sales?

A lot.

Everyone knows a few things about sales, but we all know that there are certain things that if you do them, they always end in success:

Show up.  90% of getting the deal is all about showing up.

Same with being a good dad.

Positive attitude.  You have heard the saying “attitude determines altitude.”

Same with being a good dad.

Learn and care about your prospect.  Find something in common, find a way to add value.

Same with being a good dad.

Have fun.  It’s not all about work, but work can definitely be fun.

Same with being a good dad.

Stick with it.  How many times has a prospect said they were not interested?  But, after time and checking in with the prospect something changed, and now they have a need.

Same with being a good dad.

Follow through.  I read a statistic that said 92% of salespeople don’t follow through.  The other 8% are wildly successful salespeople.

Same with being a good dad.

And so, it goes with all of us.  They are watching.  Who is watching?  Our team, our prospects, our competitors, our boss.

Same with our children.

If you work hard, they will work hard.

If you behave ethically, they will behave ethically.

If you listen and care, they will listen and care.

They are always watching.

The precious photo is of my son and his daughter.  My son learned how to be a good dad from his dad.  And he learned from his dad.  They were watching.

Photo courtesy of Christina Ropp

Runner up!

Who remembers 2nd place?
That may not be a good question if you are asking a sports enthusiast like my husband, he remembers every NASCAR race, college football game and please don’t get him started on my son’s cross country races!!

Second place has been called the first loser, and often we discuss that no one remembers who the “runner up” was. I feel very differently about second place. In my opinion it is a perfect place to be. Let me share a typical second place scenario with you…

I place a call on a prospect, get the appointment, discuss the value we add to each other with a relationship – but I am told any one of the following reasons that a business relationship will not work out:
“My mom, sister, brother, uncle, dad… is in the same business.”
“I am really happy with my current relationship and do not want to upset my current relationship.”
“The company we use now does business with us and that means a lot to me.”
“I get really good service and I don’t want to risk changing that.”
“It is just too much trouble to make a change.”

To every one of those responses I say:
“I completely understand. Would you mind if I hang out in second place? We could build a relationship and then if anything changes, we won’t be strangers. And, if you ever want a second opinion on something, I am right here.”
Second place has served me pretty well. Life changes all the time. Second place becomes first place very quickly. One or two poor customer service problems, a family member changes jobs, companies change policies… anything can happen to move you into first place.
Let me caution you- if you ask someone for their business and they like you, and they trust you, but they don’t pick you… they will watch you very closely. You are automatically in second place in their mind. So, be very careful with that position. Nurture every prospect beyond the “ask.” It is a little bit like the “never give up” attitude.

This week I was honored to be in second place, I was probably in third place but who’s keeping track, right???
Recently, our Columbia Mo. Chamber of Commerce’s Women’s Network honored an outstanding female leader and mentor in my community (Athena International Award). I was one of three finalists; the other two women were pillars in our community and I was deeply honored to even stand with them. Nope, I did not win, but being a runner up was pretty good. Athena was the Greek virgin goddess of reason, intelligent activity, arts and literature. She was a goddess of wisdom and courage. Well, I may not have all of those traits (my sisters are falling out of their seats right now!), but maybe I have one or two – and that is pretty darn cool!

Photo: Jan Grossman, Vicki Russell, Me! (Athena International Award ceremony, Vicki Russell was named 2017 Athena)

Alphabet Soup

It may have been when one of my new co-workers said  “Fizz Bow” to me that I knew I needed to write this blog.  It made me think of all the times I had no idea what someone was saying, but I would nod and smile so no one thought I was ignorant of the subject.  Perhaps age has made me just stop and say “what the heck are you talking about?”

“Fizz Bow” turns out to be an acronym for “FSBO” or “For Sale By Owner.”  Who da thunk?!  When you look the word “acronym” up in the dictionary it gives a little statement at the end of the definition – “There is no universal standardization of the various names for such abbreviations and of their orthographic styling.”  That means there is no way for people to logically figure out what we are saying when we use an acronym.

Great sales people do not use acronyms!  We all have our industry speak…but we should not use acronyms or anything remotely close to industry speak when talking to a potential client.  We don’t know what they know or they don’t know.  One way to start a conversation from the beginning, and you need to do this throughout the sale all the way to close, is to say “I want to explain this in the simplest of terms, but if I get too elementary, just tell me and I will move quicker through the conversation.”  It is interesting that I cannot recall when a prospect asked me to speed it up.

Just for fun, I thought I might share some well known acronyms that most people have no idea what the letters stand for, but you will definitely know the product!

  • BMW – Bavarian Motor Works
  • CVS – Consumer Value Stores
  • A & W – (Roy) Allen and (Frank) Wright
  • M & M – Mars & Murrie’s
  • 3M – Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing
  • JC Penney – James Cash Penney
  • Taser – Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle
  • Smart (car) – Swatch Mercedes Art
  • Zip (code) – Zone Improvement Plan

And then let’s just list some acronyms we all know very well…

  • AKA
  • ETA
  • FYI
  • CIA
  • FBI
  • RSVP
  • ATM

I could go on and on, but the lesson here is if you are not wildly famous and well known, or your subject matter isn’t cemented in history with very few changes, then you should not be using acronyms!

I welcome hearing from you and your industry acronyms!




Who brings you lilacs?


My sweet husband brings me lilacs that he has swiftly snatched from someone else’s bush, hopefully from public property!  He knows the joy they bring me… there is little else that can compare with the joy of the smell of lilacs.  (Maybe snuggling with my little Sophia Jayne.) (It is lilac season in Michigan!)

I share this because in Sales we get a lot of “no’s.”  We also get a lot of “not now’s, maybe later, I don’t think so, sorry, and, yes’s that are not really yes’s.”  Every job has negative with it, but if you are a sales person, you often have to make your own positive.  Thus the lilacs.

Great Sales people have support systems that work for them.  Maybe it is a circle of friends, maybe it is a spouse, siblings… whatever yours looks like, it is important that you have a support system.  My support happens to be my husband, but I might be the kind of person who requires lots of levels of support (snickers from my family.)  I’ve learned that in the business of sales you might need a pick me up more often than people are willing to “pick you up,” therefore you need more people on the call list.

Loving support – husband

Late night snack support, what clothing not to buy and endless prayer support – daughter

Carry my stuff and tell me I look skinny support – son

Ugga Mugga support – grand daughter

Can you believe they did this? – support – co workers

Another “no” support – fundraising friend

Made the sale support – should be all of above, but is my Blue Cheese Olive Stuffed Martini Friend

Healthy choices – husband, running buddies

Inspiration – daughter, mom, church life

The sky is falling support – sisters

I need a new job support – wonderful friends

Too tired to eat – fixes my dinner friend

I will never leave your side support – furry best friends


You see, it’s not just the lilacs.  In the moment that you need a smile, a hug, a friend…they are there.  It is important to have support and to have people in your life who support you.  When you find them, hold on fiercely because when the ship feels like it is sinking they will bring you lilacs.


Thank you friends and family, I love you.

Bounce Rejection!

Recently a friend shared that when contemplating asking someone for their business she physically begins to tremble, move backward away from the idea, she gets a lump in her throat and her stomach begins to roll. All of these things happen, she knows, because they might say “no.” My friend knows she is good at what she does, she is certain she has talent, she believes in her product and service and she knows her product or service would add value to the person she is asking. It isn’t any of those things. It is the silence that comes with the “no,” it is the idea of the next time they are in a social setting and how they will adjust to the “no,” it is the simple reality that they don’t find the same value in her product and service as she does.

Check out this blog on sales statistics to learn just how hard it is to be a great sales person:

10 Sales Performance Stats To Know

We can reason all of these feelings away and suggest that anyone can learn to get over these feelings and make the ask anyway. Sure, anyone can learn a skill. But can they excel at it? Can they be remarkable at it? Can they do it with such joy and glee that it seems effortless? Can anyone sell? Sure. But if it doesn’t make you feel good maybe you should find another way, maybe.

Rejection comes in all forms. Whether it is personal or a business rejection, it is never fun. Or is it?
I remember a couple of guys in high school that I really liked, I probably acted like a complete fool around them. You know the ending of the story since my husband is 6 years older than me, those guys did not like me back. It was personal. But I look back on high school with great fondness, even if those boys didn’t like me!
Rejection in the business world might be easier than in the personal world, we all know that changing jobs is not nearly as big of a deal than getting a divorce… but rejection is hard and hurtful no matter the instance.
Rejection in your business life is simply a disagreement of how a company moves forward. If you are offering your products or services to a company and they say “no thank you”, it just means they have another plan, it may not be a good time, they may have loyalties to someone else or they might not think your product and service will add enough value at this moment for the company. Very seldom is it personal – and then you don’t want to work with them anyway… people who run companies on personal whims can never be trusted.
In all situations – MOVE ON!

When someone serves me up a good dose of rejection I always leave the door open for their ultimate purchase of my product or service. They may come around, uncover a need, change the company direction. They may have a change in management, they may change to another company – we never know. I enjoy filling the silence after a “no” with “can we stay in touch?” Never has anyone rejected that question. And over the years, many, many times, they have said “yes” at another time.

Maybe YOU should not deal with rejection. Maybe YOU should do what you are good at and let the professional salesperson deal with rejection. Hire a salesperson.
Perhaps the better way for you to build your business is to build referral sources who believe in you. Perhaps trading referrals is a better way. Many people will share their friend’s greatness before they will share their own… fine, do it that way – build a referral team.
Maybe you believe you can generate business via a strong media presence. Remember people trust people not buildings and products. Make sure your message is about you and trust. It can work.

Rejection is not easy, rejection hurts. Understanding rejection and dealing with rejection allows you to wear the ultimate rubber suit and when you understand rejection then you just bounce to the next opportunity and in a very positive way!

Have you heard of Tigger? T I double “GA” ER. Well “Tiggers are wonderful fellas, Tiggers are wonderful things. Their tops are made out of rubber and their bottoms are made out of springs.” Simply put – Tiggers bounce and they are fun. Great salespeople are like Tiggers. If you don’t see yourself as a Tigger, then figure out how to add a Tigger into your world, I think you will be glad you did.

Heart of Missouri United Way Regains Forward Momentum in 2015 Campaign

COLUMBIA, MO (February 8, 2016) – Greg and Mary Ropp, who led the 2015 Community Campaign as Chairs, announce  the conclusion of the 2015 HMUW Campaign on January 31. “Greg and I were honored, humbled and inspired by this community who supported the United Way campaign of 2015.” said Mary Ropp, Senior Vice President of Business Development for The Bank of Missouri.  “We set out to accomplish ‘Just one more’ dollar, volunteer hour, service provided, child tutored, meal served…. and this community came together and made it happen.  Because of the money raised, the partner agencies will be able to do the good work that they do and we are thankful and grateful to everyone who donated, volunteered and supported the effort.”

This year’s campaign raised $2,927,520, an increase of 4.6% over last year’s final campaign results. The increase marks the first time since 2011 that the annual campaign has increased.  Campaign highlights include a 50% increase in Alexis de Tocqueville Society members, which represents gifts of $10,000 and higher. The campaign also saw a 10% increase in dollars raised by the 44 Pacesetter companies and organizations and a 5% increase in $1,000 gifts represented in Leadership Circle members. The University of Missouri campaign raised $561,915, an increase over last year.

Jan Swaney, President, Heart of Missouri United Way Board said, “I am extremely pleased that we have regained forward momentum and that the 2015 campaign pledges grew over last year. This response shows that we have a caring community that trusts HMUW to fund a broad set of programs and agencies that make a significant impact in the lives of our friends in poverty. Giving to HMUW helps your neighbors,” she said.

“I am truly inspired by the generosity and support by our community but I understand that we have more work to do.” said HMUW Executive Director, Andrew Grabau. He attributed the success of this year’s campaign on four key areas:

  • The leadership provided by Mary and Greg Ropp as community campaign chairs
  • Board of Director’s decision to return the option for designated gifts to any of HMUW’s thirty-one funded agency partners
  • The widespread dedication of more than 700 community volunteers
  • Positive results from the agency programs that the United Way’s Community Impact model is helping to fund

Community Impact provides Heart of Missouri United Way with a strategic focus on supporting and funding unduplicated programs that provide wrap-around comprehensive impact in areas of Education, Health, Income and Safety Net services. By working with our agencies in producing measurable outcomes, we can make sure that the community’s financial support is truly making a difference.

Most people want to help.

Do you drop coins in the Salvation Army’s bucket outside retail stores?
Do you hold a door for the mom with her arms full of baby stuff?
Do you let someone with fewer groceries go in front of you at the check out line?
Do you use your turn signal?

Most people answer yes to the above questions, most people enjoy helping.  For most of us, we do the above actions instinctively, we don’t even think about it.  And, interestingly, we do not personally know, the people benefiting from our actions.  That piece does not register in our helping hearts, we just do it.

We could say we were “raised that way”.
We could say “it feels good”.
We could say “it’s the right thing to do”.
We could say “do unto others…”.

If we understand that it is innate to be helpful, then as a salesperson we should expect a “yes” much more than we do.  Many people shy away from sales because of the feelings that come from getting “no’s”.  But I would suggest that it really is all “in our own heads”.  We are creating this negative feeling when it truly does not exist.  And once you wrap your head around this fact and get over your own thinking…you will have mastered the uneasiness in getting started in sales.  That’s it, that’s the secret…it is you.

I have always found that when framing an ask correctly, I rarely get a “no”.  I might get a stall or a timing hurdle, but I rarely get a “no”.  I have also found that if I accept a “no” correctly, both the giver and I feel good about the conversation.  Great sales people learn how to accept “no” with grace and kindness.

We are coming to the end of the Heart of Missouri United Way campaign for 2015.  I have been told “no”, but I have been told “yes” hundreds and hundreds of times more. I have proven my theory that people naturally just want to help.
I know that we have thousands of generous people in our community who want to help one another.
I know that we have thousands of volunteers in our community that want to help others.
I know that we have many people in our community who are thankful for the help given to them during a difficult time in their lives.

In the next few days listen to the number of times you hear and say “yes”. Compare that with the number of times you hear and say “no”.   I think you will find that we say “yes” more often, a lot more often!

This year the United Way asked a salesperson to help with the annual fundraising campaign and naturally I said “yes”.

Give at:



Repeatable Sales Process

Welcome to the second part of a three-part blog series.  You may recall the first part, Simple Sales Processes. If you did not have a chance to read it, this blog will make more sense if you take a moment and review that one before you continue.


Simple, Repeatable, and Trainable sales processes are the key to a successful sales person.  Once you decide on the process that works for you, it is imperative that you practice it, have it memorized like a theater production and even simulate all of the variables that could happen.  Let me share with you a simple scenario of a REPEATABLE process that I think will prove my point.

Trash Collection. In my family, my brother was responsible for trash. Every week on the eve of trash day my brother would haul the trash out to the road. My husband does the same thing now. We all know what day this happens and what time of day the trucks come rolling down the street. We also know if we need to separate the recyclables from the other trash. We know what containers each belong in. We even know the contingency plan for holidays, when pickup is usually delayed one day. Trash collection is a repeatable process that everyone knows. Our children can teach this process and that means it is easily trainable.

Zig Ziglar has a wonderful quote: “Motivation gets you going and habit gets you there.”  Mr. Ziglar is saying if you want success you must repeat over and over until what you are doing is rote; it’s just what you do.

The simple process you use must be repeated so you, your coworkers, your clients and your prospects know what to expect from you. Let’s take a look at each:

YOU – If you are not well practiced with your processes you will blunder while attempting a sale and you will lose confidence. If you are well practiced in your processes you will exude confidence, you will smile with assurance and you will listen with complete understanding. You will know that success is coming your way.

YOUR COWORKERS – If you are not well practiced with your processes and if you have not trained your coworkers, then you, and they, will blunder while attempting a sale and you both will lose confidence. If you are the sales person, they are relying on you to get the deal done. They are ready to support the new client, but they need you to get the deal done first.

YOUR CLIENTS – If you are not well practiced in your process then the promise of the sale will not be exactly the same every time and each of your clients will have heard a different deal. Typically, part of a sale will be sharing the promise of delivery and the promise of the product benefits. The delivery of those promises must always be the same, it must be repeatable. (Think of trash collection, the client knows exactly what is going to happen.)

PROSPECTS – Many times you get a chance with a prospect because they “heard” your visit will be valuable. Many times a prospect sits through a sales meeting, expecting an ask and it never comes. Many times a prospect is an accomplished sales person and if you don’t put forward a decent sale they know it. Prospects know what a sale looks like even if they are not sales people.

Let me share an idea of how to begin repeating a process: Answering the phone. Perhaps you are the only person that answers your phone or perhaps many people answer the phone. Every call should be answered the same way. Every transfer should be shared the same way. If a call is being put to voicemail it should be declared to the caller the same way. When the call is transferred it should be answered the same way. Perhaps this seems simple, but believe me people don’t know how to answer a phone the way a sales person promised it would be answered. Most questions by callers should have the same answers. This is a simple sales process that should be repeated into a habit by all.

Review your sales processes and start making them repeatable. Your reward will be more sales!

The Gatekeeper

Oh the Gatekeeper!

That ever so talented human who knows all of your tricks and is not afraid to tell you no over and over again.

I think of an armed guard or one of those dogs they keep in junk yards that will literally eat you if you get inside the fence – as the gatekeeper.

Just in case you are unaware of what I am talking about here is Websters definition:
-a person or thing that controls access to something.

With sales it is very important to make sure you give your presentation to the decision maker and many very good salespeople overlook the real decision maker and that is the Gatekeeper.

Have you seen the saying….”If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”!  Well momma is the decision maker!  Should that family happen to be shopping for a car and the salesman chooses to pitch to the man of the house, he got it all wrong….

In business the Gatekeeper is usually the receptionist, sometimes the office manager and sometimes even a spouse.  There are several scenarios that happen when calling to get an appointment with the decision maker, I thought I would outline them and then share my tactics for the tough ones.

When you ask the Gatekeeper for an appointment with Mr./Mrs. Smith sometimes they pull up the calendar and schedule it  (easy one).

Sometimes they ask what it is regarding and you have to prove you are worthy of calendar time.  That means you just have to sell the Gatekeeper and that can go from easy to hard.

If the decision maker has agreed or semi agreed to visit with you it’s easy.  If they haven’t then you must prove you’re  worthy of calendar time.

Words to say:

“How might I get 20 minutes of Mr./Mrs. Smiths time?  I know he/she is very busy.  How do YOU suggest I make this ask?  I think it would be time well spent.”

If I cannot get the Gatekeeper to soften up to me on the phone, I must then bring in my other tactics…Facebook.  I find the Gatekeeper and peruse his/her Facebook.  I discover if they like sports, chocolate, have grandchildren, enjoy music…etc.  And, then armed with my trinket I arrive on the steps and visit with the Gatekeeper and share how I would just like 20 minutes of the decision makers time.

I have been known to deliver flowers and send lunch.

Most times I get in. And, if I haven’t gotten in then it is just that I haven’t gotten in…yet.

Stop Procrastinating Today, Not Tomorrow!

Procrastination: to defer action; delay: to wait until an opportunity is lost.

Have you ever assigned someone a task only to have them ask so many questions about the task that you could have done it three times yourself in the time it took to answer their questions?

“I didn’t want to do it wrong,” that person might say. And I’ll know. I have a person on my hands who is paralyzed to take action. Remember the saying, “Something is better than nothing”?

Do the hard stuff first.

That has always been my philosophy. Do the things you dislike, the things you know you don’t do well, or simply those that you think won’t work even though you’re expected to do them anyway. Do that list first.

I know people who claim to be outstanding salespeople, but will not pick up the phone. My response? I usually make my joke about the phone’s electric current slowly killing them if they make a few sales calls (in jest, of course!).  I know people who have not gotten paid because they dislike completing reports so much that they put them off and miss the deadline to be paid! I know sales people who have refused to do activities that are required for their job because they didn’t think it would work.

All of that is crazy!

You can accomplish all of the above items in the first four hours of work on a Monday and have 4.5 days left to do your job how you like!

All I ask of you is to start doing the hard things first. Start today.

Take the first step. Make the list of hard things you have put off, tried to forget, or just plain ignored.

Tomorrow morning, dedicate between two and four hours to that list, and then set it aside to do the things you excel at and enjoy! Your day will be more productive, you’ll feel happier and you will have the greatest sense of accomplishment.

Repeat the activity the following day, and repeat. Soon your awful list will only require one hour or less each day and your happy activities will make up most of your day.

Great sales people do not procrastinate.  Great sales people are disciplined. I’ll leave you with a quote from the diary of Anne Frank.

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

And so it is with each of us. We can start improving our own world right now!