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)



[poo sh-ee]

Adjective – obnoxiously forward or self-assertive.

We have all experienced this behavior from someone.  We have all felt uncomfortable because someone thought they had the right to place their goals and objectives ahead of someone else’s.


I call this “blinded by the light.”

Think of a movie scene where the light is at the end of the tunnel and a human is attracted to it with such gravitational force that it is like a meteor plummeting to the earth with a crashing force that it will annihilate anything in its wake.


Just this week I experienced this energy, drive, self-fulfilling behavior with complete disregard to my needs and my feelings.  I was approached by an older gentleman who asked for 20 minutes of my time in the next hour.  I was told it was not an option for me to meet and have a discussion.

Not only was I not feeling well, my husband was not feeling well and I had a number of priority items to handle.  It was also presented to me right before I had to stand and present before a group of colleagues.  I felt a number of emotions: shock, exhaustion, fury, wonder, and even a large lack of self-confidence.


Incredible as it may seem, I succumbed to the pressure and made myself available.  Much to my dismay, anger, frustration – the meeting did not go well and made all the feelings I had even worse.


Great salespeople never push their agenda before that of their clients or prospects.

Great salespeople always ask permission for someone’s time.

Great salespeople never expect someone to drop everything for them.

Great salespeople always want what is best for the prospect or client, and believes that a consumer is intelligent enough to come to a good decision for themselves.

Great salespeople never say “well you better do it this month or else…”


You may be told by your trainer to create a sense of urgency.

You may be told by your trainer to be persistent, “constant contact.”

You may be told by your trainer to share with your prospect how much it will help you if they do it today.

You may be told by your trainer that the prospect doesn’t know enough or cannot make that decision without all of your information.


Whether you are selling or not, professionals don’t behave this way either.


People!  Stop being pushy!!

Let me offer you how I approach asking someone for their time.  And if you are asking enough people for their time, you will have plenty of people to talk to.

First, call, email or ask face to face if someone would welcome a conversation with you.

Ask permission to reach out to them, with the purpose of scheduling a time for that conversation.

Follow through and reach out, via the channel that has been agreed upon, and schedule an appointment for that conversation.

When you do reach out, ask if it is a good time still, (sometime circumstances change and what was planned does not work,) be generous – time is the most valuable item anyone can give to another, handle it with great care.

Thank the person for their graciousness to you.


Do you want to be a great salesperson?  Start with courtesy.


I am so incredibly courteous with others time that this week when I asked someone if they thought I was a good salesperson they answered “I don’t really think of you as a salesperson.”

Good.  I am not blinding anyone by my light.


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”.

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