Monday, November 17, 2014

Elephant Hunter vs. Rod Carew

       During one of the discussions at Jacobsen University, from the back of the room, I heard a line that I thought was a great one. I believe it was a sales manager who made the comment," You guys are elephant hunters. You are looking to sell $60,000 mowers." I really thought it was a great analogy. I know for me, over the past few years, the focus on large deals, and the time they took, absolutely put me in that category; which was not what I had based my early career territory management on. The consistent sales of one and two pieces to many of your customers was how to be successful. One of things I used to kid with my sales manager back then was, "Rod Carew was able to make it to the Baseball Hall of Fame by hitting singles!".
       The equipment purchasing world has changed with more and more clubs leasing, so there are more "elephants" to hunt, but the reality is the success rate has to be high or you will be struggling to succeed. On the other hand, if you are able to continually sell (hit singles and doubles), you have a much better chance of being a solid performer and helping your company grow.
       Don't get me wrong, winning a large sale is a great feeling. The hard part is they are time consuming and if you aren't lucky enough to earn the business, you probably missed out on some other opportunities that aren't coming back.
 I guess in a perfect world I would be Rod Carew the elephant hunter.....



Monday, November 10, 2014

From a Different Point Of View

       This past week, I attended my first event at the training facility for Jacobsen in Charlotte, NC. While I have attended too many Toro University events to count over the years , I was interested in seeing things from a different point of view. This Jacobsen University program was about five distributors, compared to traditionally the ones I attended for Toro, consisting of all Toro's USA distributors. The idea of an on site training area is a good one and the educational and break areas were really well done.
        All in all, it was similar to what I had seen regarding class room work and in the field training in the past except obviously from a different perspective. Even to the point that I was having flashbacks as the Tier 4 information was reviewed on power point slides. The slides were identical to what I had seen at other classes. The truth is, for me, I learn better from talking to peers who are willing to share their knowledge. The point of understanding what features are important to emphasize, during a demo,sticks more in my A.D.D. mind then slide after slide of features and benefits. Also, I have never been someone who could stand there and rattle off specs with the exception of  a few key ones. To me, it is about how the product fits a need or can make your job easier, rather than how many outlets to plug in your phone are on a unit.
       It was a fact filled few days and I did get to some quality time to talk to and learn from some long time Territory Managers. The end take away being, I still have a lot to learn....


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Social Experiment

       A few years back, I realized the shot clock had started on my career as a sales rep for the Toro distributor I was employed by. Coworkers, who I was close to, didn't believe me that it was time to find a new job before I was let go, but in then end my observations were based on a great piece of advice I received from my older brother. He said "watch what they do, not what they say". I started to prepare myself to move on to another position. After reading as much about changing jobs as I could, and even meeting with a social media expert to make myself a more viable candidate for a possible position by putting together a social media plan. With all that in place, it was time to get to work.
       The first thing was LinkedIn. With each person I had a meeting with, or  just trolling LinkedIn as I watched TV for people I might know, I worked on building my connections up over 500 as quickly as possible. Then came working on growing my Twitter following. That still has not gone as I thought, but I have gotten some positive feedback regarding the information I put out. Finally, throw in this Blog and you have my social media campaign in place. Facebook is not my thing and don't plan on adding that.
       Ok, so now I am slightly on the social media map. I have had multiple interviews and was even told during one interview by a  human resources person  to emphasize what social media I use in the next round. It did not do too much to help,but there are many variables involved in being offered a position and having enough Twitter followers hopefully is not a deal breaker.In the end, the right opportunity came from having a strong professional relationship with a competitor.

       Do I think having a personal social media plan in place is important, absolutely. I am glad I have invested the time and effort and even learned a lot as I worked through the process. Did it have anything to do with me finding a new job....not so much.


Friday, October 17, 2014


       I must say this past week was pretty eventful with the reaction of past co-workers, other industry friends and customers, as the news slowly made it's way out of my leaving my old employer to join Lawn & Golf Supply Company. Obviously, there were some of my close friends, who were aware of my frustrations with some things I was dealing with, but hopefully, for the most part, I think I had kept it professional in how I did my job. When all the orders are delivered in the next two months, I will still end with one of my best sales years yet.
       I was really touched by some of the comments I received. It was nice to have multiple customers call me to make sure I was OK. Even today, I got a very complimentary text, from someone I have the ultimate respect for at another Toro Distributor, that made me appreciate the friends I have made in my career. The one theme that came from most who knew me was that no one ever saw me leaving my position.
       Do I feel some guilt... sure, but only in regards to taking care the people I call on. I have always sold to customers with the understanding that I would be there to resolve any issues. While it was never me with a wrench fixing something (we all know we don't want that), it was about being able to steer the process through parts or service that made things just go easier.
       When someone asks "Why?" My honest answer is that it was time for a change. I am excited about the direction of Lawn & Golf that was discussed with me during conversations about this possible move. In the end, it comes down to what is best for my family and myself and this was it.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Jedi Knight No More

       In early 2008, I was lucky enough to win the Toro Master Salesman award. This award is given each year, in the commercial division, to one winner. Your wife is flown into town to surprise you when they announce the winner. To me it is the biggest accomplishment of my professional career! Over the years, I watched men win, who were well respected by everyone, earn the coveted Master Salesman Ring. It is a big deal to get the gold ruby ring and gold business cards that come with the award. It is something you can only win once. Some customers and other Reps have referred to winning the master salesman award as being a Jedi Knight.
       So this Friday was the last time I will wear my ring. Friday I resigned from my position as the sales representative here in Philadelphia . While there were many variables involved, in the end I took advantage of an opportunity to work for  the Jacobsen Distributor, that has been in the business since 1937. What is even more interesting is the gentleman, who started  Lawn & Golf Supply Company, began by working for Philadelphia Toro, owned by T. L. Gustin. He was the grandfather of the Frank Shuman, who I worked for until Philadelphia Turf (was changed from Toro to Turf )was sold in 2007. Small world!
       Over the years, I have had the chance to work with some incredible people in the business. Any success that I achieved were always because of the people who worked in parts, service & inside sales . I can never say thank you enough. While I thought that I would make a run at Barney McFadden's 42 year career, it just wasn't in the cards, but just under 23 years isn't bad....
 Now it is on to the next chapter in my career!


Sunday, September 14, 2014


       On Thursday night, as my son was filling up his water jug before practice, the thing we all never like to see cell phone on the counter took a bath! It is interesting to me to think about the progression I have gone through in my career with communication devices. I went from using a pay phone a few times a day to call in and check messages, to a pager, to the flip phone. I then progressed to the hottest new idea at the time, the Nextel push to talk ( awful coverage!), to my first smart phone, the Blackberry (which I really made me better at my job!).I then progressed to the  multiple versions of smart phones followed by the real high tech IPhone to now  the Droid. With each advancement in technology, I am able to do more from the road, but when they break, I find myself dead in the water. This is due to the realization that with cell phone use, it's hard to know anyone's phone numbers anymore!
       While I can check my messages remotely, the one thing that really became obvious to me on Friday, is how much I use text messaging to communicate with customers. While guys used to comment, "you're like a high school girl" with texting, it is funny how it has become more and more prevalent.  Sure many things can't be taken care of in a quick text, but the lack of interruption and ability to respond when you want, seems to work well in our business. In the end, nothing is better than personal interaction, but just as modes of communication has evolved, so has the way we communicate.


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Ask For The Order

       One of the main principles that is at the core of being successful as a salesperson is a common sense concept of, "asking for the order". It is often overlooked and many times the hardest part of the sales process. Why is this important? As I wrote about last week, it is clear that many clubs have come to crossroads with the condition of their fleet. Downtime and repairs on units are far outweighing the value. Many turf managers have no choice, but to throw that money into the black hole that is a 10 or more year old piece of equipment.
       I know for me, it is not the easiest thing to do, but my advice is GO ASK FOR THE ORDER! Your club officials have line of sight to your expenses. Stick to the facts, and as I have heard  one of the better speakers in the Turf Industry, Sabrina Bladon, state in her talks, " You are talking agronomics and they want economics!" Don't go emotional about how much grief it is causing you, sadly they really don't care....but when you talk about wasting club money (i.e. THEIR MONEY) you hit a nerve. If you use the concept of hours on a mower to miles on a car, it can help to make the picture a little clearer. I use 75 miles to equal one hour on a piece of turf equipment. This is not scientific, but an approximation. I have heard a range for different types of engines and some guestimates, but a comment from a technician the other day about it being an off road vehicle too, makes me feel OK about my number. Then you can add in the multiple operators and being run at full throttle during operation as just some more facts toward your case. The great question is would any person put thousands of repair dollars into a car that had over 300,000 miles. I will go out on a limb and tell you not too many people!
       Then you start thinking "my club has really cut back over the past few years and there is no way they are going to let me get anything"; How do you know if you don't ask? I recently have had three clubs in a similar situation. When the Superintendent took it to their Supervisor, guess what the answer was??? YES! They were told this makes sense and to start the process of acquiring the equipment.
       Save your self the stress of hoping everything makes it through the morning before the shotgun start. Do a little homework on what options are out there and you might be surprised at your sales skills when all you had to do was ask!