Have you ever been in a situation where you literally had a $1,000,000 lead for the company you work for? You excitedly pass this huge prospect for new business to a partner or supervisor. You Ask about a month later if they landed the project only to hear, … “Oh I’m sorry. I dropped the ball on that one. I never followed up with your prospect.”

All you can think is, “What!? … What!? #$!%!*@!” So you run back to your desk to call your contact. You need to see if anything can be salvaged. Your contact is short with you and understandably upset. Not outwardly but you can cut the tension in the air with a knife. They went out of their way to sell their office on using your services, to give you a little something, and they end up scrambling for a replacement. You made him look bad to the others in the office.

So what now. You’re upset, but you can’t charge the partners office, the guy who dropped the proverbial ball!, and pitch them out the window.

You learn and change. You learn that it is up to you to have a plan. You learn that in life if you merely hand off, you are leaving yourself open to someone else’s failure.

Look back on what transpired. It is very easy to point at the other guy and say, “If he only made the call. Why didn’t he follow up.” Even more so you should be saying, “If this was such a large prospect, WHAT WERE YOU DOING TO MAKE SURE THE PROJECT WAS LANDED.” A 4 to 6 week followup does not cut it. You need to pass the lead, then follow up with both client and sales person. Stay on top of of what is going on. Ask your sales guy questions, SMART ones like, “So after we do this project, do you think they would be interested in an ongoing support package for all 8 facilities?” Get them thinking that this is really a big deal too.

Now I’ll pull back a bit. You cannot ride everyone to make them get your agenda completed. You have pick your battles and fight when it’s right. Use this as a strategy, a means to an end goal. Too much and your office will hate you, not enough and your client will hate you then move to your competitor. Balance. Planning.

Having a plan can often keep bad things from happening or looking on the other side will keep you flush with good things. Often a plan can be the mere thought of something with a start and end result. Just by think something through you have created a plan that you will work toward without going through the process of writing it down and outlining or profiling. If you stop and think things through you are getting ahead. If you write lists of things that need to be done to get to an end result you are really detailing the finer points. But when you get the time to write a summary with steps in the plan and the conclusion you have a real tool to work with.

Making a plan is as simple as creating an outline. Expand the definition of each outline item. Insert the steps to complete each task and put it to a timeline.

So when anyone who has influence on your life fails and it affects you in a negative way, you could have limited the effects by being proactive. Pause for a moment. This is not a catch all one size fits all. Mostly, it can be limited. Example, Call people to confirm appointments the day before. Make sure you always have an extra, that is extra $20 or $50 in your pocket somewhere. When approaching a blind corner anywhere, slowdown and swing wide away from the blind spot. Don’t tailgate…

So now that you know that you are in control of your own life, what are you going to do? Ah nice read or a make plan and follow through. Did you know that a 1% increase in anything per week will net you a 67% increase over the course of a year. Now do that every year or every other year. Small change can have large cascading effects.



There are times when you have a moment that is not really going how you were expecting it to go. For example, your making sales calls and you contact someone who appears interested in your services or product. You make an appointment. You meet with the prospective client. Things are looking good. They appear interested. They even ask you to bid on a project. In the bid process you ask for some critical information that will effect the bid. Your told that they will gather the information and get it to you. You wait, then call about a week later. You get voicemail. You wait, then call about a week later. You get voicemail again. One more time! Same result and no return call. It seems like they are avoiding you or at a minimum lack enough courtesy to return your call with some kind of status.

So what do you do? Call one more time to leave a nasty message? Forget about them altogether? Keep calling every week until you get a call back? Stakeout their parking lot and bum rush them as they exit their car?

The answer is none of these things. Granted a return call would have clarified everything, but do not make assumptions. You have no idea what is going on in another persons life. To put things into perspective you are not even a part of their life yet. You are trying to get into their life. Stop and think about that for one minute… now one more. Catastrophic events like death in the family, terminal illness, or even divorce can push you way down on someone list of calls to return.

It’s not an excuse for bad behavior. It’s a test of your own coping skills. Stop and think about what you will get from your actions. Was your ego really injured, really? This is not a fight or flight situation either. Your trying to make or continue a relationship in one form or another.

Step back. Give them some breathing room. Assume that it is not a personality fault and move on. If you must say your peace, shoot them an email or send a fax stating that you will file the bid for now and will contact them again sometime in the future. Keep it brief and no jabs. You never know when you may bump into this person again or under what circumstances.

Surprise, I had this very situation happen to me. About 2 years later I had this very same prospective client call a friend of his looking for a programmer. His friend happened to be a new client that I was negotiating with for a development project. Guess who the prospects friend, my new client, referred as a potential match for his programming needs? … Me! Now the exchange between the two of them must have been positive since I am working with both now.

Looking back, it would have so easy to vent about unreturned calls and burned that bridge. He would have had nothing good to say when he realized who was being referred to him. I can hear is now, “Who!? That #&@#!$@ is such a #&@#!$@. How long have you been working with him?” That would have been 2 bridges down and 2 less projects for me. Simply try to treat people how you would want to be treated. Show a little professional courtesy yourself.

If that doesn’t help be prepared to work even harder to over come the obstacles you are building into your work life. Once out three times back be it good, bad, positive or negative.



It’s 2007. With the holiday slowdown in December I had time to look at the status of my business operations. I’ve decided that it is time for a change. There are 3 aspects of my business that I looked at:

  1. Lead generation / networking
  2. Sales
  3. business structure

It is interesting how things workout. I received a letter in the mail from a business broker. A business broker is like a real estate agent. They can help buy or sell a business. I was thinking that it might be worth while to look into buying a business with complementary services and customer base. I called the the broker, James Janota, to make an appointment.

We talked for a few hours about what I wanted to do and what I was expecting to get out of the deal. We decided that what I needed was capital. He had the name of a banker and suggested that I meet with her to discuss options.

Maybe a week goes by and I get call from Cary Carson, the banker. As you might expect we talked for a bit. It looked like with the plans I have and some of the things I’d like to do, a business line of credit would help me float some of the expense at a lower interest rate than a credit card would. In addition, she suggested that I should talk to a business coach to help focus my plans. I resisted. My idea of business coach was someone well versed in all aspects of how a business should be run, ideally. I imagined that I would be shelling out a lot of money for suggestions that would cost me more money to implement. Ultimately chose to open my mind to the idea and at least talk. His name is Don Stephen.

Don and I talked. He asked many pointed questions about my business, do I have a marketing plan, do I have an exit plan… etc. Exit plan? We talked more. By the time we were well into our conversion I noticed that he wasn’t trying to sell me on his services. By the end of the conversation I had set an appointment with him to talk more about what he had to offer and to buy a copy of a book called, “The Business Coach” by Bradley Sugars for fifteen dollars. I could have bought it online for less but figured that it was as good a reason to meet with Don as any.

We met a few days later at a coffee shop. I had my fifteen dollars in hand when Don told me that the book was a gift since I agreed to meet with him to discuss is services further. Now, I did some of my own homework on “The Business Coach” by Bradley Sugars. I found a testimonial from Al Ries, “What Tony Robbins has done in personal motivation, Brad Sugars has done in business coaching…” Basically I was sold. We continued to talk.

I had one of those “Ah Ha!” moments, when Don was talking about using the chamber of commerce to network. At first I was like, “What networking?” ( Networking is one of those things that people talk about, think they understand and then do not do it because they do not understand what is meant by networking. ) Then he explained that the idea of networking at the chamber is not to walk out of the room with an order or an appointment. When you are networking you are letting other people get to know you and what you have to offer. You are building a relationship so when they need what you have they call you or when you call on them they will take your call. Maybe this is obvious to everyone else but at the time I had to say “Ah Ha!” I was never explained to me. Marriage and babies have bits of information that are also omitted by those that have been there, like the famous, “Your life is going to change.” No one ever said that it was going to be like this. It was never qualified, ever.

So Don goes on to say that the coaching franchise that he is a part of has issue a new book for them to read, “The Little Black Book of Connections” by Jeffery Gitomer. So I write it down. I’m thinking that if someone in his organization thinks enough of this book to issue it to their members then I should be looking at it too. It is difficult for me to find someone to suggest good business books. Not many people read them that I associate with.

So we wrap up our meeting. I thank him for the book and take off for the book store. Once there, I make a B-line for the business book shelf. What do you know “The Little Black Book of Connections” by Jeffery Gitomer is on the shelf cover facing out. Guess what? It is a little Black clothe covered book. Next to it was another book by Jeffery Gitomer, “The Little Red Book of Selling”. Yup, it is a little Red clothe covered book. I bought both.

So now I’m getting a crash course in how to structure and measure by businesses performance. I’m getting indoctrinated in the art of networking and finally I’m learning about how to sell or I should say, “Create a buying environment.” By no means am I saying that three book will make me an expert in any of these topics, but it will make a difference in how I attract new business and operate my business.

All this would never have come together if I had not kept an open mind to listen to what others around me had to say. These were complete strangers. Why was I able to get so much information from complete strangers? It’s actually in, “The Little Red Book of Selling”. They were all genuinely giving value first and not pressing for a sale now. It builds trust. It builds relationships.

This is what motivated me to take a closer look at my business. It is also what motivated me to look at what others are doing. It could have taken me years to learn the lessons these three books have to offer in a few hours of reading. As I complete each of these books I will write about my experiences and what I have gleaned from their writings. I hope that you follow along and make good use of this information.

For those interested:

  1. James Janota of Great Lakes Business Brokers 630-719-1300
  2. Don Stephen of Action International Business coaching 630-839-9136
  3. Cary Carson Fifth Third Bank Business Banking 630-955-2274

Please let them know where you heard about them.

  1. “The Business Coach” by Bradley Sugars
  2. “The Little Black Book of Connections” by Jeffery Gitomer
  3. “The Little Red Book of Selling” by Jeffery Gitomer