PrintGrowPro | SalesGrowPro. Improve your sales team results. Call today at 314.753.2802
Go to Home page
Top navigation bar. Choose: Home or About pages. Go to Home page Go to About page Go to Virtual Training page
Betting You Didn’t Learn These Job Seeking Skills In College?

Posted on December 19, 2018 under Sales 101, Thoughts for the Week.

 Image result for words with pictures about educationImage result for words with pictures about educationImage result for words with pictures about education

Even with the unemployment figure at the lowest level in decades, on any given day, there are tens of thousands of recent college graduates and  job seekers in general, going about the ‘business’ of changing or starting a career.

And most of them are using the skills they’ve been rewarded for in the past:

Writing applications

Being judged on visible metrics

Showing up at the official (placement) office

Doing well on the assignments

Paying attention to deadlines (but waiting until the last minute)

Getting picked

Fitting in

The thing is, whether you’re a newly graduating senior (with lots of student debt) or a middle-aged, experienced worker looking for a new job, what the folks making the hiring decisions really want to know is:

Can you show me a history of generous, talented, extraordinary side projects?

Have you ever been so passionate about your work that you’ve gone in through the side door?

Are you an expert at something that actually generates value?

Have you connected with leaders in the field in moments when you weren’t actually looking for a job?

Does your reputation speak for itself?

Where online can I see the trail of magic you regularly create?`

My guess is that very few of you have ever even cogitated on these questions, much less tried to answer them (?).  Maybe now is the time to start?

Image result for words with pictures about educationImage result for words with pictures about educationImage result for words with pictures about education


Craig J. McConnell

(Continuing to) Make Sales People Memorable

1 Seaside Lane #203
Belleair, FL 33756
53 Chula
10902 Big Canoe
Jasper, GA 30143


Comments (0)
5 P’s: Perfect Practice Prevents Poor Performance*

Posted on September 12, 2018 under Sales Management 101.

Image result for words with pictures about trainingImage result for words with pictures about trainingImage result for words with pictures about training


“Training your employees can pay big dividends.

Sometimes, it’s easy to underestimate just how much it pays.

Consider an employee who is going to work 2000 hours for you this year. It’s not unusual for an organization to spend only 10 or 20 hours training this person–which means about 1% of their annual workload.

How much training would it take for this person to be 10% better at her job? If you invest 100 hours (!) it’ll pay for itself in just six months. There aren’t many investments an organization can make that double in value in a year.

But let’s take it one step further:

Imagine a customer service rep. Fully costed out, it might cost $5 for this person to service a single customer by phone. An untrained rep doesn’t understand the product, or how to engage, or hasn’t been brought up to speed on your systems. As a result, the value delivered in the call is precisely zero (in fact it’s negative, because you’ve disappointed your customer).

On the other hand, the trained rep easily delivers $30 of brand value to the customer, at a cost, as stated, of $5. So, instead of zero value, there’s a profit to the brand of $25. A comparative ROI of infinity.

And of course, the untrained person doesn’t fall into this trap once. Instead, it happens over and over, many times a day.

The short-sighted organization decides it’s ‘saving money’ by cutting back training. After all, the short-term thinking goes, what’s the point of training people if they’re only going to leave. (I’d point out the converse of this–what’s the danger of not training the people who stay?)

It’s tempting to nod in agreement at these obvious cases (or the similar case of getting, or not getting, a great new job based on how skilled you’ve trained yourself to be–again, a huge cliff and difference in return). What’s not so easy is to take responsibility for our own training.

We’ve long passed the point where society and our organization are taking responsibility for what we know and how we approach problems. We need to own it for ourselves.”*

Image result for words with pictures about trainingImage result for quotes with pictures about fitness motivationalImage result for quotes with pictures about fitness motivationalImage result for quotes with pictures about fitness motivational



Craig J. McConnell

(Continuing to) Make Sales People Memorable 

1 Seaside Lane #203
Belleair, FL 33756
53 Chula
10902 Big Canoe
Jasper, GA 30143

Comments (0)
“It’s Only Your Voice Mail Greeting.” WRONG!!!!

Posted on September 3, 2018 under Attitude Adjusters, Sales 101.

Those of you who have worked with me  know that I can become somewhat maniacal when it comes to stressing the importance of having a good voice mail message (on your mobile device and at the office).

See the source imageSee the source image


In many cases, we’re talking about the first (and last?) impression you make on some one you have never met before.  You need to be good and you need to be  ’on’ your game.

Listen you your current voice mail message and ask yourself:  ‘would I call me back?” or is my VM message sending my callers to the competition?

See the source imageSee the source image

Here are some basics:

*start with a script,  practice it, record it, listen to it, re-record if you don’t like it

*speak clearly and slowly and keep it under 12 seconds (20-30 words)


*be friendly

*be creative and ‘cool’ and funny (if it’s consistent with who you are); Google it if you need assistance

*change your message bi-weekly

GOAL: make your voice mail message so unique that someone might tell someone else to call you just to hear your message.

See the source image

If you’re truly a unique sales person who brings value to your customers, you need a VM message that sets you apart from the crowd.

Make it a great week, always be memorable, pay it forward and remember to smile more often.

Craig McConnell, President, PrintGrowPro/SalesGrowPro

“Great selling is a process artfully done.”

Comments (0)
“Put Me In Coach, I’m Ready To Sell!”

Posted on August 12, 2018 under Sales Management 101.
“Put Me In Coach. I’m Ready To Sell!”

Williemays56_display_image Ty_cobb_display_image

I’m aging myself by taking such liberties with the lyrics from Centerfield (the John Fogarty hit from 1985), but let there be no doubt, selling is a contact sport and, sadly, too many people enter the game unprepared and for the wrong reasons.



Owners and Sales Managers, a question:  On a day-in, day-out basis, how productive is your sales force (really)?  How much contact do they really have with your customers, current and potential?




All too often, senior management (across all segments of corporate America) has an inflated, unrealistic opinion of the competency of their sales team – with potentially disastrous long-term results. The perpetuation of sales force mediocrity can be tied to many things (bad hires, no written goals, a lack of accountability, refusal to make the hard decisions), but one thing is certain: for small and mid-sized companies, the risk of allowing your sales team to morph into mediocrity and become the most underutilized resource in your company will create a culture that nurtures underperformance – across all departments.


With pricing continuing to ‘make no sense’ and margins being tougher and tougher to maintain, owners and sales managers are spread so  thin that effective, hands-on sales management is virtually  non-existent.  There is no one with the time to coach, to train, to mentor, and to hold people accountable.


In too many cases, the creation of a true sales career path with consistent coaching is an afterthought or a tool that is provided only to the ‘newbies’ and under performers.

If senior management is not using coaching to support your sales team, you’re preventing them from:

*reaching their potential (personally and professionally)

* creating new solutions to old problems,

*and most importantly, from driving positive corporate change as leaders of your organization.

If you aren’t asking them the hard questions, making them do the things they don’t enjoy, and forcing them to improve the areas where they are weak, you are at risk of falling into the trap of sales mediocrity.


I would proffer that  were you  to put 100  sales men and women in a room (this includes anyone who has any of these following job titles on their business card:  Account Executive, Sales Professional, Sales Rep, Sales Executive, Results Manager, Customer Specialist, Business Development Officer, Sales Engineer, Solutions Analyst, Sales Consultant, Ninja Selling Pro, New Business Development Specialist, etc, etc, etc.), the actual breakdown relative to skill sets would be as follows:

*SALES PROFESSIONALS: only 10% will be true sales professionals i.e. they know how to develop new business, grow revenue with existing clients, and maximize margins (they live to sell vs. just selling to live)

*WANNABEES: 30% will have no business being in sales at all – period.

*SALES/CUSTOMER SERVICE: 35% are ‘place holders’.  They will usually cover their draw, are going to provide excellent service to their existing clients, will follow up on a lead if it’s sent their way, but are way out of their comfort zones when it comes to developing new business.

*DEVELOPMENT TEAM:  the final 25% are solid performers who, with the right motivation, a break or two, and ongoing training will become “PROS”.  They are the future of your company!


Did you ever stop and think about how many hours professional athletes have practiced in their lifetimes.  Ever wonder why Michael Phelps has a coach to help him with his breaststroke? Or why Dirk Nowitski has a jump shot coach? Or Rafael Nadel a back hand coach? It is certainly not because they are under-performers or WANNABEES. It is to support exceptional performance in the quest for constant improvement.

There is a fascinating book that I would encourage everyone to add to their sales library: Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell (the author of Blink).

Early on Gladwell quotes neurologist Dr. Daniel Levitin: “ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world class expert – in anything.” “In study after study of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, chess players, composers, concert pianist, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again.”

Gladwell goes on to give other examples: the Beatles, Bill Gates,Steve Jobs and shares this observation from John Lennon: “it was fascinating, the more we practiced, the better we got.”

How many hours of practice do you think the average printing sales person has committed to his or her craft?  How many hours of coaching have they received?

 Are any of us even close to approaching 10,000 hours?



Do you  know what makes your sales team successful?

Do you have an inventory of their strengths and weaknesses?

Do you have a “custom success profile” of your top producers to use as a barometer for future hires and as a developmental road map for the rest of your team?

Do you know how the SALES PROFESSIONALS on your team actually compare to your WANNABEES (every sales team has some) when it comes to organizational skills, recognition needs, imagination, sensitivity, social need, competitiveness, assertiveness, probing levels, tension, and flexibility?

You should!  The short and long term financial health of your company depends on it!

PS:  In case you don’t recognize the center fielders I’ve pictured (and who I consider the best of the best) , I’ll list the names the next time I post something ‘brilliant’.   As always, thanks for being here.

Craig McConnell, President 


Follow me on Twitter –

Comments (0)
Managing Your ‘Unmanagable’ Sales Menagerie

Posted on under Sales Management 101.


Managing Your Sales Menagerie

I doubt that there is a sales manager anywhere who has not at one time or another stared out at his ‘audience’ at an early morning sales meeting and said (with apologies to Billy Joel) ‘Man, what am I doing here?”

You get no eye contact (think Southwest Airlines as you try to keep the middle seat empty), body language that is bored and apathetic at best, and in many cases you find yourself trying to have a discussion with a group of people who have suddenly forgotten how to talk.

What are you supposed to do with the reps that expect preferential treatment, never take responsibility, or always find something to whine about?  Or, what about the ones who have lost the ability to think on their own and are quick to blame you for their lack of productivity and have more excuses than Missouri has meth labs?

Remember, you need to treat all your sales people fairly, but you don’t need to treat them all the same.  More importantly, if you have never taken the time to create a ‘sales success profile’ and a ‘talent inventory’ of your team, you are doing yourself and your company a huge disservice.  You need to know what motivates them.  You need to know who needs to take their talents elsewhere.   You need to have a clear understanding of the skill sets and behavioral characteristics that enable your ‘true Hunters’ to consistently develop new business and increase margins.

Every sales team is an amalgam of personalities and styles. I’m going to share with you some of the characters I’ve met over the years; see if you recognize any of them.

Greg the Great

Greg the Great ‘knows’ that you need him more than he needs you.  He’s aggressive, assertive, is a great closer, and doesn’t need a lot of help from you.  He is a ‘pro’ and I would suggest that you be sure to set limits (and enforce them) with Greg, avoid micro-managing him, and then just let him make you look good.

Sunset  Sam

Sunset Sam was Gutenberg’s apprentice and has been in print sales since before color keys.  Sam is very comfortable with his sales volume, his income, and his station in life.  His interest in developing new business is nil.  His interest in new technology and solution selling is non-existent. There’s not a whole lot you can do with Sam, but you’ve got to make sure he is part of the team and you can’t let him become a negative influence. Recognize his long term contributions and encourage him to be the team’s ‘elder statesman.’ Replacing him should be an option (remember, upgrading the level of talent on your sales team should always be a priority), but because of the solid relationships he has developed over the years you might risk losing the business; proceed with caution, but proceed.

See the source image


Elizabeth the Excitable

Every meeting and call Elizabeth has is a ‘great’ one.  Her clients and prospects all love her, she isn’t afraid to talk to anyone, she’s enthusiastic and outgoing, and seems to have everything in common with everyone she meets. People love her, but sadly, she can’t close.  Be patient with Elizabeth, challenge her, teach her that the only good meeting is one that results in a second meeting, help her learn how to ask better questions (and become a better listener), give her public accolades when earned, and make sure you review her weekly ‘to do’ list and hold her accountable.


Polly Perfect

Nobody has a cleaner, more organized work space and filing system than Polly, but she uses change and lack of structure as an excuse for going into hibernation.  Polly puts in lots of hours, but she is busy, not productive.  She works hard and is a great long term planner, but flexibility is not in her DNA and new ideas and ways of doing things make her apoplectic.  She cares deeply about others but can find something wrong with almost anything.  If Polly’s on your team she will have to be taught to deal with distractions and be willing to embrace constructive criticism.  She’ll need to be carefully coached and be given an opportunity to earn small success experiences.  Building awareness and self-confidence will be paramount.

Timid Tim

It’s hard for Tim to be enthusiastic and it is next to impossible for him to ask the hard questions (“What if the client tells me ‘no’?”). Tim can find a million reasons not to prospect and is always doing research on the internet.  His desk is immaculate, is a great list maker, gets his billing done quickly, his clients are loyal (he just doesn’t have enough of them), and is quiet (and passive) to a fault.  What’s a sales manager to do?  Start with prioritizing the basics:  prospecting skills, listening skills, presentation skills, questioning skills; then help Tim with his self-talk and self-assertiveness; teach him the basics of the communication pie (physicality, tonality, language), and finally, make sure Tim knows that you see him as a part of your team.


Debbie Downer

“What’s the use?  My pricing just isn’t competitive.”  Debbie likes to talk about the good old days and blames everyone else for her lack of productivity.  Debbie thinks she is a hard worker but shows up late, leaves early, and loves a long lunch.  Debbie is happiest when the customers call her.  Debbie refuses to set goals (written or otherwise), can be a selfish employee, and has a short attention span.  If you commit to Debbie, know that she will require a lot of attention and patience.  You will need to help her focus and the implementation of an accountability program will be a must.



Curious Carl

There aren’t many Carl’s around; he is a rare breed because he knows that constructive curiosity builds opportunities and opportunities build sales.  He prioritizes really understanding the customer.  He knows their business and how they create value for their customers.  He understands the issues they face and the hurdles they will need to overcome.  He is a solution specialist, not someone who puts ink on paper. Curious Carl knows it is all about being interested  –  truly interested  –   in the customer.  Carl’s customers know that he is not just asking questions because some sales trainer told him that was a good thing to do.  Carl’s goal is to uncover things other sales reps would leave untouched.  Carl’s curiosity builds trust and understanding and that builds sales.  Encourage all your sales reps to be like Carl.

Lucy The Lifelong Learner

Lucy is my all-time favorite. Like Carl, she is a rare breed. If you are lucky enough to have people like her on your sales team you need to nurture them and clone them whenever possible.    She has a personal mission statement that demands that she never stop learning.  She knows that whether we are talking about learning more about your company’s products, basic selling skills, industry trends, or just trying to figure out how things work, it is very important to always be increasing your knowledge.  Lucy manages her time in such a way that there is always time to read and to learn.

Let me leave you with this reminder.  It’s my version of Alec Baldwin’s famous sales speech from GlenGarry Glen Ross:  ABC  –  Always Be Coaching

All too often, sales coaching is non-existent; it is merely an afterthought.

Don’t let that happen to your organization.

If you’re not using your coaching to support your sales team, you’re preventing them from reaching their potential both personally and professionally.

Professional athletes have coaches.  Why should Greg the Great, Sunset Sam, Elizabeth the Excitable, Polly Perfect, Timid Tim, Debbie Downer, Curious Carl, or Lucy The Lifelong Learner be any different?


Craig McConnell, President, PrintGrowPro/SalesGrowPro


Comments (0)
Given A Good Book Report Lately?

Posted on June 25, 2018 under Sales Management 101.

Sales Management 101

“Given A Good Book Report Lately?”

See the source imageSee the source image

 Almost 60 years ago, at Egypt Lake Elementary School in Tampa, Florida, Mrs. Margaret Arce assigned me my first oral book report.


I remember it like it was yesterday.

I remember the stress and anxiety I felt leading up to the ‘big’ day and my inability to sleep the night before.

See the source image

I remember my Dad insisting that I write out my report – word for word – and memorize my presentation.  I must have given my report to my Dad a dozen times (which when I think about it today seems a little over the top; oh well, that’s a story for another day).  Maybe that’s where I was first introduced to the 5 P’s:  PERFECT PRACTICE PREVENTS POOR PERFORMANCE.

I remember my best friends Ronnie Ryals and Drew Castillo making faces at me as they tried to make me laugh.

I remember Mrs. Arce standing in the back of the room encouraging me to stand up straight, look at her if I was nervous, and just do my best.

Book reports are obviously important projects for elementary and middle school language classes.  Why?  Because book reports teach kids how to read, write, and most importantly organize their thoughts and share those thoughts with a group of their peers.



Do you think sales people would benefit from developing and honing those same skills?  Do you think your sales team could benefit from actually doing a book report?  I do, and here a just a couple of reasons why:

  • just like there is a value to making your kids eat their vegetables, there is a value to encouraging  your sales team to read something – anything!  As Confucius said: “no matter how busy you think you are, you must find time for reading or surrender yourself to self chosen ignorance.”


  • Nothing is more difficult than presenting to a group of your peers; regardless of how much experience your sales team has, they can always improve their presentation skills.  They need to remember to smile – people look more trustworthy, confident and friendly when they smile; they should repeat the points they want people to remember and they should talk directly to each person in the room.  PERFECT PRACTICE PREVENTS POOR PERFORMANCE.


  • Last but not least, remember, in everyday life we are continually learning from one another. We all draw on the knowledge, skills, and experiences of our friends and colleagues.   We trust their perspectives. 

See the source image

I just finished reading William Manchester’s THE LAST LION about Churchill.  You think those speeches he gave, that some say may have saved the world, were spontaneous – think again.

For the record, a quick update on the last book report I gave (Attention all sales managers:  ‘if you’re going to talk the talk, you have to walk the walk).  Do you happen to know how many times “Sam-I-Am” (Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham) asked for the order before he got it?

Peer-to-Peer learning is a great way to make sure you don’t allow your sales team to decline into mediocrity.  Mediocrity avoidance mandates that you deploy and implement new management tools that motivate, excite, and challenge your sales team – ‘rookies’ and ‘veterans’ alike.  Adding reading a book and giving a book report to your team’s next ‘to do’ list will do just that.

See the source image

Have a great rest of the week!

Craig McConnell, President, PrintGrowPro/SalesGrowPro

“Great selling is a process artfully done.”


Comments (0)
Closing The Gate

Posted on April 7, 2017 under Sales Management 101.





Sooner or later, tribes begin to exclude interested but unaffiliated newcomers.

It happens to religious sects, to surfers and to online communities as well. Nascent groups with open arms become mature groups too set in their ways to evangelize and grow their membership, too stuck to engage, change and thrive.

So much easier to turn someone away than it is to patiently engage with them, the way you were welcomed when you were in their shoes.

There are two reasons for this:

  1. It’s tiresome and boring to keep breaking in newbies. Eternal September, the never-ending stream of repetitive questions and mistakes can wear out even the most committed host. Your IT person wasn’t born grouchy–it just happens.
  2. It’s threatening to the existing power structure. New voices want new procedures and fresh leadership.

And so, Wikipedia has transformed itself into a club that’s not particularly interested in welcoming new editors.

And the social club down the street has a membership with an average age of 77.

And companies that used to grow by absorbing talent via acquisitions, cease to do so.

This cycle isn’t inevitable, but it takes ever more effort to overcome our inertia.

Even if it happens gradually, the choice to not fight this inertia is still a choice. And while closing the gate can ensure stability and the status quo (for now), it rarely leads to growth, and ultimately leads to decline.

[Some questions to ponder...]

Do outsiders get the benefit of the doubt?

Do we make it easy for outsiders to become insiders?

Is there a clear and well-lit path to do so?

When we tell someone new, “that not how we do things around here,” do we also encourage them to learn the other way and to try again?

Are we even capable of explaining the status quo, or is the way we do things set merely because we forgot that we could do it better?

Is a day without emotional or organizational growth a good day?



Craig McConnell, President,



“Great selling is a process artfully done.” 

Follow me on Twitter – 



Comments (0)
Career Coach: Here’s how to ace the job interview

Posted on December 6, 2016 under Sales 101.

Whether you are interviewing for the first time or fifth time, here’s things to remember.

Remember, being considerate is good for your mental and physical health, your career, and everyone around you. Be KIND

Image result for words with pictures about kindness

Craig J. McConnell

“Entering Adulthood II”
Continuing to) Make Sales People Memorable

(striving to) Re-imagine Retirement

1170 Tropical Drive
Jupiter, FL 33458

53 Chula
10902 Big Canoe
Jasper, GA 30143


Comments (0)
Sales 101: A Clear Rejection Is Always Better Than A Fake Promise

Posted on May 9, 2016 under Sales 101.

Thought For The Day

For 30 days, say hello to everyone you see  -  and I mean everyone. Don’t walk by anyone without acknowledging them. Smile!  Make Eye Contact!  Say ‘Good Morning’. or ‘Good afternoon’ or just ‘HI”.  This is a simple but effective  self talk exercise that generates  positive energy and builds confidence for you, and will do the same for the recipient of your initiative.

David Sandler may have actually coined the expression ‘go for the no’ (or at least his intellectual property seems to imply that), but regardless, it is GREAT advice. I think his quote was something like “you don’t learn how to sell by getting a ‘yes’; you learn how to sell when you get a ‘no’.

Remember, “I’ll think about it” and ‘maybe’ do you no good at all.  Falling into the ‘think it over’ trap is only a time waster.  Timing is important, empathy is critical, but over time you will learn when it is time to give your prospects permission to say ‘no’.


When someone doesn’t say yes, they’ll often give you a reason.

A common trap: Believe the reason.

If you start rebuilding your product, your pitch and your PR based on the stated reason, you’re driving by looking in the rear view mirror.

The people who turn you down have a reason, but they’re almost certainly not telling you why.

Fake reasons: I don’t like the color, it’s too expensive, you don’t have enough references, there was a typo in your resume.

Real reasons: My boss won’t let me, I don’t trust you, I’m afraid of change.

By all means, make your stuff better. More important, focus on the unstated reasons that drive most rejections.

And most important: Shun the non-believers and sell to people who want to go on a journey with you.



Craig J. McConnell

“Retirement Reimagined”
(Continuing to) Make Sales People Memorable

(striving to enter) Adulthood II


1170 Tropical Drive
Jupiter, FL 33458


Comments (0)
Sales 101: Green Eggs and Ham ‘aka’ The Value Of Persistence

Posted on April 25, 2016 under Sales 101.


Here’s A Thought For The Day

Failure is the path of least persistence.

All great sales people are professionally pleasantly positively persistent (4Ps).  How about you?  Give up easily?  Did you ever stop to count how many times ‘Sam I Am’ asks for the order (before he gets it)?   That is a real study in persistence – especially when you are selling green eggs and ham. 


From Seth Godin:

The tidal wave is overrated

Yes, it can lead to wholesale destruction, but it’s the incessant (but much smaller) daily tidal force that moves all boats, worldwide.

And far more powerful than either is the incredible impact of seepage, of moisture, of the liquid that makes things grow.

Facebook and other legendary companies didn’t get that way all at once, and neither will you.

We can definitely spend time worrying about/building the tsunami, but it’s the drip, drip, drip that will change everything in the long run.

A final thought:

If you are persistent you will get it = if you are consistent you will keep it.

Craig J. McConnell

“Retirement Reimagined”
(Continuing to) Make Sales People Memorable

(striving to enter) Adulthood II


1170 Tropical Drive
Jupiter, FL 33458

53 Chula
10902 Big Canoe
Jasper, GA 30143


Comments (0)
Post Subscriptions