Tag Archives: Humor

“I’m not dumb, just a little slow”

I picked up that very useful phrase from a passive mentor* of mine years ago.  It comes out once in a while in discovery sessions and in sales meetings.

While adding a bit of self-deprecating humor to a situation, it also conveys that you’re working with your audience to understand what they’re trying to get across.  And with the mix of business process, technology, new ideas, and salesmanship floating around any business meeting, it really can take a little bit for something to sink in.

It can get your audience to rephrase, re-approach, and even re-think how they’re explaining things to you.   They can get downright considerate for you, which is the opposite of the way sales situations are often perceived- a sales team trying to pull a fast one.

So keep it in your back pocket.

*Everyone has the potential to be a mentor if you’re paying attention.  Learn from everyone- the good and the bad.
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We heard the following phrases in about a three minute span on a customer call this morning, as our Canadian customer described her business processes*

  • “Clickety-click, and Bob’s your uncle”
  • “So the girls downstairs can process the order”
  • Keying a test transaction into the system, she gave it the description POPOP, saying as she typed, “piece of piece of poo.”

You don’t find that kind of spunk too often!

*That’s a PROcess, not a PRAWcess


If you stay in the game long enough, you’ll find yourself visiting the same customer in the same meeting rooms multiple times in a sales cycle.

If you stick around longer, you’ll find yourself visiting the same customer in the same meeting rooms in a different sales cycle with a different sales team.

When you’re a grizzled veteran, you’ll find yourself visiting the same customer in the same meeting rooms, but with different customer contacts and a different sales team.


You’ll find yourself visiting the same customer in the same meeting rooms, but this time you’ll be with a different vendor, selling the replacement to the solution you sold them a decade ago when the world was young and a quart of milk was still a quarter.

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The other side of the bed

We’re creatures of habit and convenience.

It might be the view to the television, the wall the bed is near, or just a matter of how the room is laid out, but in a given hotel room, most of the guests naturally get into the bed on a certain side.

Travel tip:

For a better night’s sleep, slide on over to check out the other side of the bed.  You may discover a practically unused section of the mattress.  Instant room upgrade!

Goodnight and pleasant dreams, road warriors.

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Oh, the burdens and the joys of being in Pre-Sales.

© 2015, The Pre-Sales Observer, all rights reserved



Stand Up

A few months ago I found myself putting in a lot of windshield time getting from one customer engagement to another.  Lacking scheduled conference calls and a little bored with the radio, I wondered… “Can I punch ‘Bill Cosby’ into Pandora?”

Why yes, I could!

Spend some time listening to stand up comedians. Their livelihood depends on their skills for storytelling, use of humor (obviously), writing and preparation, and, perhaps most important, their sense of timing.* So do ours.  The more you listen, the more you’ll be able to pick out the good from the mediocre; the crafted message from the cheap laugh, and the writing conventions they use to expand on a topic, move from one to the next, and touch back to a point or theme introduced earlier in the act.  Dylan Brody is an excellent example as a “purveyor of fine words and phrases.”

 *The Smothers Brothers are masters of timing, from the pregnant pause to the unexpected interjection.  Dick’s ‘little brother’ Tommy is the devilish mastermind of the duo.  From interviews I’ve seen, he intentionally pulls his brother’s strings on stage, which makes the experience all the more genuine.
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Spock has a sense of humor. He just doesn’t believe he does.

I’ve noticed through my career that when you bring a creative person (a designer, a photographer, an artist, a Photoshop specialist) into a technology-related project, they get the technical aspects of the project right away.

I’ve also noticed that that the analytic people involved in the project are in awe and amazement at the creative person’s artistic skills.  “I could never draw/layout/photograph/stylize like that.”

My conclusion has always been that creatives can be analytical but analytics can’t be creative.

I have always been wrong.

Analytics have been told (by themselves or others) that they are not creative.  And they (myself included) have been dumb enough to believe this.  I don’t know if creatives were lucky enough to be tagged creative early on, or if they were wise enough to scoff at the notion they couldn’t be creative.  But to accept that you can’t be creative and therefore never try…

That’s just sad.

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Themes emerge

We’ve all been to a meeting or an event where a bit of corporate culture was born.  Meeting catch-phrases and events take on a humorous life of their own and become a relationship link among the participants, becoming the stuff of legends. Konica Minolta’s commercials and The Office series are chock full of examples of this.

Though we try to boil down our messaging into catchy themes and analogies, there’s no guarantee they’ll resonate.  So work with the audience to find what does stick.  Corporate-culture themes can emerge in the midst of a presentation if you’re listening for them.

If an audience member volunteers it, maybe as a wisecrack, a comment on bullet point, or a strong opinion, positive or negative, of what you’re saying or showing, all the better.  You’ve got something you can work with.  Hold on to it.  Play it up.  Repeat it in a different context and in a humorous, self-deprecating way.  If another audience member joins in the fun, you’re set, you’re immortal, you have been crowned a legend.

Two years down the road, when you bump into someone who was there, they won’t remember your name, they won’t even remember what you were showing, but when they say the secret catch-phrase, you’ll have a good laugh and an even better bond.

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Cost Savings

We all travel.  Now and again we’re challenged to save costs.  I did some brainstorming and here are some ideas I’ve come up with:

  • Bring a bus.  It’s much more fuel efficient per-person to use a bus.
  • Double-shot for only a dollar more costs less than two single-shots.
  • Use your children as cheap resources for keying demo data.  Not everyone can do this, of course, but it’s another good reason to adopt.  And the schools will take care of them pretty much the rest of the time.
  • Don’t key in demo data.  It’s Widgets for John Smith at Acme Corp and you’ve got a demo for every customer regardless of industry.
  • Use your competition’s free version of their CRM product to keep your sales teams up to date.
  • Visit two clients on the same day in the same city on one business trip.  Nah, that’s too much coordination.
  • A simple rhyme: Red eye flights save a hotel night.
  • Staying with relatives (even distant ones) makes trips that much more exciting.
  • Roommates. It could lead to something special.
  • Skip breakfast.  Oh, wait, we do that anyway.  No cost savings there.  Wait!  Skip lunch too!
  • If you insist on breakfast, just walk on into a Hampton Inn or Fairfield Suites like you own the place- grab some food and coffee and Sit down.  You don’t actually have to stay there.  I mean, stay at the Marriott and eat at the Fairfield. The omelets at Embassy Suites are cooked to order!
  • I’ve noticed the price of coffee is inversely related to its quality:
    • Starbucks: $4.00- bitter
    • Dunkin Donuts- $2.25 and a way of life
    • MacDonald’s Newman’s Own: Tasty and hot (but not too hot) off the $1.00 value meal and quick at the drive-thru
    • Best deal:  64 ounce Big-Gulp of Mountain Dew at 7-11:  89
  • Buzz cuts save on shampoo.
  • Shampoo is also available for free in most hotels.  Steal it from housekeeping’s carts and stuff your bags.  Oh, wait, that’s a home expense saving tip.  Well, since we’re off topic anyway… dogs can be washed with free hotel shampoo.
  • Pay in Euros.  That’s one of those currency conversion economics things.
  • Post-its are cheaper than note-pads and quicker than power-points.  Ask to use the customer’s Post-its and raid their office supply cabinet when their back is turned.  See, now we’re saving travel and office expenses.
  • Take audience outside to point out your cloud solutions.  Most effective on a rainy day.  Saves development costs.  You can also take advantage of that shampoo.
  • Charge the audience admission.  I mean, we’re entertaining, right?  Why should travel be a cost center?  Make it a profit center!  Pass the hat around in the middle of the demo.
  • Wait a few months to submit expense reports.
  • Book travel to other departments’ cost-centers.
    • This will also improve gross margin on sales and thereby increase commissions.
  • Reduce cost of expense processing by outsourcing it to another country while simultaneously making the process more tedious for highly compensated employees by having them scan their receipts into PDF documents and then upload them into expense automation software rather than jamming the receipts into a prepaid envelope for interns to sort through.  Apparently the cost of a stamp is greater than the cost of half an hour spent taping, scanning, saving, file-moving, and uploading.  What?  I’m supposed to do that on my own time?
  • Just have payroll reject every 15th expense line item.  Often, those who submit them won’t notice.  If they do notice, it’s too much effort to resubmit the report and they let it go.
  • Leave the sales reps at home.  They’re just taking up space and buying dinner anyway.


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A Friday Pre-Sales Haiku

demos completed
cocktails at the airport bar
flights and the drive home

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