A Sales Transformation from Loser to Leader



I am going to share with you a useful story about a huge breakthrough in sales effectiveness. My friend told me this story at a critical time in my career. First, some background on how I heard it and why its lessons are so powerful.

I returned to executive coaching full time in 1995 and put my coaching materials on the World Wide Web using CompuServe’s pioneering OurWorld service. My email newsletter was soon being read around the world. I soon received an email from an important coach in South Africa, Pat Grove, who became a valued friend and mentor.

Pat told me that he was in San Francisco in the early 1970s helping to invent coaching at the same time as Werner Erhard (EST), John Hanley (Lifespring), Fernando Flores (Action Technologies), and others. Pat developed and delivered his own training programs in South Africa and Israel for forty years, until his death in January of 2012. I never participated in his group training but I did get tremendous value from our emails and Skype conversations. I am sad that he is gone.

Pat mentioned once that being an effective coach is only possible if one is effective in sales. Simply put, if no one accepts your coaching you are not a coach. Pat, like me, was not a “natural salesman.” We also began our careers with traditional business training. He started as a bank accountant and my first paying job was with a “Big 8” accounting firm. Frustrated and bored, we each decided to try sales and we each failed. The story of my first breakthrough in sales effectiveness is told elsewhere on this blog. Here is Pat’s story, that he shared with me by email in 1996. Pat wrote quickly and informally so I present an edited version here. [My comments are in square brackets.]



No Big Deal

by Pat Grove

I gave up wanting to prove anything and just got the job done.

I chose to be a service agent…

The most important thing I learned was not to sell benefits but to enroll people into taking action on their dreams.

Selling Encyclopedias was at first for me a way to prove to myself, and others, that I was OK. Firstly, my background and experiences and lying about myself to others and to myself was catching up with me. [Pat used the word “lying” in a particular way here. He refers to the pretensions so common in our culture of pretending to “have it all together,” hoping people will think we are more competent and comfortable than we truly feel. This is all an “act” to prevent people from seeing us as we see ourselves.]  So I found a system that had the potential to make a lot of money compared to (more…)

Misunderstood Jargon



No sooner did I post my article on the pitfalls of misusing jargon that I found myself in a conversation that was confused and distorted by the use of technical terms without a shared context.


A client mentioned his plan to delegate the task of staying in regular, informal contact with customers between transactions. We naturally agreed that these “keep warm” meetings were a valuable and often overlooked source of repeat business. Since the activity is so valuable for the business, I asked how he was going to track the sales representative’s performance on scheduling and conducting these visits. “I’m not worried about that. Her personality assessment is clearly very high ‘I,’ so I know she will happily do the meetings.”

I told him that puzzled me. The most popular assessment tool is (more…)




I like this guy.

We speak the same language.

— from many movies, in many variations


Some people hate to talk to mechanics. Most people don’t know what their doctor told them.

No one likes reading the fine print. Computer departments often find it difficult to get support from the business side. The operations people find it impossible to get the technical people to listen. Jargon used with the wrong audience is a big part of the problem.

People want to be included but using jargon cuts both ways. If everyone in a conversation knows the jargon, everyone feels included. Everyone is “in.” The person who does not know the jargon is “out.”

Consider a sales call on a doctor’s office. The salesperson begins to talk about VoIP, SAAS, and generational back-ups. How would the office manager feel if he were a computer

expert? Respected, included, and comfortable. How would the novice feel? Disrespected, incompetent, and uncomfortable, perhaps? The typical reaction of a person feeling that way is to (more…)

Why Things Catch On – Knowledge@Wharton



Wharton Professor Jonah Berger talks about his book, Contagious: Why Things Catch On. The book details six key steps to drive people to talk and share. STEPPS is an acronym for:

  1. Social currency:, It’s all about people talking about things to make themselves look good, rather than bad
  2. Triggers: which is all about the idea of “top of mind, tip of tongue.” We talk about things that are on the top of our heads.
  3. Emotion: When we care, we share. The more we care about a piece of information or the more we’re feeling physiologically aroused, the more likely we pass something on.
  4. Public: When we can see other people doing something, we’re more likely to imitate it.
  5. Practical value: Basically, it’s the idea of news you can use. We share information to help others, to make them better off.
  6. Stories: how we share things that are often wrapped up in stories or narratives.

Via ‘Contagious’: Jonah Berger on Why Things Catch On – Knowledge@Wharton.



Sales Skills for Top Managers • PODCAST



Click here for Tony Mayo's podcast

Sales Skills for Top Managers Podcast

A conversation with executive coaching client Ron Dimon. Part 8

This latest podcast is part eight of a funny and practical conversation between top executive coach Tony Mayo and his longtime client Ron Dimon. Ron is an expert on the use of information by executives of large organizations. Listen as two experienced business people play with useful ideas in this episode including:

  • Boost your sales by employing Tony’s insight into the related power of affinity and similarity.
  • Why it is important to sell to people rather than persuade positions.
  • The proper roles of laughter, emotions, product knowledge in sales.
  • How and why Tony refused a check for $250,000.
  • It is not what you say that makes the sale,
    it is what you hear!

The podcast is available on iTunes, Google Play Music, Stitcher, and FeedBurner. Listen through your computer or subscribe with an app on your favorite portable device.



Integrity: Executive Coaching Teleseminar



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Integrity: The Most Overlooked Business Advantage


Podcast #13: Teleseminar on the power and practicality of integrity, doing what you say when and how you said you would do it.

Just click here and either listen through your computer or subscribe through iTunes to have this and all new episodes placed on your device as they become available. You may also set up an automatic “feed” to non-Apple devices by using this link: click here for other devices.

For other posts on integrity see:



A conversation with executive coaching client Ron Dimon. Part 6



Click here for Tony Mayo's podcastThis latest podcast is part six of a funny and useful conversation between top executive coach Tony Mayo and his longtime client Ron Dimon. Ron is an expert on the use of information by executives of large organizations. Listen as two experienced business people play with useful ideas in this episode including;

  • Networking Skills
    • Speaking to Strangers
  • Are you playing an “Unwinnable game”?
  • Confidence
  • What’s different about Canadians

Just click here to listen now or subscribe on your device using Apple’s Tunes, Android, and other podcatchers to have this and all new episodes placed on your device as they become available.