Selling in the Current and Post Pandemic Era – Who Moved My Cheese Revisited

By Peter K. Godinez
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The world, culture and our community have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  How we conduct business poses many challenges and we can only forecast that it will never go back to the way it used to be.  Many occupations that used to be lucrative in nature are facing possible extinction if applying the same methodologies.
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The popular book “Who Moved My Cheese?” written by Dr. Spencer Johnson proves to be very applicable for the year 2020, even more than in the late 1990’s .  This is my quick summary of this book.
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This motivational business fable involves two mice and two humans who exist in a “maze” (the environment), who share in common their need for “cheese” (the end product/goal).  Both teams have a success history of finding the cheese. The human team grows accustomed to their cheese intake but grows a bit over confident in their process to obtain it. The mouse team eventually arrives at this same spot only to find there is a dwindling supply and eventually no cheese.  The mice accept the reality of the situation and make plans to pave a new path knowing there would be some pain and discomfort in this new journey.  
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The human team, realizing the place where their source of cheese is now void of results, have a hard time accepting this new reality. They  begin to have anger, frustration, blame, and a feeling of unfairness grows.  Proposals and solutions are ignored due to the comfort of the routine familiar methods and fear of the unknown.  One of the members posts a sign at the old place where once they obtained cheese that reads, “If You Do Not Change, You Will Become Extinct”.  The story continues, so if you want to learn more then buy the book.
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The sequel to this book could easily be applied to what has happened this year in 2020.  A possible title might be “Who Moved my Sales Commissions”.  The pandemic moved a lot of familiar elements, but the end goal is now in another spot somewhere.
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Having invested four decades of my career in “selling” I believe and in my opinion the profession of “sales” role is in jeopardy of extinction. I think there will be people (just like the human team in the fable) who will strongly disagree with this scary prophecy due to their comfort of regular routine that has produced so much success in the past.
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Let us not lose hope in my opinion of extinction.  The extinction I am prophesying is   a good thing that will replace old worn out processes and beliefs with new and effective ways of reaching out to people to provide them products and services.  There are so many wonderful and amazing things that exist now.  I hope to share these as I connect with you and will try to give you a taste of what exists now for you to get going to new horizons.
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The definition of a Sales Representative is a person employed to represent a business and to sell merchandise to customers in a store or a customer who they visited). The pandemic has caused the smart “salespeople” (like the mouse team) to look at the elements of the sales process in a different way. They need to  add new mind-sets, methodologies and technology if revenues and profits (commissions) are to ever come back.
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I struggle with the term “Salesperson” simply because of the reality of the negative perception that the title carries.  In the last decade, I can’t count the number of times I have heard, “No one wants to be sold, but people love to buy”.  I laugh at the analogy that one’s partner does not come home and say, “I got sold some products today”.  More likely, they would say “I got sold a bill of goods”. The possible new name for “Salesperson” may come over time.  In the meantime, I always liked “Promoter of Proper and Effective Buying Behavior” but that is too long.  Some of the other possibilities have been Consultant, Customer Development Executive. Client Relationship Representative, Account Executive and Customer Experience Representative.  You eliminate a good amount of the issues by eliminating the word “Sales” from the title.
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I have no problem with what a “Salesperson’s” purpose in a company they represent.  Their purpose is vitally important to the existence of who they represent.  As the saying goes, “bad things” happen when a business is not selling their products and services to the targeted audience.
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Investors, while caring about many aspects of the company, want primarily to know how much revenues, profits and growth are taking place year after year.  While there are many very important other elements to a company’s success (product development, administration, services, etc), the role of the salesperson is vital to survival and success of a company.  Amway was famous for the slogan “No one gets paid until someone buys some soap”.
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For those who are in the profession of sales or even those who are thinking about entering into it, it is very important to understand that the role of a salesperson needs to expand beyond what it used to be.  
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An inspiring concept expresses that the best CEOs began as sales representatives and usually consider themselves to be good at selling.  Anne Mulcahy, was CEO of Xerox Corporation in 2001 and began her career as a Field Sales Representative.  My point in all of this is that the profile for someone wanting to be successful in the sales profession needs to expand in their skills, knowledge, reputation, roles and responsibilities.  Just as a CEO needs to have a broad influence on an organization they lead, so a “Modern Day Quintessential Salesperson” must also.
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The old traditional salesperson world consisted of the Sales Cycle.
  1. Prospecting
  2. Preparation
  3. Approach
  4. Presentation
  5. Approach
  6. Presentation/Demo
  7. Objection Handling
  8. Closing
  9. Follow-Up

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The Pandemic of 2020 changed many components of this cycle or process. I am not going to cover all of these steps in the cycle but will in future articles and YouTube videos.
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The one I will touch on is the first of these – Prospecting.  The old traditional methods of prospecting are listed below.  I will summarize what is now wrong with these methods.
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  • Face to Face Visitations (cold calling, strategic stop by, Events) -It is obvious why this is not going to work and even when you were allowed to cold call only 2% resulted in an appointment.  All of us are not allowed to be around each other to meet and gather as a group.  Even when we get through this pandemic era, the salesperson will be the last person to be seen in an unsolicited, unscheduled and interruption visit attempt.  Watch “No Solicitor Video https://animoto.com/play/jFJNM0ux36HJX6QRLxvmIA
  • Telephone -The internet is full of advice encouraging salespeople to replace personal interruption based visits with interruption telephone calls. The reports that show 80% of people let their calls go to voicemail, while 90% of 1st time voicemail are ignored.   Even the most cleverly written compelling voicemail script with the all the enthusiast intonation will still get a push of a delete button.  
  • E-Mails  While emails are an inexpensive way to reach potential customers even when they are well written, there are associated challenges associated with sending.  First, they need to be sent individually, unless you have permission to send them.  This permission is granted when a user gives you their email through an Opt-In response.  Anything less than this is considered Spam and lots of bad things could happen.  
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Second, companies email security blocks a lot of emails and end up in the spam or junk folder.  This is not a good place.  Third, the average office worker receives 121 emails per day.  You can see that between the large number of voicemails and emails makes it virtually impossible to connect with someone.  Let’s all remember that an office worker does not exist to be communicating with sales people.
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I know there are other methods I may be missing but let’s start with these and the problem that COVID-19 causes.
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Again, referring back to the “Who Moved My Cheese” fable, these three techniques for prospecting were the old routines that were comfortable and familiar for the Human Team.  No cheese to be found and the current cheese inventory is diminishing.  Can you say “Termination” for lack of performance?  Lots of opportunity or stress, frustration, blame and bitterness.
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In future articles and Your Pivot Journey YouTube Channel segments I will be covering the Modern Salesperson roles and responsibilities  in the “New Sales Normal” roles that need to go beyond the old routine activities mentioned above..
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Here are a few examples:
  • Marketing and Sales Synergy  I was a marketing major in college and somehow ended up in sales.  Thinking back on the basics of marketing I realized that sales was only one of the “P” in the equation. “Place of Distribution”.  Somewhere along the way I lost the total marketing formula.  What I am trying to say is if you do not have an effective marketing strategy, selling is a very difficult thing and not a pleasant experience.  And no,  cold calling, emails, and telemarketing are lousy marketing strategies.  The best way I can describe a strategic marketing plan is when the prospect is interested and reaches out to you. Wow, how wonderful is that scenario.  It doesn’t guarantee sales yet, but this is a great place to start.    
  • Sales Technology  There are too many sales technologies to list here, but my favorite is the automatic systems that keep regular information flowing to the prospective client.  Some of the best salespeople do not mind being annoyed by the constant calls they make.  Somehow technology does not mind it and it is better at it.  Technology makes being annoying profitable. If a prospective client just once gives you permission to use their email via a free offer for an ebook (or something like that) then the sequence begins.
  • Developing a Digital Presence Do you ever wonder why celebrities are so worshipped in our culture and paid a lot of money for just showing up, then you will realize how critical a digital presence is.  Can you imagine walking into a business (post COVID-19 of course) Brad Pitt, Tom Brady, Paul McCarthy (okay these are my choices) and wondering what are your chances that someone would come out to greet you and spend time with you?  To make it more realistic, can you imagine someone you are trying to connect with saying, “hey you are that guy on the YouTube video”.  Yes – this happens to me a good amount.    Do you have a digital presence?

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These are just a few of the vital subjects and alot more, I will be covering.
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In the meantime, please visit my YouTube Channel “Your Pivot Journey” and watch my interview with my long-time friend, Keith Gunther, who understands the traditional sales cycle but also has a good grip on the sale technologies available.  Please “Subscribe” if you would like to be notified of future interviews.
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Bio – Peter Godinez is an Ambassador of Sales, Community, Brand and Technology.  His 4 decade journey has taken him to many places in his career experiencing the good, the bad and the ugly.  He has experienced the thrill of victory as well as the agony of defeat.  He has grown many key relationships with world class athletes and coaches, celebrities and many successful business profiles.  He has been trained by the best and has trained some of the best business profiles in a variety of industries.
Peter’s passions extend to the world of media where he has produced hundreds of videos on-line and well as content for local access television stations.  He hosts the very popular and in demand YouTube Channel entitled “Your Pivot Journey” where he helps people with the pivots in life associated when faced with the sometimes uncontrollable events that occur in life (Career-Health and General Inspiration.
He has used his formal and informal training in very intense and competitive industries such as  Xerox, Ricoh, Canon, Sharp and Hewlett Packett.  He was also a very successful VP of Real Estate Franchise for Realogy.

Peter also provided Services: Management Consulting · Marketing Consulting · Leadership Development · Public Speaking · Team Building · Life Coaching · Diversity & Inclusion · Career Development Coaching · Public Relations · Performance Marketing


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keith gunther

Great advice for the “New Normal” from “Citizens Journal” and Peter Godinez!