You may have had the perfect meal recently, accompanied by a perfect bottle of wine. Maybe you had a perfect tee shot, driving it dead center in the middle of the fairway. Or maybe you had the perfect start of your day with time spent reading, exercising, and a healthy breakfast. But have you ever met a perfect person?

I don’t mean the perfect person for you; many have met their soulmate in life. And I don’t mean the perfect person to help you out when you needed it, like the perfect friend.

What I am asking is, have you ever met a perfect person?

A person who is perfect in every way. There is not a blemish to be found on them or in them. They are never wrong. They have never made a mistake. They have never had a bad day or created a bad experience for anyone. They practically walk on water. Oh, well there was that one perfect guy who walked on water. But since then, who?

Like me, who is far from perfect, I am sure you have met a few folks along the way who believe that they are perfect in every way. When they are wrong, it’s usually someone else’s fault. When they are right, they are really right. And they usually prefer to keep company with friends who they believe are less than perfect, just to maintain an air of superiority. Believe it or not, some of those perfect people who are without fault even judge the rest of us at times.

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Here we are, four weeks out from ringing in another New Year. Many of us can’t wait to put 2020 in the rearview mirror. These last 11 months are difficult to describe in one word, it’s even hard to describe them in just a few words without finding something negative, sad, or troubling to say, so yes, the rearview mirror analogy could be an excellent way to try and put it all behind us.

However, it’s only a good strategy if we make sure that we can shift our focus on what is in front of us, not only on what’s behind us.

“See, when you drive home today, you’ve got a big windshield on the front of your car. And you’ve got a little bitty rearview mirror. And the reason the windshield is so large and the rearview mirror is so small is because what’s happened in your past is not near as important as what’s in your future.” – Joel Osteen

Success is a funny thing as we can see others succeeding where we feel like we have not.

Whatever they touch turns to gold. They simply have a knack for being successful at whatever they endeavor to do. Even in a difficult COVID year, they were still able to meet with success. What’s the difference? The difference is in the way we see ourselves…

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Before we completely turn the page and allow last week’s Thanksgiving holiday to pass us by, I wanted to take a moment to thank every one of you who have done your very best to truly focus on what you have been most grateful for this past year.

You may not think it matters, but I can assure you that your sense of gratitude and appreciation never goes unnoticed.

And as we roll into the new year, I firmly believe that it is our gratitude and appreciation for the three C’s that may still be ahead of us —

Challenges, Chaos, and Confusion —

That will make the difference. I know that these don’t sound like “Winning Words,” but they are, and let me explain and why I see them as game-changers.

If we had to list all the challenges or difficulties that we have witnessed or that we are experiencing personally, we would have a very lengthy list. Collectively the list would seem insurmountable. So why would I intimate that a challenge is something we should be grateful for? It’s because in every challenge we see someone who emerges and goes out of their way to help someone else. We see people sharing God’s love, pursuing God’s will, doing God’s work, and doing it for all of God’s people…

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In the words of Forrest Gump:

My mom always said that life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

The one thing that separates a good movie or mystery from a great movie or mystery is the element of suspense and surprise. As each story plays out, what will happen next will keep us on the edge of our seats, perhaps shock or scare us, make us laugh, and hopefully astonish us in a good way.

It’s when what happens next is completely expected that leaves us feeling a bit disappointed.

I find that most of us who really enjoy mysteries and thrillers look forward to the unexpected outcome, and the twists and turns of a book, television series, movie, game, or competition of any kind. It’s when we already can predict or even see what happens next that we lose interest.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected. And although there are many of us who really enjoy a great mystery, there are many more of us who need to know the plot, the players, the situation, and an ending that they had already figured out, or probably at least anticipated. Previously, we might have known the camp that we fell into; those who love a good mystery or those who really need to know what’s happening next.

However, this year has given us all a reason to try and get ahead of what happens next, wanting to know what we should expect and when we should expect it…

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… where hope begins.

Over the last 12 years, I have now written 600 published columns. Additionally, I have posted thousands of messages through social media and have been on podcasts, radio interviews, and have appeared as a keynote speaker numerous times here in the states as well as around the globe.

I continue to be humbled by these opportunities to connect with you.

So first, let me say thank you to all of you who send me emails and messages, I sincerely appreciate you all and love our exchanges. Happily, most of our exchanges are extremely positive, after all the column is called “Winning Words.” There is a percentage of our readers who love to challenge me on a thought or an idea that I had shared, and in most cases, it is a very healthy and engaging dialogue. And then there are a few people who try and provoke an argument, all I can say is that sometimes we just have a difference of opinion.

So here in column number 600, I wanted to answer a couple of questions, and sometimes concerns, that I have received from our community. I am often asked why I have not taken a stance or a position on a sensitive topic. Some even suggesting that my silence must clearly define how I really feel or intimating that I have always stayed right down the middle, not choosing sides so that I do not offend anyone. And a part of this is very true as my goal is never to offend anyone but to encourage everyone.

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Whether we find ourselves setting the pace for the race, or just trying to keep the pace, we should always find time to give our mind and body a little rest.

Some of you have shared that these past several months have given you a chance to slow down, get back into forgotten hobbies, or start new ones.

Spending more quality time with friends and family.

And others have shared that they have never been busier and that their mental stress and physical fatigue have never been higher with little or no time to take a breather.

In a bigger, faster, harder, go go go, world, sometimes we get so wrapped up in trying to keep up, we forget to take care of ourselves along the way. We schedule more meetings or calls than we can fit into our day.

We squeeze more work into our already jam-packed weekends and try and justify it by saying that it “needs” to get done. Or we try and fool ourselves into believing that we are the only ones who can do it, denying our mind and body the rest we need to perform at our best.

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Why Sales Training Programs Fail

Reason #6:

Customizing or personalizing a program makes so much sense these days as sales teams want relevancy in the classroom and buyers want to engage with well-educated and well-trained selling professionals. The intent for both training providers and organizations to meet this need is solid, however, the breakdown comes when one or both parties try and over-architect the training program or over-reach and try and make the program do more than can possibly be done, or even more than what is actually necessary. The impact of this usually manifests itself in a few key places.
  1. The customization/personalization schedule gets delayed
  2. The trickle-down impact here is that the training schedule also gets delayed
  3. This places stress on both the company and its training partner
  4. Students are overwhelmed in the classroom
  5. And one of two things happens here. They shut down and only absorb a portion of the training. Worse, go back to their territory and the real-world and go straight back to their old comfortable way of selling.
Again, customization and/or personalization makes so much sense. But in reality, we only have so much time to get across the most important part of the learning so we do not want to dilute the skills, ideas, and concepts by overdoing it all at one time.
A solid training program and roadmap will allow for layering in additional content and building upon the initial concepts and processes. It will also give sales managers a path toward coaching and mentoring in small bites, as opposed to boiling the sales training ocean all at one time.
Best Practice #1: Keep it simple. Make it powerful and impactful but keep it simple. The more we try and over-engineer a sales methodology or process, the harder it is to roll it out to the field. Even with highly educated sales personnel and extremely seasoned and successful sales management and leadership, the more that we make it harder than it has to be, the less it will actually be adopted and embraced by our sellers.
Best Practice #2: When customizing or personalizing a program, think about bringing the management and leadership teams in first. Get their buy-in and make sure that they are comfortable delivering the message when the trainer or the training company is not there. Interact and engage them during the customization process early and often so that the program doesn’t become so overwhelming and something that will be lost on the salespeople.
Best Practice #3: Start with something as close to off-the-shelf as possible first. When you have made your selection to work with one of the proven training programs that are available, you have probably chosen one with a proven track record of success. Their program is successful because it is their program, one that they have successfully delivered for at least a couple of decades. You will be shocked to find out how much of what they already have will work, save tons of money on customization, accelerate the launch of your training program, and learn what parts you really should consider customizing after you have run a few classes.
Remember, lessons happen in the classroom, the learning happens in the field. This means that if we overcomplicate it in the classroom, and they never take it to the field and try and apply it, we have wasted a lot of time and money. Build a program that is modular by design. This way you can get the most important elements into the hands of the sales team sooner, start experiencing results faster, and then layer on more tips and techniques, ideas, and concepts over the next few quarters. Layering in additional techniques is another good spot for the power of e-learning and online courses, tips, and techniques.