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Letters from the Road

I was exhausted. The flights, from Reno, to Denver, to Munich and eventually to Istanbul had taken their toll. I was dealing with a ten-hour time change, my class had run long and I knew I was going to have to face rush-hour traffic.

As I left the building, I looked out to Buyukdere Cadessi road, where I was headed. It was jammed with traffic. There was no visible movement. It was going to be a very long trip to get to the Istanbul Hilton some twenty kilometers away. After what seemed like hours of searching and waiting, I finally spotted a cab. I quickly signaled and crawled in the back. The driver didn’t speak English and I don’t speak Turkish. So I showed him where I needed to go, then out of weariness, closed my eyes in an attempt to recharge.

I opened my eyes 10 minutes later, only to see that we had not even made it out of the parking area. After another 20-minute nap, I woke up and found that my driver was actually making progress. We were going in and out of lanes, around motorcycles, buses, cars and even crowds of pedestrians lined up on the off-ramp. The sight was amazing. It made New York City rush hour look easy.

Now impressed with the progress we were making, I began to watch my driver. He could weave in and out of traffic really quickly, avoiding collisions and yet fluidly making progress. From the back seat, I noticed something very strange. Even though this was an automatic car, there was a stainless steel metal rod coming out from below the radio and extending out to just above the shifter. My driver rested his right hand on the shifter while moving the rod in a circular motion. What was the purpose of this rod? Could my driver have converted this car from an automatic to a stick with some kind of clutch mechanism? Now, my curiosity was peaked. I watched him steer in and out of traffic with his left hand and controlling the metal rod with his right. This seemed so odd. I leaned forward to get a better view and try to figure this out.

As I did so, I met his eyes in the rear-view mirror. He could see how curious I was. He turned and looked directly at me with very warm eyes and a smile so broad, so genuine that I can remember it to this day. As he looked at me with that big grin he took his right hand off of the metal rod and pointed down to his lap. I looked, first at the steering wheel, then down. What! No legs? He had no legs! Amazed, I looked up at the mirror and met that same warm smile. His expression was saying, “I can drive, I can drive!”

The steel rod, when turned to the right, was his connection to the accelerator. When turned left, it was the brake. I sat back in amazement. How could he drive so well with one hand? How could he have rigged this car to work this way? How would he even get to his car in the morning to go to work? I wondered how he lost both legs. How many angry tourists had yelled at him to get out of the taxi and get their luggage?

In spite of all of these images and questions, nothing impacted me quite like his warm smile and his pride in knowing that he can drive.
That taxi driver taught me so much that day. The lesson was about Ki. Ki is who you are on the inside. It’s who you are when no one else is around. It is you as you really are without the camouflage, without the subterfuge, without the hype. Strong Ki, combined with skill, can produce success where failure seems inevitable. Instead of focusing on his missing legs, the driver focused on his opportunity. He focused not on what was missing, but what he had. Oh, what a humbling thought.

It is natural to get into the habit of focusing on the pieces of your product or services that do not measure up to your competition. I realized how many times I had thought of things that were missing or limiting my success instead of recognizing my own attributes. Price, features and services are often obstacles that come to mind. It is very easy to let this become the starting point of a competitive analysis when facing a selling situation. Somehow, the grass really does seem greener when you look at your competition.

I should have learned this lesson many, many years ago. At the time I was selling for a Fortune 100 Company and all I could do was focus on the things we didn’t have. I wondered why our prices were always higher, why our service lacked at times and why we often did not have features that many of our competitors had. How in the world could my company expect me to accomplish the quota they raised every year?
One of my colleagues suggested I should write down every unique capability we had, no matter how large or small. Due to my respect for his success, I took him up on that challenge and overnight came up with a list of 25-30 capabilities that my company and product had that my competition did not. When I showed him my list he said, “Just look at how many of these things are very important to your customer that your competition cannot take into their sales call with them. But you’ve forgotten the most significant capability that none of your competitors can take into any sales call.” “What is that?” I asked. He looked at me and said, “You.”

Do you believe that you provide the best overall solution to your customer? Have you understood their issues and struggles so well, that you feel no one can help them move forward like you can? Do you feel that if your customer purchases from your competitor that somehow you have failed your customer? If you do not believe this, this is visible not only to you, but to your customer as well.

If you’re focused on the missing legs in your product, your company, or even yourself, I encourage you to do as I did many years ago: grab a pen and write down all of those things that you have, that you can carry into every sales call, that your competitors wish they had. The list is there, you just need to find it. Don’t forget to put yourself at the top of the list. Focus on what you have, not what you are missing. Do this and you can change your Ki. If you can accomplish this, you will find that you can accomplish great things, like driving a taxi without any legs. I will never know the name of that taxi driver. He will never know how he impacted my life. However, I will always remember that warm, smiling face, confidently saying “I can drive!”

By Steve Hub, Consultant, Corporate Visions Inc.


Increase Your Ki

What do the following people have in common?
- Martin Luther King
- John F. Kennedy Jr.
- The Best Salesperson in Your Company

Give up? Strong Ki! Ki is personal energy and passion built from your belief in the value of your solution or product, your conviction that your value will improve your prospects’ world, and your commitment to seeing that value realized in results.

Customer Story: How Stella got her Ki Groove Back
Everyone has nicks in their selling blade. If not, you haven’t taken it out of the case. Do you focus on those nicks, or do you just keep on swinging? A client of Corporate Visions, Stella, was discussing her product at a Power Messaging workshop. She kept focusing on all the negatives of her product and her company, all the nicks in their blade. When she was finished complaining we asked, “So, why don’t you leave the company if it’s that bad?” She paused, shifted her stance, and began sharing all the great contributions her product and company were making to the software industry and their clients. By the time she finished, her body was alive with passion and infectious enthusiasm. It became obvious she did believe in her solution and company. We pointed out, “Now you’ve got Ki!”

5 Tips for Increasing Your Ki

  1. Know your Power Positions.* Believe in them. Focus on them. Deliver them with power and passion.
  2. Think of a time your product fulfilled a client need. How did it make you feel? Develop a story around that instance. Deliver it with power and passion.
  3. Why did you join your company? What inspires you to go to work each day? Have a personal connection with your company’s mission or purpose.
  4. Think of a time when your actions made a difference, or when you were successful at a project. How did that make you feel? Capture that feeling of fulfillment and remember that instance at your next sales call.
  5. Do not focus on the competition and how you compare. Focus on your client’s needs and how your solution can relieve their pain.

Ki Building Exercise
List the strengths of your product/service. Now list your competitors’ weakness and vulnerabilities. There is no need to use their weakness for negative selling. The quiet knowledge that the competition isn’t all that its cracked up to be will build your confidence and your ability to defeat them.

Take the Ki Strength Test
Do you focus on the negative and let it ruin your energy?  Or are you genuinely excited about the difference you, your company, and your product is making? Take the following test to discover how strong your Ki is.
True = 2 pts.
False = 1 pt.

  1. I believe in my company and their mission.
  2. I know my prospects problems and goals. I am willing to help them find solutions.
  3. I am passionate about my solution and am excited to share the value it brings people.
  4. My desire to serve is obvious and evident.
  5. I know everything there is to know about my company.
  6. When I feel my solution will not serve the best interests of my prospect, I get out of the deal.
  7. I am creating sustainable relationships based on mutually beneficial business.
  8. I am not afraid to try new strategies that may help bring my value to life.

How did you score?
14-16    Congratulations! Your Ki is strong and you’re ready for anything.
11-13    Looking good but you could use a Ki tune-up.
8-10    Red Alert! Your Ki is so weak you’re barely surviving. You need help fast! Contact Corporate Visions today!


*Power Positions are your key value propositions. They are unique to your solution, important to your prospect, and defendable. Corporate Visions can help your company uncover your Power Positions. Contact for more information.


How London Won the Olympic Bid

When is a short story worth $11 billion dollars? On July 6, 2005 in London five cities competed to be the chosen site of the 2012 Olympics. All five competing cities (New York, Madrid, Moscow, London, and Paris) were given forty-five minutes to gain the approval, and ultimately the nod, from the international selection committee to host the event.

The presentations were somewhat predictable given the prevalence of high technology. Nevertheless, they were also spectacular as top directors orchestrated multi-media presentations that showcased their city in the most favorable light. Each presentation displayed a vibrant population participating in a number of activities that harnessed the energy of a world audience. Midway through the second delivery, the audience was accurately predicting the next segment, and dreading the likelihood that the next three presentations would be identical. Unfortunately, they were…with one exception.

As London (the fourth city to seek the bid) was ending their presentation, the narrator, Sebastian Coe, spoke as if he were breaking from script to share an experience: When I was twelve years of age I remember reaching over and hitting a small portable television to clear the reception of the 1980 Olympics broadcast from Moscow. I realized at that tender age, this is what I wanted to do for my country. And as they say, the rest is history. I went on to win two Olympic gold medals. The Olympics change lives, and London seeks to extend this opportunity to the world (paraphrased).

The audience was paralyzed with emotion. To say one could hear a pin drop would be an understatement. It wasn’t just the words he used, because similar words were used in other presentations. It was the message he conveyed in his voice, his expression, and what he communicated from the podium. In short, his Ki.  Subsequently, London was granted the privilege of hosting the 2012 Olympics.

Emotion moves people to action. Make your presentations unique by inserting emotionally laden stories that differentiate your message, your product, and your solution from the competition. As the commentators broadcasting the bid competition were quick to point out, the commercial value of an Olympic bid is estimated to be $11 billion dollars. What was the difference: one emotional story delivered with powerful Ki.

By Jim Haviland, Senior Consultant, Corporate Visions Inc.


Voice and Body Language in Sales

“Who you are shouts so loudly in my ears, I can’t hear what you are saying.”
– Ralph Emerson

As a salesperson, you often spend an enormous amount of time and energy picking the words you use to sell your products and services – but is that where your focus should be?

Studies show that your audience receives just 7% of your message through the words you use – 38% is received through your voice. The remaining 55% is received through your body language.  Surprised by those numbers?  Most people are at first, until they take the time to think about them.

Can you hear and see if a person lacks confidence in what they are selling?  Certainly. Usually though, it’s not the words they use that reveals this lack of confidence, it’s their tone of voice and their body language. Why is the majority of information communicated through voice and body language? Most people consciously choose their words, but they do not consciously choose their tone of voice or their body language. Voice and body language are simply part of the aura that is surrounding them. Samurai warriors had a word for this aura. They called it Ki (key).

Strong Ki is a powerful tool for salespeople. Ki comes from an alignment of your inner beliefs and outward representation. When you believe strongly in what you are doing, your voice and body language will naturally align with your words. The caution here is that strong Ki is not something you put on like a coat. Strong Ki is developed through learning your solution’s strengths so well that you can explain them to anyone. Strong Ki is developed by making a commitment to serve your customers in every possible way, even if that means walking away from an opportunity because your solution simply isn’t right for them. Lastly, strong Ki is developed through a constant exercise of fearlessness.

It is fearlessness above all that expresses strong Ki. The salesperson that welcomes questions and challenges from his/her prospect is a force to be reckoned with. The salesperson who can confidently move off the agenda, when the prospect needs it; or with equal confidence can bring a customer back to the agenda when they are off in the weeds; is one who can carry a message. A salesperson that is ready for anything is the salesperson who is going to win.

By Erik Peterson, Consultant, Corporate Visions Inc.