When a Brick Isn’t a Brick


Customer give you a problem you can’t solve? Having a hard time to be creative to develop a new marketing piece? Psychologist Ellen Langer said to get the creative juices flowing, add the simple phrase “could be” to look at a problem.

Her experiments showed that if one group of subjects were given a brick and were told “it’s a brick”, they couldn’t see any other creative uses for it. Their mindset was frozen as “it’s a brick”. The next test group was given the same brick and told, “This could be a brick.”

When the last group was asked how many other ways a brick could be used, they said it could serve as a foot warmer, weapon, paperweight, step, bookend, fulcrum, or as a source for red powder.

Solve this problem: Price could be a factor. (That’s right – price is no longer just a brick.)


Quit Making Me Chase You So I Can Give You My Money!

Pharmacy Rx symbol

Ever been to a Disney theme park? Did you notice how easy they make it for you to spend your money? Why can’t other companies learn from them? Too many make it almost impossible for you to give them your money.

Some tell you something can’t be done (because it’s too much of an effort on their part). Customer service treats you rudely or leaves you on life-ending hold. The service department avoids you like the plague. What a nuisance you are. Can’t you just leave us alone?

Ever go to the pharmacy to drop off a prescription only to meet the staff leaving for lunch. “Check back in 30-minutes,” they mutter over their shoulders as they beat a path to the exit, never looking back.

Hey, I just want to buy something from you. Aren’t we in a recession? Does your boss know what you’re doing?

TwitterIED: Anyone in your company who has contact with your customers will sell or unsell your company. Not only might you lose a customer for life, but you will lose referrals they can be giving you. It only takes customers seconds to send a tweet to reach hundreds.



Doing prep work with a local account (a screw and bolt manufacturing company) to gather material for our training session, I asked the owner what he looked for in people applying for sales positions with his company.

“I ask them to tell me the latest three business books they’ve read and what they learned from them,” he said.

How does this help to qualify or disqualify an applicant?

The owner said that 70% of the applicants can’t name three books. In fact, many have told him that they don’t even read books.

“Once I hear that,” said the owner, “I show them the door. They’re wasting my time. It shows they have no curiosity, they think they have all the answers, they don’t take the initiative to learn on their own, and they don’t respect the art of sales. No one is so smart that they can stop learning.”

People aren’t looking for reasons to hire you. They’re looking for reasons to eliminate you. And they can often do it with one well-conceived question.

The nuts & bolts: You can never learn enough. Knowledge improves your relationships, business, decisions, and leadership.

The Cost of Clueless Salespeople

“Get a clue. Quit losing us money and business. Do your job.” Management thinks it, but do they practice it?

The sales manager of a 3-star hotel in Connecticut asked us to send him our ballroom requirements for our seminar and he would get back to us with the price. We told him we needed to make a decision that afternoon.

“No problem,” he said. Problem. He never got back to us.

After we called the next morning, his assistant told us the manager left for a two week vacation that morning. But off the cuff, she quoted us a price 45% less than we paid the previous year (we’re talking thousands of dollars in savings!).

We got a fantastic bargain. Because of the sales manager’s ineptness, the hotel left oodles of money on the table.

Upper management is probably wondering why their profit margins are so thin. Get a clue.

This I promise: The inability to keep your promises may not only cost you money, it could cost you your business or job.