All mystics speak the same language, for they come from
the same country.
—Louis Claude de St. Martin
Buckle up, boys and girls! You are about to glimpse the mystical
dimension of peddlery. A realm where intuition, vision, belief, energy,
and magical power rule the day. A space where peddlers transcend the concrete world of dialing for dollars, making presentations, and slamming deals together to another, higher level, where what you can’t see
and can’t measure reign.
Have I lost you? OK, let me ask you a few questions. Have you
ever made anything happen by sheer desire? Have you ever made anything happen by force of will? Has a solution to a problem ever come
to you in a dream? Have you ever conjured up a scenario and then
breathed life into it? Do you believe that great things will happen to
you and that peddling is your destiny? Do you believe there are
unseen forces that impact what you do? Do you believe you can tap
into those metaphysical forces?
If you didn’t answer yes to most of these questions, WHY THE
HELL NOT? What’s wrong with you? Get with the program, for the
love of Pete! You need to feel the force Mr. or Ms. Skywalker! Where the material and metaphysical worlds
intersect is where the great peddler
Peddlers fall into one of two
camps: those who believe in the
wellspring of magic and their
power to tap it, and those who
don’t. You need to know which
camp you are in. Do you accept
that other dimensions exist, or is
there only the hard-core reality
of the everyday present? Are
there spirits, angels, and mystical
forces that help and guide you?
Can you channel that energy into
all you do?
I believe I can. I believe all great peddlers do. The great peddlers
are the mystics of the corporate world.
It is your peddler’s prerogative to be a mystic of the corporate world!
If you stick with peddling, eventually you develop a sixth sense for
people and situations. It just comes with the territory. You get tons of
experience and, all of a sudden, you are sizing things up in a nanosecond. You are reading people and situations like nobody’s business.
You walk in to a room and, WHAM!, you get this hit. You sit in front
of a person and, BLAM!, you got ’em. You immediately know who’s
cool and who’s not; who’s going to help you and who’s going to get
in the way; who’s a future friend, a bureaucrat or, God forbid, a fiend:
“This person’s evil. I’m in front of the devil!” Somehow you know.
You just freakin’ know! You are hyperaware, hyperintuitive.
The first time this happens, it’s pretty amusing. Then, you get
comfortable with it. Then, you start to use it. You’re in a meeting,
hyperaware of everything around you, tuned in to everyone. Folks are making presentations, asking questions, going through the motions,
when you have clarity. You see it: the straightest line to the goal. You
look around. Blank faces, every one. Not an ounce of recognition.
You decide to take the bold stroke, make the bold statement.
You: “Excuse me. Are we focusing on the right issue? Processing a
huge number of requests, and doing it in real-time, 24/7—
those are tactical issues. Our product and all our competitors’
products routinely handle them.”
You: “It seems to me that the real and bigger issue is that your
CEO wants a system up and running ASAP.”
Them: “That’s true.”
You: “Well, we can pretty much guarantee that we’ll have a work
ing prototype up and running in a few months. It’s what we
do for most of our customers. Our software is designed for rapid rototyping, unlike our competitors. So, let’s get the
deal done, and concentrate on bringing the system in early
and making everyone happy.”
You: “Great! Here’s what we do.”
Whenever I do something like this, people invariably come up to
me afterwards and say, “How did you know where he was headed?
He didn’t even finish his presentation!” To them, it seems like
unknown knowing. And in a way it is. But when you peddle for as
long as I have, and you’ve seen so many people in so many situations,
some things are just obvious. You just know where people and situations are headed long before your colleagues, fellow peddlers—even
the prospects or customers themselves.
Once you know, then you must act. Jump on the opportunity. Seize
the pivotal moment! There are countless ones, and they mean life or
death to your deal. Catch the right one, step up to the plate at just the
right time, and you have the power to alter the course of events, turn
the tide in your favor, change your fate. Pretty heady stuff.
To do this, however, you have to be present in the moment. You
can’t be wrapped up in the past or dreaming about the future. The
here and now is where you have to be. Jacked in, engines humming,
gears engaged. Then, just before you peel out, take a nanosecond to put the proverbial finger under your chin and consider how to best
use the moment to push your deal forward or get it back on track.
Ask yourself, What if . . .? Then, channel the cosmic energy around
you and usher everyone down the better path.
I like to think of myself as a peddler who has a specialty in dot
connecting—that is, I can see a scenario or result given only a few
pieces of information. All great peddlers are phenomenal dot connec
tors. They connect the dots faster and better than anyone else—fellow
peddlers included. And they do
it with such skill and grace
that they transform it into
The term dot connecting comes from the game,
Connect the Dots, which
we all played as kids. If
you remember, you are
given a piece of paper
with a bunch of dots,
and next to each one is a
number. You draw a line from
dot 1 to dot 2, dot 2 to dot 3,
and so on. As you do, a picture begins to emerge. If you correctly
guess what the picture is with the fewest connected dots, you win.
To be a great peddler—heck, even to be a good peddler—you
must connect the dots. Beginning with my first call on a company, I
start collecting information and seeing it as dots on a page. I immediately try connecting them in various ways. (The difference between
the game and life is that in life the dots aren’t numbered.) If a picture
doesn’t emerge, I proceed to gather more information, more dots.
Usually, it isn’t too long before I know whether or not there’s a fit. If
there is, I proceed to collect more dots, such as who I need to pitch
and who I need to sell. Soon the image of the deal starts to emerge.
Listen up! Before you can connect some dots, you have to find
some dots. The easiest way to do this is to ask questions. It is truly
amazing how much you can learn by asking simple, open questions. Questions such as: So, tell me, what do you do? and How long have
you worked here? Then look the prospect or customer in the eye, put
on your most sincere, engaging smile, and silently start to count. Smiling one, smiling two, smiling with bright eyes three, smiling with
curiosity four . . . until they start talking. When you hear the words
start to flow, move to nodding and active listening. If the person has
an ounce of showmanship, they will be off and running. After all,
most of us love to talk about who we are and what we do.
Another simple question is: So what do you think? I like to ask
this right after I finish a presentation or demonstration. I also often
ask, So, how am I doing? Do you think we are competitive? These
questions never fail to get the prospect or customer talking, which
gives you more dots.
Remember, selling isn’t a chess match or a 12-step program. It’s a
ongoing dialogue. There are times when you have to discuss
difficult matters, but great peddlers make every interaction an easy conversation!
It is your prerogative to remind yourself and your management that
selling isn’t a chess match or a 12-step program. It’s an ongoing dialogue, an easy conversation.
You are trying to solve a problem for your prospect or customer.
You need to understand all the issues as well as how to sell to them.
Ask simple, open questions and you’ll be astounded at the answers
“Mr. Prospect, what is the best way to sell to you and your
“You don’t have to sell me, you have to sell Bill!”
“Thank you very much! Where can I find Bill?”
Back to dot connecting. So you talk to a prospect or customer, get
a few dots, begin to see a fit. Talk to some other folks in the company,
get some more dots. Find the person who can map how to sell into
the company, lots more dots. A rough outline of how the deal gets
done begins to surface. Any guesses yet? If so, it’s time to round up
support by showing it to everyone else involved.
This is crucial to winning the deal. Many times, I have seen peddlers get run over by their manager or some other corporate tyrant
who also has connected the dots but sees a different deal image. After
you earn your stripes this happens less, as folks are more willing to
follow your lead or, if they see it differently, give you the benefit of
the doubt. But before then, take time to convince everyone that what
you see is true, or watch out!
Once you build a consensus around your image, the deal sprouts
some legs and starts hobbling around. Then it starts to morph. It can
morph and disappear. It can morph and turn into a three-headed
monster. It can morph and turn into the deal of a lifetime. You never
know. So watch it closely, see how it moves and where it turns. Keep
connecting the dots. If all of a sudden a different picture begins to
emerge, go back and build a consensus for the new image.
The thing is, you probably already are a dot connector—but only
in your assigned universe. If you want to be a great peddler, you have
to think outside the box. Think big. Create a vision!
Great peddlers are not afraid to dream. They open their minds, let
the forces guide them, and, SHAZAM!, they have an image in their
mind’s eye of a smashing, off-the-charts, runaway success. Highly
tuned to people and situations, and lightning fast at connecting the
dots, all it takes is a creative spark to ignite one hell of an idea.
Every peddler can (should!) vision bigger and better deals. Start by
looking at your deals in terms of your region. Then, break out. Take
them one by one and think, “How can I make this deal bigger? How
can I expand it beyond my territory into other areas? Other countries!” Think planet big! At first, it may be hard to do. Keep trying.
It gets easier with practice. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be surprised at how your mind naturally flies.
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