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Karlsrud is an executive, entrepreneur leadership, coach, management and development consultancy. He provides executive and leadership coaching and is a keynote speaker, author and workshop facilitator. He is also the author of "Selling by Design," a field guide to selling in the new economy.



So I wasn't so good at it in 2016.

Mike Karlsrud

I had to laugh as I was reading through this blog.  I posted early in last year that I was going to blog more in 2016.  That didn't happen.  But so much did!

Last year was a time of focus.  Out of a group of over 12,000 candidates, I was one of 257 people selected by Vistage Worldwide to become a Chair of a peer advisory group for executives. This was a major under taking- both personally and professionally.  Over the years I knew that my coaching and consulting businesses needed something to make it more valuable, powerful and frankly- to challenge me to always be better as your coach.  I found it in Vistage. 

Vistage has been around for 60 years.  Worldwide there are over 20,000 members in 17 countries.  In the Minneapolis market, there are over 440 executives that influence over $4B in business here. It is an amazing group of individuals that are part of this executive community here locally.  I am proud to have made the cut to help influence the few who influence the many. 

2017 continues to be a year of focus.  This year I am tightening my grip on my coaching practice and leaving my consulting practice behind. For years I was boarding airplanes two to three times per month to do my work.  While the work was challenging and exciting, the travel and time away from what is personally important to me started to take its toll.  This is exactly what other executives feel, and I especially bond to those who are in this position.  

I got a coach. Yes, I drink my own Kool-Aide. There is always someone we need to go to to sharpen our saw. To look at our lives, not just live it. To look at our business, not just work in it. 

I joined a Vistage group.  Yes, I drink that Kool-Aide too.  If one head is good, 16 heads are better. Peer advising is the best, cheapest, and most risk-free investment in yourself you can make. Folks who join our group do so because of two things; they want to lead a better organization, or they want to become a better leader, leading that organization. Either way- there is no room for status quo.  I love hanging with those types.  Come join my group and hang out. It's refreshing.

Time to Reflect On the Important Things

Mike Karlsrud

I have been blessed to do some amazing work over the last several years.  I work with people who are trying to find their voice, to be heard in their company, or to have their company heard or seen.  In those moments I see people when they are the most open, vulnerable, and needing some outside help to sort things out for them.  Not solve it.  But sort it.

I am taking the next step in my own development; acting authentically on my own "Why?"  Recently I attended a workshop that focused on this very topic.  It drove hard the message of our need to answer our own "why" so we can fulfill the lives we were meant to live.  The speaker mentioned a TEDtalk by a EMT named Mathew O'Rielly who captured the last moments of people's lives after a tragic event- he was an EMT and saw this way too many times. 

Mathew noted a common thread as people were in their last moments.  As they looked up at him- the very last face they would see on this earth, they essentially all said the same things to him.

1) The desire to forgive someone or be forgiven. (Words and deeds left undone or never said)

2) Will you remember me?

3) Did my life matter?  Did I make a difference?

My practice of leadership development/OD and coaching is on a new mission. My authentic mission to help you, and frankly myself, work through the hard stuff of life.  My goal for us is that when our time comes, those three statements or questions will be answered and accounted for in our last moments.  

I promise to be better at this in 2016

Mike Karlsrud

It is amazing how time passes quickly and I for one have not tended to all my social network chores. 

2016 is teeing up already to be quite a fun year and I promise to keep you all up-to-date on where I am, what I am doing and inviting you every way possible to become part of the experience!

Reach out, feel free to contact and comment.  This is but a dialog on a journey of personal and professional development for all of us!

We say Merry Christmas in our household and a Happy New Year as well!

See you in 2016!

Selling is so much easier when you don't talk.

Mike Karlsrud

We preach about it constantly in sales training sessions- listen twice as much as you talk.  Easier said than done especially when we are paid to talk.

I personally have to reminded myself of this on a daily basis.  When I am asked a question from a customer or prospect that starts off with "tell me what you do?" I will often just dive in and start to ramble on about my business.  Like he cares.  

What he is looking for in all of my rambling is a key word or two that sounds like what he is needing or looking for from me.  It would have been so much easier if I would said "I would love to tell you about what we do, but first let me ask you just a couple of questions about why you called."  

Today was such a day where my logic hat went into gear first, and I did exactly what I have preached to sales people over the last decade.  Listen twice as much as you talk.  Man, it sure is wonderful having a short, engaging, meaningful conversation with someone who knows what they want.  Once I know that, I share information about what is important to them.  

Selling is so much easier if we stop talking and actually ask and listen for what the customer or prospect is seeking.  

Good selling,



Took the summer to ponder...

Mike Karlsrud

I got off airplanes this summer and it was a welcome break.  My commute these days is really either to my office (which can be done on foot) or a trip to MSP airport.  This time gives me moments to reflect, research and take time to clear the head so that I can be of better service to clients.  For me there is nothing better than the open road to do such pondering.

I often tell my staff that every once in a while we need to stop working in the business and work "on" the business.  The result of such an effort is this new website.  For all it's grammatical errors, run on sentences, wrong tense, etc. we still put it up.  Not because it's perfect but because of the message. Things are never perfect, but that doesn't mean you put everything on hold until they are (unless you're in medical, than thank you for waiting!)

Over the last few years we've changed.  We started as a sales and marketing training company.  We still do that work to be sure, and we have also embraced what else we do.  Without us knowing it, we have migrated towards our formal education, training and passion.  We help people accept and manage change.  We provide owners and managers of companies a confidential ear so they can have someone to talk to.  (Trust me, I know it's lonely at the top!) We help companies align themselves to their mission and vision.   It's good old fashioned Organization Development.

It's who we are and what we do best.  Sometimes it takes some alone time on a scooter to ponder such things.  Perhaps we all should take some time away and just ponder... it may provide just the clarity you need.

Customer Experience VS. Customer Service

Mike Karlsrud

I have been asked several times lately to make a presentation on "something new and different about customer service."  Hmm, now that's a challenge!

Customer service hasn't changed in a very long time.  It's simple to do; be nice to people, solve their problems, be respectful, give them more than they anticipated and have a positive, cheerful, knowledgeable voice on the end of the phone.  But everyone has that already, right?  I mean, we have a customer service department already so what's the big deal?

Something has changed however- the customer.  

In many industries the customer has taken the mantle of power in our relationships.  They feel they have more rights, high (if not unreasonable) expectations, and they are willing to accept little or no risk in the relationship. On the other hand, we as sale and marketing people- fearful that we won't make the sale and therefor our numbers, bend over backwards to give away the farm to meet their demands.  

There was an old saying when I started in business "the customer is always right."  Let me tell you, that cannot be further from the truth.  Sometimes the are just idiots and clueless.  My new mantra is "the customer is always the customer, but they are not always right."  I'll still give them the nod of respect and politeness, but not always do they know what they are talking about.

How do you raise your customer service levels beyond where they are now?  First, this is no longer a customer service issue.  Its a marketing issue. Get marketing, sales and operations teams together and look at data.  Data will drive the experience you provide your customers.  Know your product inside and out. By "out" I mean "outside" your four walls.  How is it perceived? What does it do well?  What is being returned?  Why? What complaints are being handled the most?  How can you ward that off?  How can you teach your CS team to anticipate issues while on the phone?  Use social media data to understand the conversation around your product. Get involved in the conversation and take the opportunity to educate, clarify and do good. Use data to become intimate with your customer and create an experience for them that is better than expected, easier than they ever imagined and more informed and efficient than ever dreamt.  



Mike Karlsrud

I'm going on a rant. Not because it will be popular but because frankly there are just to many truths that people step around or over that I find all to often and it just needs to be put out there in front of G-d and everybody.  In no particular order let me just put this out there:

1) There is a difference between "training" and education.  Training means you changed behavior. Education means you held an event and shared knowledge.  Don't confuse the two because you be disappointed and wonder what the hell you spent your training budget on.

2) It will do you little good to have training classes unless you have established a culture that will embrace it and the outcomes.  Training doesn't "fix" anything unless there is support throughout the entire organization.

3) Fish rot from the head down.  SOMETIMES, Mr. CEO we will be spending more time together than not because you have set the tone for your organization and now we need to fix that. It's ok, that's why people like me and companies like ours exist. 

4) Bad employees are just that.  Move them on and out. Sorry, but I have been called in to work with certain employees more than I can to admit and frankly, in the long run they just might not be a fit.  Invite them to be happy elsewhere and your entire organization will love you for it.

5) Spend money on your people and organization. Invest in them and they will return the favor. Buy cheaper paper to save money, but hire the best you can and keep them.

6) If your just starting out- like we all do- you are going to hire what you can afford until you can hire what you need.  That's Ok.  Welcome to reality.  (Unless you have a stack of cash or crowdsource, then hire who ever you want.)

7) Hard is easy and Easy is hard.  The "hard" part of business; accounting, marketing, sales, cleaning the toilet- easy.  What hardened business think as the "easy, soft, gooey" part of business is actually the hard part.  Anyone can make a product.  Not everyone can rally an entire organization around it's purpose.

8) Look around and steal the good stuff.  Just because an idea isn't born in your industry doesn't mean it's not going to run you over like a train.  Watch other industries and adopt what they do- or at least be aware of its impact.  Sooner or later someone is going to adapt that in your world and it's going to change- dramatically.

9) If you really like status quo, plan you're exit.  This business environment has one word to describe it- "change."  A great quote by an old general: "If you don't like change, you'll irrelevance less."  

10) Just because you've been in business for 20 years doesn't mean you no longer have to invest in telling your story.  It means you better get going and start reminding people why you do what you do.  Notice I used the word "why."  Not what.  I don't care what you do unless I know why you get out of bed.

11) STOP with all the talk about price, quality and service.  If you're lights are on you have price, quality, and service.  If you're lights are off you didn't.  Find a better story 'cause I heard that 16 times today alone from your competitors.

12) STOP with talking about features and benefits.  8 out of 10 sales people don't know how to talk about benefits correctly anyway (trust me, I know sales people very well.) Tell me how your product is going to change my company, my job, my profit or solve some terrible problem I have.  Then, hand me the sell sheet from your marketing team and I'll ask you some questions. 

13) Finally- at least for today- if your talking 80% of the time in a sales call you are 80% closer to losing the sale. If you are listening 80% of the time, you are that much closer to closing the deal.  Stop the routine of "showing up and throwing up."  Chances are they already got all that information off your webpage already.  See #12.

14) The least acceptable level of behavior you tolerate in your company is your new high- not the low.  If you want to raise the bar you don't make your top performers reach higher, you bring the bottom up to reach them.  If they can't make the trip, see #4.

15) If you want to change an organization's culture take out your calendar and mark off 18 months.  Yes, 18 months.  If you think you're going to do it in 6 months you plan on turning over your entire company's personnel.  Trust me, change is tough and tough takes time. 

Ok, done.  I feel better. 


Customer Service is not an entry level job.

Mike Karlsrud

So many times I hear folks say they want to hire some of the cheapest, least experienced folks they know as customer service agents.

Let that sink in a bit.

You know the expression- "You only have one shot to make a first impression", so why would you leave that up to someone so unskilled?  The front line folks in your company- to the customer- ARE YOUR COMPANY. Their attitude, skills, knowledge, eagerness to solve problems are all messages that translate your brand to prospects and customers a like.

I just read an article recently that the average front line employee receives about 60 hours of training (if they are lucky). Not a bad start.  The article goes on to talk about The Container Store, you know the place where you buy boxes, crates and gadgets to store things and keep you organized.  Those front line employees each go through 240 hours of training before you even see them on the floor!  That's 6 full weeks of training.  Why you ask?  Because TCS knows that in a very, very competitive marketplace the difference will come down to expertise, experience, and engagement. 

We might all take a page from TCS and evaluate what are we doing to make sure our front line employees are the very best skilled people in our companies.  It is far from an entry-level job if we appreciated what was at stake.

Good selling-


Opening the Sales Call

Mike Karlsrud

Whenever you meet with a customer, each of you will have your own reasons for getting together.

You may be introducing yourself or your organization.  Or you may be fact finding or prospecting. Maybe you’re delivering a proposal, closing a sale or a combination of the above. 

The customer’s reason for meeting with you may include learning about your organizations capabilities. Maybe they have immediate needs because of a pressing issue.  Or they might be responding to a proposal or fulfilling an organizational requirement to talk with several suppliers before making a purchase decision.

Common sense tells you if your agenda and the customer’s agenda are at odds, the meeting will not be productive for either of you.  So how do you make sure you are on the same page?  It should have started at the time of making the appointment.  You should have proposed a quick agenda initially to set the stage for the sales call.  No matter how you got the appointment, it becomes extremely important that you share the agenda.

Your goal in opening the call is to reach agreement with the customer on what will be covered or accomplished during the call.

At the beginning of any sales call, work to establish a comfortable tone that will set the stage for an open exchange of information and the beginnings of a “conversation.”  After greeting the customer, engage in some small talk to open the channels of communication.  The most favorable topics tend to be; the weather, kids, last night’s game or some other recent event that causes a stir in the local community.  The topics to avoid are the usual suspects as well; religion, politics or anything crime related- they tend to be highly emotional and polarizing.  

We tend to communicate with non-verbal cues much more easily than we often express in words.  Be aware that at times you will hear the words spoken and get a completely different message from their body language. Some statistics are as high a 80% of our communication is done non-verbally. Take note as you open the call for non-verbal cues, and observe their tone, tenor and sense of urgency or distraction.  It is important to be sensitive to a customer’s needs and establish rapport at the beginning of a call.  Work to get them comfortable with us is an immediate goal you should have before any business is discussed.  

Some folks require the idle chit-chat while others don’t care much for it.  The non-verbal communication given off by your customer will tell you that. A sharp sales person will learn to evaluate quickly the whole communication package as it is being presented to you.  It is extremely important that you follow the tone and tenor of the customer.  I have often associated selling to dancing.  It has a cadence, a rhythm per se.  The rhythm and tempo of the conversation will be set by the customer.  If we try to force a different tempo on them, it will be uncomfortable and unproductive.  Some personality types are prone to small talk, other types known as Type A personalities dismiss it out of hand as it is viewed an unproductive time.   However, when the time is right move onto business and the reason for your meeting. At the moment of switching to business matters,  you are opening the call.

To open the call, be sure to say “thank you” for taking the time to see you. Then, propose the agenda by saying what you would like to do or accomplish during the call.  This sets a clear direction for your conversation and lets you establish a focus on the customer.  You might say something like “What I would like to do today is learn about your marketing plans for this next year and explore different ideas where we may be able to help you execute a highly successful campaign.”

After proposing the agenda, briefly explain to the customer the value in it for them to listen to your proposal.  This will be useful to him or her as they will immediately evaluate your proposition and determine if they are going to give you time or not. The stronger and more compelling your value statement, the more time you may garner in the call. You might say something like   “. . . that way, I’ll be able to propose options that best address where you want to go and your particular needs.”

Once you have proposed the agenda and stated its value to the customer, make sure the customer accepts the agenda you have proposed and doesn’t have anything else to add.  You might say something like; “How does that sound?” Or, “Is there something else you would like to address?”

Of all that has transpired up to now during the call, the question “Is there any thing else you would like to cover?” is the most important.  If the customer response with “Yes, I have an invoice here from last month that I am not happy about.” I can assure you, until that issue or any other issue that is put on the table is resolved, whatever you planned to say will not be heard.  

The customers concern is the first and foremost business item on the agenda and it will ALWAYS trump yours.

Checking for acceptance gives you the information you need to use your own and the customer’s time wisely.  It also ensures that you and the customer have agreed to move forward together.  In the world of sales psychology, this is HUGE.  

Having the customer agree to the agenda sets the tone and reduces the resistance to saying “yes” to other things in the sales call.

 Earlier I mentioned that a good sales conversation is like volleying a ball back and forth.  Be cognoscente of the power and control you have when you complete the simple act of checking for acceptance.  When you walked into the appointment, it was your agenda.  When you asked if there was anything they (the customer) wanted to talk about and you adjusted the agenda as needed, it became their agenda.  Now, when checking for acceptance it was really their agenda they agreed to.  Keep this volleying for control of the conversation in your mind as you go through the remaining chapters.  For me, it has always been a key to my success in selling.  Just knowing where you were at in the sales process and how to manage the conversation effectively, gives you an incredible boost of confidence in your abilities!

 At each step of the Selling by Design process, we are going to be asking our customer to agree with us.  If they don’t agree or become uncomfortable, you can slow down, go over the information again, ask more questions or perhaps adjust the agenda.  Securing “buy-in” throughout the sales process instead of waiting for the big question at the end during closing makes a whole lot of sense and reduces the pressure at closing.  Opening the call is taking the time to make sure you begin your journey of the next few minutes or hours, together.

Selling is a dance.  The dance begins with selecting the right partner (prospecting) and setting the tempo that each of you can dance too.

Don’t be a “professional visitor.”  Bring more to the call than just donuts, pizza or something to drink. Trust me, they make more money than you do. They can afford to feed themselves.  What ever you do, don’t become known as the monthly food vendor or you will bring shame on your house!


Put that down and talk to me...

Mike Karlsrud

Dear friends,

How ever you spend this season of reflection, hope, and love- it is our hope that your heart is full of love not pain, joy this season and not despair, hope and not worry.

These are challenging times for all of us.  Not only professionally, but as a society in general. The tragedies of late are to complicated to solve with one quick idea or vote.  We are also reminded this time of the year all that is good and wonderful, which ironically has been blended so perfectly with the pain and despair of the world around us. Making sense of it all as we go through the roller coaster of emotion is difficult at best.  

In the end, I grow old knowing one thing.  We are connected more than ever, yet no one is communicating. There was a time when we actually paused to talk with someone.  We would wait longer at events and participate in church gatherings to get caught up with others in our communities.  We invested in getting to know each other and care for each other.  Today, we are to busy trying to be somewhere else than where we are.  In our wake we are leaving millions who are becoming more lonely, desperate for someone to give a hug or even ask simply "How are you?"  

My passion in KCo is all about people re-engaging in the greatest dying skill of our time- conversation.  Whether you are in business or not, we all need to have conversation.  With technology we inform, but I am not sure we converse.  Human "beings" are built with 5 senses for a reason.  We need to be heard, seen, felt, smelt, and listened to.  It is how we expereince life on earth and how we take in all around us.  I love technology, but I have never got a hug from my Mac or Iphone.  

Over the Holiday I had so many moments where I witnessed a room full of people- all silent- all texting or checking their smartphones.  I just wanted to break in and say "would you put that damn thing down and talk to me?"  It would have been a bit awkward as they were all strangers to me, but the point couldn't have hit home more completely.  

In 2013, I hope we call take more moments and appreciate where we are with what we have, and quit trying to be somewhere else at the expense of those around us.  Reconnecting with one another just might the first step to ending all this non-sense that has seeped back into our world.  Peace.


This is why I love selling...

Mike Karlsrud

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Obama's socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer. 

The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama's plan".. All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A.... (substituting grades for dollars - something closer to home and more readily understood by all).

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little. 

The second test average was a D! No one was happy. 

When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F. 

As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else. 

To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed. Could not be any simpler than that. (Please pass this on) These are possibly the 5 best sentences you'll ever read and all applicable to this experiment:

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.

2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!

5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

Professional sales people have always believed the race they are running is their own.  They are and always have been the ones who did not want to, nor never had the luxury, of riding on someone else's coat tails to get things done.  We know the value of hard work and we know when we haven't been fully in the game- because we have paid the price.  Now go, kick some butt and take some names.  We have a world that needs us more than ever to help the recovery.  Selling something and watch the machinery behind you!

I would love to hear your feedback and success!  Please share it!


Keeping Inspired.

Mike Karlsrud

We all need time to think, process and keep fresh. For me personally, the winters here in Minnesota can be a bit long and as they progress, they tend to drain my mojo. This past week I went to La. to work with a wonderful practice and apply my craft of insipring others to think differently about what they do every single day.  It is a great and glorious opportunity for me, even though I leave emotionally exhausted.

I'm getting ansy.  Ansy to feel the fresh spring air hitting my face as I travel the roads of Minnesota and Wisconsin.  It's my way of unplugging and connecting to something greater than me.  It's in those moments of humility that my mind opens up, the pressures of the world fade and things become more clear.

It's also in those moments that I become inspired to understand and learn more.  Not only about my craft, but about other peoples craft as well.  My other company, 6 Calls, just went through branding exercise where we wanted to find out and understand WHY we do what we do.  We already knew the WHAT and the HOW, but I really wanted us to soul search for the WHY.  In the end it boiled down to one simple idea; we believe that every story should be heard.  Brand stories, your story, it doesn't matter and often they are one in the same.  

Riding my scooter over the last several years has allowed me to do one really important thing; collect other people's stories.  It is what inspires me in all I do.  Like that awesome practice in La. this last week... I got to meet new folks, understand and collect more stories and in turn, share the wisdom of others with more and more people.  

Find something that inspires you... that refreshes you.  Take the time to stop and listen.  You may be very suprised who may be talking to you and what messages they give you.  They might just may change your life.


Time to do more with what I have.

Mike Karlsrud

Like many of us, I am on a journey.  My journey has lead me down some paths that have been wonderful, and others where it lead to a dead end.  I am grateful for all of them as they will always leave you looking at the world differently and a whole lot smarter.  I hope, anyway.

April of this year I was asked to accept a challenge I have not done since the mid 1990's- do a consulting gig with a doctors office.  The goal: change the office from a heavy medical model to something a bit more balanced with retail and medical each carrying their own weight.  I accepted the challenge, hopped on a plane and started the gig.  The result was increased sales and a more balanced revenue stream for the practice.  But something else emerged from the experience.  I got back to my formal training; Organization Development.

OD for many is a loose science, for others it's foundations are buried in decades of behavior science and studies. I was trained in the later.  OD embraces change and teaches others and organizations to cope and accept change. Ironically, this science and skill is needed now more than ever.

So over the last few months I have been blowing the dust off of my Masters training in OD and acquainting myself with things I already knew, stuff I forgot, and techniques I have already engrained in my own being to I can continue the journey into a world of consulting.  

I am not turning my back on sales, marketing, leadership and other things I have been doing, I am just adding an umbrella over the top of all it.  Nothing we do to influence another isn't without change.  

I see the vision. I will do the work.  I will get the results I see because of hard work.  The world doesn't need another consultant, but it does need someone who walk the journey of change with those who need it.

Good selling.



The Art of the Conversation.

Mike Karlsrud

I am always amazed by who is in my audiences.  This last week while speaking at the Vision Expo East, I had folks from around the world in my class.  It was crazy cool!  Then the coolest thing happened; an email from Norway.

My family roots are from Norway, so when the gentlemen asked "do you speak internationally?" my heart skipped a beat.  Norway is on my bucket list.  

More importantly though is what the international audience confirmed for me.  The language of "conversation" is universal.  It IS how things get done.  I love the process of sales... not only because I teach it, but because I believe in it whole-heartedly.  And, what I think we need be reminded is this; sales processes and techniques need to translated from parts of a process into elements of effective conversation.  It is only through great conversation that trust is instilled, ideas are shared, needs and wants uncovered, and solutions are presented.

In the end, we may have chosen the profession of salesmenship.  However we must never forget we first and foremost conversationalists.

Now go have a conversation and sell something.


If you haven't implemented it, it's still a new idea.

Mike Karlsrud

For those who know me very well you know that I struggle sometimes with the pressure of coming up with new and different ways to view a very old topic- selling, marketing and motivating others.  I struggle with it because every time I go into a bookstore or read something on-line, it is stuff I have heard, read or taught for a long time.

So why is it that shelves stay full of ideas and concepts that have been taught for two or three generations now? Because so much of it is read, but little of it is implemented. 

I LOVE to read Tom Peters.  He's got that wonderful irreverent style that basically says "I can sugar coat this for you, but why?"  Tom has a great slide in one of his decks that says "Remember the other 98%"  Great ideas when heard or read often start a fire within us that inspires us to want to change something or make a difference.  But for some reason as we get moments away from the inspired thought it begins to waif and it slowly disappears.  In the end, the great idea or thought never makes to work, the team, the office, or our business.  It's the other 98%.  

The 98% I speak of is implementation.  Implementation is hard work.  It takes some planning, but more importantly it takes the courage to break through the inertia of doing nothing.  

I have been blessed to be on the national speaking circuit for a number of years talking about some really great stuff.  However, when I get off the stage and go into the real world I find little of it has transferred over.  The concepts are proven, I know they work because when implemented they show great results. So why is it we want to find out about the next best thing when we haven't implemented the basics yet?

Look at the tried and true ideas.  They are tired and true for a reason- because they work.  They are not old, tired or "old school" if you haven't implemented them.  To the contrary, they are new, fresh and impactful!

I guess that is why the book shelves are still full of ideas that have come full circle.  

Good selling.


Happy people buy more stuff.

Mike Karlsrud

I did a presentation a couple of weeks back, talking about the value of creating a positive customer experience/environment.  Now, it may seem obvious to everyone why you need to do that, and it may surprise you how many organizations go about their day-to-day business without ever really observing what really is going on and how it may impact the whole experience.

I spent some time talking about play and bring the concept of play into the retail experience.  For some, play may seem like a daunting concept to bring into your business.  For others it can be an absolute game changer.  Consumers who are in a "buying frame of mind" feed from the energy created by play.  Whether they are watching it as your team interacts with each other, or if they are engaged as your team interacts with them, there is a positive impact on sales.

if not today, then someday soon.

Try it. Let loose a bit and don't take yourself to seriously.  Happy people buy lots of stuff.  Make them happy and play with them as they enjoy your company, its products and services, and the people you have hired.  It will stick with them for a very, very long time.

Good selling.



Remember the other 98%

Mike Karlsrud

I am seldom left without words or a positive thought, but over the last several months I have become a bit frustrated.  As you know, I speak, consult, conduct training workshops, all to move the thought process forward in the areas of sales, marketing, leadership and management.  

Occasionally I am a bit hard on myself, asking questions like "the world doesn't need another dude talking about sales techniques or why/how people buy"  Or, "the world has little original thought left, and I certainly don't have the corner on brilliance, so why should I trod forward?"  And then I get out of my "hovel" and into the real world working with real folks and I am reminded of one thing, little or none of all this knowledge is ever implemented.

The world doesn't need a whole lot more of new thought, it already has a helluva time implementing what we know to be sound practices. 

I looked back at some old resources I have on my bookshelf and sure enough, there in all the stacks of books on change, management, leadership, selling and marketing is a piece of paper that says "Remember the other 98%.  It's called implementation."  

So I wake up daily on a new quest; teach others how to manage and implement the changes I and others often have spoke about, but can't seem to be put in place.  Great ideas not used are still new ideas.

Good selling,



Do you run an adult day care?

Mike Karlsrud

I had the pleasure of speaking in front of a great group of folks in Grand Rapids on Friday.  I spoke on a few topics throughout the day; conversation, intention, selling to different genders and managing change.

Interestingly enough, most of the questions I got afterwards were about office "problem employees" that every office seems to have, yet no-one knows how to deal with properly.  I am no labor attorney and I don't even play one on TV, so take my advise from a management perspective, not a legal one.

First, let's be honest.  EVERYONE in your office knows who the problem child is.  The question is, why haven't you done anything about it?  They are expecting you to.  They are begging you to.  They NEED you to.  If your office is devoting even an hour a day managing around your troubled child, it is too much time spent financially, emotionally and attitudinally.  They are a cancer on your office.  Purge and let go.

Second, what ever behavior you tolerate from your employees at the lowest end of the specturm is your new HIGH in overall staff quality.  Sure you have A players. But you tolerate behavior that is lower than you expect from all your employees.  GE is a great example of how they systematically purge problem people.  Every year they do performance evaluations.  Every year the bottom 10% of ranked employees are let go.  Done. There are no wringing of hands or pondering about the aftermath.  It is part of the culture and part of what has taken them from good to great.  They simply do not tolerate poor performance.

Why do you?

Purge your problem children and replace them with folks who respect you, your team and your business.  The brand you have worked so hard to create deserves the best possible folks working and building it for the future.