• Method to the Madness of Training Seminars


    I arrive with about 350 other guys. We smile at each other but really don't talk much. I guess we all feel that we are too good and too proud to be at a sales-training seminar.

    The trainer/speaker/guru promenades into the room and starts glad-handing everyone. He is dressed in a $1,200 suit with a sequined T-shirt underneath.

    He lets us know right away that he just never wears a tie. (Suddenly all of us are loosening our ties, slipping them off, and stuffing them into our briefcases.)

    "OK fellows, get up!" he tells us. "Put down your pens and pads; you won't need them today. I am going to make you a successful sales rep by changing how you think, not how you write. I want everyone to push away the chairs. Open up the room so that we can open up your minds."

    The lights are dimmed. He begins with a whisper. "Close your eyes? think back to when you were a small child. Remember that story your mom would read to you. The one that you already knew by heart but wanted to hear again and again. The story that shaped you hopes and dream. What was it?"

    He must be pulling our leg, I thought. But then someone screams out, "The little engine that could."

    Mr. Guru jumps on it. "Great, now I want you to really get into the story." He starts pretending he is a train and huffs and puffs around the stage.

    "Those of you who want to get on that train of success, what are you waiting for?" He is imploring us to join him.

    After a few minutes of pure pandemonium, Mr. Guru cuts the music, and everyone quiets down. "OK, OK, I want everyone to get that favorite story of their very own into their karma and act it out. Also look around the room to see if anyone else has a similar dream."

    The noise level goes right back up, and yet I am still standing in the corner doing nothing. These guys are a bunch of jerks, I tell myself.

    The guy next to me is starting to take off his jacket, and even his shirt. "What are you doing?" I ask.

    "My favorite story was the emperor's new clothes," he says with some embarrassment. "You remember, everyone pretends that they see stuff that is really not there to please the emperor. Well I am tired of pretending at work that all those ideas from my boss are so great. I think most of them are foolish."

    This guy is right. I start pulling off my shoes and socks, even my toupee. I see contact lenses popping out, and women pulling off their high heels and pulling out running shoes from their purses. We have at least 30 to 45 people around us. We are not alone.

    What are we going to do with this newfound community? I jump onto the stage and tell Mr. Guru about our group. To my disbelief, he asks me to speak to the entire convention about what we are doing.

    "When?" I ask.

    "Right now," he responds and sticks the microphone in my hand.

    I begin telling our story, To my amazement the "little engine guys" stop huffing and puffing. They stand still. They are listening to me. They start removing their jackets. The few remaining ties are gone too.

    I am into this. I tell the crowd, "Next time your prospect asks you for the benefits of your product, don't just repeat the garbage in the fancy brochure. Tell me how you, yes you, how you can really help them.

    "Listen to your client, he is the emperor. Find out what he really wants. No one has ever honestly asked the question." I am on a roll, wow, and I am loving it.

    The room is hopping. This is how my kids must feel at a rock concert. Do they still have mosh pits? I am ready to jump. I am sweating from exhilaration. I see Mr. Guru standing just off stage, grinning.

    The music comes on. He runs out, thanks everyone for coming, and tells us to buy his book and sell, sell, sell.

    With one hand, he envelops me with a huge hug. His other hand turns off the microphone. He whispers in my ear. "Hesh, good job as always. See you out back. Don't forget the limo is waiting for us."


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