Lessons in life can come from funny places. Sometimes, we don’t even realize the point of the lesson until years – even decades later.

I was doing the dishes last week, and I was reminded of just this – a lesson that a college roommate and I shared about process that we learned by doing the dishes, some 23 years ago! So here is that short story, the lesson we learned, and how it applies to your potential for success in sales.

When friends live together in college, doing the dishes can often become a source of tension (especially when they don’t get done). When it was my turn to do the dishes, I had a style that was different than that of my friend, so of course, he gave me a hard time about it.

His method was to fill the sink with all of the dirty dishes, pour in some soap and water, and fish around for dishes in the grungy water while struggling to find room between the top of the dish pile and the faucet to rinse each dish after washing it.

My method was to first rinse off all of the gunk, then put all of the dishes on the counter, and fill the sink with a small amount of clean, soapy water. I then gave each gunk-free dish a quick swoosh through the “bath”, and rinse it.

So my friend teased me about this multi-step process of mine until one day, he came up to me out of the blue, and said, “hey, I tried that rinse first method of yours, and it was a lot faster than my way”.

Wow. That kind of admission just doesn’t happen too often between 20-something college guys! Now this blog post isn’t really about the dishes, so let’s not get hung up on what might be the best way to do the dishes. It is about process and preparation, so let’s move things along in that direction!

Much like my college friend before his dish-process enlightenment, my co-workers used to often tease me about the time I took to map out a task list at the end of each day so that my work was organized for the next day. In spite of the teasing, I typically sold more than most of them, and went home earlier each day.


Sense a pattern here? Let’s try a few more:

  • When I train and consult, I suggest that an introduction call script be prepared, printed and practiced before the first introduction call is made.
  • When I consult around negotiations, I spend more time than my client expects fleshing out the position of OUR side: what we really want (interests); what we are willing to do without; and where we will walk away (BATNA).
  • When I do the dishes, as you now know, I first get the gunk off of the plates before I break out the soap.

The point is the same in all of these cases

The point is that the execution of your work (an introduction call, a negotiation, the dishes) can be made more efficient and effective if you take the time to properly set up the work before you start doing it (working on a script; identifying the position of your own side; scrapping the gunk).

Lessons in life come from funny places. Many of the best lessons wind up being the kind of thing your grandmother would say – simple, effective, non-sexy, non-glamorous – but they work.

  • The nutrition community cites expensive studies that suggest you should eat more vegetables.
  • The health community commissions expensive studies and declares that a few drinks a day is not so bad, and might even be helpful (everything in moderation, says Grandma).
  • Old expressions like “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” make us roll our eyes when we hear it from the older generation. But by golly, they just turn out to be true nonetheless.

So scrape your gunk: work out an effective selling system before you go out to sell, sell more effectively, and then go tell grandma that she was right all along.


Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)

So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.

If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:

The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.

Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.

The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.

If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.

Here’s to your success!