This week I spoke to a friend's law firm's employees. My friend wanted me to share some thoughts on client development and retention. My friend has many talents in addition to law. One of his talents is including all his employees in his firm's success. My friend insisted on having all his attorneys and staff listen and contribute to my presentation.

      My friend realizes everyone matters in his firm. He also realizes everyone matters in our neighborhood, business community and town. He leads his firm knowing that the first contact with a prospect matters as much as his employee requesting records or paying bills in a timely manner or trying the firm's cases in front of a jury.

      Our lunch went by quickly with new suggestions, ideas and a tasty lunch - you can see by the picture.

      When you come through Albuquerque look for my friend. He is featured on many a billboard around town.

      This week Wall Street Reporter Siobhan Hughes wrote an article on Senator Mitch McConnell and his battle to take the teeth out of the Affordable Care Act. The article describes Senator McConnell's 'steely drive' and use of political leverage over building personal relationships.

      Doesn't that strategy fly in the face of what we have been taught? In the iconic book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, we were taught to compromise and reach, sometimes reach a long way, to find things in common with our negotiating partners.

      We were taught to come in humble, admit our mistakes, and seek our opponents' 'must haves' when we sat at the bargaining table.

      Senator McConnell does none of that. He dresses down those who disagree with him, often in his own party, in public meetings.  He wields a hatchet not a handshake. His ambition and "take no quarter" approach have gained him his position as Senator Majority Leader. But this week, Senator McConnell pushed back the August recess, keeping his peers in the capitol when they are desperate to get back to their districts and debate the Affordable Care Act.

      Benjamin Franklin was our nation's beloved patriot, inventor, and diplomat. Ben Franklin spent two decades in the 1700s employing shuttle diplomacy. The shuttle was a ship not an airliner. Among his many successes was personally courting our nation's French peers. As a result, France gave a fortune to help our Revolutionary War effort.

      Ben Franklin built personal relationships over twenty years, sailing back and forth across the Atlantic. Senator McConnell might tell us bitter is best in negotiations; Ben Franklin might disagree.

      How do you prefer to negotiate? With the carrot or the stick? Have your negotiation methods changed over time? Please share your comments.

      I made a grave error preparing for a party our family hosted last week. We were serving many brats and I came home from the grocery store with two mustards; yellow and Dijon. My lovely wife of twenty-nine years said, "The spicy brown must be in another bag." I said, "Not exactly." My wife said, "How could you not remember my favorite kind of mustard - how long have we been married?" Ouch.

      The party, without spicy brown mustard, was a success. Throughout the party however, I reminded myself to remember my spouse's favorites from now on.

      On my way to work this morning a neighbor was washing his truck. I stopped and asked him if he had embarked on the summer trip that he told me he had planned with his young son. The two have a goal of climbing and hiking the tallest peaks in all fifty states in the next few years. My neighbor said, "Thanks for asking, we just returned from climbing the peaks in states thirty-one through thirty-seven."

      My neighbor has lived in the neighborhood only a few years. I have been married twenty-nine years. How can I remember my neighbor's bucket list and not my wife's favorite mustard?

      How many of our clients' and prospects' wants and desires do we forget in our haste to get the sale and further the relationship? Let's dedicate ourselves to developing our memory and retention in addition to our sales skills.

      You must read actor Jeffrey Tambor's new book Are You Anybody; A Memoir.  Jeffrey's poignant life story reminds us that we are destined to get a lot of no's in our lives. Whether we take Jeffrey's route to the stage, television and big screen or in the daily tasks of courtship, getting past the gatekeeper or the dreaded job interview - we must steel ourselves to the word 'no.'

      The author explains to the reader you are not the only one to hear that dreaded word.  Jeffrey tells us how super producer Brian Grazer, 'Splash' and 'Empire,'  heard a lifetime of no's - but dusts himself off and asks again.

       Jeffrey reminds us that the show must go on. He had the lead role in a stage production in Los Angeles - a production in which he was getting glowing reviews. Five minutes before going on stage for his theatrical production Jeffrey takes a call.  The producer of a television show that Jeffrey has starred in for the past two seasons is on the line. The producer tells Jeffrey, "Your character is going in a different direction." Jeffrey liked the idea.  He said, "Yes, I agree I'd like to see more...from my character." The producer said, "No, we're going in a different direction and eliminating your character."  Jeffrey hears these leaden words five minutes before Jeffrey takes the stage.

      Jeffrey endures these disappointments and a fling with Scientology, divorce and later in life, a second marriage and enjoying his four children (all under ten years old) when Jeffrey is seventy years old.   Jeffrey exhorts the reader to keep asking, even if it means more no's. Jeffrey continues to audition and get great roles now in 2017, at seventy.

      He learns more than humility and perseverance.  Early in his career Jeffrey has a small role on Broadway. He speaks a few lines with General Patton's film portrayer, George C. Scott.  During rehearsals Mr. Scott asks Jeffrey if he wants a partner to read through the script. What kindness from the legendary actor George C. Scott.  After the show has a successful run, the cast has a party. At the party Jeffrey asks Mr. Scott, "What can I do for you to repay your kindness to me?" George C. Scott says, "Help somebody." The General Patton actor's version of 'pay it forward.'

      We won't get every lead role, our television show might not run twenty seasons and we might not get a front row seat at the Golden Globe Awards ceremony. Yet from every 'no' we can learn, adapt, and persevere.

      Please tell us your most dramatic 'no' and how you handled it.

      Recently I sat under a brilliant New Mexico night sky and listened to Carlos Santana and his band. A few days later I had coffee with my friend Brian and told him about the concert. I told him about the excited crowd and the great atmosphere of the outdoor amphitheater. I told him how Carlos Santana, long time performer and Woodstock veteran, brought it.

      Brian said, "I have a Santana story. In the summer of 1974 my friends and I drove a van from Santa Fe to San Francisco on a college trip. For a few days we hung around Coit Tower with many, many campers. At dusk one night we saw what looked to be a teenager driving a white Maserati around the park. The Maserati's license tag read 'Carlos.' We waited for Carlos Santana to alight from the car. The car stopped and a teen jumped out. But he was not Carlos Santana." 

      The day after our unsuccessful Santana sighting we headed home. That morning we picked up a young man hitchhiking south of San Francisco. We asked where he was going. He said, 'Los Angeles.'  I said, 'You look familiar. Were you driving a white Maserati near Coit Tower this weekend? The hitchhiker said, 'That was me. I'm Carlos Santana's cousin. I live in Los Angeles and hitchhike to San Francisco on the weekends and stay with him. He lets me drive his car.' All of us in the van could not believe the coincidence.

      We dropped off Carlos's cousin in Los Angeles, then drove home to Santa Fe." 

      After Brian told me his Santana story I remembered the concert more fondly. 

      That is what stories do; they reinforce a point, add to an argument or buttress a set of facts.

      In sales we rush to differentiate ourselves, our products and our services. How do we do that? We take a deep breath then tell our prospect about our metrics, our spec sheets, our features and benefits. Then we pass around brochures and unimaginatively ask, "Where is your pain?" Imagine what could happen if you tell a story. The next time your prospect asks, "How are you different?" tell a story.

      Metrics are important, your products, services, features and benefits have to satisfy your prospect's problem. But first, become a better storyteller. Tell a story that features you, your product and service solving a problem. Tell your story with details and suspense. Make your story personal. Make your story memorable.

      Find your muse. Tell that story.  Practice telling the story to your friends, to yourself while you are walking and when you are in the shower. Tell your story into your smartphone so you own it.

      In different moments in our lives we've had to be good story tellers.  When you get that desired appointment don't be like everyone else. And instead, tell them a story.

      Entertainment luminary Shonda Rhimes is leaving Disney Company's ABC Studios to join Netflix.  Ms. Rhimes and her team launched popular programs "Scandal" and "Grey's Anatomy" and "How to Get Away with Murder."  She was paid a handsome $10 million yearly to be under Disney's tent.  For that paycheck Ms. Rhimes more than delivered - her team and their popular programming brought in more than an estimated $2 billion in advertising and syndication and licensing fees.

      This announcement reiterated that creativity is king (or queen) in any endeavor.  Netflix has no qualms taking on Goliath Disney in the race for streaming to eyeballs.  Blockbuster looked at buying Netflix many years ago but passed insisting that customers wanted to come into Blockbuster's physical stores to purchase their entertainment.  Now the no longer small Netflix is hiring away top talent from the top studios.

      Disney acted more than fairly in the transaction by letting Ms. Rhimes out of her contract with the studio one year early.

      Persistence paid off for Netflix's Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos.  Mr. Sarandos stayed in touch with Rhimes over the past years asking her for her opinions on some of Netflix's original shows.  In one report Ms. Rhimes complimented Mr. Sarandos on having personally dropped off a DVD to Ms. Rhimes that he wanted her to watch.

      All of us wonder if we should make one more call or write one more note to our prospects - follow your intuition, make the call or write the note.  Who knows how it might pay off.

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      About Garrett

      Garrett Hennessy operates out of Albuquerque, NM as a Speaker, Lobbyist, and Fundraiser available for your organization.  Garrett speaks and consults on sales, employee retention and more. Please contact him for more information.