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Calculator Carl and Other Un-hatched Chickens
Guest articles > Calculator Carl and Other Un-hatched Chickens
by: Doug Martin
I met Carl when he was trying to sell me a franchise business way back when my gusto for making it to the big time wasn’t marred by the reality of life in the world of entrepreneurship. It was a magical time when I still believed in get-rich-quick schemes, easy money and rock star lifestyles. I was, in fact, the easiest sale on earth.
It was also before I met “The Lund-inator” who would become my first real banker and slapped back every business plan, pro-forma, projection or idea I ever had with his incessant common sense. “Quit trying to sell me every egg like it was a chicken” his mantra still ringing in my ears. If you don’t have a Lund-inator in your life, get one. Not a buddy or a family member but a real live Lund-inator, just like the ones you see advertised on television. Just kidding, there are no commercials for a Lund-inator. But someone who will coil through your financial support documentation for your big idea and systematically tear it apart until it eventually appears to be even remotely close to reality.
Calculator Carl never relied on such things as reasonable projected assumptions. He had a secret weapon, and one beyond any dispute. The Texas Instruments T144XL. And he used it like a decorated fighter pilot. Any conversation with Carl would eventually lead to his upholstering of the T144XL. And that always meant trouble. Because great riches lay just moments away.
Carl would begin two ways, the first was to lower his voice, almost murmuring to himself while he spouted off numerical information, the second was to punch these numbers with great authority into the calculator while he was talking. Ever cognizant of never revealing any totals or equation results. “So here’s how it breaks down … 6.8 billion people on earth …. Let’s assume only 1% are interested in (Insert anything here) … no wait, make that ˝% just to be safe …. Always better to be conservative … and of those if only 10% will buy … so that’s hmm … at a retail price of ….. and then I’ll deduct a discount of X and we can assume some payments will go in default of Y … and then we take this over a 12 month period … less unsatisfied customer attrition … but add in new customers down the road… and Voila!” And with that Carl would spin the calculator around and show you the number in the display screen and once the appropriate time elapsed for it to sink into your psyche, generally a second or two, he would announce, “THAT’S how much money you’ll make”! And it was always an enormous amount. Always.
Part of what made this almost believable was, that Carl used a balls-on accurate tool to come to his conclusions. We all trust the accuracy of calculators and are conditioned to believe that every number it shows is truthful. Which of course it is, relative to the information it received.
Over the years, I learned that Carl was very long on eggs and very short on chickens. But it’s so easy for any of us to want to believe the near impossible. I see incredible claims all the time and even as jaded as I am, a little piece of me wants to believe them. Just a teeny piece.
I think a sliver of human nature wants to believe the impossible. I know I do. But I’m fortunate to have both the Lund-inator and a long history behind me. The only truly accurate numbers are last year’s numbers. Those are the chickens. The eggs are opportunity and with nurturing, will undoubtedly pop a bunch of chickens next year, but how many, will depend on many things.
The really interesting thing is, that over time, you learn not to spend eggs like they were chickens. For most of us, who had been self employed for a few years, many lenders are skittish of letting us extend too far into the feathers and when things get snug, you end up behind the six-ball rather than the eight-ball. I know it’s very frustrating to have an assortment of financial instrument institutions, from bankers to credit card companies, look at you like you are some kind of an infested leper, but there does come a time when this will work in your favor. This years eggs and next years chickens are always going to be two different numbers, no matter how fancy your calculator.
The pressure of debt is incredible. The pressure of debt you can’t service is fatal. Spending against the chickens not only hatched, but grown and sold, is always going to be your best choice. And it comes with an added bonus, freedom.
We, in the sales world love calculators and love optimism even more. I’ve seen thousands of guy’s in café’ parking lots tapping the keys of the calc function on their iPhones and excitedly sharing with each other next year’s commission or bonus checks. Most never come to complete fruition. Which often is OK if the actual amount ends up being respectable. All this can be quiet exhilarating really, ah the promise of fortunes to come.
So as we assess opportunities, either in our sales territory or some exciting new endeavor, we need to put the crunched numbers into perspective. I’ve learned that if the numbers come from someone else, they are wrong by 90%, if they come from ourselves they will be wrong by about 85%. And that was the magic of The Lund-inator; he automatically smashed everything down to its most likely outcome. Somewhere between 10%-15% of what my calculator showed. And as rue as I am to admit this, he was always right.
I think it would be a real winner if I developed an App called the iLund-inator and sold it at the iStore. “Let’s see … the iStore has 500 million members … if 10% are salespeople … that means … knock that down by X is to be conservative … then get a buck for each ……..”.
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About the Author: Douglas Martin is a Professional Corporate Sales Trainer featuring his trademarked seminar program EPIG™ Customer Relationship Architecture and purveyor of The Weekly Sales Beast. http://theweeklysalesbeast.blogspot.com/ where his lighter side of heavy selling musings are syndicated worldwide.
Contributor: Douglas Martin
Published here on: 19-Dec-10
MSWord: Calculator Carl and other.doc
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