The Ideal Salesman, By Me

Several years ago I wrote up my definition of what I thought an ideal salesman would be like. When I wrote this, I had in my mind mental images of people I remembered who had been there when I made big purchases… new-to-me cars, new windows for the house, even a new house itself. I’ve been sold to, and I’ve been “sold to.” This is my definition of who I want to buy from, and hopefully, who I am setting out to be myself:

The Ideal Salesman, by me.

The ideal salesman is one who, in the end, allows the customer to walk away thinking and knowing they just got a deal on a great product. The salesperson’s job is not to hype the product or service but to show how it can meet the needs of the customer.

He should also be able to perceive deeper questions and intents than those initially verbalized, and be willing to dive deeper to discover them. He should be able to both answer questions about his product and also know when to get answers to questions he can’t address on his own. He doesn’t need to know everything, but should know who or where to go when he doesn’t.

He should know both the benefits and the limitations of what he’s selling, as well as how flexible his company is to accomodating or customizing the product.

He should be confident yet patient.

He should do all he can to walk into an appointment with some fore-knowledge of the prospect.

When it comes time to make a decision and the prospect knows all they need to, he should step away and give them the appropriate space and time, yet still be able to offer a legitimate incentive or drawback that makes making a decision NOW important.

The end result of a meeting with the ideal salesman is a happy customer who walks away KNOWING they just got a great deal on something they really need, and can’t wait to tell their friends all about it.

The Long Drive Home

Is stress from a long drive home with kids yelling in the back seat legit? What do you DO with that when you get home and it’s time for bed? How you you discipline when that’s on your shoulders? How do you love? How do you let go?

God help me. Take my burdens. Even when they are weights I didn’t ask for (God knows I’ve asked for plenty). Help me love in he midst of this. To trust. To believe in the good that’s inside those I love. And even, maybe, to still believe in the good that is within me.

That’s the hardest part. Not hating yourself. Killing your own spirit. Only making matters worse. Dragging your family with you.

Help me forgive me. To learn to rest. To really, really, let what matters GO.

Focus

Little focus

Some passages on focus for me today…

Luke 9:51 – When the days drew near for Jesus to be taken up, He set his face to go to Jerusalem.

Mark 10:45 – For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Colossians 3:2 -Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Proverbs 4:25 – Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.

I’m not of the mindset that I must over-spiritualize everything I plan to do today and find the “things above” in each thing. That’s a chore fit for a monk not dealing with marketing, bookkeeping, and writing code to tell a computer to jump through hoops. What I can do, though, is know that I was put here to serve, to honor, and to bless God and His creation. That means doing my best. That means finding and stepping into opportunities to help others – some who pay me with nice checks, and some who may never even know my name.

Focus is right there waiting for me to take it. Yesterday I wrote down burdens I couldn’t carry, today I wrote down how the Lord picked those up and carried them all the way down the road IN STYLE yesterday.

Blessed be the name of the Lord. S.D.G.

Stuffing yourself in a box, only to blow the lid off

You Need a Budget

Erin and I use a nice little piece of software called You Need A Budget to manage our personal finances. It’s the combination of a check register and budgeting tool that relies on the concept of a zero-based budget to assign every dollar a job, every month. Much along the lines of wha Dave Ramsey teaches, but it allows us a little flexibility to be grownups as well. Because of the way our business works, we don’t totally know what our income is going to be for any given week until about a week and a half into the month, so it’s a day like yesterday where we sit down and nail out the budget to get everything balanced out.

Like anyone doing their finances on this type of budget, you know it’s not as easy as it sounds. On good months, when you think it’d be easy, you still have to tell every dollar where to go, even if it’s saying something like “Mr. Extra One Hundred Dollars, you will go into my retirement fund and not be seen again for 30 years.” Once you tell that money where to go, and send it there, there’s no going back. It’s a promise you must keep, or break your budget. The same is true for lean months, where you may both scrimp on things that aren’t necessities and also pull from accounts with “excess” in order to meet the needs of your “must-do’s” for the month.

This month is a bit of a lean month. We have those. I’ll bet you do too. Anyways, we sat down last night and figured everything out, moved some things around, and got it all to the point where every dollar had a home. Success. We can live with that. It may not be a filet minon month, but a cheeseburger month will do just fine (especially since some of our savings has opened up an opportunity for a road trip).

The one thing that looked wierd was this $500+ in our propane budget. We’re on a “budget” with our propane company as well, so we pay the same price every month, even though we only get our tank filled every quarter or so. It’s good for everyone. But they hadn’t billed us in a few months, and this account had steadily been growing. Not knowing if we were missing the mail or going to get nailed with a big bill because they absentmindely took us off the budget, I made a note to call them the next day (today). Who knows, maybe we’ll free up a little cash for that pair of tennis shoes I need.

So this morning I called the propane company. Yep, we had a credit from the last year’s budget. We hadn’t used as much propane as we’d paid in over the first 9 months, so they gave us the last 3 months free of charge. Exactly how it should work. And that ENTIRE $500 is now “free” to be used elsewhere (like on that dishwasher that just ground [literally] to a halt). But better yet, because the budget is based on previous years, the NEW budget amount, which takes effect next month, is going to be less than HALF of what it used to be. 

Prase God! What a blessing! Not only did our financial picture open up just as we hoped, but the next 12 months will also be a little easier when it comes to paying the heating bill.

This is one of those things I just need to write down. An S.D.G. moment that could easily be forgotten, but reminds me tonight (and again anytime I’ll read this) about God’s faithfulness, and also His response to our planning and prayerful use of His resources.

So yeah, we stick ourselves in a box every month with a budget. And every once in a while you get to blow the lid off with great news like this. Sure, other months may come with unexpected emergencies, but that can be anticipated as well. In it all, God is faithful. Never failing. Forever I will trust in Him.

 

Being a father and saving your child's life

slider - mak on a tractorWell, that was an expedition! Took my two kids into town today for some work at our church as we prep for a week of VBS with some tweens followed by lunch and a shopping trip. How my wife does things like this on a daily basis, I hope to never know (although being able to understand and appreciate it would be nice). “Crazy” comes nowhere near an accurate description, even though the kids were, I think, on pretty good behavior. There’s just so MUCH to be watching out for. MaKenna more than anything. She either has to be lugged around the store in my arms (which gets heavy), walking around on her own (with things she thinks I need to buy calling her name), or parked in the cart asking when she can be released to one of the other two spots.

I wouldn’t trade this day for anything, though. I came home to a house not all that different than when I left, except for the smell of cooked cabbage (which is not something I am tremendously fond of). The thing is, though, that smell meant that my wife had had about 5-6 hours of time on her own to do something she hopefully enjoyed without the “routine” of crazy that is our family (self included, I suppose).

It’s almost been 14 years of marriage here at the Cromer household, with over half of that invested in the lives of our kids and others who have temporarily lived in our home. I wouldn’t trade this for anything.

On a side but related note – it breaks my heart to no end to see fathers throw this away. To toss their family to the curb because they’ve fallen out of love or can’t take it anymore. To run off for a new adventure and leave those who thought they were just getting started alone and bewildered, wondering where they stand. Those left behind can certainly move on, but you really never “get over” that type of thing, do you? You can get through it and become a much better person, but to be honest, you still kinda sorta get your hopes up (for what, I don’t know), only to have the realities of character and changed priorities smack you against the rocks again.

Such is crazy. Such is life. One of my statements of truth hanging on my bathroom mirrors states that I will be (and that I am becoming) a man quick to apologize and even quicker to forgive. A man who will find the best in people and assume that those who say they love me truly do, regardless of those blips that make you cringe.

Anyways… yeah, THAT was a rabbit trail. On ANOTHER, more exciting, side note, I’ve discovered that my daughter likes to call me her father. Not “just” her daddy (which rocks, of course), but somewhere, she picked up this “Father” word. Probably from Father’s day, and it will probably be gone before I know it, but I’ll bask in it while she can. She also says things like “You saved my life!” These, along with her fondness for snuggling up in my recliner, are just a few of the reasons I simply love having a daughter at this stage of life. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced.

 

Nik Wallenda's take on Faith

This past week a guy named Nik Wallenda walked a tightwire stretched across a canyon. Not THE Grand Canyon, but that’s a rather minute detail when you’re talking about 40MPH winds and a drop far enough that the number of feet really doesn’t matter. I found a pretty good highlight video here:

(If the video won’t play in your browser, here’s the direct link.)

I’m no daredevil. This isn’t on my bucket list. Nothing like it is anywhere close to something I’d like to do during my lifetime. But what I do like is this guy’s take on faith. Check out this from an interview with Christianity Today:

When asked, “What role does faith play in your life,” here was Nik’s response:

My faith plays a huge role in my life, and I am very blessed to be where I am. One of the questions I always get is, “Are you testing your faith / are you testing God?” I don’t see it like that at all. I don’t believe God keeps me on the wire. I believe God gives me a unique ability to walk the wire, but it’s up to me whether I train properly. There’s a lot of people that have amazing relationships with Christ that lose their lives in a car accident. Does that mean they didn’t have a good enough relationship with Jesus? No. Life happens and God created us all in his image, but we’re all our own people. We’re not robots. We make decisions.

 

What I like about this the most is where he said, “I don’t believe God keeps me on the wire.” Combine that with the video, where you here him carrying on a conversation with God, and you’ll see a difference from the lives of many Christians, myself included some days. He wasn’t up there praying, “Oh God, keep me safe,” or “Lord, please cause these winds to die down.” He was THANKING Jesus. PRAISING God. Fear didn’t have a chance. This guy was trained up and ready to rock this challenge.

And here we go, praying for another safe commute to work after a night of too little sleep. Praying for God to help us do well on a test we’re completely unprepared for. Pleading for God to show us how to start a conversation with a stranger when we refuse to have a casual conversation with the neighbor next door.

Rather than asking God to do a miracle in our life, why don’t we just go DO that miracle? Train. Prepare. Expect. And then DO.