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Sales Lessons from a Beagle

Sales Lessons from a Beagle

Karen Woodard-Chavez is president of Premium Performance Training in Boulder, CO, and Ixtapa, Mexico. She has owned and operated clubs since 1985 and now consults with and trains club staff throughout the world. She provides her services on-site, online, by phone and through her books, CDs, DVDs and manuals. She can be contacted at 303-417-0653 or [email protected].

Every day, my 7-year-old beagle, Kelly, has a system that she employs flawlessly to “make her sale,” or in other words, solicit food and affection. Let me briefly share this with you, then I’ll let you in on the lessons this beagle teaches us about selling skills.

Kelly gets breakfast between 5:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m., a few treats during the day, four to five walks a day, then supper at 6 p.m. Each morning, she comes into the bedroom and puts two paws on the side of the bed and peers up to see if she can give me a kiss and, in the most energetic way, encourage me to start my day with lots of affection to and from her. I scratch her head for a moment or two, then I get out of bed and can’t help but giggle as Kelly twirls and spins her way down the stairs and to the kitchen where she’ll be served breakfast. After her meal, she likes to cuddle, go for a walk and generally just spend time with me. She sleeps in my office during the day, coming over to me when she wants some affection.

Every day, without fail, she has a lunch date with my husband and patiently waits for him to give her his yogurt container so she can lick the remains. Then, she sits with him for another five minutes and then runs to my office to hang out.

Around 4 p.m., she starts to become very engaging by coming over to my desk, putting her paws up on my chair, stretching for some loving and in hopes of getting more than just a rub behind the ear—perhaps a treat. She typically settles for a rub the first few times and then as the afternoon progresses and we get closer to 6 p.m., she is very clear about the fact that she is hungry. At this point, I may be in a phone conference with a client or typing on my laptop, and she’ll begin the “arm grab,” where she takes her two front paws and tries to gently get me to stop doing what I am doing so she can have a treat or maybe have supper just a little bit early. If I’m not giving her the attention she wants, she lets out a little howl. If she still doesn’t get what she wants, she starts to dance and then lets out a big howl. At this point, I’m usually laughing at her antics and moving toward the kitchen trying not to trip over Kelly as she twirls and howls at my feet. The end result is that Kelly “made the sale” and gets her supper.

As I witness this ritual every day, the following sales concepts come to mind:

Systems. Kelly is very consistent with her timing. She knows that if she tries to get supper at 3:30 p.m., it is not going to happen. She has her timing down cold. She is consistent every day. In your day, are you systematic with how you spend your time and execute your business building activities? Are you systematic (but not robotic) with your sales process?

Unconditional. She is my loving companion whether I “buy” from her or not. If she does not get food, she is happy with a pat or just being together. Are you unconditional with members and prospects, not giving up on them when they do not buy from you but staying in touch anyway?

Patience. She knows when to back off and just sit, and she never pushes too hard. How is your patience level in the sales process? Are you pushy or patient?

Urgency. She knows when to amp up the emotion, the physical contact and the famous beagle howl to get a response from me. Do you create urgency in your presentations and phone conversations that make the buyer realize that they need to act now?

Unrelenting. Even when I say, “No, Kelly,” my dog knows the game isn’t necessarily over. She figures out that if she approaches me a few minutes later with a different look or simply to give me some love that it all works toward the end result. Do you give up too soon in the sales process? Most people do. Don’t assume that because someone has not returned a call that they are not interested. Keep in touch in ways that create interest and urgency.

Cheery. Kelly is never aloof or distant. She always brightens my day whether it’s 5:30 a.m. or the middle of the afternoon. I’m always happy to see her. Are you the kind of person that people always want to see because you make their day, or do people not notice you because you don’t shine or have anything of value to offer them?

The sales process is not complicated; it just requires having a strong product to sell, talking to enough of the right people, building appropriate relationships and having a few qualities down cold that you are consistent with. It’s true that my beagle has me wrapped around her little paw, but even with that, I learn some good lessons from her every day that are constant reminders of sales and relationship success.

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