Cause, Effect, Squeaky Wheels, and Newspapers

I recently read couple of articles about the Newspaper industry and the online industry which, while not overtly interconnected, mesh together so well to relate a story-behind-the-story, I can’t help but think of a pithy spin on old cliche that my grandmother one said to me:

“The squeaky wheel may get the grease, but sometimes it just gets replaced with a wheel that doesn’t make so much noise.”

Every since the internet made it so incredibly easy to share things, the people who put effort and money into creating those things have been worried about getting paid. This concern really hit the fan when Napster let the genie out of the bottle with such a loud POP that it was heard in every corner of the inter-webs.

As more media companies published public feeds of their content online, more curation sites found ways to repackage and import that content into their sites in order to help them capture more eyeballs from the sweat of another platform’s brow. Those publishers put their content out there to be found — they just hadn’t counted on readers never having to come back to their own sites to continue their news grazing. Once the realization struck home, newspaper Pay Walls went up faster than Trump-promised border walls.

Newspapers have been hit especially hard because they have always had the best reputation for creating insightful, original, and well-researched articles. Even in this age of Presidentially-denounced Fake News, print news still keeps the firmest grasp on their original reputation. Television seems to have willingly given up any hope of holding onto (or restoring) this kind of reputation for themselves in their rush to break (provocative) news first.

But as advertising dollars flow out the exit doors of print publications, those same publishers boot the reporters out the door right after; sacrificing the one edge and indisputable value they possessed over every other media in an effort to plug financial holes in an ever-sinking ship — their original content creators.

As the Newspapers sacrifice local content and reporters in favor of less-expensive global news networks, partnerships, and affiliations, they produce less and less content in-house and their news begins to look more and more like the content which appears on everyone else’s website and in everyone else’s publication.

The local content producers and their unique perspectives were the most important (and profit-able) things those publications had going — and those were the first things they got rid of.

As the situation becomes more dire they grasp at straws hope to get permission to band together (those few that remain) and demand compensation from those who only seem to be making the content these organizations publish and post on the internet available to the audiences they’ve already lost.

Ironically, clutching at these straws may have become the last straw for sites like Facebook and Google as they explore the means for getting news content from their own sources.

As we learned in basic science classes back in school — for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. For every cause, there is an effect.

Newspapers ask permission to confront Facebook and Google as a united front.

Google invests more money into technology to completely eliminate the need for reporters than it would have taken to buy pretty much every newspaper that’s still printing in America.

Like the proverbial tree falling in the wood, if a Newspaper publishes content on their own website and on the printed page to which very few people subscribe — does it still have value if no one is there to read it?

If there are any innovative Newspaper publishers out there who want to hear ideas on how they can operate and compete more profitably without having to resort to the lemmings-like strategy of their industry associations — you know where to find me.


Magazine Revenue Ideas

I recently participated in an hour-long brainstorm session with Ron McDaniel, leader of the Micro Mag Publishing community. We bounced around ideas for local publishers on the topics of non-traditional revenue generation, selling ideas (versus selling advertising), sponsorship opportunities, featured content ideas, how to stay motivated, and a myriad of other topics (until I ran out of coffee!)

Our brainstorm session was recorded as exclusive video content intended for his Micro Mag Publishing members-only area, but Ron has generously made the audio-only version available to the Idea Guy community for a limited time. Frankly, I think the advantage here goes to people who don’t have to stare at my ugly mug while I am coming up with ideas (and I’m not necessarily talking about my coffee mug.)

You don’t have to be a magazine publisher to consume or apply these ideas. There are TONS of concepts here which anyone can adapt and apply to their own business and projects, no matter your area of focus or business category.

Click this link to access the brainstorm audio or click on the image below.

And please leave a comment below to let Ron and me know if you enjoyed the brainstorm — if we get enough positive response (or suggestions for future topics) this could become a regular thing!

magazine brainstorm

Places You Can Sell Your Ideas

The only question I get asked more than “how do I come up with more ideas?” is “where can I sell my ideas?” — and these two questions couldn’t be further apart.

The answer to the first question is all about efforts and exercises to produce creative concepts in large quantities, whereas the most successful and profitable answer to the second question is more about access, influence, establishing value, and creating solutions to very specific problems.

If ideas are a dime-a-dozen:
Where can I find lots of people with lots of dimes?

places you can sell ideasFor the first time ever, I’ve assembled a collection of some favorite places for showcasing and selling creative ideas, as well as finding problems and challenges to be solved (at a profit!) I know about these resources because I’ve either used these exact resources (or similar ones) to market and sell and profit from my own ideas.

My latest Five Buck Brainstorm is titled Places You Can Sell Your Ideas and includes almost 20 individual strategies and dozens of resources and links that can help you sell the ideas you have swimming around your head.

This brainstormed list includes links to websites offering high-dollar bounties to people who can come up with winning ideas to corporate challenges and lists of resources you can use to make your own idea a reality (and generate recurring profits for yourself.)

Some of these resources may be new to you, some may be familiar (although shared in a new context), but all hold potential for you to profit from your ability to conceive of creative and innovative solutions and position them in a marketplace full of people willing to trade you some dimes (in some cases lots and lots of them!) for your best ideas.

And just like all the collections of ideas available on — you get all the ideas to explore, experiment with, and expand upon immediately delivered to you in a downloadable PDF document for just $5.00.

Get This Brainstorm!

Loud and Clear

Some people and brands (and politicians) are quite loud, but their message isn’t communicated with clarity.

Some concepts are crystal clear, but require amplification in order to be heard by the people who would be most interested in obtaining additional information about the subject.

Loud isn’t necessarily bad, but neither is it better.

A firetruck has a message that can be understood loud and clearVolume without audience comprehension is just random noise.

A baby crying tells you something is urgent. But, you really don’t know if it’s hungry, hurt, or needs to be changed until you take the time to investigate further and figure it out for yourself.

A horn blaring in traffic could be someone sounding an alert or it could just be an impatient jerk. Whereas a siren in the same environment denotes a clear message (emergency!) and a desired action (pull to the side of the road).

Value is more important than volume, but if I can’t hear you I don’t know you have something I want.

However, shouting your message louder (even if I understand it) doesn’t make what you have to offer any more attractive. You are actually likely to have the opposite impact on any audience members who might be on-the-fence or have a future need for what you sell.

The trick is to not just get these two components mixed in the correct ratios — but to remember there is a third: Value. And ultimately you’re not the one who gets to decide that third component.

This is why it’s so important to get the message clear and volume set at the right level, so you can be heard and comprehended by the people in the audience who will perceive your offer to be of value.

…whether it is shouted (or whispered.)

No Chips Notification Device

You’ve heard of PSAs, right?
Public Service Announcements?

This is a PSI — a Public Service Innovation from Don The Idea Guy.

For months they told us it was coming

They told us this new technology was going to make our credit card transactions more secure when purchasing at retail stores.

I’m talking about the new EMV credit cards with smart chips

emv-smart-cardMany stores I shop at spent their time and money investing in and installing — about $300-$600 for each new terminal — and (presumably) training their customer service staff on the new credit card readers by the October 2015 conversion deadline.

Merchants had been warned early on that the onus for credit card fraud would be upon them — and not the credit card companies — if they didn’t begin conducting transactions via the chip readers instead of the magnetic stripe-swiper by the stated deadline, which was October 2015 for most merchants (pay-at-pump merchants have until October 2017).

Then, why in the world are only 1 in 5 stores who HAVE a chip reader actually using them???

When I checkout at a store I’ve started asking if I should use the chip reader or swipe my card. Inevitably I get a heavy sigh from the cashier (sometimes with a bonus eye-roll at no additional charge) and I’m told “No, we’re not using it yet.”

I imagine they are asked that question countless times throughout the day, in addition to the times where a customer just sees the reader and automatically inserts their card and has to be told to remove it and swipe the card instead (with additional heavy sighs and eye-rolls, I’m sure.)

It’s a bad customer experience, but I don’t blame the customer service people, I blame the store owners and managers. They trained them on using the machines, but they didn’t train them on NOT using the machines.

As per usual, the best solution is usually the simplest solution.
Put a damn sign on your credit card terminal!

Better yet, use a sign that not only anticipates the question, but actually prevents the action.


For the benefit of the general public and my fellow consumers — AND to hopefully increase the number of happier customer transactions (not to mention helping the environment by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere caused by heavy sighing, and perhaps even decreasing healthcare costs in the workplace by eliminating excess strain on eye muscles due to repetitive motion injuries), Don The Idea Guy is proud to announce the completely free and open-source availability of the No-We-Are-Not-Using-The-Chip-Reader-And-You-Should-Swipe-Your-Card-Instead C.N.D. (Customer Notification Device).


No-Chip-Card01Installation and activation of the device is simple:

  • Download the apparatus for free via this link (technically it’s a “Pay What You Want” link, but you can set the amount to $0.00).
  • Print the PDF document on a heavier cardstock weight paper. The PDF features several design options to choose from, be sure to print enough copies so that you have at least one design per credit card transaction terminal.
  • Cut along the dashed-line of the card shape on the document.
  • Recommended by not required: Increase durability by laminating the card.
  • Insert the card (as indicated by the arrow) into your chip reader slot of your credit card terminal.
  • Bask in the double victory that is successfully anticipating a customer need AND easing the frustration of your customer service team.

public-domain_creative-commons-license01Don The Idea Guy and his company, The Idea Department, hereby release all personal or business rights to this concept known as the No-We-Are-Not-Using-The-Chip-Reader-And-You-Should-Swipe-Your-Card-Instead Customer Notification Device into the public domain. Feel free to use, share, adopt, and adapt this idea for your own use as you see fit.

To the extent possible under law, Don The Idea Guy has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to No Chip Reader Alert Device. This work was originally published in United States.

No Rights Reserved. Don’t say I never gave you anything.

  • You want to print this out with your own store logo on them — do it!
  • You want to manufacture actual physical plastic versions and sell them — go for it!
  • You want to create versions with holiday greetings and store specials on them — send me a copy!
  • You want to use sports team logos and Disney characters on them — um, you should probably call an attorney, dude!

If you like this idea, please Like and share and leave comments below.
If you really like this idea, I think you should print out a few and keep them in your wallet or purse. The next time you find a store that’s not using their chip reader, do the people in line behind you a favor and slide one of these cards into the chip slot before you take your stuff and leave the store — and if it happens to have your business card for your insurance agency as the image — you’re a guerrilla-marketing-mack-daddy, my friend!


What to do after you LOSE the sale

lost-the-sale_5cvrPNG500I just published a new brainstorm over at The subject of this collection of 12+ ideas is themed around what salespeople should do after they lose a sale. There is a little back story behind this Five Buck Brainstorm in which you may be interested…

Once upon a time…

Let me tell you about a B2B business which was meeting with two digital marketing companies who offered search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search campaign management.

The two digital marketing companies were pretty different from each other; one was a single location local business and the other was the digital division of a large national media company. There were pros and cons to choosing one over another and the B2B business interested in hiring one of them went through an initial needs assessment meeting, first proposal review, revised proposal review, and a final presentation with each company.

The smaller company’s pricing was actually higher and seemed to have more up-charge elements to potential add-on services the client might need as time went on, but they would deal directly with the key personnel, had access to the owner, and were transparent in their process.

The larger media company had a lower flat-rate price with everything seemingly included, along with a cool project dashboard to monitor campaigns and the work they did, but access to key people would be filtered through the sales rep and many times the rep didn’t have answers to why their company executed a campaign differently than the way the other provider was suggesting.

Still, both companies had made a positive impression and both were still in the running for the contract. As a matter of fact, the B2B company allowed the rep from the large media group to submit a second proposal based on the higher amount the smaller company had quoted — just to keep the playing field level! Obviously this prospect was not going to buy on just price alone.

The second proposal was received and reviewed and it was still looking like a tough decision. The B2B company even joked about flipping a coin to decide!


The smaller marketing company had provided contact information for a few of their clients so that the B2B company could call or email them and get feedback on what it was like to do business with them.

When the large media company was asked for similar contact references (again… level playing field…), the sales rep tried a textbook sales close (boo!) that was almost embarrassing. The rep then said he’d “try” to get some references, but in the meantime provided a video link to a few recorded testimonials.

The rep from the big media company never got back to the B2B company with any further word about providing references the prospect could actually contact (but he certainly didn’t miss sending the follow-up email to “check on the decision” a day or two after the date the B2B company had originally given for making their decision!

With all other things being equal, the B2B company went with the smaller (more expensive) local provider because of the difference in transparency of real access to real customer feedback. The clumsy and salesy attempt to close the prospect when they were asking the larger media company for reference information which should have helped them differentiate themselves in the long run just made the decision easier.

Ironically, when the large media company asked about the decision, the B2B company told them exactly how and why they decided to go with the other company. The sales rep had CC’d their sales manager on the email, so the B2B company sent their response to both parties as well. The B2B company even invited the large media company to stay in touch and keep them updated on new services and marketing opportunities in case the current situation changed.

As of this writing, neither the sales rep nor the sales manager has responded to the feedback (or the invitation to stay in touch).

I have personal experience in many roles; speaker, consultant, salesperson, sales trainer, marketer, and customer loyalty advisor, but I think I am most amazed at this situation in my role as CUSTOMER. There are lessons here for every sales professional to learn from.

How often does the prospect from a sale that you lost give you insight into the exact thing that separated you from a YES? How valuable is this information? …and they didn’t respond at all??

I would have sent a big box cookies and muffins and a card that said “thank you SO much!” That information could be worth thousands (millions!) of dollars over the course of that sales rep’s career.

After hearing the story and considering the opportunity, I thought I’d add to the value provided by that B2B company and do a brainstorm on a dozen different ways anyone in sales could choose to follow-up with a prospect who just told them NO.

This new Five Buck Brainstorm includes ideas for strengthening the rapport with that lost sale and setting the stage for future opportunities and future business. I hope you’ll download the new brainstorm today and give a few of these ideas a try.

What have you got to lose?
You already lost the sale!


Download your copy now!

Click here to download the new “Things Salespeople Should Do After They LOSE The Sale” brainstorm.

Bringing The Bluelight Back

bluelight-mascotA couple months ago I saw an article from Reuters saying Kmart was planning to bring back the Bluelight Special. Personally, I this is smart move. There are solid strategic reasons for dusting off this promotion from the retro era of retail marketing and updating for the modern social media age. As a matter of fact I think it could be even more popular in this new incarnation than it ever was during the 70s and 80s (or back in 1965 when it was originally created).

…and it’s not just because they have a cool light bulb-shaped mascot.

Social Media Marketing Ideas for Integrating Kmart’s Bluelight Special

I don’t personally know if Kmart is going to implement any or all the strategies of ideas listed below, but even getting one or two right could make a huge positive impact for this once legendary and now faltering retailer.

  • bluelight-crowdWhile shoppers price-check and coupon cut, the Bluelight Special is a wild card. You have to be in the store to take advantage of the deal. The original BLS were only good for 15-minutes. I think they should apply the same time frame for its new relaunch.
  • The number one reason people still subscribe to the home delivery of a newspaper remains the shopping inserts. If I were Kmart I’d include a “stunt” ad in the Sunday paper that was just a Bluelight Special ad featuring no specific items on sale — letting readers know virtually anything could be up for promotion.
  • Launch with deals so ridiculously good that people want to tell the story. Kmart controls the inventory, the special pricing, and the duration of the pricing. Who says they couldn’t do a dramatic price reduction on a super popular product for just 5 to 10 minutes? Running a series of these could easily turn into a “you had to be there” moment. Think “must see TV” for retail shopping.
  • A BLS Twitter account or mobile texting campaign could provide a virtual experience by allowing similar deals for merchandise on the website. This might even be a reason for the retailer to experiment with SnapChat.
  • Keep an archive of past BLS on a Pinterest board. List the normal retail price along with what the discounted price was on the specific date and time. You may even get some hardcore price shoppers trying to predict when the next really awesome special will happen.
  • bluelight-mobileAllow social followers to suggest brands and products they’d like to see featured during a BLS. Promise to “hold one” at a local store location for anyone whose suggestion is used for a BLS.
  • Develop a theme for BLS and only feature items that relate to an overarching theme. They could promote the theme (like Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Back To School, etc.) or turn it into a contest by having people follow and track the BYS items in order to guess what the them might be. Have people submit their answers online and give a limited number of winners who guess the correct them one each of all the items featured. One source for secret themes would be to choose from trending topics in social media, or pick suggestions made by social media followers.
  • Create an email BYS insiders club to refresh segment the Kmart marketing database and give these members a peek into what they’ll be featuring on a certain day or time- but only a peek! Let them know a product, but not the time, date or discount. Give them a category and a date, but not the time. Provide a specific item and discount, but not the date or time. Etc., etc. Use this tactic to get members engaged and sharing their “insider knowledge” to their own social followers.

These are just a handful of concepts Kmart could use to help integrate and Bluelight Specials for the social media age. If you’re from Kmart (or know a store manager or marketing executive who works at Kmart) and would like to bounce around a few more ideas — connect with me and let’s brainstorm!

The Emperor’s New Chocolate Bar?

I’ve never spent $10 on a chocolate bar, but you gotta to respect the story of “artisanal chocolate” these guys cooked up to win the minds of their consumers with their tale of going “from bean-to-bar”.

mast-bros-choc02The Mast Brothers tale of better chocolate falls right into the vein of marketers striving to tell a better story. When you think about it, their positioning is really no different than any small batch coffee bean roaster marketing a five dollar cup of coffee rather than the 99-cent bottomless cup of caffeinated bean juice most anyone under the age of 40 likely grew up with.

But what happens when the fairy tale falters and the Emperor is left standing in the middle of town (or the internet) with no clothes on?

All Marketers Are Liars
Seth Godin wrote about the tall tales marketers are want to tell in his book “All Marketers Are Liars” (later retitled “All Marketers Tell Stories“). In the book Godin is really writing more about about the effective use of positioning and crafting a genuine story in the mind of your customer that gets across the idea of what your company stands for and what you can do for your customers (rather than creating any sort of fictional narrative).

all-marketers-are-liars_by-seth-godinIf the story Quartz has published about the Mast Brothers is true, it’s possible they only read the cover and took it literally. I think it would be incredibly interesting to get Seth Godin’s take on the situation. I even forwarded him a link to the article and asked him to weigh in.

If the allegations are true, Mast Brothers will lose because they lied.
The trouble won’t come from a dramatized tale of growth and evolution (“we started selling traditional chocolate and then decided there was a better way”), it will come from telling a story based on a falsehood.

What if Superman wasn’t really from Krypton?
Superman has an amazing origin story. He was the last son of a doomed planet sent to Earth where he would gain incredible powers living under our yellow sun. But what if years later Lois Lane uncovered a story about Superman actually getting his powers from a super drug he was taking? He still has all his powers and he still uses them to fight for Truth, Justice, and The American Way — but his origin story was a lie. If the “real” story of how he gained his powers from a super drug had been shared from the start it wouldn’t have been a problem (just ask Captain America), but because he started with a lie, everything else that came after was tainted by that original lie. Krypton and capes aside, isn’t this pretty much what happened to Lance Armstrong?

Take great care with the origin story of your company or personal brand.
Truth matters. Don’t embellish your marketing story for the sake of astonishment or you may end up forsaking the trust of your audience. Remember that Superman fights for Truth, Justice, and The American Way.

And the truth is, the truth is usually stranger than fiction (and frequently more interesting!) It’s certainly more trustworthy and believable.

Better Than

BYS_better-thanAs many of you may be aware, this year I’ve committed to producing a single piece of content (Seth Godin calls it “making art”) every single day in the form of a hand-lettered yellow sticky note. If you’re interested, you can follow these efforts on my Instagram account. Last week I posted the Big Yellow Sticky you see embedded in this post.

This week saw a video uploaded by Anthony Iannarino. that kind of debunks the literal text of my sticky note.

Anthony is buddy of mine whose content and commitment I use as a gauge to personally push my own efforts to a higher level, so I pay close attention when he writes an article or posts a video. There is a section right at the beginning of this recent video that hit right on the message I posted last week, and it stung for a second (but only for a second).

I’m a firm believer in the “global conscious” and some ideas and themes are just destined to emerge at certain times, so Anthony may not even be aware of my original sticky note on this topic (or maybe it was just his way of pushing me to dig a little deeper.)

Challenge accepted.

I don’t disagree at all with what Anthony says in his 3-minute video, I just think that perhaps the spirit of my message may not have been fully represented on the 3-inch square surface.

The invisible secret behind my statement is that you should be holding yourself to a higher standard than your competition every day and in every way. You should be aware of your competition, but not so obsessed with them that you’re playing the role of Follower instead of Leader. If your competition reduces their price, you shouldn’t feel compelled to lower yours in order to “beat” them. You should be better than that.

If you hold yourself to higher standard, you should already be better than your competition — which means every day you should be trying to be a little bit better than you were on the previous day (because you were already better than them). This is a message I takeaway from Anthony in his video when he stresses the importance of personal development and improving your performance.

I don’t really think that Anthony and I are in disagreement on this point, but I still wanted to elaborate on what my personal thoughts were behind the creation of this particular sticky note. Anthony’s video provided an opportunity to continue the discussion.

What do you think?

Would you be interested in hearing more details about the quotes on the big yellow sticky notes I post? I’ve been thinking about creating a blog post with more ideas behind the pithy post-its. Let me know on Twitter or in the comments below if you’d like to read more about how to activate the big ideas on those little yellow pieces of paper.


The “So Now What?” Manual

Are you providing support materials to your new clients?
I don’t mean Sales support materials, I mean doing-business-with-us-after-you-buy support materials.

Smart salespeople in the world of traditional Media (Radio, TV, Print) will sometimes warn their clients (especially clients who are first-time advertisers) that as soon as their ads begin to run, they should expect to get calls from every other media seller in town. This is because most media sellers get their leads by listening and watching for companies who are buying advertising from competing media properties and then try to steal away the business (usually with such advanced and imaginative techniques as offering a lower price.)

The simple step of preparing the new advertiser to not only expect those calls, but also arming them with appropriate responses, has saved many accounts from going over to a competitor. The advertiser wasn’t caught off-guard and was mentally prepared with a response that reinforced their commitment to the current advertising campaign and the decision they made to invest their dollars with the original media company. While this is (mostly) an act of self-preservation masked as looking out for the client, it is still a valid approach — Media just needs to formalize the strategy and take it further.

Why not also provide solid insights into the fact advertising takes time. New advertisers can’t expect an audience of people who have never heard of them before to rush the store with wallets out. And how about being honest with regard to the fact and that sometimes an advertiser might be better off investing a smaller marketing budget elsewhere if they are unable to invest the capital required to influence a media-based audience (which gets harder and harder to do every day)?

It’s possible that some (or even all) of this advice is being provided verbally at different points during sales conversations with the prospect, but there is no “doing business with us” manual that is being given to the client after they sign the contract. I know of many cases where the media salesperson has ceased to visit, advise, or call the client at all (until it’s time to sign the renewal, of course!)

Providing a printed and bound manual (a PDF copy is second best) of what to expect now that a client is working with your company and has an active advertising campaign (and how to get the best results from both) would stand out among all the lip service and excuses that usually come after.

The Media industry isn’t the only one which could benefit from this approach.

Why not be the first to create your company’s “So Now What?” Manual? Give this manual to the client immediately upon signing the contract to do business with you (or send it to them less than 24-hours after the agreement takes place).

Your “So Now What?” Manual should include the following:

  • The So Now What ManualSigned service standards
    A personally signed commitment to deliver a superior level of service. (Did I mentioned signed?)
  • Contact information
    The best way to get hold of you (and how to escalate the issue to your boss if you’re not available) when something goes wrong. Note: that’s When, not If, because things will go wrong. Including your personal mobile and home phone numbers.
  • Response process
    Outline your process for responding and reacting to problems: Calls returned within X-amount of time. Solutions provided within X-amount of time. Your customer won’t care what happened or how it happened until they know how soon it will be fixed. However, once you’ve resolved the urgent issues will you need to have a solution ready for preventing this situation from happening again.
  • Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
    Include a FAQ section. You get the same 10 questions over and over again. Anticipate future clients will ask the same ones and provide those answers in advance.
  • More answers
    Answers to questions they should ask. Include answers for the questions clients ought to be asking you — how long a product lasts, maintenance and care tips, resale value, productivity advice, training information, complementary services and products, etc.
  • Support materials
    Include operation checklists, setup procedures, a place to enter serial numbers and model numbers, the number for your customer care representatives, contact information for other customers using the same product/service to encourage peer-to-peer support (with their permission, of course), links to an online library of ongoing support materials and a growing knowledge database.

The list above is just a short list to get you started.
You know your specific product or service better than anyone else. Do your clients the service of sharing your insights and knowledge openly and freely and before they have to ask.  A “So Now What” Manual like the one recommended above will go a long way toward establishing you as a solid resource and helpful consulting expert, rather than the typical order-taking salesperson who only sniffs around when there is the scent of an order in the air.