Reading List: February 2018


Here are the books I read in February of 2018, along with key learnings and takeaways from each:

1. The Last Punisher: A SEAL Team THREE Sniper’s True Account of the Battle of Ramadi by Kevin Lacz

Great book worth reading. What I really enjoyed about this book is the level of detail, and especially the emotional side, of what it’s like being an American soldier on deployment in a war zone. These guys are the true American heroes.

2. Why You Do the Things You Do: The Secret to Healthy Relationships by Dr. Tim Clinton & Dr. Gary Sibcy

Often times our actions and reactions are a result of our previous life experiences, especially those from childhood. In this book, the authors identify four different personality patterns that, when we learn them, make us better connectors and communicators with others.

3. The Potential Principle by Mark Sanborn

Mark Sanborn was the keynote at our national sales meeting last month, and I was grateful to get a copy of his new book. I’ve followed his work since reading The Fred Factor nearly 20 years ago, and I really enjoyed this book as well. Even if you’re at the top of your game, Mark Sanborn shows you how to take your game to the next level.

4. Give Your Kids a Break: Parenting with Compassion for You and your Children by Kim Fredrickson

This book should be required reading for all parents. As a parent with pre-teenagers and a toddler, the advice was very fitting for the portion of the journey my wife and I are about to encounter. Her insight on the psychology of children is enlightening.

Book Goal in 2018: 50

Progress after February: 9/50 (18%)

Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and Presidents’ Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit


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Reading List: January 2018

Q9KNRI9EU2Here are the books I read in January of 2018, along with key learnings and takeaways from each:

1. Sapiens – by Yuval Noah Hurari

I’m not usually a big reader of these types of science and history books, but I picked it up because I read that a bunch of smart people were raving about it (Mark Zuckerberg, Barack Obama, Tim Ferriss, to name a few). It’s a very interesting read, focusing mainly on the three key revolutions that have shaped the globe, and it also outlines how humans have essentially taken over the planet, essentially bucking the whole natural selection process.

2. Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual – by Jocko Willink

After reading Jocko Willink’s first book, Extreme Ownership, and hearing him on Tim Ferriss’ podcast, I’ve started following his work. The former NAVY SEAL commander of Task Unit Bruiser, which included American Sniper Chris Kyle, has a way of putting words on a page where when your alarm goes off in the morning, you feel compelled to wake up and get moving. Highly recommend this book!

3. Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms – by Tim Tebow

Santa brought me this book :), and I’m glad he did. I’ve never thought Tim Tebow could be a starting NFL quarterback, but I’ve always respected him as a person, especially for how he uses his platform to give back to those less fortunate. In his new book, he tells the stories of how he was cut from each of the NFL teams he’s played on, and how he’s continued to push through and work toward his goals. After you read this book, you’ll feel like stepping up your game as a human being.

4. The Magnolia Story – by Chip & Joanna Gaines (with Mark Dagostino)

One of my goals this year is to read more about fascinating people. My wife has watched the show Fixer Upper for several years now, which means I’ve also watched the show for several years. In a world where no one seems to be who they portray in public, I guarantee Chip and Joanna Gaines are different. I’d put money on it that what you see on that show is what you get. I wouldn’t ordinarily read this type of book, but it was a great read, and their story is unbelievably inspiring.

5. The American Jubilee – by Porter Stansberry

For those not familiar with him, Porter Stansberry is a highly controversial financial investor and publisher. He claims to have predicted the market crash of 2008, as well as other market fluctuations over the years. In this book, he predicts that America is on the verge of a severe market crash, specifically due to the debt to income ratio and pattern that exists in our lower and middle classes today. Although it’s a pretty depressing book to read, he does offer some good investing tips for positioning yourself well for the next market correction. If you can get through the doomsday overtone, it contains some solid advice.

Book Goal in 2018: 50

Progress after January: 5/50 (10%)

Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and Presidents’ Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit

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My Six Favorite Reads of 2017

Q9KNRI9EU2The late Charlie “Tremendous” Jones used to say, “You will be the same person in five years as you are today, except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

For most, meeting new people is the easy part, especially if you’re out and about every day. The hard part is dedicating the time to reading every day.

In 2017, I read a lot of good books. 18 to be exact. Not as many as I had wanted, but better than none. Some of those reads were really good, while others were a little tougher to get through. Regardless, I learned something valuable from each one.

When looking at which books I’d recommend to others, I’ve narrowed it down to six. These six books have provided me a lot of value, insight, and even corrective action.

If you read them, I’m confident they can do the same for you. Here’s the list:

1. Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

Having a strong drive and extreme pride are certainly important qualities. However, our ego has the ability to have detrimental affects on us as well. In his fourth book, Ryan Holiday shows us how we can harness our ego, while providing several examples of people who have, and haven’t, managed their egos effectively. As I was reading this book, I kept being reminded of one of the first leadership lessons I learned, from Trumaker CEO Mark Lovas: “Off self, and on purpose”.

2. The Front Row Factor by Jon Vroman

The Front Row Foundation is an inspiring organization that puts people with life-threatening illnesses and conditions in the front row of the event of their dreams. Through the inspiring stories and lessons of leading that organization over the past 10 years, Jon Vroman teaches us all how to be better “moment makers”. This book, which has accumulated 154 5-star reviews on Amazon, isn’t just another self-help book. It is well worth the read.

3. Giftology by John Ruhlin

I’m a horrible gift giver. Maybe it’s not my love language, maybe I don’t carve out enough time to give more thoughtful gifts, or maybe I’m just not that good at it. However, this is on my list of things I’d like to start doing better. This book has served as a great start for me, and I’m hoping to use many of the gift-giving ideas shared in this book in the future. John Ruhlin is someone I’ve known for a long time, and this book is a shining example of how corporations can reach high levels of success by taking care of their employees and customers.

4. The Marriage Mantra: 10 Guiding Principles to Building a Beautiful Marriage by Girish Kumar

As business people, it’s really easy to spend all of our time reading about business and professional development topics. However, we don’t spend enough time learning, caring, and nurturing the relationships that matter most to us. My recommendation is that every third book you read should be focused on improving either your marriage or relationships with those around you. In this book, Dr. Kumar gives some very practical advice that we should all be following but often times aren’t.

5. Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt

Regardless of what business you are in, building a positive online presence is vastly important. For most people, it seems like the challenge is knowing where to start, and also managing all the day-to-day responsibilities that come along with having a family and a full-time career as well. Michael Hyatt does a great job laying out simple actions that anyone can follow to build and maintain a positive presence in the world.

6. Integrity Selling for the 21st Century by Ron Willingham

On January 16th, I started a new job, and this book was required reading as part of my initial on boarding. In the end, I really enjoyed reading this book. Inside it, Ron Willingham lays out a very easy, simple-to-follow structure for leading sales meetings, and also for maximizing your effectiveness throughout the sales cycle.

One thing that’s important to keep in mind about books is, not every book will appeal to the reader. Some topics aren’t as interesting, sometimes a writer’s style just doesn’t vibe with you, and some books just aren’t easy to follow. However, I’ve always found it valuable to at least take one piece of value from everything you read.

If that valuable nugget can be something you can take action on immediately, that’s the best recipe for improved results. Knowledge is great, but if isn’t put into practice, then what was it for?

What were your favorite reads of 2017? Please respond in the comments below.

Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and Presidents’ Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit

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10 Lessons I’m Thankful to Have Learned in 2017

family pic fall 2017

When I look back on the year 2017, I’m overwhelmed with a mix of emotions.

In a nutshell, 2017 was absolutely nuts. In good ways and bad.

For me and my family, this year has been filled with change, gains, losses, ups, downs, lots of happiness, and our fair share of sadness.

Throughout the year, I’ve had many epiphanies, learned new things, and was reminded of lessons and things I knew, but needed a reminder to start doing them again.

Here are the 10 best lessons I learned, or was reminded of, during 2017:

1. There’s nothing better in life than an amazing person to spend it with

My wife is not only my rock; she’s the glue that holds our family and house together. Jessica is my biggest fan and has supported me through every business venture, home purchase and sale, masters’ program, hobby, and any other crazy idea I’ve come up with.

I’ve also learned to appreciate that she isn’t afraid to be direct and call me out from time to time either. While it makes for some interesting, and sometimes uncomfortable, interactions between us, the openness and honesty we have with one another is what I value most.

We know what’s important to each other, and we strive to make that possible for each other as much as possible.

Having the right spouse should serve as the perfect complement to you. My wife sure does for me.

2. Raising kids is the most rewarding — and challenging — aspect of life

Kids are exhausting, no doubt, and as the late business philosopher Jim Rohn used to say, “There is no greater leadership challenge than parenting.”

There’s also no greater reward as a human than to see your children learn, grow, mature, and mold into productive human beings capable of fulfilling responsibilities and accomplishing great feats, all on their own. Their mom and I are their biggest fans, and their biggest challengers. We love them more than anything and hope they grow up to be, do, and have far more than we do.

Most of all, we hope they are always as happy, optimistic, and energetic as they are today. They light up any room they walk into. I hope they never lose that quality.

3. Never take good health for granted

From the get-go, this year was marred by health challenges by several around me. My dad, who had been ill for the better part of 2016, passed away on January 3rd of this year. Nothing makes you question the way you’re living, and gives you a bigger dose of reality, than losing a parent.

Aside from my own experience, I also watched several of my own friends lose family members, battle their own health problems, and work through difficult health situations. Most of these people were what we’d classify as “healthy” too.

If you’re healthy, be grateful and do everything you can to stay healthy. Good health is not something we can always control. However, we do have control over the decisions we make, and to maintain hope that we can tip the odds in our favor.

4. We are largely shaped by our upbringing

I’ve always believed we are most largely shaped by nurture over nature, and that our upbringing shapes us more than most other factors. As I watch my own kids growing and maturing, I believe this even more.

There are certainly countless examples of people who have overcome all odds and created immense success for themselves, despite growing up in less-than-ideal circumstances. Oprah Winfrey is the example I first think of. While their stories are remarkable and inspiring, I believe they are the exception, not the rule.

Having a difficult upbringing does not necessarily keep people from accomplishing great feats, but a solid, stable, supportive upbringing definitely helps.

I’m extremely grateful for the upbringing I had. My sister and I never had everything we wanted, but we had everything we needed, and maybe slightly more. We watched first-hand how to work hard, provide for your family, and focus on the things that matter in life. We were taught to be proud and confident, but also humble. We were allowed to have fun but also held accountable to our responsibilities.

Most of all, our parents supported us in any endeavor or interest we ever had, and any opportunity we had to advance ourselves, they found a way to make it happen for us. Their love and support gave us a great start in life. I can only hope to do the same for my children.

5. There’s no place like home

Having a nice home sets the tone for many aspects of life, especially after living in a construction zone for the better part of a year.

Having a home you enjoy, are proud of, have worked hard for, and enjoy spending time in is just another motivator for me to work hard and do everything I can to produce more.

We finished out the remodel of our house this year and, as we really dug into it, discovered there was a lot more that hadn’t been done than had. After spending countless hours designing the perfect look, my wife spent even more hours shopping around for the best deal on every single product and vendor.

She led the entire project, and it turned out perfectly. It has been a great house for us so far, and it will be an even better place to host holiday dinners and gatherings for several years.

6. Wherever you are — be there and be present

The late business philosopher Jim Rohn used to say, “Wherever you are, be there.” Despite writing this advice several decades ago, the guidance is even more applicable today.

We have turned into a society of, as my mother-in-law says, “Vidiots.” Fitting, there’s now a television show by that name, which I have not seen.

No one can put down their phone. Walk through downtown or go into a restaurant in any city, and you can count the number of people with their faces in their phones. They’ve even had to create driving laws because it’s such an issue.

Technology is great, and certainly the functionality of smartphones and electronic devices has improved our lives. You can’t argue that. But it’s also created a movement where people don’t talk to one another interpersonally like in years past, and often times people aren’t aware of what’s happening right in front of them.

I’d never advocate not embracing, utilizing, and enjoying the technology we have today. But don’t let it capture your attention more than the people sitting right in front of you. Wherever you are, be there with them. Because they want you with them and fully present.

7. You can learn something from everyone you meet — if you’re willing to

As you reach higher levels of success, it’s easy to think it’s because you have more business answers than those around you. In today’s world, I’d argue it’s because you know how to ask better questions.

The days of the boss having all the answers and calling all the shots is over. Steve Jobs was once quoted as saying, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

After watching my wife lead contractors and sub-contractors through a full-house remodel this year, I can say I’ve learned more about construction, design, and building this year than I have since I watched my dad build our house over twenty-five years ago.

Don’t ever forget the famous quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him.” Remember that everyone you meet knows more than you about something. Give them the respect and opportunity to show you.

8. Be straight-up and direct with people, even if it’s not what they want to hear

Having worked in corporate America for the better part of two decades, I’ve seen this all across the spectrum. It’s easy to tell people what they want to hear. It’s more comfortable to avoid a potential conflict.

It’s also the surest way to lose respect from people you need it from.

Richard Branson recently published an article on his blog titled, “The Difference Between a Strong Leader and a Weak Leader.” In the article, he says “failing to confront a problem while it’s at the smouldering stage more often than not leads to it becoming a fully fledged fire that is much harder to extinguish and can do a lot of long-term damage.”

In business, and in personal life, we all have to break news to people that we know will not be well received. Sometimes there’s no way to put a Band Aid on certain messages. When faced with those scenarios, be empathetic to the person you’re communicating with, but be direct and straight-up.

They will remember, and they will appreciate it, even if it doesn’t seem that way in the initial moment.

9. Sometimes you have to hit “reset”

There are times when sometimes, it’s just best to move on and start over. Maybe the situation, or your relationship with the people involved, has become too complicated and impossible to repair completely.

Things can also become stagnant, and a change will give you invigoration and additional motivation. That’s the situation I found myself in toward the end of 2016.

Around this time last year, I was presented with a leadership opportunity within a different division of our parent company. After a thorough interview process, I decided I really liked the people, product, culture, and vision within that division. So, in December of last year, I made a decision to start the year 2017 with a new job.

Personally and professionally, it was the jump start me and my family needed.

For those who know me well, this point may sound odd, because I’m always the one who says to not give up and to persist through challenging situations. I will always maintain that position, because I do think it’s human nature to see a shiny ball and walk away from a good situation that could have been great before it has a chance to blossom.

I also think you can provide grass all the water and sunlight it could ever need, and it still won’t get green. That’s when it’s time to hit the “reset” button.

10. Life is short, so enjoy every minute with those you love

Nothing reminds you how short life is, and also how precious it is, more than watching your parent die. In the days when my dad was gravely ill and it was becoming more apparent the end of our time here was closing in on us, I found myself replaying my entire life in my mind.

I was reminded of all the great times we had together, and of all the lessons I learned from my dad along the way (most of which I didn’t get at the time).

As tough as that experience was, it also reminded how short life is, and how important it is to enjoy the time we have here, especially with those we love. I only had 35 years with my dad, and I hope my kids have a lot longer time with me, but we don’t know what the future holds for any of us.

So spend time with the people that matter to you, doing the things that matter to you most.

As we exit 2017, I know one thing for certain: There’s nowhere else I’d rather be, and there’s nothing I’d rather be doing.

My family and I are where we need to be, and we are happy. We are grateful and fulfilled with what we have and also where we’re going. It may sound simplistic, and it should be.

Life is only as complicated as we make it for ourselves.

What lessons are you thankful to have learned this year? Please don’t hesitate to share in the comments below.

Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and Presidents’ Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit

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Salespeople: Do These 4 Things to Build Trust Immediately

Some people are easy to trust. Have you ever noticed that?

Upon first meeting them, you just feel they are a trustworthy, upstanding person. And they may prove you wrong later, but initially you feel they are someone you can trust, divulge information to, and even take their advice.

As a salesperson, if you appear trustworthy, and prove to be over the long haul, you will sell more than those who aren’t. There’s no way to argue that.

While a lot of people possess the intangible qualities that lower people’s walls, they don’t come easy to everyone. If you find yourself struggling to connect with people you first meet, try these 3 tactics:

1. Make solid eye contact

Matthew 6:22-23 says, “The light of the body is the eye.” The Bible also says, “the eyes are the window of the soul.”

The quickest, surest way to build a connection with anyone is to first connect with the eyes. Hold eye contact a little longer than you would normally. But not so long that things get weird.

2. Extend a firm handshake

There’s nothing that shows a greater sign of weakness, and lack of social awareness, than a wimpy, limp-noodle, unconfident handshake.

When you meet someone, reach out, take the lead, make sure you shake his or her hand all the way back into the web of the thumb, and squeeze slightly harder than they do. Do that every time, and you’ll never have a bad handshake.

3. Repeat their name back to them

In his famous book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie says the most important word to anyone is his or her name. So, when you first meet someone and learn their name, repeat it back to them.

First, this shows them you respect the importance of them, and their name. Also, it will help you remember it.

Nothing turns people off more than having a great first interaction with someone new, only to have them ask prior to departure, “What was your name again?” Bad form. Don’t be one of those people.

4. Speak slightly louder than you need to

It’s a proven fact that people who speak louder are perceived as more confident, more credible, and more trustworthy. Speaking slightly louder than you need to displays a high level of confidence.

When people are soft spoken and don’t project their voice very well, it’s a sign of weakness. People don’t necessarily think you have something to hide. They just won’t take you as seriously, and you won’t make a strong enough impression.

On a final note, these tactics can help you establish trust quickly, but they won’t help you keep trust. If your end goal isn’t truly to help the people you serve, eventually they will sniff you out, kick you out, and never let you back in.

If you aren’t a trustworthy person, and you don’t tell the absolute truth 100% of the time, you are giving yourself, your family, and your company, a bad name. Your goal should be to build trust quickly, because you are a trustworthy, honest, hard-working person, and because you are someone people should work with, for the long term.

That can be Bonus Tip #5: Always tell the truth.

The path to sales success is always easier when you start on the right foot. By following these steps, you can build trust with your prospects quickly and maintain it forever.

What are your best strategies for building trust with prospects?

Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and Presidents’ Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit

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How to Be a True Professional


Photo courtesy of @NittanyLyonFB

As a lifelong fan of the San Francisco 49ers, I was just as disappointed as the rest when I saw the news that standout linebacker Navarro Bowman was released by the team two weeks ago. A few years ago, he and Patrick Willis were arguably the best duo of middle linebackers of all time.

Just a few days after his release, he was signed by the Oakland Raiders. Three days later, he led the team in tackles as they defeated the first-place Kansas City Chiefs.

When I think of what Bowman brings to a team, it can be summed up in one word:


Navarro Bowman is a true professional. He will surely be missed by the 49ers, and he has already made an immediate impact with the Raiders. They got a great football player, even better teammate, and a true professional.

The habits and character traits of top athletes like Bowman can also help sales and business professionals succeed. Here are 10 habits displayed by true professionals that we all should strive to live:

1. Showing up every day

Woody Allen once said, “80 percent of success is showing up.” The reality of that statement is obvious. When you show up every day, prepared and ready to work, you will give yourself more opportunities to succeed.

2. Giving 100% 

In his book The Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr states, “The more exacting the challenge, the more rigorous our rituals need to be.” In my opinion, the reason most people don’t achieve goals is not because of a lack in skill. It’s usually a lack of effort and/or attitude. Conversely, I’ve seen a lot of people with inferior talent develop into top performers, strictly because they were committed and worked hard to improve every day.

3. Not cutting corners

Cheri Huber published a great book in 1988 called How You Do Anything is How You Do Everything. Details matter, in business and in life. Smalls details and rituals, such as making your bed, reading a book all the way to completion, putting the toilet seat down, and always putting away your shopping cart may seem like insignificant things in life.

I disagree.

They show your willingness to do the right thing, to show respect for others, to not exercise laziness, and to see things through to completion. True professionals don’t cut corners in any of the areas listed above. And it carries over into every other aspect of their lives.

4. Solving problems

One of the most sobering questions you can ask yourself is, “Do I solve more problems than I create?” A general rule of thumb within my sales teams is the expectation that I am always open to constructive feedback, but if you have something you’re going to pick apart, make sure you also have a solution to present with it.

Bowman was that player during his tenure with the 49ers, especially in times when some of his defensive teammates were injured. And when it wasn’t possible for him to be that player, he and the 49ers decided it was time for him to find a new place to work.

5. Listening to feedback 

Here’s the fastest way to diagnose areas you need to develop: pay attention to how people respond to you. The comments they make, questions they ask you, and the nonverbals that are triggered from communicating with you give you the sense of how people subconsciously react in your presence.

Amateurs throw the blame back to the person giving the feedback. Professionals listen, internalize, and adjust where necessary.

6. Being a team player

Those who look at what’s in something for them really limit themselves and those around them. It’s no wonder several professional sports teams have embraced the book Ego is the Enemy and invited the author, Ryan Holiday, to speak to their teams.

When you put the team first, success is more likely to come.

7. Showing respect

For the greater part of a decade after college, I coached a high school baseball team in Northern California under is a guy named Jim Stassi. Now retired from coaching, he was one of the best coaches I’ve seen, in or out of sports.

One of the best on-field lessons he taught his players is the importance of showing respect, in this order: respect for the game, respect for your teammates, respect for your competitors, and also respect for the umpire.

Think about yourself in your daily life, both personally and professionally. Are you showing the proper amount of respect to all?

8. Always learning

The best in any industry always stay a student. They continue learning, expanding their skills and knowledge, and finding ways to grow.

Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle, whose early work was the inspiration for Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, once said, “Every man is my superior in that I may learn from him.”

You never know who you may learn from.

9. Putting purpose over self

When Trumaker CEO Mark Lovas was our Regional Sales Director at CUTCO, one of the best lessons I learned was the idea of being “off self and on purpose”.

Professionals don’t walk into a situation looking at what’s in it for them. Instead, they look to contribute to a purpose much greater than themselves.

When you focus on producing for the team, company, or even family, you benefit from their success. Always remember Zig Ziglar’s most-famous quote: “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

10. Practicing 

In this day in age, people don’t place enough value on the importance of practicing their craft. In athletic and musical worlds, practice is a valued activity. However, in the business world, people don’t spend enough time practicing their skills in a safe environment.

Unfortunately, the practice most people get is in the setting where it really counts. In front of customers.

Make sure you take the time to practice your presentation, conversation, or interaction before you have to give it live. Trust me. You will be far better if you do.

Ultimately, most people read articles like this and say, “Yep, you’re right. I already know all of that stuff.” The real question is: How many of these habits are you living each day? I encourage to take an honest look at your daily practices and push yourself to do more of the items above.

Are you being a true professional?

Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and Presidents’ Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit

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Why Facts Tell and Stories Sell

A few weeks ago I was working with one of my top reps. We had a couple hard meetings with some tough prospects, but over the course of our meetings I watched these prospects go from “I don’t want to hear anything you have to say” to “well, maybe we should try this”.

In less than 30 minutes.

Having been in sales for the better part of two decades, I’ve seen enough meetings like these go in all different directions. But these were different.

These customers were loyal to our biggest competitor, and they were ready for war. And yet, when we left, their walls were down, and they were ready to try our product.

So what was the difference in these meetings? One lesson I learned back in my days selling CUTCO kitchen knives:

Facts tell and stories sell

The features and benefits of a product are certainly important. They tell the customer about the bells and whistles and the products capabilities and limitations. But telling a customer relevant stories to reinforce the importance, and also to answer common concerns, especially the logistical ones, lowers the prospect’s wall. It makes it real for them.

No one wants to be the first one to jump in. Your prospects are no different. So telling relevant stories around your product or service could be the missing link that’s causing you to miss out on sales.

Disclaimer: this is a delicate tool that has the potential to be overused. The tactic should be used with the same analogy of watering flowers. If you don’t tell enough stories, you won’t build a strong enough connection with a prospect or customer. Use them too much and you’ll look like a name-dropper whose appointments make prospects late for their next meeting.

However, the proper mix can engage your customers, bring your sales presentation to life, and result in a larger amount of deals closed.

With that in mind, here are five places to use stories to better engage your customers and prospects:

1. Securing the appointment

Often times, getting someone to agree to meet is 90% of the battle. People are busier and are pulled in more directions than ever before. When working to secure an appointment, great stories to tell are how you came across them, and why you think they should consider your offering.

If they’ve been personally referred, telling a story of how long you’ve known their friend who referred you to them is a great way to break the ice. As I’ve written in previous articles, birds of a feather fly together. If they know a friend they respect endorses you and sent you their way, they will be more likely to meet with you.

2. Introducing the company

Most companies, especially those who’ve been in business for a long period of time, have remarkable stories. If you dig deep enough, I guarantee your company has a great story to tell.

Make sure you can tell your company’s story well. To everyone.

Some of the topics that are great to emphasize are how the company was formed, how they acquired or created the core products, key challenges the company had to overcome, important charitable initiatives, and also what it’s like working there.

Believe it or not, people like buying products from companies they want to get behind. And vice-versa.

3. Detailing product design

One of the coolest aspects of a unique, quality product is the story behind its invention.

How did the designer or creator come up with the idea? What was his or her experience where he identified the need for something new?

What steps did he take in getting the product to market? What were the challenges he encountered?

Most sales people couldn’t tell you any of these details about the product they sell. If you can, you’ll stand out to your customers.

And make more sales. If you need help uncovering this information, ask the people that run the marketing and R&D departments. They’ll know and will be happy to share.

4. Handling objections and concerns

The best time to handle a concern is before the customer can bring it up. You’re always in much better shape handling issues proactively versus reactively.

Make a list of the top 5-7 objections or concerns prospects have when considering your product. Then work in stories throughout your presentation that illustrate, before your prospect can bring them up, how existing customers had those concerns, and how they overcame them in the buying process.

Also, don’t forget to emphasize how happy the customers are with their purchase. If you can show some testimonials from those customers (especially video) that will seal the deal for you.

5. Planning for implementation

With most quality products, selling the decision makers on the value of the product can be pretty easy. The greater challenge, and the bigger barrier, is how to implement the product with minimal disruption to their business and employees.

This is especially true in the technology and medical sales industries.

Show your prospects case studies of similar companies who have adopted your product, service, or platform. How did they overcome the implementation challenges, what have the results looked like, and how could that work in this scenario?

Stories sell when prospects relate to them. They shift the interaction from plans and hypotheticals to actual proof that what you’re selling is valuable.

It drives them to act. As a salesperson, that’s what you’re trying to do.

Telling great stories shows that you’re the expert. Be the expert. Steer the conversation the way you know it needs to go. And watch your sales grow along the way.

How effectively are you using stories in your sales appointments?

Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and Presidents’ Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit

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How to Strengthen a Sales Weak Spot

Woman reading magazine at coffee shop

One of the questions I am often asked is, “What’s the number one skill a sales person needs to possess?”.

I used to give all the generic answers, such as “driven, self starter, history of success, resilient, team player, coachable, etc. These are certainly important skills to vet out during an interview process and to coach to, and they definitely should be.

However, the word I’ve been gravitating to lately is:


In his famous book The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin wrote, “it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”

Often times, one of the key reasons why people don’t develop to reach their full potential is they are not adaptable. Simply put, they do not have the ability to improve their areas that need improvement.

I recently listened to Lewis Howes interview Brendon Burchard on the School of Greatness Podcast. During the interview, Brendon stated that people spend a lot of time trying to “build on their strengths” and, in that effort, they neglect to improve their weak areas.

Agree completely.

Continuing to build on your strengths is important. However, if there’s a gap that’s preventing you from reaching your full potential, you must attack the gap head on, fix it, and turn it into a strength.

Weak spots can surface in many different areas. As a salesperson, some of the most common you may need to work through are: the need to develop a specific skill, break a bad habit, emphasize a certain product or brand in your portfolio, target a specific customer segment, follow up and follow through more effectively, or manage your time more efficiently.

Regardless of what gap area you need to improve upon, these four tips will help you turn that deficiency into a strength.

1. Clarify and quantify the gap

First, you must accept you have a deficiency. Often times, people are so resistant to constructive feedback they won’t even acknowledge they have a problem.

So how do you know where you need to improve?

In my experience, it consists of a combination of both self awareness, active listening skills, and a heightened sense of how people respond to you. In sales or businesses where metrics are measured and consistently reported, it’s easy to see when there’s a problem.

Diagnosing the cause of the gap can be a challenge.

The best way to identify why something is occurring is by paying attention. Pay attention to the way people respond to you, the things they say, and also the things they don’t say. If people are avoiding you, or customers are always “in meetings” when you reach out, that can be a glaring indicator.

Consult with your manager. Instead of shying away from the conversation, engage him or her proactively. Let him know you know there’s a gap, explain your ideas for turning things around, and also ask for honest, constructive feedback. If he’s a strong leader, and has your best interest in mind, he should be ecstatic that you’ve approached him and will be happy to assist.

This may be uncomfortable to some, but your top customer can be a tremendous resource. They know what it’s like to sit on the other side of the table, and what’s it’s like doing business with you. If you let them know you’re looking to provide even better service, and genuinely want their honest feedback, you’d be surprised how many of your customers would be happy to open up.

Also, it will strengthen your relationship with them even more.

Co-workers on your team, or even those in another department but know you well, can be great resources to provide feedback and offer input and helpful solutions. Provided they have a solid understanding of the business you’re in, they’ll most likely have valuable insight.

Finally, don’t forget your spouse. No one knows you as well as your significant other. Even if he or she doesn’t know your business as intimately as your co-workers or customers, they know you, your habits and tendencies, and how you respond in most situations. Your best resource may be right in your home.

2. Seek out needed resources

In this day in age, there is no excuse to not improve. Once you’ve identified a growth area, there is an abundance of resources available to help you improve.

My go-to I always start with is reading a few books on the subject. You can buy books on Amazon, either paperback or Kindle version, for an extremely reasonable price, in most cases. There is no greater return on investment, in my opinion, than the information you can gain from a good book.

The next step in the process is identifying someone you feel possesses the habit or skill you are looking to improve, and see if he or she will serve as a mentor for a short period of time. A few phone calls where you can pick their brain, gain some insight, and share some thoughts will usually give you some valuable pearls to start with.

If your mentor is willing to meet up with you for a live discussion, help you role-play or practice the scenario (if applicable), or even let you tag along with them for a few appointments to watch them live, that is invaluable. Some of the most enlightening experiences I’ve had in sales have been when I’ve been field-trained by an experienced rep and had the opportunity to watch them.

Seminars are also a fantastic way to learn a new skill. Although they can be extremely expensive, the true value in attending a seminar is you get the opportunity to completely immerse yourself in the material for a few days, avoid normal day-to-day distractions, and create a greater likelihood that the habit will stick.

Don’t neglect podcasts. There are so many great podcasts out there today, on virtually every topic you can imagine. They can be accessed anytime from your smart phone, and they are free.

You can’t beat that.

3. Re-prioritize and schedule it – FIRST!

The true key to making a new habit or skill stick is ensuring it gets implemented and used.


This is where a lot of people get derailed.

When Trumaker CEO Mark Lovas was our Regional Sales Director at CUTCO, he used to say, “To know and not do is to not know at all.” If you acquire the information you need to make a change, and you don’t change the habit immediately, human nature will take over, and you’ll continue doing the same thing you’ve always done.

And you’ll continue getting the same results you’ve always gotten.

The key to making a habit stick is by practicing that habit immediately and often. The way to ensure it gets practiced is by scheduling it into your weekly schedule. Before anything else.

In Chapter 3 of my book The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in Any Sales Industry, I share Tony Robbins’ Hour of Power, and the specific planning steps I go through to map out my sales plan on a weekly basis.

If you have a particular product in your portfolio, or a specific customer segment where you need to increase your activity, find out what that activity needs to look like on a weekly basis. Next, when you map out your schedule, insert those necessary activities first.

If you don’t, the habits you’ve built will continue to be executed, and nothing will change.

4. Measure results for accountability

Stay disciplined to your plan for a minimum of 30 days, and then reassess your progress. Look back at the additional activity you’ve taken, how well you’ve done at executing your plan, and also look at the results.

In sales, results can usually be easily quantified. In other businesses, and in personal endeavors, it may be harder to quantify a specific measurable. Regardless of how you choose to measure how well you’re closing the gap, the key is to measure your results every 30 days. Any sooner than that, and your emotions, expectations, and feelings may force you to adjust your activity before you’ve invested enough effort to make a true impact.

Several fitness trainers I’ve followed over the years have recommended to their clients to not jump on a scale more often than every 30 days. Sales is the same way.

Day-to-day, and often times week-to-week, you will encounter ups and downs. It’s easy to have a bad day, and even a bad week. But if you’re committed to taking the right steps for an entire month, it’s really hard to not achieve measurable progress.

The great Tom Hopkins says, “Sales is the highest-paid hard work and the lowest-paid easy work.”

When us salespeople do well and show high levels of revenue growth, we earn great income. However, the people who do that are usually the ones who have overcome the largest challenges, been met with the harshest criticism, and shown the greatest amount of adaptability.

How have you adapted to your sales environment?

Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and Presidents’ Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit

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How Parenting Makes You a Better Leader

IMG_0014Jim Rohn used to say, “There is no greater leadership challenge than parenting.”

Boy, he was right.

The longer I’ve been a parent, and the longer I’ve been in sales leadership, the more I realize the skills you build parenting children also make you a more effective sales leader.

Disclaimer: I’m still working to perfect these skills. I’ve got a long way to go, and I certainly wouldn’t consider myself a parenting expert by any stretch.

With that in mind, here are the seven best leadership lessons I’ve learned while raising kids that also apply to leading sales teams.

1. Listen until the last drop

When working full time and also raising kids, things are busy and hectic, and it’s very easy to be stretched thin.

Really thin.

With that, I often times find myself listening to something one of my kids is saying or needing, and my natural instinct is to jump in and offer the solution they need, so we can all move on.

Sometimes, I’m so quick I’ve got their solution before they even finish stating their problem. I know. I’m working on that one.

It’s human instinct, as a parent and as a sales leader, to respond with someone’s problem by jumping into “fix it” mode.

Think of the best manager, coach, or teacher you’ve ever had. I’d be willing to bet, when one of their students brought a concern to them, they listened to everything that person had to say. Everything, almost to the point where they waited so long to respond that it was almost uncomfortable.

Then, instead of a response, or a statement of advice, they ask another question to make sure they really understand the problem being presented to them. Additionally, they are able to hear what’s being spoken, and also what’s not being spoken.

That’s truly listening.

2. You can set the direction, but they have to do it

Whether you’re talking to your children about school, or working with a sales rep to lay out a sales plan for the year, having a plan is critical.

What’s also critical is to understand that once the plan has been created, and the disciple has agreed to the activity, they are the one that needs to do it.

You can help them throughout and make sure they stay on track, and also provide them additional support and resources throughout the process, if needed.

But it’s their responsibility to get the job done.

Best-selling author and sales keynote speaker Mark Hunter says, “Leadership is measured by what those you lead do when you’re not present.”

Newer managers, especially those who previously worked in the trenches in the industry they manage, will have a tendency to jump in and do everything for their employees.

Big mistake, and it’s definitely one I made far too many times early on.

The ultimate goal of coaching is to help someone improve so they are more effective. If people don’t learn to operate independently, they will never learn how to do it on their own.

Also, if you are out making the sales for them, you don’t have a truly objective, accurate method for assessing and managing their performance appropriately either.

3. Give them space to make mistakes

There is great value to making mistakes. That’s one of the ways us humans learn.

Nothing teaches a lesson as well as losing does.

Losing doesn’t just hit you mentally. Losing strikes an emotional cord. A cord people don’t want to feel again.

Often times, after a big loss is when true winners reach breakthrough moments.

During last school year, one of my daughters was starting to get sloppy with her homework. Despite the best efforts of my wife and I, it wasn’t sinking in. So she continued racing through her work, and didn’t fully realize the implications of her actions until her mid-semester progress report card came.

That was all the validation we neeeded. Once she saw her grades, which weren’t acceptable to her or us, she realized a course correction was needed. At that point, she was open to feedback that would help her.

So we scheduled a meeting with her teacher, who laid out the areas where she wasn’t meeting expectations, and we worked together to figure out a plan she could follow to bring her grades up.

And she did.

Allowing her to make that mistake, and feel that sense of failure and loss, was clearly what she needed for things to sink in. She’s probably already forgotten the lesson, but for me, as a parent, it taught a huge lesson.

Conversely, there are some mistakes you can’t let them make. In my opinion, the two times to step in are if the stakes are too high for a miss, or if the situation is physically dangerous.

For example, if your child is about to run into a busy street, you obviously can’t let them learn that one the hard way. Instead, you have to drive home the risks of what would happen if they made that mistake, and work hard to articulate the horrible thing that would happen if they took that action.

Everyone makes mistakes, and letting people make, and learn from them, can be an extremely effective learning tool.

4. Praise more than criticize

This is a tough one, especially when you have two daughters in their pre-teen years and you walk into their bedroom before bedtime. I never knew kids could acquire so much at such an early age.

I believe the key to people accepting constructive feedback lies in creating an environment where they know how valued they are. It’s easy to point out what isn’t going well.

That’s human nature.

Regardless of how bad someone may be doing, there are almost always positives you can highlight.

Think about it: when a sales rep is off track, despite how bad the numbers are, usually they are more on track than off. For example, if a rep is at 75% to her quota for the year, she’s clearly not meeting expectations. However, she’s still doing more right than wrong.

You can clearly communicate where expectations are not being met, and the areas where you feel improvement is needed, but don’t neglect to discuss the things you feel that person is doing well.

Some sales leaders may disagree with this approach, and certainly there are occasionally scenarios where things are so bad that it’s difficult to keep a positive tone.

However, you have to ask yourself: “What is the ultimate goal?”

In most cases, the goal of leadership is to create an environment where the person you are coaching will change the behavior and turn around performance. A rule I try to follow is to give two pieces of positive feedback for every piece of constructive feedback.

Let people build from the things they are good at. Then focus on how to bring up the areas that need development.

5. Love the person, but correct the behavior

Theodore Roosevelt coined the phrase: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” There is a lot of truth to that statement, especially when it comes to leading others and correcting actions and behavior.

A general rule to follow is: say yes to the person and no to the behavior.

This rule is a lot easier to follow as a parent than a sales leader. As a parent, you can’t get rid of your kid, whereas you certainly can as an employer.

While there are always exceptions to this theory, I operate under the assumption that most people want to do well and be responsible, and that it’s not usually their intent to deceive or be unruly.

Most people are good in nature. And despite that, from time to time we all can get off course. So remember this: usually you can’t change the person a whole lot, but you can help them correct their course.

Ultimately, following the right course over an extended period of time is one of the things that makes an even better person.

Sometimes people aren’t good. I measure employees based off of attitude, effort, and skill level. If someone has a great attitude and a stellar work ethic, you can always coach and develop them on the skill part.

However, if you have a bad apple who’s attitude stinks, and you know isn’t taking the necessary actions you need them to, get rid of them as fast as you can.

6. Don’t shy away from uncomfortable conversations

If you see something that needs to be corrected, the best time to point it out is in the moment. I believe that fast, hard coaching is the best way for people to learn, and it’s the fastest way to coach to the results you want to see.

Allowing a child to continue making the same homework mistake or the same interruption in public doesn’t do that child any favors. It will only allow the habit to continue, further ingraining in their subconscious the habit you are trying to help them break.

Likewise, allowing a sales rep to continue pitching his product in a way that doesn’t fully connect with, or could potentially turn off a customer, is disastrous, to the rep, the company, and the customer. Especially if your product or service could really be beneficial to that customer.

Handling issues in the moment, even if it creates an uncomfortable situation, allows you to teach the way things need to be done in a way where they will actually happen, and much faster as well.

Managers that shy away from uncomfortable conversations are not true leaders in my book.

7. Lead by example

How often do you see overweight parents that have overweight children?

Often times, when parents are in trouble with the law and defiant toward authorities, the children grow up and have the same problems.

In the leadership course Integrity Coaching, Ron Willingham says, “people will find the level that’s acceptable to the leader, and then settle just below that level.”

It’s no surprise why football coaches like Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, and Jim Harbaugh win everywhere they go. They are certainly great recruiters, game planners, and coaches. No doubt about that.

But the real reason their teams always succeed is because they lead by the example they want to see their players and coaches follow. Their student-athletes have discovered the level they find acceptable to themselves (which is much higher than most), and they’ve settled just below that.

They show up on time, fully prepared, fully present, and ready to make an impact. And their players show up ready to do the same. The results speak for themselves.

How are you leading your children, and your sales team?

Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and Presidents’ Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit

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7 Sales Strategies for Getting Calls Returned

If you’ve been in sales for more than a New York minute, you’ve dealt with the frustration of prospects and customers not returning your calls. Probably a thousand times.

In today’s world, people are busier than ever, and phone calls are harder to get returned than ever before.

Especially if you’re calling to sell something.

The bottom line: people aren’t calling you back because they don’t perceive getting back to you provides enough value to disrupt what they already have going on.

It’s that simple.

As sales people, getting calls returned will always be one of the biggest obstacles we face. If you follow the seven steps below, you will surely increase your level of success.

1. Maintain updated, positive social media profiles

If a customer or prospect knows who you are before you call them, that increases the chance of them taking your call exponentionally. The easiest solution to that – be searchable online.

Fifteen or twenty years ago, the only way for that to happen was to be a celebrity. Today, social media has opened the ability to contact anyone, and for them to get a glimpse of who you are.

Word of caution: make sure who you are in your social media profiles paints an accurate picture of how you want to be perceived. In other words, if you wouldn’t want a future employer to see pictures of your partying days in college, you certainly don’t need current or future clients of yours  seeing them either.

In your social media profiles, it’s okay to be human. Show pictures of your family, what you do on the weekends, and things you’re interested in. Personally, I believe this is the best part about social media.

You get to know the real person. Often times, before you ever meet them face to face.

2. Learn what your prospect will find valuable

A great example of this is in medical sales. The green reps right out of sales training come in ready to pitch features and benefits. The pros take some time to do research, find out where the pain points are, what strategies and projects the prospect is trying to implement, and engage them in that discussion first.

Obviously, the product being sold is one of the fixes that aligns with the strategy, but that’s not where you start with a customer.

3. Lead with a text message

Texting someone is far more likely to get a response than a phone call nowadays. I’ve found this to be true in the business world even more.

If someone is tied up in a meeting, on a phone call, or eyeball-deep in a report, they will not be very motivated to engage in a live discussion at that time.

However, a quick response by text, without getting pulled away and into a lengthy conversation, is much more likely to elicit a response, and often times to set a meeting.

4. Include a specific call to action

A strong call to action, with specifics around how them calling you back can benefit them, is a must. This is especially true if you are targeting someone in the c-suite.

Most prospects, especially people at that level, can sniff out very quickly if they’re being contacted by an amateur or a professional.

5. Leave a voicemail AND send a text message

Leaving a voicemail should be mandatory, but it’s not unreasonable in the day in age to leave a voicemail and send a text message.

If the prospect wants to call you back and have a discussion by phone, he can do that. However, often times they are willing to meet but just don’t have the free time to call back for a discussion.

Recently, I’ve scheduled several appointments with prospects and customers by text. This also works extremely well in the medical industry selling to surgeons, providing you know them well enough for them to give you their cell phone number.

6. Be persistent

Face it. Some people just aren’t good at getting back to people.

Most of the time they are just busy, meant to call back, then ten other things got dropped in their lap, and they forgot to get back to you.

Don’t be afraid to be persistent and continue reaching out, even if you don’t get a response initially.

7. Bring them more value

As you start building a relationship with a customer, constantly ask yourself, “What’s truly important to this person?”

If you always maintain this attitude, and strive to align customers with ideas, strategies, and items that are important to them and the ones they care about, they will always make time for you.

That doesn’t mean they will always agree with your idea or will purchase every time, but they will set aside time to hear you out.

In sales, that’s all you can ask for. Once you’re in front of the prospect, the rest is up to you.

Bonus tip:

If you can get a mutual friend to introduce you face-to-face to the prospect, that shortens the curve for the previous seven steps dramatically.

The personal validation from someone they trust can break down barriers faster than ANY other strategy. It’s not always possible, but if you can set up more personal introductions, you’ll notice a significant increase in the number of appointments you set.

What are your best strategies for getting calls returned?

Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and Presidents’ Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit

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