Flash It or Flush It! Steps to a True and Healthy Pipeline

Sales pipeline. If you are in sales, you’ll be asked about yours on a regular basis. That said, whether you are on the front lines or management side, it’s quite important not to over-value what are numbers on a spreadsheet but even more so to use it as a tool in following up and closing.

Far and away, salespeople indicate that following up is an ambiguous area: many struggle with how to do it, when to do it and what to say when they do. Too much incessant follow up can drive a prospect away and prevent time being adequately spent on other prospects and driving new business. Too little will keep you out of sight and out of mind.

Furthermore, it’s frequent “water cooler” talk for the sales staff to stand around or chat by various mediums about their pipeline. “I’m working on a million-dollar deal/ I’m working on a thousand widget deal.” While this sounds impressive, like “I’m working on becoming an astronaut,” that blanket statement leaves no clues as to the stage in the game of the realized revenue. I could have bought an astronomy book or some Tang.

The point is that while a large pipeline looks grand on a spreadsheet and may get your boss off your back for this week’s meeting, the time will come when you’re expected to actually close some business.

Translating this into your follow up strategy, a “yes” or “no” is better than a “maybe so.” I’d rather know today that there’s no chance a customer will buy than to have them leave me twisting in the wind for months for fear of breaking my heart.  Dump me or commit to me – don’t string me along.  To achieve this, it’s about mutual respect; sales is all about relationships and if you effectively build yours, set the right expectations and create some skin in the game on their part, it will set the stage far more masterfully for either a close or a closed door. And a respectfully, possibly temporary closed door at that, as you never know when their fire may be reignited.

Some companies or bosses may wish to see every potential sale with even the most remote chance of success – and that’s their prerogative. It’s also extremely effective to keep a pipeline whether you use a CRM tool or a spreadsheet to track your open dialogues – ensure you are not letting more than a week or two pass prior to the next effective outreach. Having such a tool will keep you on task as you monitor the intervals between contact and you move closer and closer to either flashing or flushing that opportunity.

But, for Pete’s sake, don’t let something sit in your pipeline for too long. Frankly, this all comes down to the effectiveness of your follow up. Don’t press too hard initially, but after a couple of missed calls or unreturned e-mails, it is certainly time for, “Mr./Mrs. Customer – I certainly don’t want to waste your valuable time. I’ve ensured that X number of widgets are set aside for you and want to ensure I’m operating on your timeline. Do you need me to continue holding these?” Direct, to the point, respectful but it also forces a response; they are more likely to respond when they know you’ve put forth effort and inventory or personnel are standing by to act on their behalf when they give the go-ahead.

So, while a pipeline report may illuminate the effectiveness by which you have reached decision makers, set appointments and pitched products, there is one number in sales that’s absolute: money.  If your pipeline is not coinciding with revenue, you’re likely to be questioned about it at some point which is all the more reason to keep it true and tight.

What is a realistic sales cycle for the customer you are talking to? How long have they been in the pipeline? Have you given them their adequate and requested time to think about it and provided all necessary collateral and information for the sale to close?  Learn how to draw the line between keeping a number on a spreadsheet as a talking point and wasting time on a prospect that will never buy when you could be driving new business.  You are costing yourself money while you’re staring at a fake number.

Flash the sale or flush the unrealized dollar figure. Celebrate the win and go on to the next or accept the current lack of purchase, recalibrate your selling and outreach process and press forward to the multitude of other customers that are out there. Learning how to effectively manage and follow up on your pipeline will ensure a steady flow of success.

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Carson V. Heady has written a book entitled “Birth of a Salesman” that has a unique spin that shows you proven sales principles designed to birth in you the top producer you were born to be.  If you would like to strengthen your sales skills, go to  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ICRVMI2/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_yGXKtb0G

Heady posts for “Consult Carson” serving as the “Dear Abby” of sales and sales leadership.  You may post any question that puzzles you regarding sales and sales leadership careers: interviewing, the sales process, advancing and achieving.  You will also be directly contributing to his third book, “A Salesman Forever.”

Question submissions can be made via LinkedIn to Carson V. Heady, this Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carson-V-Heady/125078150858064?ref=hl , Twitter via @cvheady007 or e-mail atcvheady007@yahoo.com or you may post an anonymous comment as a reply to my WordPress blog at the bottom of this page:https://carsonvheady.wordpress.com/the-home-of-birth-of-a-salesman-2010-published-by-world-audience-inc-and-the-salesman-against-the-world-2014/

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The 10 Keys to Exceeding Expectations and Achieving Results

Certainly, it is not a simple feat to achieve every fleeting aspiration that materializes in our minds lest we would all be challenge- and worry-free. Yet we all dream of a better version of ourselves: one who accomplishes great things, leaves an enduring legacy and makes the world a better place. Someone who excels at work and home and is revered and can be counted on.

With all of that ambition, how does anyone fall flat? Well, do sports teams take the field without practice, coaching and the huddle? Do politicians mount a campaign sans extensive research and a well-developed platform (hmm… well, it seems some may…)?

There are keys to ensuring success over the long term which can be employed in your every task.

1. The attitude and determination that will carry you through any obstacles. Your attitude will be what forces your hand in moving forward where others quit. Your attitude will be what overshadows the fear and doubt that cloud your mind and judgment. Your determination is what ensures you stay the course despite any hiccups that pop up along the way.

2. Clearly defined goal(s) with a realistic approach. Presumably, you are attempting to tackle something that either can be or has been done. (If not, ideally you have the research to suggest it can be done.) If you are moving, but you don’t know where you are moving toward, there is chaos. Sure, you may not be able to calculate the exact trajectory of your path and you may far exceed your goals; on the flip side, you also do not want to set the bar too low and stymie your strengths. Lay out the goals with a strong why behind them and plot out your path to get there.

3. Preparation: Do you have the tools necessary to reach the goals? If you are embarking on a new diet or workout routine, do you have the needed equipment and knowledge and recipes and regimen to succeed? You can have all the drive in the world but if you go into battle without the weapons you need – it’s over before it begins.

4. Patience: Very few noteworthy goals can occur overnight. When we make our initial charge, however, we want to see immediate results as reinforcement of our decision. We will rarely get it, however, which is why the virtue of patience is paramount.

5. Be adaptable and open to change and tweaks to your process. We obviously identified the need for a change or a course of action up front, but as we embark and learn the terrain and identify that modifications to process are required, we must be nimble and adjust accordingly.

6. Perseverance! Just when you think everything is going along swimmingly, you’ll be caught off guard with a bump in the road and how you react and respond will have a huge impact on the road ahead. Without process, it’s just madness; address, adjust as needed, but get back to the process as quickly as you can.

7. Build relationships that are symbiotic, mutually beneficial. Find ways to make contributions to the journeys of others and they will make investments in yours that will exceed your own expectations. While being an individual contributor may be much of your role or current status, having a positive impact in the lives of others will always pay off more often than not. You can learn so much from the paths of others – do so!

8. Make the conscious decision every day and at every leg in the race to continue. The decision to execute and carry on rests solely and squarely on your shoulders. You decide if you get out of bed early every day to make time to work out. You decide if you eat right and take care of yourself. You decide if you allot enough time to properly prepare for work and get there with time to spare so you are ready to start the day. You decide whose company you keep, what you do with your talents and what you do when you hit roadblocks. Control every detail that you can control and control your response when you encounter an uncontrollable force. Continued execution can become easier to deliver due to the innate gratification from prior excellence. We want to win because we won before and we liked how it felt.

9. The ability to take most things as they come, as they need to be dealt with and to fit things into your process or bend rather than break. It means sometimes shutting your mind off to the doubt and continuing on. It means always returning to your process after addressing bumps in the road. Don’t let doubts during downward times derail or deter you from a plan concocted by a clearer head.

10. A continued quest for growth. Learn from all of the mistakes and lessons, but let go of the pain they brought when you convert it into fuel for your determination. You cannot close yourself off to new people or experiences just because your trust was broken or you faced setbacks. Doing so will leave you stunted, incomplete and certainly incapable of achieving your potential.

Whether you are lining up New Years’ resolutions or simply have a project to do, apply these principles and you’ll be unstoppable.

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Carson V. Heady has written a book entitled “Birth of a Salesman” that has a unique spin that shows you proven sales principles designed to birth in you the top producer you were born to be.  If you would like to strengthen your sales skills, go to  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ICRVMI2/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_yGXKtb0G

Heady posts for “Consult Carson” serving as the “Dear Abby” of sales and sales leadership.  You may post any question that puzzles you regarding sales and sales leadership careers: interviewing, the sales process, advancing and achieving.  You will also be directly contributing to his third book, “A Salesman Forever.”

Question submissions can be made via LinkedIn to Carson V. Heady, this Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carson-V-Heady/125078150858064?ref=hl , Twitter via @cvheady007 or e-mail atcvheady007@yahoo.com or you may post an anonymous comment as a reply to my WordPress blog at the bottom of this page:https://carsonvheady.wordpress.com/the-home-of-birth-of-a-salesman-2010-published-by-world-audience-inc-and-the-salesman-against-the-world-2014/

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ROCKY BALBOA: Going the Distance in Business and Life

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve watched the fight between Apollo Creed and Rocky Balboa from Rocky 1 and fully embraced the metaphor between Rocky’s journey and life itself.

When the fabled saga began, Rocky was a “pushing 30” underdog who took part in club fights when he could and worked for a loan shark not breaking thumbs to make ends meet. His biggest fear was being a bum from the neighborhood. Sure, he had aspirations, but lived a simple life with his turtles and bachelor pad, making jokes with his pet shop girl.

One day, however, opportunity knocked. What happened from there was a one in a million shot, but how many times has opportunity knocked for us in life or business where we failed to answer the call? Initially, our hero was reluctant to take on the heavyweight champion of the world in a bout that made no real sense and for all practical purposes never should have landed in his lap to begin with. That said, every once in a while, we get the golden opportunity of a networking meeting, a new contact, a potential job opportunity we hear about that could better ourselves. Do we take action? Or do we decline, only to kick ourselves later?

Rocky’s decision to take part in the fight was one thing, but he didn’t just show up. He took his training seriously – which required him accepting help from others. This is instrumental – no matter how great or talented we are, we cannot make it all alone. We need the Adrian in our corner who is there win or lose. We need the Mickey who – while he’s a little angry and jaded – he’s a valued mentor and friend. And, despite his flaws, we have the Paulie, who has his moments and once per film makes a heartfelt overture.

There were zero expectations of Rocky – a 20-to-1 underdog versus Apollo Creed. But what is spellbinding about the fight and film is that Rocky’s goal was to go the distance – to be standing when the bell signaled the conclusion of the 15th round.  When Apollo knocked Rocky out in the 14th, even Rocky’s trainer told him to stay down – he felt Rocky had done enough.  But Rocky didn’t listen – he scrambled to his feet, came back out despite the fact he couldn’t see anything, and landed body blows to Apollo then and later that almost spelled victory.

There will be times we are literally delivered knockdown punches – we don’t get the promotion we’re promised. We don’t get the raise we deserve. We lose our job through no fault of our own. We battle through family issues or personal struggles and literally don’t know what to do.

In the seventh Rocky film, Creed, Rocky makes perhaps the best metaphor: Take it punch by punch, step by step, round by round. When you take on the entire world, often you will fall short of goals because you are overwhelmed.  The concept of being the underdog by a healthy margin, the concept of “what do I want to do for the rest of my career” or “how am I going to deal with all of this stuff” can be way too much for us to handle.  Even when others doubt us, when people we thought were friends leave, we have the strength inside to take it one task, one priority, one day at a time.

Prioritize each component of what you’re up against.  Need a job?  Put your best foot forward on each component: a rock solid resume, a unique approach at getting it in decision-makers’ hands, and supreme follow-up.  Hate your job?  Ensure your responsibilities are taken care of, weigh the pros and cons of your role, and decide if it’s something you can continue to do one day at a time.  Having terrible personal problems?  Control what you can, eliminate negative forces and unproductive personal relationships from the fold.  Because, in the end, you must be able to live with your decisions and your legacy and your life.  The people you surround yourself with must be the ones who will support, but also tell you what you need to hear.  When Rocky lost his hunger for the sport in Rocky III it was Adrian who gave him the constructive criticism he needed to face his fear of losing face and the life he had.  That said, as the Rocky story has unfolded, Balboa finds solace in a different small group of people as he loses many people close to him.  That’s life – it will change and force our adaptation, but it will always require we give our best to every task at hand.

The Rocky saga is supremely motivating because it captures the essence of the human spirit: we all want to believe that we can be champions.  The beauty is that Rocky was an unlikely champion – he was an everyman.  He was revered when he rose and was criticized when he fell, but he always did right by his family and those close to him and he did right by the sport, even when he did not get the recognition he deserved.  Even when he was doubted, even when his talents began to fade – he always found ways to add value.  We can take many cues from Rocky Balboa, and we should all always strive to get up for another round.

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Carson V. Heady has written a book entitled “Birth of a Salesman” that has a unique spin that shows you proven sales principles designed to birth in you the top producer you were born to be.  If you would like to strengthen your sales skills, go to  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ICRVMI2/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_yGXKtb0G

Heady posts for “Consult Carson” serving as the “Dear Abby” of sales and sales leadership.  You may post any question that puzzles you regarding sales and sales leadership careers: interviewing, the sales process, advancing and achieving.  You will also be directly contributing to his third book, “A Salesman Forever.”

Question submissions can be made via LinkedIn to Carson V. Heady, this Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carson-V-Heady/125078150858064?ref=hl , Twitter via @cvheady007 or e-mail atcvheady007@yahoo.com or you may post an anonymous comment as a reply to my WordPress blog at the bottom of this page:https://carsonvheady.wordpress.com/the-home-of-birth-of-a-salesman-2010-published-by-world-audience-inc-and-the-salesman-against-the-world-2014/

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Controlling Your Nerves: Public Speaking Mastery

Regardless of how many times you are tasked to speak publicly about a topic, you will experience some semblance of excitement, anxiety or nerves prior to going on. While we can never fully anticipate specifically which will hit us and to what degree, we can certainly limit any potentially negative impact and also channel the emotion into a positive outcome.

1. Remember that you’re the expert. If you find yourself nervous or apprehensive, reflect on the fact there is a reason you have been tapped to tackle the topic. You are speaking to a group of people about something you are likely very comfortable with. Your knowledge level on this subject is typically superior to those receiving your message. You likely spend a significant amount of time dabbling in the dialogue you will deliver; you’ve got this. It is your wheelhouse and you are the subject matter expert. Find solace and confidence in your unique understanding of the topic.

2. Drown out the distractions. We typically over-think in situations of this ilk. “What if I forget something?” “What if I mess up?” “What if someone asks me a question I don’t have the answer to?” We can be our own worst enemy! If someone asks you something you don’t know, explain – “That’s a great question! In this  field, things are ever-changing. I can commit to getting you the most up to date response. Let’s connect afterward.” Furthermore, think about how many times you have seen speeches delivered – you likely do not even notice the “gaffes” they themselves deem as less than their best work. You cannot control exactly how the speech will go, but you can certainly control the notes you reference during the presentation, you can control your knowledge of the subject and you can most definitely work to control what you allow to seep into your consciousness. A friend of mine once shared with me the value in literally acknowledging the presence of a negative thought or emotion and forcefully dismissing it. With practice, this process goes a long way in pushing out any unwanted anxiety.

3. Don’t over-rehearse. There is something to be said for developing a comfort level with the material and your presentation. You’ll hear that you can rehearse in the mirror or to a peer. While I firmly believe in being fully prepared to impart knowledge to your audience, it is certainly problematic when you become so rehearsed that you become obsessed with performing your speech precisely as rehearsed. Rather than being able to develop a rhythm and flow, you trip over trying to replicate past performances. Rehearse and make it innate, but do not overdo it.

4. Relax. Whether nothing’s at stake to a potentially large client or deal, there are likely numerous reasons you’re at the podium. We spend so much time worrying about outcomes that never become reality – and what does the worrying get us? If you’re prepared, you’re an expert and you are nimble and quick on your feet to answer questions and commit to finding answers on anything you don’t know, you’ve controlled what you can control. The rest will take care of itself.

Nerves are a funny thing; they can pop up when we don’t expect them and even after years of perfecting our craft. That said, funnel and channel them into an obsession with doing your subject matter justice, not an obsession over a rehearsed, canned speech. Know your audience, deliver the goods. The rest will truly fall into place, and with practice – like any other process – you will learn small tweaks you can make to enhance your performance.

And best of luck/ break a leg!

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Carson V. Heady has written a book entitled “Birth of a Salesman” that has a unique spin that shows you proven sales principles designed to birth in you the top producer you were born to be.  If you would like to strengthen your sales skills, go to  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ICRVMI2/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_yGXKtb0G

Heady posts for “Consult Carson” serving as the “Dear Abby” of sales and sales leadership.  You may post any question that puzzles you regarding sales and sales leadership careers: interviewing, the sales process, advancing and achieving.  You will also be directly contributing to his third book, “A Salesman Forever.”

Question submissions can be made via LinkedIn to Carson V. Heady, this Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carson-V-Heady/125078150858064?ref=hl , Twitter via @cvheady007 or e-mail atcvheady007@yahoo.com or you may post an anonymous comment as a reply to my WordPress blog at the bottom of this page:https://carsonvheady.wordpress.com/the-home-of-birth-of-a-salesman-2010-published-by-world-audience-inc-and-the-salesman-against-the-world-2014/

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Need to super-charge your sales week and finish this month strong? Sales book inside business conspiracy novel “Birth of a Salesman” is just 99 cents!

Need to super-charge your sales week and finish this month strong? Sales book inside business conspiracy novel “Birth of a Salesman” is just 99 cents!

http://www.amazon.com/Birth-Salesman-Carson-Heady-ebook/dp/B00ICRVMI2/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-2&qid=1395973243

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My updated James Bond film rankings. Debate.

My updated James Bond film rankings. Debate.
1. Goldfinger
2. From Russia With Love
3. Doctor No
4. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
5. Thunderball
6. Skyfall
7. Casino Royale
8. Goldeneye
9. The Spy Who Loved Me 
10. You Only Live Twice
11. Live and Let Die
12. Licence To Kill
13. For Your Eyes Only
14. Tomorrow Never Dies
15. SPECTRE
16. Octopussy
17. Diamonds are Forever
18. Quantum of Solace
19. The Living Daylights
20. Die Another Day
21. From A View To a Kill
22. The World Is Not Enough
23. The Man With The Golden Gun
24. Never Say Never Again
25. Moonraker

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4th and Goal: Optimizing Fourth Quarter Sales Results

The fourth quarter. Whether sports or sales is your arena of choice, the mere mention implies that final push for the win. Pressure, heightened sense of awareness and clutch play are commonplace during this crucial time. But what many of us lose sight of during this time is that we’ve been building for this all year long.

When the final quarter of the year hits, our organization and our leadership may deliver a completely different tone. We may look at our year and we fall in one of three buckets: we’re having an awesome year and we’ve got to put an exclamation point on it, we’re having a so-so year and need to get over the top or we’re having a subpar season and it’s time to close some serious business!

All year long, we are setting the foundation for future business. We are planting the seeds for success every day. So, in reality, the fourth quarter should absolutely not take a different tone and its arrival should absolutely not result in us drastically changing our approach. Building a pipeline means developing the relationships that will sustain you in famine and culminate in feast – and hopefully, with diligence and consistency, that feast will not end.

During this time of year, we’ll hear some, “Yeah, my budget is tapped out and we’re just budgeting for next year.” Great – make it a point to ensure you’re on their outlook for next year.  However, you’ll also come across your customers who have money left to spend before the year wraps – know your customers well enough to know their cycles. Find ways to stay top of mind – post industry articles on your social media so your contacts see them, send newsletters, make regular calibration calls. Furthermore, many customers you work with operate on different fiscal cycles so don’t naturally assume it’s their fourth quarter too.

Prioritize your leads! Regularly calibrate with your top spenders. Ensure their needs are being met, ensure they are pleased with results and that you are revisiting the relationship regularly. It’s kind of like your top reps, if you are a sales manager – reward and recognize and let your prized stallions lead you in the race.

That said, don’t make the mistake many salespeople make and solely chase whales! Diversification of your portfolio is of the utmost importance; those who only chase whales get swallowed whole. The temptation is real; sure, these customers can make your whole year or two. But I have seen far too many people live and die by chasing their Moby Dick. Your story could have the same unhappy ending.

When you diversify, prioritization of your leads means ranking them when you are scheduling your time. Certainly sell and sell more to your top accounts; make sure they are in the know on what they need to know to make informed decisions and get the most for their money. When you have new offerings, go to them first. From there, focus on additional leads as follows:

Previous customers: Realization of who no longer does business with you and why, even if you cannot immediately solve why they left, goes a long way. Specifically, when you are trying to rekindle the flame and re-earn their business – you can’t just do it with chocolates and flowers, you’ve got to SHOW them why things will be different this time. But, at one point they believed, so if you are able to overcome the hurdles that cost you their relationship before, you may earn them back. If they come back, often they are here to stay.

If you have company generated leads that perhaps are not yet spending money but are qualified in some way, absolutely perform outreach and get them into your pipeline. Figure out what their timelines could look like and size up potential needs. Get into a rhythm with following up and engaging them.

Finally, the cold outreach. This could be door to door, it could be utilizing social media (like LinkedIn) to meet decision makers and set appointments to qualify opportunities. As long as it is strategic and targeted based on your target audience and who needs what you’ve got to offer, it’s got value.

There is no silver bullet from which your top leads will originate from. If you effectively follow this process each day, week, month, quarter and year, frankly, the fourth quarter will be like any other. If you obsess over process and people, the numbers will always be there, and you will never have to worry about where your next sale comes from. Where we get off track is when we allow any outside factor, whether internal or external to our company or work group, to take us away from our process and the focus on our customers.

Have a strategy for your pipeline management, around new products and services, educating and communicating around changes in your industry, social media and each individual type of lead (from spending to pending), and simply execute on it daily. Customers will buy from you because of communication, transparency and response.

Don’t solely focus on what is going to close this quarter! We must continue to plant seeds for next quarter and year so we never find ourselves in the predicament of desperately flailing to hit numbers. That’s when we make mistakes. Frankly, the goal is to get to the point you really don’t have to think about what quarter it is; you need only think about which customer is next to engage, why, and what your message is. Don’t react, just rely on your resources and regimen.

Consistency around your process, whether you’re a sales professional or leader, will ensure your fourth quarter and every quarter are as profitable as you want them to be.

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Carson V. Heady has written a book entitled “Birth of a Salesman” that has a unique spin that shows you proven sales principles designed to birth in you the top producer you were born to be.  If you would like to strengthen your sales skills, go to  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ICRVMI2/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_yGXKtb0G

Heady posts for “Consult Carson” serving as the “Dear Abby” of sales and sales leadership.  You may post any question that puzzles you regarding sales and sales leadership careers: interviewing, the sales process, advancing and achieving.  You will also be directly contributing to his third book, “A Salesman Forever.”

Question submissions can be made via LinkedIn to Carson V. Heady, this Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carson-V-Heady/125078150858064?ref=hl , Twitter via @cvheady007 or e-mail atcvheady007@yahoo.com or you may post an anonymous comment as a reply to my WordPress blog at the bottom of this page:https://carsonvheady.wordpress.com/the-home-of-birth-of-a-salesman-2010-published-by-world-audience-inc-and-the-salesman-against-the-world-2014/

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