Sales Managers: Is It Time For The Three C’s


Sales Managers: Is It Time For The Three C’s?

I was at a MasterMind conference at a ranch in Texas last month with some brilliant businessmen. It was an opportunity to see and hear from a lot of people who are doing business  and life correctly. Even though we each have a lot to learn, it was an environment fostering creativity and sharing.

As part of the event, more than 20 of us gave brief “TED-style” talks. One of the speakers was James Schaeffer—a former Air Force fighter pilot who spoke on the need for business and leaders to conduct themselves like pilots.

He introduced me to the Three C’s—a mantra for pilots who find themselves lost or in trouble: climb, conserve and confess.

Perhaps there are times as a Sales Manager you need to learn the The C’s and adopt them into your organization or sales culture.


When a pilot gets lost or in trouble the first thing they do is climb. Obviously, one can see a potential landing spot from 30,000 feet much better than 5,000 feet. Is that applicable to your business? Do you need to “climb” a bit to get a better look at your processes, programs and even your people?

At street level you can only see as far as your headlights. At 5,000 feet you have a better view, but at 30,000 feet you can really get a good look at what is to come and possibly make some decisions that will positively affect your life or business.

Your salespeople are generally always operating at street level and only know what they can see. As a Sales Manager, you have to climb above that—get your bearings and then share that vision with them.


For a pilot this would mean conserving oxygen, fuel and so forth. But, in business, if we find ourselves in tough times as we have recently it may mean conserving cash, resources, time or human capital.

Are you conserving? Do you need to be in a conservation mode? Do you need to remind your sales team to conserve?

Now, let me say the last place you need to conserve or cut is in your sales department. In fact, you should hope your competition does that. Make a note of this: you will never save your way to success in business. You sell your way there. You’ll never save your way out of a recession, you sell your way out of it.

Some things should never be conserved.


A lost pilot readily admits he or she is in trouble. There’s no shame and nobody is looking at that pilot any differently because they had issues at 10,000 feet and had to pull the MayDay Card. They confess and confess quickly, “I need help. I’m in trouble up here!”

I’ve never heard anybody say, “Well, that big wuss had to call for help!”

That’s absurd.

So, why do we hesitate to ask for help in business? Too many times we’re afraid it will show weakness or make us look less than competent.

I promise.

If you ever meet someone who tells you they’ve never had to ask for help, run.

There’s no shame in confessing you have a situation you need help with. Nobody can be an expert at everything. If you’re not a mechanic, you probably wouldn’t try to rebuild your own car engine. But, just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should.

I bought my first car in 1981 (I had a street bike motorcycle for a year before that). It was a 1976 Triumph TR7 and I tried to “save the mechanics” bills because it was overheating. My brother-in-law and I went to one of those U-Pull It auto parts yards and found a water pump. I’ll never forget it was $170. We drove 90-miles to a bookstore (back when they had them in the mall) and found the repair manual for it and spend all day one Saturday replacing it, busting knuckles, bleeding and cursing.

Saturday evening when the job was done—still overheating. Monday I took it to the mechanic. It was an $11 thermostat.

Lesson learned.

There’s a reason Dentists usually don’t pull their own teeth.

Confess you need help and find an expert to help you in that area. It’ll help you solve the problem a lot less expensively and a lot more quickly.

The next time you run into a problem no matter how large or small remember the Three C’s: Climb, Conserve and Confess.

It could keep you from having to deal with that other C…Cardiac.