What the Bleep is a Green Turtle?
Several years ago,
when I was managing an insurance office, I was interviewing a
perspective sales rep who I felt had great potential as an agent.
Throughout the interviewing process she was articulate, impeccably
dressed and demonstrated excellent people skills; I was convinced
that I had found a real superstar. Shortly after she was hired, my
new agent invited me to attend her son’s high school football game.
When the referee called a questionable foul on her son, my superstar
jumped to her feet and let loose with a flurry of cuss words that
would make a sailor blush. Everyone, literally within shouting
distance, was as shocked as I was to hear such profanity come out of
In the selling
process, there’s a great deal of emphasis placed on training the
sales rep to say the right word at the right time to close the sale.
While this is all well and good, unfortunately, there’s no training
in the world that can prevent a person from blurting out the wrong
word at the wrong time. It doesn’t matter whether you’re stuck in
traffic, just missed your flight or bogied the 18th hole, your
character and professional reputation are forged by the very words
that come out of your mouth.
During the early
days of the NASA space program, the astronauts were determined to
avoid the professional embarrassment of using profanity over the
airwaves. They were well aware that the entire world was eagerly
listening to every word they transmitted from outer space. In an
effort to minimize any self-inflicted embarrassment, the astronauts
established an informal incentive program amongst themselves, which
they referred to as “Operation Green Turtle”. When an astronaut
slipped up and used a curse word during his radio transmission, the
first astronaut to key up his mic and blurt out Green Turtle became
the recipient of dinner for two at a restaurant of his choice.
Operation Green Turtle proved to be such an effective incentive
program, that it’s still in use today.
In the sales
profession, words that you use when you are away from your customers
are just as important as the words you use when you are with your
customers. If you have formed the bad habit of swearing during
moments of stress or anger, it’s just a matter of time before those
same words come back, like a boomerang, and slip out at the sales
table. One inappropriate four-letter word has the potential to
alienate your customer, destroy rapport and sabotage your sale.
Using colorful language at a sporting event is socially
embarrassing, but if you use profanity around customers it will have
a negative impact on your reputation, livelihood and career
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