Shocking Discovery from Regis Philbin

In June, Regis Philbin – known as a TV entertainer, but a very savvy stock investor – interned for a day in hedge fund manager David Einhorn’s office, as a publicity stunt. One of the things he did was to mystery call and shop the stores of a public-company retail chain that he and Einhorn had invested in, or were interested in investing in.

It was a brilliant idea and allowed them to see if frontline staff was competently handling a basic function of their business. Regis called three Lululemon stores at random, in three different parts of the country. In all three, the phones went unanswered. Many rings, but no cheery, helpful person picking up. And you wonder why that company has sales trouble?

As an investor, this was a whack on the side of my head. I know this; I teach this; but I haven’t been mystery shopping every company that I buy stock in – checking to see if they are competent in the places where the money is actually made.

It is a near certainty that you will make shocking discoveries – if you mystery shop your phones and stores and salespeople; if you surreptitiously search employees work areas, desk drawers, and computers; if you install video and audio surveillance systems; even if you openly role-play with the people you have engaging with customers. It is the policing that most business owners like least, and neglect or simply refuse to do most.

It is interesting that there are places where people work, where there is no room for and zero tolerance for deviation or error. A live-theater actor must know his or her lines and deliver them perfectly every time – or return to waiting tables or parking cars, but managers of businesses are incredibly lax about their people knowing their scripts and delivering them perfectly every time. Of course, if the phones aren’t even answered, the script deviance is – literally – a mute point.

My “Million Dollar a Year Speech” built for the SUCCESS events was scripted and perfected and memorized word for word and delivered with identical inflection, speed, timing, gestures and body movement every single time, some 250 times over the years, regardless of mood. You can watch a DVD of me from 1999 and one from 2005 and be hard-pressed to note difference. Walt Disney used to have crazy fits if he overheard a Jungle Cruise guide deviating from the script.

Your airline pilot must operate by system and checklist, doing everything in exactly the same order each and every time. He can’t ‘spontaneously’ land without putting down the landing gear just because he feels like it. He can’t skip the pre-flight safety checks if he’s tired, bored, or running late.

But is every new customer who comes into your place of business greeted, taken on tour, contact info captured, with everything choreographed, and done exactly in the same way every time?

Much of my life is spent helping business owners put money into marketing that pours leads, prospects, and customers or patients into a mess. These leads are driven to phones not answered, or phones answered grudgingly by ill-prepared, undisciplined, disinterested employees – often “managed” by people not doing any managing, training, coaching, motivating or rewarding at all.

The leads are driven to massively dysfunctional websites, even some with no way to capture contact information. In fact, I was recently made aware of a marketing test by a client where traffic driven by Ad Words (paid advertising!) was sent to a site with no squeeze page, no lead generation offer(s), and no tracking of anything but the number of page views. This is a statistic of no value but money was wasted on driving these potential leads.

Almost to his death, Ray Kroc was inspecting restroom cleanliness in McDonalds restaurants and personally calling managers to complain. Martha Stewart famously descended on K-Mart stores and pitched fits, throwing goods all over the place, when she found her linens stacked with the labels on the bottom instead of on the top. I’ve personally witnessed Trump screaming at employees in his casinos because of empty paper towel stands. Those famous examples have to do with sales and marketing and merchandising, all at once.

How serious are you about your business being right?

If your customers are sold something, with no logical and appealing ‘next’ and ‘next again’ and ‘next after that’ path attached to it, with no upsell or upgrade options, with no customer ascension ladder attached to the original sale, you are not doing your job. You are not serious about your business. It’s all wasted effort because we know that 5% to 20% will say yes to the upgrade no matter what.

Your job is to sell and to sell again, every darned time.

Click here for more No B.S. sales lessons.

[Ed. Note: Dan Kennedy is internationally recognized as the ‘Millionaire Maker,’ helping people in just about every category of business turn their ideas into fortunes. Dan’s “No B.S.” approach is refreshing amidst a world of small business marketing hype and enriches those who act on his advice. For more money-making marketing tips, tactics and strategies, go to]