MacKay: Star QB knew why to learn more than the playbook

On a national sports radio program recently, two talk show hosts were discussing star quarterback Peyton Manning and the enormous impact he is having in his new football home, Denver.

They mentioned that not only had Manning already learned the entire playbook, but also the names of the entire media group and as much as he could about them and their families.

I don't know if Peyton Manning is familiar with the Mackay 66-Question Customer Profile, which I wrote about in my book, "Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," but Manning certainly knows the power that it yields when used properly to build relationships.

I have been preaching about the power of the Mackay 66 for my entire career. It's a tool to help you humanize your selling strategy. To be successful in life -- especially in sales -- you must have a desire to help people. You can't talk business all the time. Your customers are people first!

I developed this 66-question customer profile when I was 21. (It is available for free on my website -- At MackayMitchell Envelope Co., we require our salespeople to fill it out about every customer.

You wouldn't believe how much we know about our customers. And I'm not talking about their tastes in envelopes. What do they feel strongly about? What are they proudest of having achieved? Are there any status symbols in their offices? We want to know the person behind the desk.

This is not just for our customers. It's also for our suppliers. We want the best paper suppliers in the country. We want the best ink suppliers.

Use the Mackay 66 for employees and competitors -- anyone you can benefit from knowing more about. Every time you encounter those people, you learn a little bit more about them. You will probably never fill out all 66 items, but 30 are better than 20, and 15 are better than 10. They cover things like education (high school and college), family (spouses and kids), anniversaries, hobbies and interests, favorite sports teams, vacation habits, previous employment, professional and trade associations, clubs and so on.

Question No. 66 -- Does your competitor have more or better answers to the above questions than you have?

The Mackay 66 is a concept, philosophy and tool. You still must perform. But if you perform and build a good relationship, you not only get the order, you get all the reorders.

Here's a story that dates back about 100 years that illustrates the importance of noticing the little things and knowing your audience.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, was quite impressed with the observational powers of a cabdriver who picked him up at the train station after a vacation to the south of France. As he stepped into the cab and put his suitcase on the seat next to him, the driver surprised him by asking, "Where would you like to go, Mr. Doyle?"

Doyle asked the man how he knew who Doyle was.

The driver replied, "This morning's paper had a story about you being on vacation in Marseilles. This is the taxi stand where people who return from Marseilles always come. Your skin color tells me that you have been on vacation. The ink spot on your right index finger suggests to me that you are a writer. Your clothing is very English, and not French. I deduce that you are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

"That, and your name is on your suitcase."

Mackay's Moral: People don't care how much you know about them ... once they realize how much you care about them.

Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail

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