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The Sales Strategy Fundamentals   Project History

March 2003

I published Understanding Sun Tzu on the Art of War, and it shortly thereafter earns a Reviewer’s Choice Award from the Small Press Review.  The National Defense University and U.S. Naval War College adopt the book for their curriculum.  A separate project history is available for this book at  This books has sold several thousand copies.

May 2004

I finish the Art of War: Sun Tzu Strategy Card Deck.  Researching and writing this proved nearly a year long project.  I have little difficulty choosing a design for the card deck.  When I wrote the companion book, I had do decide whether to go with a red base color or black base color.  I chose red.  That left black.  Conveying the product’s contents on the back, to include leaving room for the bar code, proves the greater challenge.  I originally choose to shrink the bar code, but learned that could result in steep fines in California of a scanner cannot read it.  I choose “Which Card Will You Play?” as the tag line for the back and show a couple examples of the cards.   

September 2004

The proofing and printing process manages to take three months.  Product goes to market.  Most sales are done face-to-face.  This card deck is quickly picked up by several professional organizations, to include the following:

I sell a lot of these card deck directly.  In the public space this product has a slower start, but now sells at the same pace as the book.  Adding "Cards you play when it's not a game" to the Web site gets things going. 

October 2004

Conceive the idea to make an existing assortment of sales training notes into a playing card deck.  I approach a very prominent sales training organization with the idea to produce this deck, and send the Art of War: Sun Tzu Strategy Card Deck and the above as a sample.  Although initially enthusiastic, the owner of the training organization ultimately pushes back on the idea.  I start work on my own with the assistance of my father, a career salesperson from IBM who served as a sales trainer for the IBM Sales Training School, and retains many of his contacts from that organization.

October 2004 - February 2005

Zion Bar-El, the CEO of Ideation International, asks if I can make a card deck for innovation along the same lines as the Art of War: Sun Tzu Strategy Card Deck.  I have some concern about diverting effort from the sales cards.  I have reason to believe that the organization I approached might run with the card idea on their own.  However, this represents a great project, and I decide it is worth the risk.

This project lasts eight months.  I complete the draft of what is at first called the Inventive Solutions Card DeckTM as a joint venture with Ideation International.  This card deck is more extensive, 170 cards, and larger in size than the Art of War: Sun Tzu Strategy Card Deck.  I develop games for this product title Solve ItTM and Evolve ItTM for this product.  I also develop the game StratEffectsTM for the Sun Tzu deck that follows similar principles of the two.  All three games encourage players to consider all aspects of possible solutions to technical and competitive challenges.  In tests, they prove extremely effective for real world problem solving. 

May 2005

Launch new product as Innovation PlannerTM.  It is the second in the card series.  Information is available at   Description as follows:

Innovation Planner™ is a card set of innovation strategies and solutions used for rapid, effective, and efficient problem solving and idea generation. It is based on the Ideation TRIZ innovation methodology that was derived from the analysis of over 3 million patents and 500 standard patterns of technical evolution.  Just as you can combine the 26 letters in the alphabet to produce all ranges of literature, these cards describe the universal principles of invention that innovators combine to create the millions of inventions known to mankind.

This product has lead to the development of several patent pending products at major corporations.

May 2005 - June 2005

Work recommences in earnest on the sales cards.  The goal is to finish them by July 2005 - particularly because I still have concern about the organization I approached "borrowing" the idea.  The threat that that will happen diminishes as the complexity of the project increases. 

During this period, I make more extensive contact with other sales professionals, to include G.F. (Buck) Rodgers who was a key individual in creating the IBM sales training school during IBM's heyday as a mainframe computer seller.  I am also invited to join the board of the United Sales Professionals Association (UPSA).  In June, I am asked by Landon IP, Inc. to build an Intellectual Property Consulting service to include building the sales department.  The time that will take has much to do with targeting July.

I also "adopt" for a time a couple of young pigeons that I actually watch grow from egg to full grown birds.  After three months or so, I took this shot one morning.  That afternoon, the pigeons took their first flights and left the nest.

At the end of June, the project seems done.  When I finish any writing project, I read the entire document into a tape recorder, and then listen.  Upon listening, it's clear the project is not done - not even close.

July 2005 - February 2006

Resume work on the sales cards, now with the intent to complete them by the end of September 2005.  This proves completely unrealistic as well.  The project is the most difficult and intensive writing I have ever undertaken.  Revisions number in the hundreds.  The vacation pictured above in December 2005 was scheduled  to be a celebration of project completion.  It proves a great vacation, but I find myself still working on the text on the beach between dives.  The dives are how a prefer to remember the period, but it actually involved a lot of Starbuck's time that does not make an exciting a photo. 

The last shot was a welcome snow that gave me an entire day to work without interference.

January 2006 - Seminars etc.

All three card decks lead to seminars invitations across the country.  The first picture is the coffee table where much of the later writing and editing was done.  The seminars were made it fun in the between time.  Pictured center is the post conference from the Pi Sigma Epsilon Sales & Marketing conference in Minneapolis given to students and young professionals as pictured here.  The second is a meeting for LESI (Licensing Executive Society International) at the Center Club of Baltimore given to about fifty mostly lawyers.

Meeting of the Maryland Local Chapter

January 26, 2006
The Center Club
Legg Mason Building, 15th Floor
Baltimore, MD

6:00 - 9:00 pm

Sponsored by:

Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP

February 2006

Because Center For Advantage does not have the marketing might of a Random House or Wiley, it has been my contention that Center For Advantage products must be literally perfect to have any chance at success.  With three successes under my belt in accord with that philosophy, including a book that has already sold as many copies as most non-fiction titles do that come from powerhouse publishers, a standard of perfection was the target for The Sales Strategy Fundamentals.  It was more difficult to achieve that perfection then with the previous projects because sales has so many experts with so many varied opinions.  I wanted universal agreement on the selected fundamentals and their presentation from the dozens of professionals involved in reviewing the project.

So week after week, I wrote, rewrote, tested, knowing that at some point, I would have that read through and know the project was finally done.  This finally happened on February 14th, 2006.  Then, for the fourth time, I called the printer and asked for an updated quote, and for the second time, said, "I really mean it this time, it's done."  Files went out for proofs shortly after.

The attached photo was the view from the living room on one of the first days post completion.

June 4, 2006

First sales cards are delivered.  It took some time to figure out the cover art used on the box and card backs.  We decide on the simple design above.  When viewed two dimensionally, the arrow is the traditional left to right rise in sales.  When viewed three dimensionally, the figure represents the multi-dimensional aspects of strategy.

March 30, 2009

After three years of work, the new book Outpacing the Competition will be published by John Wiley & Sons.  This book includes the sales fundamentals as one of three important legs of a comprehensive business strategy that involves innovation, business advancement, and security.  

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