Then again, Einstein was a bit of a wag. Consider his explanation of wireless communication: “The wireless telegraph is not difficult to understand. The ordinary telegraph is like a very long cat. You pull the tail in New York, and it meows in Los Angeles. The wireless is the same, only without the cat.” This quote reportedly kept Schrödinger awake well past his bedtime.
“Research. Once upon a time I toyed with the idea of a career in
academia, as a medievalist. But academia toyed with me, and I gave
up on the middle ages, because I didn’t think of myself as somebody
who would spend his life doing research. I leave the moral of the
story to you, but eventually I became addicted, and I now see it as
a vocational privilege.
“Still, there is something to be said for the 300-page
interior monologue in italics – at least you won’t get letters
informing you that the British Beaufighter aircraft was not in
service until the end of October. It’s hard to avoid that sort
of thing in 350 pages of manuscript, even with good editing and
“I think it was Randall Jarrell who once defined the
novel as a work in prose of a certain length that has something
wrong with it.”
Quoted from Alan Furst, author of Blood of Victory , about writing historical fiction.
“As the earth and ocean were probably peopled with vegetable
productions long before the existence of animals; and many families
of these animals long before other families of them, shall we
conjecture that one and the same kind of living filaments is and
has been the cause of all organic life?” asked the polymathic
poet and physician Erasmus Darwin in 1794.
“It was a startling guess for the time,
not only in its bold conjecture that all organic
life shared the same origin, sixty-five years before his grandson
Charles’ (Darwin) book on the topic, but for its weird use of the word
‘filaments.’ The secret of life is indeed a thread.” (DNA? PB)
Royal Turnbridge Wells
Great Oxney Green
Walton on the Naze
Hinton on the Hedges
Unfortunate error: Read in a trade mag today that the Chief Technology Officer at an IT company has the last name of ERROR. #Oops
By Betty Knosler
Tuesday, January 22, 1963
CLERMONT – Sociologist, educator, world traveler, (WWII war correspondent – Ed.), and lecturer would only begin to describe Dr. Jerome Dwight Davis, winter visitor to Clermont.
Dr. Davis, born in Kyoto, Japan, of Congregationalist missionaries (Father: Jerome Dean Davis – Ed.) near the turn of the century, has also been the author of over 25 books and an international YMCA representative.
While an Oberlin College student, he decided that, although he would not enter the missionary field as did his father, who founded the largest Christian University in Japan, he would devote his life to helping people everywhere with no thought of gain.
Still a student at Union Theological Seminary, he became secretary to Sir Wilfred Grenfell as he built hospitals, schools, and churches throughout Labrador and the Maritime provinces of Canada.
DOING MOST of their traveling by small ship, they were aground three times, on fire once, lost an anchor and were also hit by a huge iceberg.
Using axes to free stateroom doors and then to free the ship from the iceberg, they continues on course.
From 1916 to 1918, at the request of Dr. John R. Mott, world head of the YMCA, Davis represented the YMCA in Russia. Beginning with prisoner of war camps for German and Austrian prisoners, he established medical, educational, religious, recreational and self-governing committees in 29 prisoner of war camps.
The improving of conditions in the POW camps eventually led to the establishment of the first YMCA for Russian soldiers in Russia. This work was accomplished while the Tsar was still in power.
DR. DAVIS, who has seen the evils of Communism through his many trips to Russia, is bitterly opposes to the Communist doctrine, and believes that the only hope of the world lies in the success of the United Nations and a genuine effort for peace.
Following World War I, he taught at Dartmouth and in the Yale University Divinity School. It was during his Yale period that he became president of the American Federation of Teachers for three years and was also president of the Eastern Sociological Society.
Dr. Davis was chairman of the legislative commission on Jails for the state of Connecticut for 12 years, during which time many reforms were instituted in the penal system.
HE ALSO founded the religion and labor foundation, now located in Washington, which was instrumental in focusing attention on the wrongs of the 12-hour day and the seven-day work week. This was abolished eight years after the foundation’s establishment.
Representing the YMCA again, from 1940 to 1943, Dr. Davis was director of YMCA work in the prisoner of war camps in all of Canada.
(In 1944, Dr. Davis was a war correspondent for the Toronto Star, stationed in Moscow – Ed.)
For the last few years Dr. Davis has devoted his time to lecturing, writing books and heading international good will tour groups each summer. These groups are composed of teachers, ministers, doctors and other professional people.
This summer, one group will go to West Africa and the Middle East and a second group will go to the Scandinavian countries, Russia, Turkestan and France.
The tours are sponsored by Promoting Enduring Peace, Inc., of which Dr. Davis is executive director. He believes that person to person contact wins friendship for the American in foreign lands.
The only way we can change the kind of world we are in is by slow, constructive change, not revolution.
On these tours, they try to prove to the people of the world that the U. S. has more to offer and can be of more assistance than can any other country or countries.
DR. DAVIS would welcome inquiries sent to either 489 Ocean Ave., West Haven, Conn., or 2025 Sunset Lane, Clermont, from anyone interested in these tours.
The latest book of Dr. Davis will be published by Citadel Press in cloth and paper editions in June. The book “World Leaders I have Known” includes stories on Sir Grenfell, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Emerson Fosdick, Walter Reuther, Sidney Hillman, Djilas, who is now in a Yugoslavian prison, Kagawa of Japan and Ghandi of India.
(Text entered by Peter Bakke – May 4, 2002)
United States embargo of Cuba
American Military University
IRLS502 International Political Systems
Student: Peter Bakke
Originally created: 2006, reworked 2012
The United States has imposed an embargo on Cuba for the past 50 years. No other nation has incurred such long-standing punishment by the U.S. Why has Cuba, a nation approximately the size of the state of Virginia, aroused this long term enmity from the leader of the free world? Eleven U.S. presidents have presided over this sustained embargo, either unwilling or unable to change the status quo. Cuba’s political ideology offers a weak challenge to the liberal democratic and capitalistic tide that has swept across the world since the fall of the USSR in 1992. The economic cost of the embargo to Cuba has been estimated at $280 billion over the life of the embargo. The cost to the United States in potential trading revenues has been estimated at several billion dollars a year. Florida alone loses an estimated $1 billion a year in trade with Cuba (Weinmann 2004). Several Gulf port mayors have called for an end to the embargo in order to increase trade and create jobs in the United States. Despite pressures from some domestic corners and annual international pressure, the United States continues to enforce economic sanctions against Cuba.
Cuba has an annual GDP of $72 billion (CIA, 2012) while the Exxon corporation has annual revenues of more than $480 billion (Business Week, 2013). This comparison plus the discussion that follows will demonstrate that the sovereign nation of Cuba is neither an economic nor a political menace to the US. It is the thesis of this paper that US foreign policy towards Cuba, specifically the economic embargo, is likely driven by some other, non-economic and non-military, dynamic.
The US embargo has been unsuccessful in accomplishing its purpose of changing the Cuban regime. Accompanying this failure, the embargo has cast the U.S. in a poor light in the international community. This begs the question why the U.S. continues to enforce a policy that has not worked for five decades, while at the same time bringing opprobrium from all corners of the international community. This international discredit has manifested itself at the United Nations, where the General Assembly has voted to condemn the Cuban embargo for 21 consecutive years by overwhelming majorities. The latest vote in November 2012, was 183 to 2 against the embargo (United Nations, 2012).
The primary argument of this paper is that domestic US politics is thwarting normal relations with Cuba. Specifically, the barrier to better relations with Cuba may be the result of presidential politics in the swing state of Florida. The 29 electoral votes of Florida are crucial to win the US presidency. In order to win the state of Florida in the general election, one could argue that winning the Cuban émigré vote is a vital strategy for victory.
This presidential politics-foreign relations policy nexus is used by influential Cuban diaspora interest groups such as the Cuban Liberty Council, the American National Foundation, and other Cuban lobby groups (Sweig, 2003) to push their agenda, which has been identified as having two primary goals: 1) the return of nationalized assets to dispersed Cubans now living in the US and 2) to return to Cuba as its rulers. There are an estimated 800,000 Cuban Americans living in Florida, primarily in the “Little Havana” area of Miami. They are politically active and influential while tending to vote overwhelmingly Republican. George W. Bush was declared the winner (by a ruling of the US Supreme Court) in the state of Florida in the 2000 US election by a slim margin of 537 disputed votes, thus securing the presidency. Bush received over 80% of the Cuban American votes in Florida that November, well enough to help him offset Senator Al Gore’s advantage in the urban areas. Without this overwhelming majority of Republican Cuban American votes, Bush would not have beaten his opponent. Gore, if he had been declared the winner of Florida’s electoral votes, would have won the presidency.
The Cuban embargo is paradoxical when one looks at the US foreign policy history of the last 50 years. During a large segment of the Cuban embargo, the US engaged the Soviet Union, a mortal enemy. This interaction between diametrically opposed superpowers occurred during the apex of the Cold War. During the past few decades the United States also has been actively engaging Communist China even though some scholars and politicians see China to be a growing hegemon in the Far East and note with concern that China has been making economic and military strides with friendly countries in the Western Hemisphere (Leiteritz, 2012) which is America’s traditional sphere of influence. The United States is also actively engaging Vietnam, a former enemy. We find today that the US is actively trading with Vietnam. It appears that US foreign policy is capable of radical change and rapprochement, but paradoxically not in the case of the small nation of Cuba.
Background of US-Cuban Relations
The United States and Cuba have a long history together. Cuba, like all Western Hemisphere nations, has been greatly affected throughout its existence by United States economic and security policies. Being only 90 miles from the US mainland, Cuba is influenced by its large neighbor to the north, just as the moon is affected by the gravity of the earth. Similar economic and political dyads can be observed between other large countries and nearby island nations such as China and Taiwan, Ireland and England, India and Sri Lanka. Along these lines, John Adams once remarked that Cuba had an unnatural attachment to Spain based on long geographic lines and that the inevitable natural result would be the eventual gravitation of Cuba toward the United States (Whittlesey, 1922).
The historical influence of Spain upon Cuba and the attempted Spanish hegemony deep into South and Central America has been seen by historians as a reaction to French and English forays into North America which needed counterbalancing. Nations compete for resources and strong economies support strong militaries (Callahan, 2004). Spain was in a race with other European nations to exploit the New World to its own advantage. Some would argue that the race to carve up the Western Hemisphere was a classic case of European imperialism.
The Spanish-American War of 1898 resulted in the United States acquiring various Spanish colonies. These territories included Cuba, the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico. The United States militarily occupied Cuba for several years following the Spanish-American War. Following the US victory, there was a debate at the time whether the United States should add Cuba as a state. Since Cuba’s trade was already predominately with the United States, consisting primarily of sugar and rum, the US Congress decided in 1902 to grant Cuba its independence. However, this independence was granted with onerous conditions attached, one of which enabled the Unites States to interfere in Cuban internal affairs (Dominquez, 1997). In subsequent years, when unrest developed in Cuba, US troops reoccupied the country from 1906 to1909. Some Cuban nationalists complained that their country was as independent from the US as Long Island (Lowenthal, 1975). Many Americans agreed, lamenting continued US imperialism in the region. These concerns were exacerbated by additional US incursions into the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Nicaragua in the coming decades. The acquisition of territory is a zero-sum game. The US made it clear to its European cousins that they were not to meddle in regional affairs which the United States deemed vital to its own national interests.
The concept of “American exceptionalism” was used in its westward expansion on the North American Continent and it was being used again in its imperialistic foreign policy regarding the Americas, Cuba included. The idea of “American exceptionalism” survives today in US foreign policy. This nationalistic view continues to color US relations with other nations in such a way that any challenge to this jingoistic view, foreign or domestic, is met with hostility – particularly from politicians on the right.
The 1959 popular revolution led by Castro replaced the unpopular and corrupt regime of Fulgencio Batista. Either Fidel or Raul Castro has headed the Cuban government since the overthrow of Batista. The United States government and even non-government entities have been interfering in Cuban internal affairs since the early 20th century. For example, the US-based Mafia established a significant presence in Cuba and was linked by various sources to US plots to kill Cuban leader Fidel Castro in the 1960’s (Wolske, 2000).
Since the revolution of 1959, the US has tried many times to change the Cuban regime by illegal means, including the abortive “Bay of Pigs” invasion of 1961 and also by assassination attempts, not in-frequently involving the Mafia. One can only surmise that the Mafia agreed to these activities in part because they were promised some type of quid pro quo when the Communist regime was overthrown. In addition, a terrorism program named “Operation Mongoose” was sanctioned by the US government (Husain, 2005) which involved over 400 Cuban exiles, many recruited from Florida. All attempts to overthrow the Cuban revolution failed.
The United States has publicly admitted that it continues to interfere with Cuban internal affairs, including the use of the Internet, printed materials, and radio and television signals (CubaNet, 2003). The US has also explicitly admitted that the overthrow of the Cuban government, specifically the Castro brothers, has been the driving force behind its Cuban policies (Department of State: US, 2004) The aggressive stance of the US towards Cuba, exemplified by the five decade-long embargo, is a reflection of realist paradigm that there are no morals in the anarchical realm of international relations, only self-interest. To quote Thucydides, “The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”
Modern US-Cuban conflict began after the island’s 1959 revolution. This surprising regime change occurred during the Cold War and such a disturbing development across the Straits of Florida was disconcerting for the United States government. There was particular concern when the new Cuban government looked to the Soviet Union for assistance after being rebuffed by initial approaches to the US government. The fear of a Communist take-over “domino” effect in French Indo-China was a serious concern at the time and there was now a similar threat facing the United States and Western democracy in the Caribbean, Central, and South America. This unwelcomed changing of the guard was the beginning of America’s modern war-like attitude towards Cuba.
Concomitant Communist advances in Southeast Asia and in the southern Western Hemisphere may have served to harden US stances in both areas during this time. “Che” Guevara suggested in the 1960’s that revolutionaries should create two or three Vietnams for the US to handle at one time (Dominquez, 1997). It could be argued that U.S. policy makers were genuinely concerned about the spread of Communism during this era of Communist advances. At the time, the 1954 defeat of the French in Vietnam at Dien Ben Phu, plus memories of the Korean conflict, may have dampened calls to invade Cuba and forcibly overtake the government. Instead, an embargo was put in place that remains to this day. And as we have seen, covert actions were also put in place to destabilize the Cuban government. The Bay of Pigs fiasco, for example, was a victory for the new Communist country against the US titan to the north and resulted international diplomatic embarrassment for the United States. Finally, the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis placed Cuba squarely between the national interests of the US and the USSR. The resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis, with the removal of nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles from Cuba, marked an important turning point between the two superpowers. This near cataclysmic event helped improve communications between the two superpowers and began the processes that led to the Strategic Arms Limitations agreements a decade later. In this sense, Cuba unwittingly helped serve as a catalyst for changing the essential dynamic between the two superpowers.
The United States has argued for decades that the Cuban government regularly violates many human rights as of its citizens. This gives the US a moral reason to oppose the Cuban regime and argue that US policy is in place to help the Cuban people. But as we have seen, in the academic and policy world many believe that morality should have no place in the international system. Perhaps the Cuban government is despised by the U.S. (and Cuban exiles) more because of its nationalization of industries and the taking of personal property after the 1959 revolution.
From an economic viewpoint, Cuba’s association with the USSR and the Eastern Bloc countries made up some 90% of its international trade (Purcell,1990). When the Soviet Union fell and lost control of its satellites, Cuba’s very existence was questioned. Cuba also relied on the USSR for military aid. The very fact that Cuba was able to survive this economic shock was surprising to many, but showed that austerity measures worked – and also showed the strength of Fidel Castro’s iron grip on his own citizens.
Current U.S.-Cuban relations could be seen as indicative of an unstable peace, which sometimes rises just short of conflict. The Levels-of-analysis approach suggests that relations between Cuba and the US can be understood by using the images of the international system, the nation, and the individual. The US-Cuban conflict as seen from the international level can be interpreted as a smaller nation caught in a classic power struggle between two larger powers, the USSR and the United States. After its revolution, Cuba naturally looked for power partners on the international stage once its diplomatic outreach to the US was rebuffed. The resulting long-term association with the USSR was a classic balance-of-power move to gain a strong partner that could help stave off any attacks by a large, bellicose neighbor.
Cuba has experienced difficult economic hardships since the breakup of the Soviet Union. It has had no hegemon partner to parry the economic might of the US. China apparently has no interest in getting deeply involved in a purely regional dispute involving the United States and Cuba. Russia is no longer in a position to help Cuba either. Therefore, at least on the international stage, Cuba has relegated to using the United Nations to help it communicate the unjustness of the onerous provisions of the US economic embargo. For example, as mentioned above, Cuba has used the UN Assembly to embarrass the United States 21 years in a row by having the international community vote on lifting the embargo which is almost universally deemed to be unjust – but embarrassment is far from being able to change the US policy. Using the UN is not a realist gambit, but instead is a liberalist action to use an international institution to put pressure on the US to abandon its embargo. The US insists that the embargo is a bi-lateral dispute among nations. The UN votes are not binding in any way, so the US chooses to ignore them. Some have argued that this strategy may indicate that the Cuban government actually prefers a constant “cold war” with the U.S. in order to maintain political cover internally and internationally (Borer & Bowen, 2007) .
At the nation level of analysis, Castro and other authoritarian rulers use the fear of national enemies to influence its citizens. The fear of invasion from the US has certainly been used to rally the Cuban population, sometimes for good reason. Several generations of Cubans have grown up with a deep seated fear and hatred of the United States, similar to many nations in the Mideast. This is an ongoing problem that US policy must address if American exceptionalism is to work successfully off US shores. Winning hearts and minds is always a difficult and prolonged business.
Fidel Castro and his brother Raul represent the individual level of analysis in Cuban affairs. The individual has much more freedom of action in an authoritarian regime than a democratic government. There are fewer, if any, institutions in the way of economic, military or political action. It remains to be seen whether Raul Castro cultivates a ‘hero’ status as his brother Fidel did, but the Castro patriarchy continues to persist in Havana despite all attempts to depose it from afar and internally. Cuban leadership has survived eleven U.S. presidents – from Eisenhower to Obama – in addition to a punishing embargo.
Cuban Refugees and the Embargo
Economic embargoes are not expressly prohibited by The United Nations Charter. The Cuban economic embargo has not changed the country’s regime, but is has kept Cuba a poor and impoverished country. Economic embargoes are seen by some as only one tool, short of military coercion, that can be used to punish perceived adversaries. It is the most vulnerable of people of Cuba who are suffering due to the embargo – the sick, the elderly, and the very young. International organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have condemned the embargo because of its effect upon these vulnerable populations, among other issues (Lopez-Levy, 2011).
Some scholars believe that the U.S. has misapplied economic sanctions to Cuba, stating that only multinational embargos have any chance of being effective (Gordon, 2012). They also claim that the embargo is ‘extraterritorial,’ meaning that it affects third countries trading with Cuba. This has caused ire amongst traditional U.S. friends (and foes) alike. For example, Canada and others have strenuously argued that the embargo in its current form flaunts international law. For example, any cargo ship that enters a Cuban port cannot enter a U.S. port for 180 days. If the ship enters a U.S. port within this timeframe, it is subject to confiscation. This is seen as an illegal form of unilateral embargo that affects the ability of third party nations to conduct commerce. There are also embargo implications for international banking, mergers and acquisitions, and the inability of Cuba to join financial institutions such as the World Bank and IMF. This is contrary to the U.S. profession of inclusiveness in the community of nations. Finally, others have argued that US policies, including the embargo, have undeniably retarded the democratic development of Cuba (Landau, 2009).
Strangely, the US has in place a policy that mitigates certain aspects of the Cuban embargo. This policy is to allow tens of thousands of Cubans to immigrate each year to the United States. To many, this policy acts as a kind of release valve for internal political and economic dissent that would otherwise build up inside Cuba and perhaps cause change in leadership to occur. This policy could be seen as a way to keep Cuban leadership in power. For example, an exodus of over 120,000 Cubans were allowed to cross over to the United States in 1980 during what has become known as the Mariel boat lift (Fernández, 2007).
The United States is pressuring Cuba economically while paradoxically enabling a yearly Cuban immigrant quota, which some see as a release valve. Remittances by Cuban exiles in the US that are sent back to Cuba provide a much needed injection of money for the economy, which again acts as a kind of release valve for the Cuban state. In addition, the US embargo is not supported by many nations, including the European Union, which again erodes the effectiveness of the economic sanctions.
Since the Cuban revolution, tens of thousands of exiles have entered the US. The majority of them, some 90%, have emigrated to the United States, mainly to Florida and to New Jersey (Exiled Cubans have generally been economically successful in the US. In the year 2000, total revenues of Cuban-American businesses in the US exceeded that of the entire nation of Cuba (Eckstein, 2005). Cuban voting patterns in Florida helped the Republican ticket win the state in both the presidential races of 2000 and 2004.
It can be argued that better relations with Cuba could actually help topple the Communist regime. After all, the US decided to engage the USSR, China, and Vietnam. Why not Cuba? Cuban leadership uses the punitive US actions to protect itself from internal strife. The nation’s ills, from poverty to a lack of modern medical equipment can all be blamed on the US embargo and other US actions. By removing the 50-year old embargo, the United States could also remove one of the primary rationales given by the Cuban government for the failures of socialism. The Cuban government has been using this excuse for fifty years.
Possible Future Muddied by US Presidential Politics
There does not appear to be much, if any, internal US debate regarding lifting the Cuban embargo. The few that are arguing for normalization of relations appear to be utilizing arguments based upon the tenets of liberalism. They see some successes in this area such as the recent American experiences with China, Vietnam, and Russia. The primary idea behind this philosophy is that regime change can occur if the US engages softly with antagonistic nations rather than punitively (Nye, 2004). The US is not going to invade Cuba, absent a Syria-like humanitarian crisis, therefore what are the US policy alternative to effect regime change?
The obvious answer to help end the U.S.-Cuban impasse is to immediately stop the embargo. If one imagines an end to the embargo, it would alleviate the suffering of the general population of Cuba and would bring laurels to the US. The yearly votes at the UN Assembly clearly indicate that the world would see a compassionate US helping its neighbor in need. Having set a precedent of dealing with other Communist nations, opponents of the ending of economic sanctions would have little ammunition with which to argue their opposition. If there isn’t a plan to militarily change the Cuban regime, which no competent scholar or military tactician believes exists, then the road is wide open to attempt a new approach to US-Cuba relations. If there is any hope or belief that economically and culturally engaging non-democratic states leads to stabilization and peace, as arguably has happened with the former Eastern Bloc, Russia, China, and Vietnam, then a new era of US-Cuban relations should begin posthaste.
The main problem blocking this potential future of cooperative US-Cuban relations is the political heft of hundreds of thousands of Cuban exiles living (and voting) in the United States, particularly in the important swing state of Florida. This group of exiled Cubans may be single-handedly keeping improved US-Cuban relations at bay. Lopez-Levy (2011) has indicated that the primary reason behind long standing punitive US actions is the revenge-driven desired of Cuban exiles to regain their property taken in the 1959 revolution. Another reason may be that many Cuban exiles see themselves as the rightful heirs to positions of high authority in a ‘new’ Cuba. Prominent American Cubans have publicly stated that they expect to rule in Cuba once its current government collapses (Lopez-Levy, 2011). Current US policy (meaning the embargo) won’t change as long as Florida continues to be a battleground state in presidential elections (Abrams & Rangel, 1998), which does not appear to be changing any time soon.
The influence of the exiled Cuban lobby was exhibited in 1998 when there was an attempt to stifle a US government report that indicated that Cuban military capabilities were not a concern for the region (Ratliff & Fontaine, 2000). The report almost did not see the light of day. When it was eventually released, it was accompanied by a special note, from then-Secretary of Defense Cohen, which was seen as a roundabout way to mollify the ire of the Cuban lobby (Ratliff and Fontaine, 2000).
So the stalemate continues, with hardliners in both Havana and Washington insisting that the other is to blame for hostile relations. Lifting an anachronistic and punitive embargo first enacted in 1959 during the height of the Cold War could go a long way in helping to restore the US’s tarnished image resulting from two long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and its imperialistic legacy all too well known in the Americas.
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Excellent paper. Nicely written and strongly argued. It only has a few minor editorial mistakes (grammar/style).
“It is the quality of patriotism to be jealous and watchful, to observe all secret machinations, and to see publick dangers at a distance. The true lover of his country is ready to communicate his fears, and to sound the alarm, whenever he perceives the approach of mischief. But he sounds no alarm, when there is no enemy; he never terrifies his countrymen till he is terrified himself. The patriotism, therefore, may be justly doubted of him, who professes to be disturbed by incredibilities…”
Neal Stephanson: At the end of the day, I can just sit down and write a novel. I know how to do it, I know how to get it published. I don’t have to raise money and I don’t have to hire people. I don’t have to put together a spreadsheet explaining the revenue model. There are so many things, so many tasks like that that simply disappear when I just want to write a book. I’m interested in the problem of finding new ways to create media, but at the end of the day, if things aren’t coming together, I can always just say, “F*** it,” throw up my hands, go into my office, and write.
Did that sound a bit like a sales pitch? It was. The two-sentence paragraph above is an example of an “elevator pitch” in a format designed by sales guru Don Zavis. The format is simple: 1) Identify a problem encountered by your target client 2) Provide a solution for that problem. Do this in two sentences and you have your pitch! No more stuttering or blank looks. All in less than 30 seconds.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Don Zavis (rhymes with Travis, not Davis) presented “Selling: It’s Your Business, Too!” at the TAMA April luncheon. He asked the audience what problems they had with selling and he collected several topics, two of which he was able to address in the one hour allotted time. Don gave the TAMA attendees advice on the important sales topics of cold calling and closing the sale.
He noted that 9 out of 10 phone messages are sent to voicemail. The key to getting a call-back on a cold call sent to voicemail is to avoid leaving a complete message that includes TMI (Too Much Information). TMI provides too many decision points that can be used by the prospect to avoid returning the sales call. Therefore, the best message to leave is something like this: “I have your business card and I have a question. Please call me at …” Or “I saw your ad in the paper (or website, etc.) and I have a question…” This technique is called leaving a “blind” message versus a complete message.
When the prospect calls back, simply tell them that you, the sales person, have a service or product that may help them. Advise them that if after 30 seconds they do not think your service or product will be a match, they can say “no,” with no hard feelings. No one wants you to waste their time and you certainly don’t want to waste your own time.
Don also suggested that sales people should not chase clients “down the rabbit hole.” If, after two calls, the target client does not return any sales calls, cut them off and move on. A sample message on the second call could be, “If I don’t hear back from you by this time tomorrow, I will assume that we are not a match and I will not call you again.” Don emphasized ‘matching’ with a client versus chasing after them and wasting time. We all know time is money.
As for closing a sale, sales people should make sure that the client knows ahead of time exactly what will transpire at a sales meeting. By doing this, expectations are set by both sides. As a sales person, when do you want to know if the sale is going to fail? Answer: as soon as possible! Take a “yes” or a “no,” but never take a “maybe” or “I’ll get back to you.” Stop the sales process after two unsuccessful meetings, because indications are that it is time for everyone to move on.
Don emphasized that if a sales person starts a sales call with, “Just,” as in “Just checking in with you…,” it is like saying, “Just checking in to waste your time and my time!” Always aim to obtain a “Yes” or “No,” never an ITIO (“I’ll Think It Over”).
If you have an interest in using Don’s sales techniques or simply learning more, you can contact him at http://www.donzavis.com/Pages/contactus.aspx