This was sales training with exquisite and relevant atmosphere. At Carew's recent Dimensions of Professional Selling open enrollment session in Cincinnati, floor-to-ceiling windows in our conference room at the Marriott RiverCenter provided a picturesque view of the Cincinnati skyline and more importantly, the Ohio River and all of its water traffic.

Every barge that approaches the city of Cincinnati has to navigate through a series of dangerous bridge support pillars. Successful passage requires precession and a flexibility to adapt to the ever-changing water conditions. Each bridge pillar displays several symbols to alert the barge captain as to how to approach the current situation with the bridge. For example, one of the symbols tells the barge captain the direction the current is swirling, which allows him/her to make an educated response in navigating the barge and its important cargo through the narrow pillars. By simply recalling the symbol and its application in terms of the current situation, the captain is able to quickly make the right decision.

The parallels between the river navigation symbols and the DPS sales training symbols of LAER, GAP, and Diamond are easy to draw. These essential DPS symbols prompt a sales professional to take the appropriate action based on the "current" or flow of the conversation. Sometimes the waters you are navigating are unfamiliar.  Sometimes the waters you are navigating are turbulent. No matter what situation you are encountering, the DPS symbols allow for a calm approach that helps you focus on the reason for your conversation with your customer. The DPS tools are present so no matter what is around the next bend, be it a huge bridge pillar (symbolic of the last customer objection as you prepare to ask for the business) or a shift in the current of the river (a new situation your customer is experiencing), you have a tool that allows you to approach it with confidence.

We can dub the above thought process "a river runs through it." The "it" we are referring to is each interaction you have with a customer. As you make your way down the river, utilize your DPS symbols as cues to drive effective sales behavior. This will ensure you do not run aground or take out any bridge pillars along the way. You will also be able to focus on the bridge that is on the horizon that your competitor is taking for granted.

As part of our ongoing commitment to professional development, Carew International publishes a regular blog to provide timely advice for optimal sales performance.  To learn more about Carew's incomparable sales training programs, sales leadership training and customer service training, visit our website at