In the sports world, the “sweet science” refers to boxing. You punch, weave, display footwork and work on endurance. In short, you practice a variety of disciplines to become a winner.

HARDI’s sales and marketing conference, held March 22-24 at the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego, resembled a training camp for the sweet science of making the deal. A disparate group of sales and marketing people were able to share their insider views with the more than 200 attendees (a near record) covering areas that included sales, psychology, media relations, time management and improved data usage for selling.

In typical HARDI fashion, they strove to provide a broad range of topics. As one wholesaler told me: “You never stop learning in the sales business, and only an idiot would stop trying to learn more and improve. That’s how you become a first-class sales or marketing person.”


Jack Uldrich —The Big AHA: How to Future-proof Your Business Against Tomorrow’s Transformational Trends, Today

Now honestly, how often does one actually get to hear a futurist discuss the future?

Uldrich provided an intriguing account of how more than a dozen ideas or inventions transformed business or society when introduced. Two takeaways were extremely important in this fascinating session. The first is the pace of change. It is always slow at the outset, often deceptively so, but at the tail end, it becomes a tsunami. If you hear someone say, “That’s 10 years away, based on present progress,” don’t be overconfident. That last percentage of acceptance occurs with disproportionate speed.

The other aspect of the session that really struck was not the individual changes Uldrich provided but rather his urging to simply think differently and creatively about what we do. Just sit and think about how some change in your business can actually make a difference. As Uldrich concluded: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

Jack Uldrich is a renowned global futurist, independent scholar, sought-after business speaker and best-selling author. His upcoming book is “Business as Unusual: How to Future-Proof Yourself Against Tomorrow’s Transformational Trends Today.” (


Joe Ellers —Time and Territory Management

Joe Ellers, HARDI’s partner in the Sales Manager Certification Program, addressed the twin T’s that are the bane of and the measurement of success in many sales organizations: time and territory. He outlined the importance of four questions every sales person should ask: What percent of sales should come from new accounts, what are the most important things for your team to sell, are there any new products or services they need to sell, and how many sales calls should they make? Ellers said anyone who offers concrete answers to these questions is on the road to conquering the perennial question of time and territory.

Joe Ellers offers Sales, Sales Management and Strategy Services. (


Pierre Barbeau —Mobile Marketing: Harness Your Digital Assets & Data

The question of digital devices’ utility isn’t really a question any longer. It’s the next question: What are you doing with the data that you glean or capture from those devices that matters in your business? That’s where Barbeau comes to the rescue. His formula is to engage, retain, and monetize the data, which is changing the way people gather information and interact and transforming how businesses communicate, both internally and with their suppliers, vendors and customers.

Pierre Barbeau is the CEO of mobile marketing firm Moblico. (


Lois Kelly —14½ Ways to Use Persuasion Science to Rocket Boost Marketing and Sales Outcomes

Lois Kelly discussed persuasive science and explained how well-documented studies of human behavior can help one become a better performer or simply more valued and appreciated. In the spirit of personal critique, she had all the attendees choose their “strengths” from a sheet listing positive attributes to develop a sense of where they were strong (and what might be missing).

Lois Kelly is the co-author of the best-selling book Rebels at Work: A Handbook for Leading Change from Within. (www.


Brad Ritter —Leveraging the Media

Free media coverage for your company? What could be better? Experienced journalist Brad Ritter infused the audience with how to influence the media for your company, thereby creating the Halo effect, or a positive public image. He also offered possible scenarios of a business crisis and had attendees form teams to solve the problem by formulating a response, allowing others in the audience (and Ritter) to assess the “solution.” As one public relations expert in the audience observed: “Some of the solutions showed a solid beginning on how to handle a media crisis that could hit an HVACR company.”

Brad Ritter, president, Ritter Communications. (


Brian Gardner —Margin of Victory: Sharpening Your Competitive Edge

Brian Gardner is a former distributor in the industrial market, had a real-world grip to his presentation, where he placed a great deal of emphasis on sales-cycle management. A first for this attendee was taking the usual ABCD items and organizing them by AA, AB, CA, DB, CC, and so on.

Brian Gardner is founder, SalesProcess360. (


Ruth Stevens —Measure and Maximize Your Marketing ROI

What does it cost and what do I get out of it? In more rarefied language, we call it return on investment (ROI). It’s a question marketers face more frequently, and they find themselves perplexed by how to produce hard data that support their marketing decision. Then came Stevens, who provided a high-level overview with answers. Stevens’ secret? Calculate ROI like a finance person and then implement step-by-step campaign measurements, including setting objects, choosing the right metrics, determining data capture methods, and implementing Omni-channel measurement. Her other “secrets” for ROI include setting budgets, buying process analysis and testing.

Ruth Stevens, former director of direct marketing for IBM and author of the book Maximizing Lead Generation: The Complete Guide for B2B Marketers, leads this discussion on maximizing the ROI of your marketing efforts. (


Emily Saving —Interactive Peer Session

Who’s the smartest person when you read this? If it isn’t Emily Saving, then it might be the person next to you. Saving, who understands the power of inclusion, had tablemates team up and participate in three activities that raised conversation and ideas about their business. For example, activity two was: “The One Question.” If you could ask just one question to discover a person’s suitability for leading an HVACR distribution company, what would your question be? After discussing answers at the table, the attendees were able to share their conclusions with the wider audience. The answer, of course, is that the person next to you might actually have the solution that you’re seeking.

Emily Saving is HARDI’s vice president of program and professional development.