What Most Sales People Do In The Demo That Loses The Deal

In the world of SaaS and cloud solutions, the demo is everything. As the demo goes, so goes the sale. Give a shitty demo, and you’re not gonna get the sale. Give a good demo, and you’ve just increased the chances closing the deal. Give a killer demo and get ready to cash your fat commission check and prepare for Presidents Club.

With the demo carrying so much weight in the sale, treating them as a way to highlight every feature your product or solution has is stupid, annoying, unnecessary, boring, and unsophisticated. That is how too may sales people treat them. And, managers take note, how too many managers and sales organizations teach sales people to do them.

Here’s the ONLY way to do a demo. Pay VERY close attention. This isn’t a suggestion. This isn’t an ideology. This isn’t one person’s thoughts. This is the concrete, irrefutable, only way to do demos and if you’re not doing it this way, you’re doing it WRONG!!!

Listen up;

When doing a demo, every feature you show must be tied to a specific business goal, operational process, work-flow, execution issue or opportunity that specific customer has — PERIOD!

In other words; if you’re showing a feature and are saying; “If you email your clients for meetings then this feature will . . .” or “If you have two systems for doing reports, this reporting feature will . . . ” Or worse, if you just whipping features around like they are cars on a car showroom floor by saying “And the next thing I want to show you is.” You are doing it wrong — very wrong!

There is no room for “if” in your demos. There is no excuse to show a feature that isn’t germane to the specific the business and highly targeted to the operational or executional needs of the buyer. Demos should not be used to demonstrate your product, but rather to show how your product can affect your buyer’s business. Demos need to be used to give the buyer a vision of how your product will change their current environment for the better. Demos should be used to show the client how what they are doing today can be done differently with your product. The buyer should feel silly, outmoded and inefficient as you seamlessly execute a process they are currently doing poorly. They should bubble with joy as you demonstrate how your product can execute brilliantly on a process they can’t currently do, something they have wanted to do for a long time. Your demo should be enveloping them in the power of your product changing their specific and unique environment for the better, not in features and functions that may or may not be relevant to them.

This is how a demo should go.

“You stated you use three systems for reporting, let me show you how reporting is done with our product and how it would create reports in your environment in a tenth of the time.”

“I know that being able to track email response is important to you, let me show you how you will be able to track responses faster with our solution and how you will also be able to . . . ”

“Understanding that you’re trying to increase revenue by 15% this year through your existing client base, let me show you how we can make that happen with the. . . feature”

“I recall you were saying you’re struggling with getting (insert customer problem), let me show you this feature. It is designed to do exactly what you said you were looking to do as well as. . . ”

The key to a successful demo is to make sure every feature, every function you demonstrate is attached to your buyer’s unique problems and challenges. If it’s not, your not giving a good demo. You’re wasting everyone’s time.

Demos are not meant to be product highlights or product showcases. Good demos demonstrate how problems will be solved and how opportunities will be leveraged. Good demos temporarily and virtually insert the seller’s product into the buyer’s world. They are like digital or virtual changing rooms where the buyer can see how everything fits.

Good demos let the buyer try on your product for fit. Like a changing room, the buyer wants to see how your product fits their unique body type, curves, and all.

Give your buyers a virtual changing room. Structure and deliver your demos like changing rooms where they can see themselves in your product. Attach every feature and function you demonstrate to their unique environment so they can see how it fits. Don’t show features that you can’t attach to their business. Don’t ever, ever, ever say, “If you. . . then this feature will. . . ” There is no room for “if then” statements in demos. Don’t show a feature unless you know exactly how and why it is germane to your buyer.

Demos are not spectator events or shows where the buyer is a participant on the sideline. They are meant to be interactive, virtual tours that put the buyer in the product, allowing them to see how it fits on them. Anything else is a waste of everyone’s time.

Stop wasting time!

Help for The Grammar and Spelling Challenged

I’ve written a lot about grammar and grammar nazis. If you’re a regular reader of this blog you know I’m not the best editor and my spelling and grammar here are suspect to criticism. With that said, my issue with grammar has never been that it doesn’t matter as much is that it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t detract from the message or story.

It appears that not everyone agrees with me. Grammarly, a cool service that edits your content in seconds, put out this infographic the other day. It tells a very interesting story.




It sold me. I signed up for the service and will be using it via their free 7-day trial. Even if you aren’t grammar or spelling challenged you should seriously consider getting it. Use it for important emails to clients. Use it for your resume. Use it for all your important writing.

Grammar matters, but not so much that it takes hours to edit and limits your output. With Grammarly, that’s no longer a problem. Edit your writing in seconds, and then you stop worrying, you just know.

Grammarly has pretty much taken away any excuse for grammatical errors.

Ya gotta love a site that takes away excuses. I love it!

Sales Fail: 5 Surprising Questions Sales People Can’t Answer

I just stumbled across this from Forrester Research. It’s appalling, and unfortunately way too true. I have argued since day one, that it’s not about the product or what you’re selling. It’s all about the customer and what the customer wants.  Unfortunately, it appears sales people aren’t getting the message.

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Notice the abysmal response percentages for the MOST CRITICAL elements of selling. Sales people can’t provide value if they can’t answer the questions above or if they are uninformed about the world their customer lives in.

If your sales organization isn’t providing this information to the team, they’re not getting the support they need. If sales people are part of the 70+ percent in the last 5 questions, they’re not sales people, they’re pitchmen and that’s a problem.

It’s time we start shifting how we send sales people out into the world. Imagine if we never taught them a thing about the product, only what it can do. I wonder how that would change things.


4 Things Sales People Do That Customers Loathe

As a sales leader and a life long sales guy, I’m prolly the worst person in the world a sales person can sell to. I can’t help myself, but I critique everything the sales person does. If a kid comes to my door selling something for his High School, she gets my money AND some tips on how to do it better, cause their approach sucks and I want the kid to sell more.

Yup, I’m that guy. I’m a pain in the ass to sell to. You’d better have your game on when selling to me. With that said, I may be a pain in the ass but I’m not an asshole and a sales person can always count on a little free advice on how they can up their game.

A sales person plays the defining role in the buying experience, and if they screw it up, they can screw up the sale. The fastest way to screw up the sale is to forget it’s not about you. Selling isn’t about you, your quota, your commission check or making your sales manager proud. Sales are about delivering game changing solutions to your customers and clients, and if you can’t do that, you’re not selling.

It’s because of this that customers and buyers hate when sales people do these four things. It drives them up the wall. So if you do them STOP!!!

Not do your homework

I recently went through a demo where the sales person kept showing us features that were irrelevant to our business. They were features that we wouldn’t use, because we’re not that type of business. I wanted to blow a gasket. It was a complete waste of my time.

Do your homework. I don’t mean some quick search, some quick peruse of your customer’s website, but actually do your homework. When sales people show up for the call and don’t know anything or almost nothing about the customer, it’s infuriating. Customers are giving sales people their valuable time. Customers have businesses to run and they have to know you’ve done your homework and that know what it is they do, who their competitors are, what their products and services are, and why you think you can help them. Doing your homework is the committing to the sale and to the buyer. Nothing pisses off a buyer more than feeling they are putting in more time than you or that they are more committed to the sale than the sales person.

Don’t screw this up. Do your homework. Know who you’re selling to, what’s important to them and how your product can help them.

Platitudes and Ass Kissing

Customers are busy; they are trying to get shit done. Telling a client their product is awesome or that you love their most recent blog post or how you love the picture of their boat that’s sitting behind their desk doesn’t help the sale, it just makes you look like a kiss-ass and undermines your credibility. No one likes a kiss ass.

Customer’s want to know you will challenge them, tell them the truth and disagree with them when they are wrong. They don’t want another yes-man. Buyers want their sales people to business people who get down to business and get things done. If they sense, for just one second, you’re inauthentic, it’s over — kissing ass is inauthentic.

When you whip around baseless platitudes, like Eddie Haskell, you look like a clown, and the buyers see it and it pisses them off.

Save the ass kissing for after the sale. Be authentic and stay focused on what matters and that’s the problem’s your customer is dealing with and how your product is gonna make those problems go away.

Wasting Time

Buyers have a business to run; they have no time to waste. Dealing with sales people who waste time is insanity. Buyers don’t want to do your job for you. They don’t want to have “follow-up” calls. They …

Why Sales People AREN’T Supposed To Win Every Sale

Let me drop a little mad wisdom to kick off this post.

We’re not supposed to win every sale and if that’s the attitude you take into selling, as a manager or as a sales person, you’re a shitty sales person.

Yeah, I said it, and if that statement irritates you, then I’m not sure what to tell you, other than you’re a shitty sales person and it’s time to evaluate how you sell.

Here’s the deal. If you go into every sale thinking your going to win it, you’re missing the point. The point of selling isn’t to win every deal. It’s not to have a close rate of 100%, it’s to help a person, a company or an organization improve their current environment. The goal is to bring value. It’s trite, I know, but it’s accurate. Assuming every prospect or buyer can get value from what you’re selling is a mistake. There is no way to know if you can bring value and/or how much value until you get into the sale. You don’t know what their problems are, what their goals and objectives are, why switching or change  is what they need and why switching to YOUR product or solution is the right choice. None of this is known until you get into the sale.

Selling is about being a steward of business for your buyer or prospect. A good steward recognizes that not every deal is a good deal. Not every prospect can or will benefit from what they are selling. The best understand this and don’t expect to win every deal.

The best expect to win every deal that creates substantial value for the buyer and walk away from everyone that doesn’t. The objective shouldn’t be to win every sale. It should be to find value in every sale and not every opportunity will have enough value. .

Sales is not a 100% game, don’t treat it that way.

How to Know If You’ve Lost The Deal For Real


There is the old adage that says

The sales begins when the customer says No!

It’s the adage we, sales people, use to make ourselves feel in control and to not give up so early. We hear often statements like this to act as motivation to keep from laying down our sword and quitting the fight.

The truth is, there is no truth to this statement. The customer’s no has little bearing on weather the deal is really lost or not.

The sale doesn’t begin when the customer says no but it’s not over when the customer says no either. The only time a deal is lost is when both sides of the deal, the prospect and the sales person recognize there is no value to be had in the deal.

I wrote about this last week for Hubspot. You can read it here, but I also wanted to share it on A Sales Guy as well. Understanding when a deal is really lost is critical. Too many sales people AND prospects stop the sale prematurely. Conversely, too many sales people and prospects hang on too long, trying to work a deal that just shouldn’t be made.

Here’s how I break it down;

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A deal is only lost when there is no perceived value from BOTH the sales person and the buyer — period!

Sometimes the sales person understands the value, and the buyer doesn’t. So yup, it’s the sales person job to get the prospect to see the value they don’t see. Just because the customer says no doesn’t mean there is no value. Unfortunately there are times the sales person just doesn’t “get it” and they buyer will go cold because they can’t see the value that exists. This is far too common, because most sales people are too busy pitching a product and have no clue what specific value they’re selling. Either way, it’s in the bottom right quadrant that most deals are lost unnecessarily. Why? Because the sales person is incapable of communicating and demonstrating the value of their solution or product to the buyer, so the buyer doesn’t buy. But the deal wasn’t lost, it was given away — via shitty selling. It artificially puts a deal in the bottom left quadrant

Other times, the buyer sees the value but for some reason the sales person doesn’t.  In these cases the buyer just buys. The sales person feels like the luckiest person in the world.  They think they just won the lottery.  Truth is, the buyer understood the value in what the sales person was selling and just didn’t want to waste their time trying to get the sales person to see it.

When both the client and buyer see value, that’s when selling nirvana happens. Everyone is working together and the best possible deal is in play.

The only time a deal is really lost is when the buyer and the sales person recognize there is no value. When no value exists, then the deal is dead. It’s that simple.

If there is value, keep selling. Dig deeper, be more clear, provide more information, create strong use cases, get supporters, do what ever you need to do to make sure your buyer understands the value, ’cause if there is value, the deal ain’t dead.

If there isn’t value, then just stop, it’s over.

How To Know When A Deal Is Ready To Close


I’ve spent a lot of time with a lot of sales people and one of the biggest problems I see is rarely, too rarely, do sales people know when a deal is ready to close.

Unfortunately, sales people rely on false, weak, unaligned triggers to assess how close a deal is to close. I hear things like,

  • I sent the proposal and they seemed OK with everything
  • They have to buy by end of the month in order to make their delivery timelines.
  • My buyer says they’re gonna buy
  • The have the contracts, it will close by end of month
  • They just need board approval

Here’s the deal, some of these may close and others won’t.  These customer responses do very little to provide insight into whether or not the deal is going to close and more importantly if it’s real. Deals close when everyone involved, every stakeholder, influencer and decision maker feels the impact of going with your product or service will change their world for the better and that your solution is key in reaching the goals and objectives they’re trying to accomplish.

Unlike these customer answers, understanding if a deal is going to close starts with understanding why the buyer is buying in the first place, the impact to their organization, the players involved, and the decision process.

To know if a deal is ready to close answer these questions;

Why is the customer buying? What is their motivation? 

You have to know what the business reason is. You have to know what “new” state the customer is trying achieve. It’s not enough to know what the technical problems are, you have to know what the business problems are. What problem is the prospect trying to solve? What advantages, improvements, initiatives are they trying to capitalize on.  Once you know that, you have to weigh the motivations on an urgency or impact scale. Are they solving big, critical, hairy problems or are they solving nice to haves? Understanding this matters because, why the customer is buying drives their motivation to move. The lower the motivation to make a change, the harder it is to close the deal.

Your job as a sales person is to outline a vision of a powerful future state with your product or service in the middle that is greater than the competition or the status quo, thus creating tremendous motivation for change. If you can’t do this or it doesn’t exist, the deal isn’t going to close. So, before you start feeling a deal is going to close, make sure you can answer the questions; what is the business problem, why do they need this solution, is it a big problem and is the impact of our solution (the future state) compelling?

The decision process (criteria):

This is almost always a rather big black hole or blind spot for sales people. Rarely do they know what the decision criteria are going to be in the decision. They don’t understand how the prospect is going to decide. When I say decision process, I don’t mean who, and when, but I mean what. What criteria are going to be used to determine if they make a change or not.  Understanding this is critical.

Even more critical to knowing what the decision criteria are, you have to know if you’re product or solution is meeting their decision criterial. To suspect a deal is going to close without knowing what the decision criteria are and how they are going to make the decision is like shooting in the dark.

A deal doesn’t close until the decision or evaluation process is complete and they feel confident the change they are looking to make is probable.

To know if a deal is going to close requires you know what the decision criteria are and how they are going to evaluate the choices and even more importantly how your product or solution fairs against their decision criteria. Too often sales people can not articulate how their product or solution aligns with the customers decision criteria and just assume it does.

The Players

Knowing if a deal is ready to close requires knowing who all the players are and what their role is in the buying process. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched sales people miss read a deal close date because they didn’t know all the players and how they influenced the final decision. Their contact tells them they are the decision maker and then at the very end, the prospect says; “Yes, let’s do this. I just need to put it past, my boss, the board, legal, HR, etc. and the entire process starts all over.

Knowing who the players are, what their role in the decision process is, what their unique decision criteria are and what their motivations are is a key element in determining when a deal is ready to close. If you know the CEO has to “approve” then you know it’s not ready to close before it gets on her desk. If you know that a particular feature you don’t have is important to the CEO, then it’s not ready to close no matter how bad your buyer wants it or how many times they say yes.

It is impossible to know if a deal is ready to close without knowing all the players involved and what their motivations are.

The sales world talks a lot about “closers.”  I don’t believe in closers. I think closers are bad sales people. You can’t close a deal, only the customer can close a deal. What you can do is influence the decision and if you don’t know who’s deciding, and what they are deciding on, then you ain’t influencing anything.

You wanna know if a deal is ready to close?

  1. Know why they are buying and if the impact of what they are buying creates enough of an impact that NOT changing is more painful.
  2. Know the decision process and know that your solution or product meets all the decision criteria.
  3. Know who the players are and know that your offering meets their unique decision criteria and that all the parties have been involved and are participating.

Every time I sit across from a sale person who says a deal is ready to close, I ask a number of questions. I ask why the prospect is buying and what’s the business problem? I ask what happens if they don’t change/buy? Why do they need to fix this problem now? What other alternatives do they have to solve the problem? If the sales person can’t answer those questions or the answers don’t support a decision, I know the deal isn’t going to close.

I also ask what the decision criteria are. I ask for a very specific, detailed description of what the prospect is evaluating and how they are going to decide. If the rep knows, then we know how we fit. If we fit, it means we’re close. If not, we’re not. If the rep doesn’t know, we could be in trouble. You can’t know if a deal is close to close if you don’t know how the prospect is going to decide.

I then finish with asking, “Who are all the players and are they all involved and do we have ALL of their buy in?”  If she says anything but yes, I know it’s not yes. I don’t listen to all the b.s. sales people love to throw out. This question is pretty simple. If all stakeholders and players have seen it and are on board, we’re close, if they haven’t we’re not.

Most sales people are pretty good at determining IF a sale is gonna close. Where they suck is determining when a deal is gonna close and it’s usually because they can’t answer these questions when it’s most critical.

The brilliance in selling isn’t knowing if a deal will close, it’s knowing when!

Do you know when a deal is ready to close?


Have Fun Filling Out Your Expense Reports



Filling out expense reports sucks. So does updating the CRM. There’s a lot of boring shit that goes with selling and being a sales person. But at A Sales Guy we don’t believe it has to be boring. So our Marketing Maven Ruth Penders came up with a #badass idea. She came up with Club ASG. Club ASG is a Spotify Playlist to help you rock out when you’re doing all that boring sales shit, that’s not selling.

Expense reports are boring and a pain in the ass to fill out. But, it’s part of the job, don’t complain, just plug into Club ASG’s Sales Pump Playlist and rock out while you get em done.

Yeah, your isn’t up to date.  We all know it. So go update the close dates, get rid of the deals that aren’t going to close and close out the old activities and do it all while you’re jammin’ to Macklemore.

If you’re a nerd and don’t know what’s hip today, we’ll be adding new hip tunes to keep you in the know.

Just because we have boring shit to do that’s part of the job, we don’t have to make it boring and A Sales Guy is here for you.  The best part, it’s a collaborative list so add to it, the more the better.


You Can Hide in Video, But You Can’t Get Lost (Why Video Hiring Rocks!)

We’re hiring at A Sales Guy. It’s been a VERY painful process. Finding good people is hard. A Sales Guy has a very unique culture in that we look for and embrace the gritty, cool, nerd who can SELL! And, when I say nerd, I mean nerd, not dork. There are way too many dorks in sales. We’re not interested in the dork or the douchebag. We’re looking for something special.  It’s hard for us to find people that have the tenacity of honey badger, the creativity of Madonna, the coolness of Jay-Z and the smarts of Steven Hawkins. What? Too high of a bar? Yup, we’re over achievers, or as we say ASG’ers.

With this said, we are very happy when we find that killer candidate who embodies exactly what we’re looking for and we found one of our new guys just the other day. Maxwell is awesome and we’re happy to bring him on.

How did Max get a job with ASG? He’s a badass and proved it with video. We ask all our candidates to do a quick video on why they are a #badass and why they’d be a good fit for A Sales Guy.

Here’s Max’s

The reason for my post today wasn’t to sing the praises about using video to find sales people. Ruth our marketing maven, did a good job of that on the A Sales Guy Recruiting blog. You should check it out.  I wanted to write about video job applications or interviews because I think they do something no other medium does. It keeps people from getting lost.

The biggest problem with traditional resumes and even interviews is the candidate can get lost. Their resume doesn’t say exactly what the employer is looking for and “poof” it’s in the trash. During an interview, someone gets nervous, the interviewer asks crappy questions or personalities don’t match and the true candidate gets lost as well.

But when video is involved, the candidate can’t get lost. They are in complete control. They get to decide everything. How to do it, to add music or not, to tell a story or not, to wear a suit or not, to do it inside or out, they have complete editorial control and when this happens “the you” can’t get lost. It’s a controlled setting that gives you limitless opportunities to sell yourself and deliver a message that truly tells your story.

Although you can’t get lost in video, you can hide. You can choose not to be creative, you can choose to be like everyone else. You can choose to be boring, you can choose to not let your personality shine through, you can choose to play not to lose as opposed to win. You can choose to be quick about it and just say the first thing that comes to mind. You can look at it like a task that needs to be check off. You can choose to do any of those things and by doing so, you’re choosing to hide. And that’s OK, because it’s your choice, not the interviewers, not the hiring managers. Unlike traditional interview and hiring mediums you weren’t lost, you just hid and that was your choice.

Video is an awesome medium for hiring and it’s only getting better.  A kick ass new company called Hirevue is taking it to the next level. I love what they are doing.

We’re psyched to have Maxwell on the team. He earned it, and more importantly he didn’t hide.

Don’t HIDE!!!

What To Do When A Prospect Goes Dark

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There is nothing more frustrating to a sales person than when a client goes dark. Your last conversation was killer, you both agreed that your solution made sense. The prospect said they needed to; share it with their team, run the numbers, look at another solution, run it past IT, work with H.R., make a recommendation or any other “next step.” (great video on how to sell the “next step” within a sales cycle)

You’re on it. You move the call to the next stage in the pipeline, you make a note in the CRM and set a new activity. Good shit, the deal is moving along.

Fast forward two weeks. The activity reminder pops up. You call the prospect, no answer. No sweat. You schedule a call for two days later. Two days later, you call again, no answer. You leave another message. K, no worries, it’s all good. You schedule a call for two more days later and in the interim you lob over an email.  Two more days pass, no response. Now this shit is getting serious. You think to yourself, something’s wrong. The doubt creeps in, you’re freaked about how to explain it to your manager. You were counting on this deal for the quarter. You’re getting desperate, sending emails and leaving messages saying you’re just “following” up.  Ahh shit!  You’ve just become that pesky sales person who’s “just following up.” You’re fucked, you’ve lost control of the sale and in you’re desperation mode.

Two things happen when sales people find themselves in desperation mode. One, they almost always lose the deal. They’ve lost control of the sale and it spirals away from them. Two, and even more detrimental, they spend way too much time chasing the deal and it’s never going to close. In an effort to save the deal, the sales person spends valuable selling time chasing a lost prospect.

If a prospect goes dark you have to get them back and the best way to get them back into the fold is to hold them accountable and challenge them.

Here’s my favorite phrase to get a prospect jump started again;

“I’m confused, you said you . . .  (insert issues prospect said they wanted to fix, their last commitment, the impact of not changing, etc.). Has something changed?”

When a prospect goes dark the best thing you can do is put it back on the prospect. If they said they liked your solution and need to share it with the team, then you need to call them out on it and ask what happened. When a prospect says “yes,” they want to buy your solution because they are losing 1000′s of dollars in unnecessary expenses and then go dark. You need to parrot that back to them. You need to say,

I’m confused, you said you’re losing thousands of dollars in unnecessary expenses and felt our solution was perfect. We agreed to reconvene two weeks after you spoke with your team and shared it with the CEO. We have not heard from you. Has something changed?

When a prospect goes dark, something is going on behind the scenes. There could be new information, new goals, new solutions, financial set backs, new players, or it could be they are simply busy. Regardless, when a prospect goes dark, the best thing a sales person can do is go back to what their prospect originally said and committed to and hold them accountable to it.

Prospects who go dark aren’t evil or assholes just trying to fuck with you, they are just overwhelmed. There is almost always a real, legitimate reason and it’s your job to figure it out. The best way to get them to respond and figure it out is to hold them accountable to what they said and what they committed to. Anything short of that isn’t selling, it’s pussyfooting around and that’s not gonna get you the sale.

Prospects are people and for the most part, they know they owe you a call. They know they made a commitment and the longer it goes without response, the more they feel bad about it and in an odd twist, the less likely they will be to call. So, it’s your job to lay it at their feet and open the door by simply saying;

I’m confused, you said . . .

This simple phrase invites prospects to explain where they are, and more importantly address the “gap,” the gap between what they said and their actions. As people we hate inconsistencies, gaps and inaccuracies. So, when you say;  I’m confused, you said . . . the prospect is compelled to address the gap and this is exactly what you want them to do.

This entire approach rests on the premise you actually have engaged the prospect well enough early in the sales process so you understand what their problem is, why they are looking at your solution, what the next step is, where you are in the sales cycle and what they are doing in between calls. If you can’t answer those questions, nothing can save you. In that case, take the deal out of the pipeline, go get Jill Konrath’s SNAP Selling book and start over, because you’re a sales person in title only.

If you know what the customers motivation is. If you know why they are looking to buy. If you know what the next step is and it’s because they told you, good — make them own it. That’s how you get them out of the black hole.

When prospect goes dark, accountability is the light.