How Would These Sports Celebrities Perform in Sales?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Oct 23, 2014 @ 06:10 AM

Deion Sanders

I wrote a very serious post earlier this week where I had the nerve to bring God into the conversation.  I thought it was appropriate because the biggest and most important take-away from that article was about being inspired and inspiring others. If you didn't get a chance to read it, I think The Biggest Secrets of Sales Rock Stars is worth your time.  Not wishing to write or deliver two overly serious posts in a row, I decided to lighten things up a bit with my analysis of how some famous sports celebrities would perform if they were in sales.  You'll enjoy this one.

First an apology - I went to baseball three times and the other sports only once, and in some cases, I left them out. But hey, I'm a baseball guy.

David Ortiz - Big Papi comes up big in big moments.  After asking the million dollar question at the eleventh hour, goes for broke and asks for ALL of the business.  He gets it, and upon getting the contract, signs, flips the contract and pen in the air, stands there a moment, and admires his great sale.  VIDEO

John McEnroe - Oh, oh.  The prospect said something that John didn't agree with and John just became very emotional and got royally pissed off. He started swearing at the prospect for being such a moron and the prospect just kicked him out of the building.  VIDEO

Deion Sanders - NFL Hall of Famer Neon Deion Prime Time Sanders had a long and successful run at a large account and just renewed them for the biggest gain in company history.  He celebrated his big deal with a dance in the CEO's office.  VIDEO

Mohammed Ali - Ali has gone 12 rounds with this prospective customer and if he wins the bout, he will be the champion salesperson in his industry.  It seems that in this case, Ali has simply worn the prospect down with his rope-a-dope tactics, asking question after question, making presentation after presentation, and outlasting all of his competitors.  He told his new customer that he is the greatest.  VIDEO

Mark Fydrich - If you aren't old enough to remember Cassious Clay becoming Mohammed Ali, then you probably won't remember Mark "The Bird" Fydrich either.  In this sales call, Fydrich, the new guy, cleaned his prospect's desk and just kept talking to the prospect as if he was telling the prospect how he was going to sell to him.  It worked and he got the deal. Then, he started jumping up and down, thanking the customer, his competitors and even his sales manager.  VIDEO

Billy Crystal - What's he doing here?  If you read his book or are a Yankees fan, you would know that Crystal signed a one-day contract with the Yankees and as a 60-year-old, actually had an at-bat against the Pirates in a spring training game.  That means I still have 1-year for the Red Sox to sign me for a day.  Come on Ben Cherrington, give me an at-bat!  So Billy is on this sales call and he's presenting to an entire leadership team, telling stories and making his prospects laugh.  Then he starts picking on and teasing each of the leaders, and the prospects can't stop laughing.  He leaves with the deal and a standing ovation.  They start chanting his name and he comes back and upsells them for an add-on to his deal.  VIDEO

I could have included Michael, Lebron, Larry or Magic for the basketball fans.  I could have included Orr, Gretsky, Howe, or Lemieux for the hocky fans.  And I wouldn't even know where to start for my friend, Ray, and all the soccer fans.  Golf?  Tiger would sleep with his prospect's wife.

Personalities are a big part of selling, but most people don't know how to use their personalities.  If you are a long-time reader, then you know when I mention personality, it's usually to assault a personality assessment being used to assess salespeople.  Not today.  Today, I will treat you with some advice on sales personalities!

Salespeople need to know the environments and scenarios in which they can thrive:

Are they most effective when face-to-face or on the phone?  One-on-one or in a group?  Selling consultatively or presenting to a group?  

In which mode are they most authentic?  When being Funny? Technical? Educational? Consultative? Serving?

From a chemistry standpoint, who in a company are they most comfortable with?  The C-Suite? Middle Management?  Users?  Buyers? Technical folks?

In which part of the sales cycle can they use the various parts of their personality to their best advantage?  Breaking the ice?  Lowering resistance?  Asking questions?  Establishing credibility? Closing?  Following up?

Sit with your salespeople and attempt to identify some of their best qualities and match them up with some of the requirements of their sales role to determine how you can more consistently put them in a scenario to succeed. 


Topics: sales personality, sales calls, sports celebrities, sales role

Top 10 Indicators That You Have a Trustworthy Sales Prospect

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 28, 2014 @ 09:04 AM

trustWhen we discuss trust, it's usually from the perspective of how to build trust, how to be more trustworthy and what to do when a prospect doesn't trust you.  These issues led to my White Paper on Trust, a study that had some very surprising and revealing results.  If you haven't seen it or downloaded it, you can get it here.

When one of my clients talked with me about trust last week, I was actually surprised about the context and direction he was taking it.

He believed that as early as his first phone call, he could determine when a prospect was going to buy and if they were being honest...but didn't think his salespeople could do the same thing.

We discussed that he has much more experience, better instincts, develops better relationships, asks better questions, and does a better job differentiating himself.  Those competencies and his experience do make a difference.

He asked if that could be taught to his lesser experienced salespeople and I said "no."  You not only can't teach instincts and experience, but if you tried, salespeople might use it as a justification for having happy ears, hearing more of what they want to hear without questioning it.

That said, there are some indicators that we can identify, to help salespeople have a better handle on whether the prospect is being honest and whether or not they will buy.  But these are not replacements for instinct. These indicators do not change the facts, they cannot move the opportunity to another stage of the pipeline or sales process, and they cannot alter the probability of closing.  They are simply indicators:

  1. The prospect says that, "Nobody ever asked me that question before" and proceeds to answer it;
  2. The prospect says, "Great question" and proceeds to answer it;
  3. There is a discussion about the competition, but it does not involve having the lowest price;
  4. The prospect thanks the salesperson for being so very helpful;
  5. The prospect shared the names of other decision makers, their roles and invited them to the next meeting or conversation;
  6. The prospect easily shared his/her compelling reasons to buy;
  7. The prospect answered all of your tough questions;
  8. The prospect shared something personal;
  9. The prospect took interest in the salesperson's personal life; and/or
  10. There was no game playing.
Yes, there can be more.
No, this particular list does not have any science or even a study behind it.  These are simply indicators that I have consciously and unconsciously used over the years.  They may or may not be transferrable.  They may or may not work for you. 
Of course, you may not agree with me.  This is an easy article to punch holes in, so if you are so inclined, this is the time to do it!
Remember, these do not replace instinct or facts - they are simply indicators to help determine whether or not you can believe your prospect and accurately predict that you'll get the business.

Image credit: tang90246 / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, trust, sales calls, trustworthy, salespeople

Good News About the Economy Positively Impacts the Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 30, 2009 @ 22:03 PM

I often get to see things six to twelve months before they happen.  When manufacturing placed projects and orders on hold as they did last October, it's easy to predict that it will trickle down and impact everyone else over the next six months. 

The word from clients so far this week is that manufacturers are taking projects off of hold and releasing money - even in the automotive industry!  That too will trickle down and impact everyone else over the next six months.

Today I also heard from a client whose house sold in just one day.

Housing and automotive - positive signs from both camps - truly good news for everyone.

It makes your salespeople feel better, it gives them hope, and in turn it makes them work with more confidence.  When they are out there giving it their all, not letting the resistance get to them. following the sales process, using appropriate strategies and tactics, not accepting the first stall, put-off, objection or rejection that comes their way, you have a much better chance that your struggling sales force will generate some much needed revenue.

Haven't heard any good signs in your own industry yet?  Make some calls and talk with some people until you find even one example.  Then spread the good word to all of your salespeople and let them in on the win - even if it wasn't a win for your own company.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Management, Salesforce, Sales Force, declining sales, objections, increasing sales, economic crisis, sales calls, sales behaviors, recession, Economy, declining revenue

Will Gifts Get Prospects to Return Calls from your Salespeople?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Feb 12, 2009 @ 22:02 PM

A fruit basket arrived this morning.  My first reaction was, "who would want to send me a fruit basket?" It turned out that a salesperson sent it, hoping to get me on the phone.  He had already left two voice mail messages and stopped by on one other occasion.

As I write about his attempts to reach me, a few thoughts are running through my mind:

  • I can't recall a salesperson who had ever tried that hard to make an impression;
  • He must not have any other prospects;
  • It's an expensive way to prospect;
  • It does make him memorable;
  • The fruit was good;
  • He's a lousy salesperson but has most of the strengths to support selling;
  • I'd rather have an unskilled salesperson who pulled out all the stops than a skilled salesperson who didn't (can sell vs. will sell - our assessment would identify this);

The problem is that I'm not a prospect for him and sending me fruit doesn't make me a prospect.  If he had already spoken with me and wanted me to remember him, the fruit basket surely would have separated him from the pack.  But just to get me to talk with me for the first time?  If I didn't have time to call him before, a fruit basket won't help me find the time tomorrow.

When your salespeople aren't getting through and aren't getting their calls returned, it's not because they didn't send fruit baskets.  It's because they are ineffective on their calls or they aren't making enough of them.  When they aren't very good at it, look to one of the following areas to improve:

  • Introduction - is it 5 words or less and do they sound like someone you would choose to speak with?
  • Attention - do they get their prospects' attention in the first 10 seconds?
  • Engagement - do they get the prospect engaged in the call after that?
  • Positioning Statement - are they able to articulate the prospect's likely problem in about 12-15 words or less?
  • Example - can they provide two examples of the problems you solve in about 10 words or less for each?
  • Stickiness - are the positioning statement and examples memorable?  Do they have the elements of surprise, emotion, credibility, and a story?  Are they concrete and simple?
  • Dialog - do your salespeople have a discussion around the prospect's issues?
  • Close - when they identify issues do they close for an appointment? 

Remember, fruit baskets are OK for follow up.  They are lousy for getting prospects to the phone.  The best story I ever heard for getting people to the phone was a story I read in a business magazine last year. A company was recruiting engineers and they sent candidates a package containing a cell phone.  When the candidate opened the package, the phone would ring and the candidate would answer. Bingo.  This is a bit more expensive than the fruit basket but I'll bet it would work a lot better.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Salesforce, prospecting, sales appointments, cold calls, getting calls returned, sales calls, sales assessment test

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave

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