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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

The Biggest Secret of Sales Rockstars

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 20, 2014 @ 07:10 AM

Jack Black School of Rock

In the old days, after speaking at a conference, I would frequently be told that I was the top-rated speaker at the event.  More recently, people have told me that I "Rocked!"  One time, as I was being introduced, an audience member came up to me and said, "Don't Suck!"  We can't always be rock stars...

I apologize if it sounded like I was bragging.  I didn't mean to.  I was just looking for contrast.  For example, the great rockers of the last 50 years - the Stones, the Beatles and the Dead - now THEY have FANS!  But even those three groups pale in comparison to the original rocker.  No, not Elvis.  Interestingly, I had to go 8 pages deep in a Google search for Rock Star before there was even a mention of anyone remotely connected to being a rock star.  That's when Joe Perry of Aerosmith was mentioned in the Google web search.  Jack Black in his School of Rock role was the first "rocker" shown in the Google image search!  Not quite what I had in mind - no offense to Aerosmith and Jack Black fans...

The greatest of all time to rock would be God.  Who else could have His word in such a huge collection of books written over so many centuries, all while performing miracles?  Who else could have so many devotees?  I know.  I just broke the biggest unwritten (maybe it's actually been written) business rule of all time.  "Don't talk about religion."  Well, fuck that!  If you're one of the readers that usually shares my articles and this paragraph is making you uncomfortable, stop reading right now and don't share the article with anyone.  On the other hand, if you are OK with this paragraph and you would be OK allowing a little more God into our increasingly Godless lives, share to your heart's content.  I was just looking for some more contrast.

Back to speakers and then, finally, onto salespeople.

You've attended conferences and for every speaker that rocked, there were 3 that were so-so and 2 that absolutely sucked.  As a group, do you think that salespeople, and specifically you and/or your salespeople, are any different from speakers?  Do you think that all of your salespeople rock all of their sales calls?  Do some of them rock some of the time?  Do any of them EVER rock?  Let's explore a few of the characteristics of salespeople that really rock.

Salespeople who rock have mastered the following ten competencies:

  1. Animated - This is not just visual animation, like constant movement, but it's also vocal animation, one's ability to reach out with inflection and instantly grab people's attention and keep that attention for the remainder of the meeting.

  2. Memorable - While this tends to be an outcome, the ability to stand apart and differentiate from everyone else is the quality that is most important for being memorable.  Being animated helps, being likable is important, but the ability to stand out from the crowd is most important.

  3. Subject Matter Experts - This is more than being an expert about products and services.  This is about being an expert on application, your industry, your vertical, your market, on process, on your target customer's role and with cost justifications and ROI calculations.
     
  4. Know the Audience - A salesperson must not only connect with a prospect on a personal level, but they must also know their problems, challenges, frustrations, goals and objectives.  A salesperson should understand the personal impact that these issues have on the prospect.  To rock even more, a presentation should be tailored and customized to address what a salesperson has learned about the audience. I was a guest on Evan Carmichael's radio show last week talking about this very thing at the 18-minute mark.
     
  5. Ask Great Opening Questions - Assuming that salespeople have and use consultative selling skills to have great and meaningful conversations (see this post for more), then the quality and depth of those conversations are in direct proportion to the opening questions they ask.

  6. Push Back - Polite and passive salespeople are nice to meet.  However, they are not memorable because they fail to differentiate themselves in a meaningful way.  From time to time, it's important to challenge outdated thinking, push back on a questionable approach or question a decision that might not be in everyone's best interest.  Polite and passive salespeople will struggle mightily with this.

  7. Great Sense of Humor - I am coaching a salesperson who is always too serious.  This caused his prospects to feel threatened, pressured and as a result, they would get defensive.  They just didn't find him likable enough!  Having the ability to detect the moments where it would be useful to lighten things up by using humor makes salespeople more likable and keeps the pressure from mounting.

  8. Presence - When a salesperson is well-dressed, six-feet tall, graying around the temples and has a voice like James Earl Jones, it's hard not to have presence.  But the rest of us need to work at it.  You might not be in an industry or calling on a vertical where your wardrobe can help.  You might not have a great voice.  You might be short like me.  Wisdom may not have appeared in your hair color.  So you make up for these physical shortcomings with pace, confidence, good listening, and a philosophy of less is more.  When you do speak, you should be the voice of wisdom.  Your contribution to the conversation must be significant, unexpected, articulate, relevant, and when possible, profound.

  9. Concise - Being concise will certainly enhance your presence, but one must strive for concise in all circumstances.  No rambling, unnecessary details, complicated demonstrations, or overblown explanations.  When it comes to a presentations, less is always more.

  10. Close - Salespeople must know when to close.  This doesn't vary and it's not after X number of minutes, calls, meetings or questions.  It's not after a demo, presentation or proposal either.  It's when all required milestones within the sales cycle have been achieved. Final Milestone achievement can occur after one day or one year, one call or ten calls, one demo or five demos, after meeting with one person or twenty people.  It's milestone-specific, not time- or quantity-specific.  And when it's been completed, it's closing time.  This point in time is the first and best opportunity for closing and salespeople must be able to get the deal closed when this opportunity finally presents itself. 

All salespeople have the potential to rock, but they may not have all of these competencies mastered.  They can be taught and they can adapt.  I'm certain that when I was younger, the only one of these competencies I had was a sense of humor.  And if I was in front of an audience, then my sense of humor would have been buried beneath layers of fear.  But at some point, I was inspired.  I believe it was by God.  And I believe that you and your salespeople can be inspired to master all ten of these competencies. 

I don't want you to miss the big one here.  It's the biggest secret of all.  Inspiration.  When you are inspired, you rock.  When you inspire others, you rock!

Would you like to be more successful identifying salespeople that rock?

Sales Candidate Assessment Free Trial

Topics: Dave Kurlan, top salespeople, changing sales performance, sales personality, sales quotas, sales presentations, Sales Rock Star, Greatness, Inspiration

Inc Magazine Misses on the 13 Traits of an Outstanding Salesperson

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Mar 14, 2013 @ 10:03 AM

inclogoI just read the 13 Traits of An Outstanding Salesperson, an article that appeared on Inc.com.

As usual, I had several thoughts about this so, in no particular order...

  • Note that it isn't "The" 13 traits; it's simply 13 traits, implying that there are others;
  • It's also not "The Top 13" traits;
  • These are not in any way, shape or form, expert opinions;
  • Charisma?  Really?  If the salesperson will be presenting to audiences, sure it would be a nice plus for them to be charismatic but if you read the actual explanation,  the contributor is simply talking about someone who is likable.  Likable is good, but hear this:  All of the mediocre and horrible salespeople - almost the entire 74% - are likable!
  • Laziness?  Seriously?  A great example of how an executive confuses a behavior with a result.  Great salespeople aren't lazy, they simply know which opportunities to pursue and don't waste their valuable time chasing low percentage, low profit opportunities!
  • Hunter's Mentality?  That's the correct phrase but if you read the contributor's explanation, he got the mentality part wrong.  He's more focused on whether the salesperson is excited enough about a huge opportunity to pursue it.  A true sales Hunter's mentality is to actually find as many sweet spot opportunities as possible and not waste time pursuing those with low odds of closing.
  • Intelligent Fighter?  This contributor mixes motivation with what he calls politely persistent, or assertiveness.  Motivation and assertiveness are not the same things.  There are plenty of highly motivated salespeople that are not nearly assertive enough, and plenty of assertive salespeople who are not very motivated.
  • The Trifecta?  This contributor says it's a combination of Drive, Personality and Intelligence but he describes someone who has the ability to get in front of a buyer and close the deal.  Not so again.  The real requirements for that are Strong Commitment, No Need for Approval, Rejection Proof, and Supportive Beliefs around Prospecting!
  • Existing Relationships and Product Knowledge?  All that will accomplish is assure that there are plenty of prospects who value a good presentation and product knowledge.  We don't need more friends and presenters, we need hunters, consultative salespeople, and closers!
  • People Skills?  This contributor is really describing someone with great listening skills - that's the ticket.
I think Inc. published these because they were the most interesting of all the submissions.  However, because Inc. is a respected business publication, readers are likely to take this crap to heart and actually go out and look for salespeople who exhibit these traits.  Most of these young business people either don't know what they don't know, or know they know it all.  Most importantly, if you are going to be hiring salespeople, it's more important than ever to not make costly mistakes.  Even if their 13 traits were predictive of sales success - and they're not - how would you really know if a candidate had them?  That's why it's so important to use Objective Management Group's Sales Candidate Assessments - legendary for their accuracy and ability to predict sales performance.
Earlier this week, I hosted a 45-minute interactive Webinar and shared the magic behind our assessment.  If you are interested in seeing it, you can click here.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, Sales Candidate, sales personality, sales traits, sales test

10 Sales Competencies of Steve Jobs

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Aug 21, 2012 @ 00:08 AM

steve jobsI read the Steve Jobs biography and although he was a very talented designer, innovator and inventor, it was clear to everyone who worked with him, and even to Jobs himself at the end of his life, that he was an asshole.  A simply horrible human being.  Despite his miserable people skills, he was on a mission to design products which would change the world.  But, Steve was also a great salesperson and this article discusses ten things about Steve Jobs, the salesperson, which you might want your salespeople to emulate.

Preparation - It is well known that Steve obsessed over the most minute details of product design to assure a tremendous user experience.  But, he prepared just as much for sales calls, such as when he convinced Microsoft CEO, Bill Gates, to develop Word and Excel exclusively for the first Mac.

Determination - Jobs was so determined to get his way, make the sale and seal the deal, that he nearly always found a way.  He did not consider the possibility that he might fail.

Slide Decks - He didn't like people who hid behind their PowerPoint slides and he did not use more than a few himself.  He believed that if you knew your stuff, you didn't need PowerPoint.  He preferred to have discussions rather than slide shows.  Amen to that!

Charm - Knowing that Jobs regularly treated people so badly makes it even more incredible that he could turn on the charm when he wanted something or someone to do business with him.  Although he seemed to have no empathy for the feelings of others, he was aware of the need to develop relationships in order to sell.

Negotiation - Steve usually cut very profitable deals because he was consistently successful at getting others to want what he had.  More importantly, he always was willing to walk away and did walk if he wasn't getting his way.  He usually got his way.  There is a great story in the book about how he sold Pixar to Disney for something like 7 or 8 Billion dollars.  One of the terms of the deal was that the Pixar Management Team got to run things!

Building Value - Jobs was a master at building value.  He would talk about the individual components or features of a device and for how much they would sell if available on their own, to demonstrate the tremendous value of the device itself.

Understanding - He always knew what was important to his prospect - their compelling reason to buy - and was able to leverage it and get people excited about the opportunity to work with him.

Creating Trust - Jobs got people to believe in him and his vision.  Even when people began a meeting biased against Jobs, after they met him, talked with him and became caught up in his trance, they wanted to do business with him.

Fearless - Steve would not hesitate to call anyone, anywhere, at any time to ask for anything he wanted - and he usually wanted a lot!  He was persistent too - he didn't give up and would get others to help him connect if he couldn't get connected on his own.

Showmanship - While he was a master of all the competencies which I listed above, he was best known for and best at showmanship.  His Macworld appearances were sales showmanship at its best.  The book detailed some of those presentations along with the secrecy, preparation, practice, timing, theater and attention to detail which helped to enhance his mystique and allow him to sell millions of devices from the podium.

What can you learn from the salesperson Steve Jobs?

Topics: sales culture, Dave Kurlan, salesmanship, sales core competencies, negotiation, sales personality, sales presentations, showmanship, building value, steve jobs

Is Showmanship a Lost Art in Selling?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Aug 15, 2012 @ 07:08 AM

Bruce Springsteen at Fenway ParkI just realized that this is my third music-related post this week, but I'm going with it...

Last night, we were among the 35,000 or so concert-goers at the Bruce Springsteen concert at Boston's Fenway Park.  We have been to dozens of concerts, but this was the best ever.  Why?

It wasn't because:

  • the band was good - they were great;
  • he was on stage for 4 hours;
  • there was tremendous energy - never saw so much;
  • it was at Fenway Park - what a treat;
  • we knew all the songs - what a relief;
  • his singing was so good - he's Bruce.
It was his showmanship.
Showmanship is missing from most modern sales presentations.  Demos tend to be about products, technologies, capabilities and the company story.  Sales calls are about listening, asking questions and qualifying.  But what ever happened to showmanship?
Yesterday, at an internal meeting, we were coincidentally discussing Elmer Wheeler's "sell the sizzle, not the steak" phrase.  He coined that phrase in the 1920's or 1930's!  Elmer is also the guy who came up with the concept of pain as a buying motivator.
I'm in the process of reading the Steve Jobs biography.  He wasn't a very nice person, was impossible to work for and with, and was self-absorbed.  But he was a brilliant innovator and great at showmanship.  His MacWorld appearances were 90% showmanship and 10% technology.
These days, we don't place much emphasis on showmanship, choosing instead to focus on other aspects of the sales cycle.  But when we talk about presenting, should we also spend some time teaching showmanship?  What do you think?  Please chime in on this one!

Topics: sales culture, Dave Kurlan, sales personality, sales presentations, bruce springsteen, fenway park, showmanship

Selling Styles - How Many Styles Should Your Salespeople Have?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 13, 2012 @ 23:08 PM

rscmWe were invited to see and hear a friend's son perform in the Royal School of Church Music of America.  We were very impressed with the voices, performance and beautiful church service.  It was very memorable.  While we were there, I noticed that some of the choristers appeared to be in trances; lost, disengaged and almost catatonic.  However, as soon as the choir director lowered his baton for the first beat, those children suddenly morphed into the most passionate, powerful, wonderful, young singers I had ever seen.  You just wouldn't believe the transformation!

Terrific salespeople make that transition too.  They morph from laid-back but confident, to powerful, animiated and charismatic when it's time to present.  Most salespeople however, don't make that transition because it doesn't feel authentic to them or they fear that they might look and sound like salespeople.  Isn't that sad?  Salespeople worrying that they might be mistaken for salespeople?  (Don't forget that you can hear me talk today, August 14, 2012, about developing salespeople and transforming them into A-players.  It's free - click here to attend.)

If you've met me and also heard me present a keynote address, you've witnessed this transformation.  My one-on-one style is a direct contradiction to my public speaking style.  Why?  If I appeared on stage with my one-on-one style, I don't believe anyone, regardless of my message, would really pay attention.  If we were to meet - just you and me - and I began with my public speaking style, it would feel very threatening and inappropriate.  You would hate me.  

There is a balance to all of this and the proper selling style, at the proper time, in the proper place, with the proper people, will work quite effectively.  However, most salespeople have only a single style and they aren't even aware of it!  If they aren't consciously aware of it, they usually aren't able to adapt to the situation in which they find themselves.

This is where video recording can be quite useful.  The ability to show salespeople how they look, sound, act and respond to varying situations is just the medicine they need to adapt, make the necessary changes and become more effective.

Steady and predictable is generally a good formula for success, however, when we need to convince people to buy what we have, flexibility and the appropriate style will always be more effective.

Topics: sales competencies, sales culture, Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales personality, sales presentations, rscm, sales charisma

Why Your Lowest Price Can Be a Barrier to Closing Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Aug 02, 2012 @ 17:08 PM

Price Comparison and Sales ContextIt's not really the price as much as it's the context for which that price is provided.  Let's take mobile apps for example.

$9.99 on its own seems very inexpensive, but with apps available for $3.99, $1.99, $.99 and even free, it's expensive - by comparison.  Look at the moon - we think it's fairly large, but when you look at it in comparison to Earth and Mercury's moon, it's a blip in the sky!

Let's look at a more complex service with a much higher price tag.  If the salesperson says that their solution is only $5,000 per person, the prospect immediately views this as an expense - and a costly one at that.  How can they justify spending on average $5,000 per person?  However, if the salesperson says, "We can help you recover $3 million in lost revenue and solve your customer retention problem for around $50,000 over the next 8-12 months", it sounds like a bargain and a no-brainer.  The reality is that the $50,000 solution could be more costly even than the $5,000 per person solution.  But the context, the perceived value and expected result are different.

It's not about prices, presentations or building value; it's about putting prices in the context of what those prices will buy.  Compare the two examples above and you'll see both the answer and the obstacle.  The answer is the context.  The obstacle is that your salespeople may not be learning what the compelling reason is for their prospects to spend the money.  Without the compelling reason, it's impossible to replace the red-bolded words above with the words your salespeople need to use.

Another potential obstacle, but hidden this time, is that some of your salespeople are uncomfortable having financial discussions with their prospects.  Those salespeople won't be able to get to the quantification of the problem.  And what about the salespeople who need to be liked?  They can't ask the tough questions and become emotional if they go out on a limb and ask.  These are three of the many hidden weaknesses that OMG often finds when evaluating sales forces.

You can teach and coach on most strategies and tactics, but when your salespeople aren't able to execute one that was properly introduced and demonstrated through role-play, you can be sure that there is a hidden weakness to blame.

Topics: sales competencies, sales culture, sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales training, sales evaluation, sales personality, hidden sales weaknesses, selling value, overcoming price objections

Keys to Successful Sales Negotiations

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jul 31, 2012 @ 22:07 PM

mlbIn the United States, Major League Baseball's trading deadline passed today with some noteworthy moves by teams other than my Boston Red Sox.  Aside from my disappointment that the Red Sox failed to make an impact trade to help the team, I recognized something else...

First-year General Manager Ben Cherington has made some interesting trades this year, most where he seemed to give up more than he received in return.  (See Appendix A below for examples.)

In contrast (bad, free-agent signings aside), most of the trades orchestrated by former GM Theo Epstein seemed to yield more in return than whom he gave up.  (See Appendix B below for examples.)

Assuming that I'm right, what are the reasons for the differences?  

  • Was Theo dealing from a position of strength while Ben dealt from a position of weakness?  
  • Was Theo a better negotiator?  
  • Was Ben more desperate?  
  • Did Theo hold out for a better deal?  
  • Did Ben concede too quickly?  
  • Was Theo more willing to walk away?  
  • Was Ben afraid of leaving the table with nothing to show for it?

Very often, the final stages of many sales cycles, especially those to large companies with procurement people, are negotiations.  Assuming that your salespeople have developed some compelling reasons to buy, and buy from you, then YOU have leverage.  They want what you have.  However, when your salespeople fail to uncover the compelling reasons to buy from you, then YOUR PROSPECTS have leverage.  You want their business.

Your outcome from a negotiation or competitive sales situation is in direct disproportion to how badly you want the business.

Appendix A - Examples of Cherington Trades

He gave up top Sox prospect, Josh Reddick, and in return received Andrew Bailey, who has been on the Disabled List (DL) all year, and Ryan Sweeney, who has been on the disabled list three times already this year.

He gave up 3-time All-Star Kevin Youkilis for a minor league pitcher and a utility player whom they have already traded away.

He gave up a good hitter, Jed Lowrie, for Mark Melancon, a relief pitcher who has just plain sucked for the Red Sox this year.

As compensation for letting Theo Epstein move to the Cubs, he received an injured minor league pitcher, Chris Carpenter, in return.

Appendix B - Examples of Epstein Trades

He gave up 3 talented minor leaguers and got All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzales in return.

He gave up a talented minor leaguer and got All-Stars Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell in return.  Beckett and Lowell, along with Curt Schilling below, helped them win the 2007 World Series.

He gave up 4 young pitchers, none of whom panned out, for Curt Schilling.  Schilling helped them win the 2004 World Series.

He traded disgruntled All-Star Nomar Garciaparra for Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz, both who helped them win the 2004 World Series.

He traded clubhouse cancer and multiple performance-enhancing drug offender Manny Ramirez in a three team deal for Jason Bay. 

Topics: sales competencies, sales culture, Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Coaching, sales personality, ben cherington, Boston Red Sox, theo epstein, trades, competitive sales call

3 Types of Salespeople - Which are Best at Growing Sales?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jul 30, 2012 @ 14:07 PM

sailsYesterday, we were in a small seaside village and in a nautical gift shop, I read this sailing quote:

"The pessimist complains about the wind.  The optimist expects it to change.  The realist adjusts the sails."

Translated for selling:

"The pessimist complains about the prospect.  The optimist expects him to buy.  The realist adjusts the sales strategy."

Let's look at these three points a little more closely, shall we?

The pessimist: Sure, the pessimist will complain about the prospect, but more specifically, that the prospect wasn't open, was hostile, talking with competitors, wouldn't share a budget, wanted only a proposal, wouldn't commit to anything, blocked him from reaching a decision-maker, etc.  If this is normal buyer behavior, then this calls for a salesperson!  All salespeople must be able to navigate around and push through these common issues or we really can't call them salespeople.

The optimist:  The optimist has happy ears.  The bigger the opportunity, the better the opportunity.  The better they got along, the better the chance of a sale.  The longer they talked, the shorter the sales cycle.  Optimists are just as much of a liability as pessimists because they don't inspect or question what they hear.  They assume that everything will be okay.  While a positive attitude is good, it can be terribly frustrating!

The realist:  This is exactly who you need on your sales force.  Salespeople must be optimistic about their outcomes, but pessimistic about the things that could go wrong to derail the opportunity and prepared to overcome them.  The realist is flexible enough to be both pessimistic and optimistic at the appropriate times.

So, sailing, selling - the approach is the same except that while wind helps to expand your sails, having salespeople who are full of air doesn't help to expand your sales.

Most salespeople are good at talking and presenting - they are full of air - but 74% of them are ineffective when it comes to listening and asking good questions.  How about your sales force?  

Topics: sales competencies, sales culture, Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales personality, increase sales, sales strategy

The Unusual Case of Arturo - How He Sabotaged His Own Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jul 26, 2012 @ 07:07 AM

ArturoOne of my clients owns a Mexican company which provides phone, video conferencing and surveillance equipment to integrators and end-users.  During the height of the violence in Mexico, Arturo was kidnapped and held, bound and gagged, at gunpoint.  He was released - one of the few, fortunate survivors - but the emotional scars ran deep.  It took months for him to recover from the post-traumatic stress and return to work - selling again - and I have been coaching him for the past few months.  I have a tremendous amount of respect for Arturo and the courage that he has demonstrated to once again face the world.

During our last few conversations, he has had a huge backlog of follow-up calls to make - as many as 150 at one point - on known opportunities.  We worked on time management, scheduling a specific date and time with a prospect for the follow-up call, identifying the strongest opportunties and not wasting time on the weaker opportunities, being more effective at qualifying, blocking out time in his calendar to make follow-up calls, etc.  In the end, the list of opportunities that required follow-up continued to grow.

When I learned that he still hadn't rectified the problem I asked for an example of a follow-up call which he needed to make, but didn't.  I was amazed at what I heard.  

He had a fairly large opportunity scheduled - in his calendar as I had suggested - for follow-up.  He didn't make the call and of course, the prospect didn't call him either.  Interestingly, Arturo was making all of his 1st calls without any problem; however, once he developed a relationship and created an opportunity, he was developing call anxiety before the follow-up call.  Instead of fearing rejection while doing the hard work - making 1st calls - he was struggling with being rejected at the end of the sales cycle, causing him to avoid the calls all together.

Arturo is not the only person with this issue.  For months, Arturo has been sabotaging his closing efforts and for the first time, finally understands why his failure to follow-up has been occurring.

Solving the problem was actually quite easy.  I explained to Arturo that his prospects were wondering, "If he doesn't follow up when he is trying to get the business, what kind of follow-up will I get after he has the business?  He doesn't appear to care very much or be very reliable, so I don't think I will buy from him."

Arturo is a proud man and when he understood the implications, the embarassment of the consequences was much greater than the discomfort from the fear of rejection.  I told him to make a sign that says, "Choose Success over Discomfort."  The fear won't soon disappear, but he will take action in spite of it.

Congratulations Arturo - I expect your sales to quadruple!

Topics: sales competencies, sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales personality, increase sales, overcoming rejection, follow-up calls, sales case history

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About Dave

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

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