Sales - It's More Like Miss Universe Than the Olympics

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 06, 2010 @ 12:12 PM

giants1st Place.  Winning.  #1.  The Best.  Top.  Champion.  Great, exciting labels.

World Champion.  The San Francisco Giants won the 2010 World Series but the team they beat, the Texas Rangers, were still the American League Champions and each player received Playoff and World Series bonus earnings.  It's OK to come in 2nd.

Gold Medalist. You don't have to win the Gold, because even the bronze and silver winners are among the medalists and their resumes will always include, "Winner of 4 Medals for the US Olympic Team".  It's OK to come in 3rd!

Academy Award Winner.  You don't have to win the Academy Award; you only need to be nominated! Your movie or resume will always be able to state "Nominated for 7 Academy Awards".  That's the stuff of legacy.  You can leverage it.  It's OK to lose!

Miss Universe.  Either you win it all or you lose!  Period.  Who remembers the runner-up?

Sometimes I get the feeling that salespeople think that they are in the Olympics, where coming in second is OK.  I hear things like, "At least we made the short list", or "That will make them think about us next time", or "If anything goes wrong they'll call us first", or, "Well now they know who we are".  But it's not OK.  Selling is more like Miss Universe.  If you don't win, you've lost!

Let's take a closer look at those comments above:

  1. At Least We Made the Short List - You should always be on the short list and what's the prize for that?  You get to respond to an RFP?  You get to present?  You get to show up?  In other words, you're such a great salesperson that they'll actually listen to you for 30 minutes? Yikes!  If the prize is that you get to propose or present, that's a prize you shouldn't be shooting for.  We're trying to stop you from doing that and get you to ask questions!
  2. That will make them think about us next time - Really?  They aren't thinking about you this time, so why will they think about you next time?
  3. If anything goes wrong they'll call us first - If they thought that highly of you, they would have bought from you this time, so why would you be their back-up plan?
  4. Now they know who we are - They knew who you were the minute you called them and apparently, they thought they knew enough to say 'no'.

According to Corporate Executive Board (CEB), buyers of technology say that 50% of differentiation takes place in the field.  In others words, it's not your brand, your technology or your price that sets your company and products apart; it's your salespeople!  And most of them aren't getting the job done.

So here's a nice contextual segue...

The Top Sales Awards are also very much like Miss Universe.  The winner can leverage it for 12 months -- "Winner of the Top Sales Blog of 2010" --  and if you come in 2nd you can say, "And today's article is about motivation..."  I got a late start on letting people know about this so we started last week in 10th (last) place.  We began today in 2nd place but still a good 15 percentage points behind the temporary leader.  In order to come from behind and win the Top Sales Blog of 2010 I'll need your votes and if you were nice enough to have already voted for this Blog - thank you very much (you can vote more than once...)!  Just click here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Top Sales Awards, Winning Sales RFP's, Success in Sales, Competing in Sales, Competing for the Business

Winning in Sales Isn't Everything - Yes it Is!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 29, 2010 @ 17:11 PM

Sales Manager:  How did the call go?

Salesperson: Really good.

Sales Manager: Excellent.

Isn't that a lame discussion?  The sales manager can improve it by simply asking, "What made it such an excellent call?"

The salesperson might respond with, "They were willing to talk, they seemed to like me and they said they'd be happy to speak with me again."

Depending on where we are in the sales cycle, our response to that salesperson's answer should be:

Attempting to schedule a first meeting: Unacceptable

Moving from Suspect to Prospect: Uncacceptable.

Moving from Prospect to Qualified: Unacceptable.

Moving from Qualified to Closable: Unacceptable.

Moving from Closable to Closed: Unacceptable.

There must be a win, characterized by meeting defined criteria, not feelings, before one can say a call of any kind was excellent.  Yet that hypothetical sales conversation takes place in most offices of most companies on most days.  Sales managers should be asking things like, Why were they willing to talk?  Why will they talk with you again?  What can you help them with?  What are they hoping you can do?  Why would they want to do business with us? Why didn't you [insert next desired step here], etc.

Speaking of winning, Top Sales World will present awards to the winners in 11 categories in the first annual Top Sales Awards on December 16.  Jonathan Farrington, CEO of Top Sales World and Gerhard Gschwandtner, publisher of Selling Power will be the hosts.

You can see the categories here.

My Blog, Understanding the Sales Force, has been nominated for the Top Sales Blog but I was busy celebrating Thanksgiving and enjoying some much needed time away and failed to let people know to vote for it.  So, now I'm a week behind and I need your help to generate enough votes to come from behind,  take over the lead and win this thing.  But you'll have to help!  To vote for this Blog as the Top Sales Blog of the Year, click here - but only if you think it is worthy.  I don't want votes out of obligation or friendship...or do I?  Sure - I'll take all the votes I can get.  You can even ask that miserable brother-in-law that you had to spend Thanksgiving with vote!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, Sales Coaching, Top Sales Awards, top sales blog, winning in sales, Top Sales World

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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, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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