Apply Jack Reacher to a Modern Sales Approach

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jun 23, 2015 @ 16:06 PM


I'm a big fan of the Jack Reacher thrillers and movies. Perhaps you've seen one of them...

While reading Lee Child's newest Reacher book, "Personal", I saw a huge connection between how the Jack Reacher character survives and succeeds on all of his highs: high-risk, high-stakes, high anxiety missions; and how a successful salesperson survives and succeeds in the sales equivalent of a Jack Reacher story.

One of Reacher's trademark expressions is, "Expect the best but prepare for the worst." That is very consistent with what I have always taught, "Be eternally optimistic about your outcome, but completely skeptical of everything you hear along the way." I believe that regardless of which expression or quote resonates the best, that mindset is essential for surviving and succeeding in sales. Without it, roadblocks, hurdles, surprises, and disappearing acts will knock you off your game as surely as white sticks to rice. That mindset provides a bonus gift too - it will prevent you from ever developing happy ears!

Another of Reacher's trademark expressions is, "The fastest thinker wins." This speaks not only to strategy, but tactics as well. It's not enough to "Let me see what I can do and get back to you tomorrow." You need to be quick on your feet, adapt as your environment changes, respond as your prospect challenges you, and demonstrate your agility on the fly.

Finally, as scary as some selling situations are for some salespeople, as intimidating as some prospects can be, as difficult as some prospects act, and as tough as some of the competition is, selling is not life or death. Although with the way that some salespeople respond to it, you might think it is. You don't need a deadly weapon - just your eyes, ears and mouth as ammunition. Add a modern, predictive and reliable milestone-centric sales process, a modern methodology, and a never-ending supply of questions, patience for listening, and the ability to carry on a conversation with your prospect that nobody else has ever had.

In the end, no matter how bad it seems, no matter how hopeless the circumstances, regardless of the position you are in, with these two expressions and your ammunition having your back, success is not a matter of if, but when.

Reacher is coaching a young CIA agent throughout the new book. I'll be hosting my annual Sales Leadership Intensive - absolutely our top event of the year - on August 27-28 in the Boston area. Check it out and join us for the finest training available on mastering the art of sales coaching.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Closing Sales, handling objections, great sales management training, complex sale, jack reacher

Effective Sales Models

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 15, 2011 @ 06:09 AM

modelBack in June I wrote this article about the difference between sales process and sales methodology.  In addition to those two sales infrastructure components, companies should have a sales model.  How is the model different from the other two key components of an effective sales organization?

Where processes contain the sequence of customized/optimized steps, milestones and tasks in your sales cycle, and methodologies are the sales approaches or styles, the model is the success formula.  The model is presented to new salespeople during orientation and it demonstrates what they must do in order to succeed.  Models often include the target customer/client, some application of what they would typically purchase, a revenue goal per customer/client/account and a summary of how many of those it takes to achieve quota/goal/income.  In sumary, the model is a blueprint for what your successful salespeople do in order to succeed.

When companies are able to easily and successfully plug-in new salespeople, have predictable ramp-ups and few hicups, it is because they usually have all three crucial pieces of sales infrastructure in place.

Do you have a customized, optimized, formal, structured sales process that delivers consistent predictable results and everyone follows it?

Do you have a sales methodology and everyone is able to effectively utilize it?

Do you have a sales model that everyone understands and they all use it to achieve success?

If you are missing any or all of these components, or have them but people aren't locked in to them, think of the consequences in terms of each component having the potential to provide a 33% gain in revenue over the course of 1-3 years!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Baseline Selling, sales process, sales model, sales management, solution selling, complex sale

The Complex Sale - Part 2

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, May 19, 2011 @ 08:05 AM

Yesterday, we discussed the elements of the complex sale and the factors that make it so challenging.  I also asked whether you should you attempt to incorporate some of the elements of the complex sale in order to outsell your competitors.

Today, we will revisit the factors that make it so challenging and discuss how various selling weaknesses interact with those factors.

There are several common selling weaknesses that cause salespeople to become ineffective in various selling scenarios.

Need for Approval, or the need to be liked, prevents them from asking tough questions, challenging, and pushing back.

Those who have Difficulty Recovering from Rejection avoid questions or statements that carry the perceived risk of evoking a "No".

Salespeople who have a Discomfort Talking About Money aren't able to have an in-depth conversation about finances - finding the money that isn't there.

A Non-Supportive Buy Cycle causes salespeople to empathize with various stalls, put-offs, excuses and objections rather than asking questions to overcome them.

A Self-Limiting Record Collection has salespeople listening to their greatest fears and self-limiting beliefs, affecting outcomes before they have left their offices.

Salespeople who easily Become Emotionally Involved on calls go into reaction mode rather than calmly and systematically continuing to ask questions.

Salespeople who are Too Trusting don't challenge or push back on conventional buyer thinking, put-offs or stalls because they take everything they hear at face value.

The table below places the 16 challenges from yesterday's article in a matrix with the 7 common sales weaknesses and illustrates which weaknesses impact each of those 16 challenges.  

Copmplex Weaknesses

It's OK if you don't immediately understand how the weaknesses cause problems for each challenge.  Just be aware that based on 1831617 salespeople that Objective Management Group has assessed, the data is there to back it up.


Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Baseline Selling, sales process, sales model, sales management, solution selling, selling weaknesses, complex sale

Do You/Should You Have a Complex Sale?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 18, 2011 @ 08:05 AM

complexThe Complex Sale - it's so----complex!

Today we will simplify the complex sale and even ask if you should have a complex sale.

First, what makes a sale complex?

In most cases, a sale is complex when it:

  • is expensive
  • has a technical component
  • has a long sales cycle
  • involves multiple roles and titles from both buyer and seller sides
  • requires that you build and sell value
  • includes selling "why buy at all?", as opposed to "why buy from me?"
  • involves buyer side resistance

While these elements can be more challenging than other sales models, they don't have to be.  Why do companies find it so difficult when faced with a complex sale?  Their salespeople must be able to handle additional challenges, like being able to:

  • use their rolodex to get an audience with a C-Level Decision Maker;
  • get and maintain that executive's attention without being sent down;
  • work with others in the company that have a role in the process;
  • speak the same language as the various executives;
  • build trusted advisor status with the executives;
  • sell consultatively
  • identify issues that are a drain on company resources;
  • identify compelling reasons for the company to buy;
  • build a case for your solution (the unique value proposition);
  • understand the technical nature of the problem and match a potential solution;
  • remain comfortable with the large dollar value of the opportunity;
  • have patience while all of the pieces are fit into place;
  • be strong enough to push back when buyer side thinking runs off the track;
  • leverage company resources only when and where appropriate;
  • negotiate terms of the deal;
  • close.

No single one of the 16 elements is daunting, but what makes it so difficult is that there aren't many salespeople that can effectively execute all 16 criteria.  That is what makes the complex sale so challenging.

On the other side of the argument is this question:  What would happen if you repositioned your offering as a complex sale?  If you apply as many of the above elements as possible, wouldn't you more effectively and consistently outsell your competitors?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Baseline Selling, sales process, sales model, sales management, solution selling, complex sale

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned awards for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog for eleven consecutive years and of the more than 2,000 articles Dave has published, many of the articles have also earned awards.

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