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 presentation, 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

The 10 Keys to Effective Group Sales Presentations

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 09, 2014 @ 06:06 AM

keynote speakerWhen you speak at as many events as I have over the past 3 decades, you come to expect certain things.  As you consider each of the following scenarios, try to make a comparison as to how it might compare with the sales calls and presentations you make to groups:

Scenario 1: When I am the keynote speaker at an event, people have much higher expectations of me as a speaker, the entertainment factor, and the potential take-aways from my topic.  It's my job to exceed those expectations.  Compare this scenario to a customer or client whose business you already have, but it's yours to lose...

Scenario 2: When I am one of many speakers at a conference without breakout sessions, I know that people are not there to hear me per se, may have little interest in my topic, and might skip or, if they attend, tune out.  Compare this scenario to presentation day; you are one of many salespeople who will be paraded in and out of a conference room to present to a group of influencers and decision makers - some of whom couldn't care any less about you...

Scenario 3When I am leading a breakout session, the people in that audience are there specifically to hear me and/or learn more about my topic.  I must first listen to them, let them share what's on their mind, and assure that they get what they came for.  Compare this to a sales call where you have a champion who brought you in, talked highly of you to everyone in the meeting, and you are favored to get the business...


Scenario 4When I speak to a group who is old school (an industry that is slow to change or a demographic who missed the opportunities to change), I know I'll get a lot of pushback because it's not the way they do things in their world.  Compare this to the sales presentation where the group assembled is currently doing business with someone else and, despite your presence, is reluctant to change...

Do you know what the common denominator is in all four of these scenarios?

Hint: It's not you or me.

Answer: It's your ability to do the following 10 things effectively:

  1. Get their attention.
  2. Develop some rapport.
  3. Ask questions.
  4. Listen. 
  5. Connect.  Watch this 1-minute video that explains the listen-connect concept.

  6. Challenge their thinking.
  7. Help them believe in you and your ideas.
  8. Get them to agree with an idea, initiative or concept.
  9. Get them to agree on a next step.
  10. Get them to commit to something.

The only difference between speaking to dozens, hundreds or thousands, and presenting to groups on a sales call, are the number of believers.  It's our job to find a way to get as many people as possible to believe in us, our ideas, our capabilities, our value and the impact we can have on them and their business.

Image Copyright: flynt / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, speaking, conference speaker, sales presentations, keynote speaker

Top 4 Reasons Salespeople Struggle to Reach Decision Makers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 30, 2013 @ 05:10 AM

Bodyguad with uziThree separate, but related, incidents occurred this week, all having to do with reaching decision makers.

First, I received a cold call that went like this:

"Hi Mr. Kurlan, this is [name withheld] from [huge company name withheld]. We're a company that.....oh no - the script disappeared from my computer. I...I...can't talk to you without following the script.  Bye."

First off, the Mr. Kurlan thing is like fingernails on a chalkboard - I can't stand it and never will.  About the only time it doesn't bother me is when my Korean dry cleaner sees me and says, "Oh, Mista Kuelahn, hah ah you?"  That makes me chuckle.

Second, the Mr. Kurlan thing again.  It tells me before he says another word that he doesn't know me.  If he did he would call me Dave.

Third, the Mr. Kurlan thing yet again.  It tells me that he doesn't think he is at the same level as me, shouldn't really be talking with me and can't speak my language.

I don't even have to provide commentary about what happened with his computer and script. I do know that there isn't a CEO anywhere that would have listened for even 5 seconds if he had started reading from a script!

Okay, so that's the first incident.  The same day, I was asked about a salesperson at a client's company.  The Objective Management Group (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessment said that he would have difficulty calling on Senior Executives and, of course, he was struggling.  When asked what they could tell him, I said this:

  • Intellectually, he needs to know how crucial this is for his success.
  • Conceptually, he needs to know that he can reach senior decision makers.
  • Belief-wise, he needs to know he belongs with senior decision makers.
  • Practically speaking, he needs to learn the strategies and tactics for how to consistently reach senior decision makers.

Incident number three:  Yesterday, I received an email announcing the results of a survey conducted by the cloud-based, business presentation company, Brainshark, Inc.  While the survey included plenty of silly statistics, there were some very important findings in there too.

Much of the survey focused on how, when and where salespeople prepare for and deliver presentations to close.  Most of the sales questions (how they sell) focused on presenting - not conversations, discussions, questions, or anything approaching a consultative approach.  So it shouldn't be at all surprising that the survey reported that salespeople were frustrated by the following presentation challenges:

  • technology not functioning (56%), 
  • key decision-makers absent from the room (50%), 
  • a disengaged or distracted audience (34%),
  • not feeling well-prepared (14%),

and the following post-presentation/closing challenges:

  • unresponsive/difficult-to-reach prospects (55%)
  • not knowing who else is influencing purchasing decisions (49%)
  • having a hard time telling if the prospect is interested (26%)
  • not having appropriate follow-up materials (17%)

So here we are again, with half of the salespeople reporting that they aren't reaching decision makers.  And why would a decision maker want to be reached if the salespeople are focused only on presentations?  And companies wonder why their sales cycles are so long, their closing percentages are so low and their margins are slip sliding away...

Also noteworthy were these findings from the survey results:

  • Prepare:  77% of reps graded themselves a “B” or better for their prep work, while Managers thought that 58% of their reps merited a “B” or above, with 42% grading reps a “C” or below.
  • Present:  Only 14% of reps thought their presentation skills deserved a “C” or lower, while managers rated reps with a “C” or worse  43% of the time.  22% of reps thought they earned an “A” compared to 8% of managers who gave reps that grade.
  • Follow-up:  Reps were twice as likely as managers (21% versus 10%) to think they earned an “A” for post-meeting follow-up.  

When OMG evaluates a sales force, one of the two dozen or so questions we answer is whether the company's salespeople can be more effective at reaching decision makers.  We include several factors to support our answer but I can share that the findings come from:

  • their sales DNA,
  • their Beliefs,
  • their existing set of selling skills, and
  • their comfort level.

When it comes to salespeople believing, reaching, acting appropriately and speaking the language of senior decision makers, it is very ugly out there.  OMG's statistics show that a whopping 68% of salespeople struggle to reach decision makers.

How do your salespeople measure up?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Closing Sales, sales survey, reaching decision makers, sales presentations, sales assessments

A Rare Paragraph or Two About Making Successful Sales Presentations

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jul 15, 2013 @ 14:07 PM

Geoffrey James contributed a terrific piece to in May.  I've criticized some of Geoffrey's articles in the past, but this one, 3 Reasons Why Most Presentations Fail, is really good.

Basically, Geoffrey says that salespeople wrongly:

  1. Provide too many details about too many things,
  2. Talk about their history and clients instead of their prospects' issues, and
  3. Fail to differentiate themselves.

Of the 1,000+ articles I have written for Understanding the Sales Force, exactly 2 have been about presentations and presenting.  Why?  I want to help companies and their salespeople move from presenting (which anyone can do) to selling (which only some people can do well). 

When everyone presents, salespeople and companies are perceived as commodities and the sale is driven by price.  When salespeople take a customer-focused, consultative approach and actually become the value added, salespeople and companies are able to effectively differentiate, solve problems, and get paid accordingly.

There is a time and place for a presentation and/or demo and it should be much later in the sales process than when most companies and salespeople choose to do it.  When that time does come, we can all do a much better job of articulating the solution to our prospects in a more compelling way.  However, if we skip the selling part (listening and asking good, tough timely questions), there simply won't be any leverage when it is time to present, and consequently, our attempts to convert those presentations to sales will result in very poor success rates.

So, yes, present more effectively, but do it at the right time - after you have reached the required milestones that justify a presentation to a qualified opportunity.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, geoffrey james, sales presentations, Inc. Magazine

Is Selling Difficult or Easy? It All Depends on Your Definitions

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Apr 02, 2013 @ 18:04 PM

confusedPeople are easily confused.  Take selling for example.  

If I state that selling is difficult, the top 26% of your salespeople will agree.They are very aware of their sales process, as well as the importance of following it and achieving the milestones that must be accomplished along the way.  This requires discipline, consistency, superior skills, and strong DNA.  For top performers, the process of selling is difficult but because they are disciplined about staying true to the sales process, their outcomes are easily achieved.  

On the other hand, the bottom 74% (the rest) of all salespeople would disagree with my claim and might even suggest that selling is easy.  And it is easy if they aren't concerned with following a challenging sales process, meeting milestones, or achieving desired outcomes.  By doing what most salespeople do - making friends, presenting, proposing and hoping - their lack of adherence to a sales process causes them to believe that selling is easy while it makes achieving the desired outcomes quite difficult.

And that's the confusing part.  Difficult selling, with its challenges, gives way to easy-to-achieve outcomes.  Easy selling, while avoiding challenges, causes difficult-to-achieve outcomes.  See my definitions below...

Difficult selling:

  • Getting to the right people, 
  • Overcoming resistance, 
  • Differentiating yourself and company from the competition, 
  • Building a case, 
  • Selling value, 
  • Doing what it takes to get business closed .

Easy selling:

  • Getting to the wrong people,
  • Presenting, 
  • Selling on price, 
  • Sending proposals and quotes 
  • Chasing prospects that don't respond.
It's a lot like health and fitness.  It's difficult to consistently eat right but those who overcome the challenge and make disciplined choices easily maintain a good weight and remain healthy.  Those who eat what they want -  making easy but poor choices - find it difficult to maintain a good weight and remain healthy.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, winning business, top sales, sales effectiveness, sales presentations, selling value

Did President Obama Do More Damage to the Image of Salespeople?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 07, 2012 @ 08:11 AM

liarI would like to discuss what happened toward the end of the presidential campaign (hooray for that being completed!), which may have been lost in the sea of mutual attack ads and name-calling.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, President Obama said that Mitt Romney was a bullshitter. That was a very rare, public choice of words for a sitting president, but on its own, I don't have an issue with it.  On another occasion, Obama's campaign manager called Romney a felon.  Were those name-calling instances part of a carefully planned campaign strategy?  New attack slogans?  Lies?  Truths?  Spin?  Comedy?  Does it really matter?  Will anyone even remember?

Last week, Obama's campaign called Romney a great salesman and added that what he was selling wasn't any good.  In other words, "Don't believe a word he says."  So, if we connect the dots what do we get?

          • Salesman = bullshitter
          • Salesman = liar
          • Salesman = felon

Perfect timing.  Just when there was hope that the profession of selling was getting its act together - taking itself more seriously, becoming more professional, embracing integrity, evaluations, metrics, training and coaching - an elected official, of all people, undoes it with three instances of name-calling.  We need to present our products and services in the best possible light and must do that without name-calling.  When we attack a competitor, it doesn't discredit them as much as it discredits us.  Was the President discredited as a result of the name calling?  Probably not.  By the 11th hour of the campaign, most people were so sick of the attacks from both candidates that they had stopped listening.  Your prospects may stop listening to you too if you slam your competitor!  There is a vast difference between comparing your strengths and a competitor's legitimate weaknesses, versus calling them names.  Here are ten references to competitors that I've heard salespeople use:  

            • morons,
            • incompetent,
            • lazy,
            • unreliable,
            • insensitive,
            • liars,
            • con artists,
            • jerks,
            • greedy  
            • rude.
Let's hope that nobody remembers what just happened and that slamming the competition doesn't become acceptable. 

Topics: sales presentations, salespeople, romney, name-calling, professional sales

#1 Sales Presentation Tip from October 16 US Presidential Debate

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 17, 2012 @ 08:10 AM

presidential debatePolitical analysts say that the 2nd presidential debate was the best in history.  Why?  Was it because they actually confronted each other?  Got in each other's face?  Went toe-to-toe?  Maybe.  The analysts also have been saying that most people had long ago decided which candidate they liked and the race is really about persuading the uncommitted voters.  This means that if you are pro-Obama, then you rooted for Joe Biden and loved his passionate performance last week.  It means that if you are pro-Romney, then you couldn't believe how condescending Biden was and you loved Ryan's steadiness and calm.  We root for the people we love!  From that perspective, it's very much like rooting for your favorite sports teams.  For better or worse, they're your team and you'll support them through thick and thin.

Hold on to that thought as we transition to sales.  

Let's discuss sales presentations.  When your salespeople are invited back to be one of several to present capabilities, value propositions and solutions, the exact same scenario as described above is sure to be played out.  If the prospect liked you going in, they'll look for opportunities to support your presentation.  If the prospect liked your competitor going in, they'll look for opportunities to discredit you in any way they can.  That's just how it works and that's why it is so darn important to differentiate yourself up front - earlier in the sales process - instead of hoping to accomplish that during the presentation.  Your presentation will certainly differentiate your personal presentation skills, but it won't differentiate your company, value proposition or capabilities.  

That's why Consultative Selling is so important.  Executed properly, your salespeople will finally differentiate themselves upfront (early) and by the time they present, the prospects will already be on your side.  The problem is that you can't say simply that going forward your salespeople shall sell Consultatively.  It's a major change.  It requires special skills, strengths and disciplines to execute, and it routinely takes 8-12 months of training and coaching to make the complete transition.  Further complicating matters is that not all salespeople can make this all-important transition.

One of the questions which Objective Management Group answers, when we evaluate a sales force, is just that.  Who from among all of your salespeople are capable of making the transition from presenters and order-takers, to effective, Consultative Sellers.  We can answer hundreds of other questions too.

Make the transition.  Improve your KPI's.  Close more business.  Block out your competition.  It requires a Consultative Selling methodology and process.

Topics: sales competencies, sales blog, sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales management, KPI, sales presentations

How to Supercharge Your Sales Presentations

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 09, 2012 @ 15:10 PM

I grew up in the 1960’s, when a roof antenna that could rotate 90 degrees was the big thing and cable television was yet to be introduced.  We had very limited viewing choices on our televisions.  We could watch only what the three major networks, NBC, CBS, ABC and their local affiliates, were broadcasting, plus PBS which offered primarily academic shows.  By the late 60’s, we also were able to receive the relatively weak signals of two UHF channels.  It was no wonder that back then all were watching the same shows - there wasn’t anything else from which to choose!

Yesterday, on a domestic JetBlue flight, and again today, on an international British Airways flight, I had the ability to see the seat-back television screens of ten other passengers, making my sample twenty in total.  How many passengers do you think were watching the exact same show?  After all, there aren’t as many choices on the plane as we have at home today with our cable, satellite, internet and FIOS.  Not surprisingly, each of the 20 passengers on those flights was watching something completely different. Yesterday, I saw people watching Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, The Food Channel, The Discovery Channel, USA Network, A&E, CNN, ESPN, a movie, and HGTV, all representing unique interests, experiences, backgrounds, moods, ages, genders and schedules.  Today, I saw more people watching movies, but they were all different films.  It’s also worth noting that for every two people who were watching television, there was one person reading and another sleeping.   

I’m sorry it took such a long introduction to get to the part where I make a sales connection but here we go…

Despite the fact that most effective, consultative sales processes feature the presentation or demo in the final stage of the process, most salespeople jump to that event as early as possible.  Why?  They are most comfortable, capable and effective when presenting!  They just aren’t that interested or effective at the really important stuff, like listening and asking good, tough, timely questions.  One thing, which you surely have noticed about presentations and demos, is that the prospects are given essentially the same ones.  Don’t you have a standard PowerPoint® slide deck or template at your company?  Perhaps it has a few slides which you can edit, but doesn’t every prospect get essentially the same message, story, history, value proposition and explanation of capabilities?

For a moment, let’s put aside the debate on the ideal timing of a presentation or demo, and instead, let's simply discuss the content of the slides, walk-through or tour.  Why is it essentially the same for everybody?  Based on their viewing preferences, everyone is different and they have very different interests.   When you or your salespeople begin their presentations, aren’t there some prospects who would prefer to sleep?  Aren’t there others who would prefer to read something rather than watch or listen?  And wouldn’t the rest prefer to internalize your information in different ways?  Based on what we have discussed, wouldn’t it be fair to conclude that different prospects might be more interested in one of the following formats?

  • Graphs
  • Movies
  • Pictures
  • Bullet points
  • Tables
  • Narrative
  • Cartoon
  • Hands-on
  • Self-guided
  • Audio
  • Through music
  • With background music
    • Classical
    • Jazz
    • Blues
    • Rock
    • Pop
    • Rock & Roll
    • Rap
    • Disco
    • Big-Band
    • Easy Listening
    • Country
    • Rhythm & Blues
    • Animation
    • Comedy
    • Drama
    • Mystery
    • Action

What would be required to create a presentation or demo for various audiences?  You would certainly need to know to whom you were presenting and that would preclude a presentation or demo that occurred too early in the process, wouldn’t it?  Salespeople would be forced to save this step for much later, after they knew what would work best!  Would you give the same presentation to a:

  • Twenty-something and sixty-something? 
  • Male and female?
  • High-tech company and manufacturing company? 
  • Financial company and widget maker? 
  • CEO and plant manager? 
  • Finance executive and marketing executive? 

Obviously not!  But that’s what most salespeople are doing and it’s just plain stupid.

If you and your salespeople recognize the value of my point, it would require Marketing and Sales coming together to create multiple versions of a standardized slide deck so that a salesperson could choose the one which would best captivate and retain their prospects’ attention while catering to their tastes and preferences.  There is probably a business opportunity here too, if anyone is interested in running with this idea.  A company could purchase a bundle of 192 customized slide decks which deliver all of the versions and variations listed above.  Talk about differentiating from your competition!

But enough of what I think.  What do you think?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Coaching, sales presentations

2 Keys to Selling Success from Ann Romney and Chris Christie

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Aug 29, 2012 @ 06:08 AM

ann romney and chris christieAnn Romney gave a great speech at the Republican National Convention.  She wrote it specifically for her intended audience of women, connecting herself and her husband, presidential candidate Mitt Romney, with that audience, and it worked.  They loved her.  

She was a tough act to follow, but Chris Christie successfully followed with a terrific speech of his own.

Speaking of love, one talking point which I heard loud and clear from Christie was that the people of this country need to choose respect over love.

I have been delivering that message for more than 20 years, not to citizens who must vote for a candidate, but to sales leadership, sales management and salespeople who let their need for approval - their need to be liked - interfere with every facet of what they do.

Salespeople who have need for approval have a difficult time asking questions, pushing back and challenging their prospects.  This affects them at every stage of the sales process, from overcoming early resistance, to scheduling meetings, to selling consultatively, to qualifying and to overcoming putoffs at closing time.

Sales Managers, who have need for approval, find it difficult to be consistently firm - think lack of accountability - and it's even more challenging to coach salespeople to ask better questions via roleplay.

Sales Leaders, who have need for approval, often have organizations where everybody likes them, but not quite enough to perform for them.  They have an especially difficult time replacing non-performers and holding Sales Managers accountable.

Chris Christie said that "we the people" need to choose respect over love and the love will come.  The key word is choose.  We have free will, which means that we can choose.  When we choose respect, by nicely asking tough questions, pushing back with permission and challenging the status quo when appropriate, we usually earn the respect of others.  They will be your friend if they like you.  They will buy from you if they respect you.  Which would you prefer?

You probably know which salespeople, working for you today, have need for approval, but it's not so easy to identify candidates who have that major weakness.  That's where OMG's legendary, accurate, predictive Sales Candidate Assessments enter the picture.  

Topics: sales competencies, sales blog, sales culture, sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Need for Approval, chris christie, ann romney, GOP and sales, sales presentations, objective management group

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

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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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