pro·fes·sion·al /prəˈfeSH(ə)n(ə)/ noun: Everyone can tell you what happened. A Professional can tell you why. Because they understand it so well they can manipulate it, repeat it, and articulate it making their success transferable to others. Their insight is valuable and it is the basis for their success.
The goal of every sales person is to become a Professional.
Accidental success in sales is destructive. Other people in the organization will attempt to duplicate it with disastrous results to the organization for failure to understand why it worked and properly apply it to other situations with other differing personalities. A lot of time and money and careers will be wasted on efforts in wrong directions for lack of insight and understanding.
Success that cannot be clearly articulated is an illusion. The actual potential was never maximized and the heights that were reached could not be maintained. Even deep insights are rarely crafted into actionable items and mantras that help individuals and organizations build disciplines that sustain success and create what I call Elite Execution.
Sales people don’t need “psycho-babble”. No one is more in touch with reality and closer to the front lines with customers and competitors than sales people. We don’t need someone to attempt to build our self-esteem. The sales people willing to buy and read books like this are the 20% who drive 80% of the revenue. We are the catalysts. But, we are always looking to upgrade and enhance our earning ability. We need frameworks and disciplines that help us refine and improve our thinking and form habits that train our instincts. We need actionable ideas and insights. We need them in concise, terse, sound-bites that mimic our own thought patterns so that we can remember them. And we want them so precise that they can be delivered in one sentence or less! Cut to the chase and give us the nugget of truth that makes the difference! We need to hear the logic that makes these disciplines work so we can manipulate what is being said and apply it to our own unique situation.
Having achieved great success as a salesperson, gained experience as a sales manager, and more recently as the Global Manager of Sales, Learning & Development for a major medical company, I train executive level sales people from around the world. Most of the sales people I train have 5-20 years’ experience and make $200,000-$800,000 convincing surgeons that they (the salesperson) are right.
That may sound like a strong statement to make. So let me clarify it with an important caveat; I don’t mean to imply that the customer is wrong as though the answer is an answer to a moral question. In this case the sales person is right about the future of that business, about which way to go at the fork in the road that new technology presents. No one at that moment has a better view of the implications that solution or technology can have on the business than the sales person who knows the technology better than anyone. It’s the customer who is at a complete disadvantage and deserves the salespersons empathy and benefit of the doubt. In the case of truly disruptive technologies that really change the game the sales person has the unique privilege and awesome responsibility as prophet and priest wielding the truth about the product’s ability to change the world and literally the lives of others for the better.
At the same time, that sales person must realize the need to understand and identify with the skeptics in their unbelief if skeptics are to be won over. In medical sales and several other professional sales arenas, the choice at hand impacts the lives of patients or people at risk. Regret is possible on the part of the customer. But, I believe my customers do the best they can with the best they have based on the best available information and are only human.
As Salespeople, we will never know, in this life, the thousands of people who were helped as a result of our successful efforts. But, you should dream a little and your company and management team should search for inspiring stories that demonstrate that impact on real people who benefit from you product or solution.
My Trainees come from Fortune 50 world-class organizations. They all say the training disciplines shared in this book was the best training they have ever had. They claim that they feel more prepared to conquer their territory than ever before, and they are dying to try new ideas they learned in my class. They have notebooks full of thoughts and action items they intend to implement. The fun part is when they call back to tell me how well it works.
Being in sales is about being convincing and persuasive even when your customer is your superior in every credible measure. This book is my attempt to capture the things that work and speak to me and other successful sales people in our own language.