Selling Entitlement

Dave Kurlan commented to this post–selling.aspx and in the process reminded me that I intended to answer my own questions after you all gave your answers. Frankly, I was pretty surprised that you all had so little to say. Nonetheless, my thoughts:

Do you believe that prospects are telling them the truth? Are you sure? I think that prospects tell the truth when it suits them. They may not care that you think that you’re entitled to the truth. They care only about what they’re after. If you’re a crappy salesperson, they’ll compare you to the competition. They’ll get your price to see if it’s the lowest or if they can get you to lower it. They’ll want you to give them samples. They’ll give you 20 minutes even though they agreed to a 90 minute appointment. They’ll tell you that they’re the decisionmaker even though there are two partners, a committee, or a board that’s actually gonna make the decision. They are not inclined to believe that you actually know what you’re talking about. They’re not inclined to give you information that they believe that you’ll use against them. They are not inclined to cooperate until you give them a reason and once you do, it will look a lot more like they are cooperating with you.

Compelling Reason….Compelling Reason….Compelling Reason. Read Baseline Selling. Until you have uncovered your prospect’s Compelling Reason, there will be no cooperation, no meeting of the minds, nothing! Here’s the rest of the story. You’re not entitled to know what the prospect’s Compelling Reason is. You must earn it. You have to understand your prospect, sometimes better than they understand themselves and they’re typically NOT going to say, “Here’s my compelling reason….” You need to be a double expert. You have to understand your stuff, industry, competition, etc. You also have to be an expert at asking the right questions and that is the hard part. Until you get that right, they’ll have neither the time nor the inclination to explain themselves to your and they won’t give a damn what you think you’re entitled to.

Next question:

If the truth doesn’t involve you.

If you are not the right solution.

Will you be able to handle the truth?

A Sales Nugget

I asked Philip Styrlund, President of the Summit Group if I could share this story. He said, “Yes.” I’m still amazed when really successful people share really good stuff with regular everyday guys like me.

Anyway, here’s the story. Philip was leaving the house to make his fortune and his father, a plain spoken, hard working Swede from Minnesota said, “Philip, be interested, not interesting.”

How can I add to that.

Thank you, Philip’s dad.

World Trade Day 2007

Mike Eagan and I attended the World Trade Day 2007 at Bryant University last Wednesday. We were there because On April 30th, I received the following email from Pete Caputa.

This one is kindofa big deal.
Do you want to help me bring down a posse, so we can all network effectively there?

The plan was to bring a group of “self pronounced super networkers” from the Beechwood Forum, Seven Hills Group, BNI, and the chamber networking groups and leap frog through the 40+ exhibitors’ booths and the 600+ manufacturing company executives in attendance.

These super networkers are the same people that are shoving their business cards in the faces of disinterested attendees at the free or near free business after hours, breakfasts and expos. As a result of being at World Trade Day 2007, Mike Eagan has two appointments with $50+ million companies that want to talk about upgrading their salesforces. I have a conversation set up with a potential partner that is developing business in India and believes that both sides need to learn the other’s sales process. Pete has conversations set up with real companies with real budgets and a real desire to increase attendance at their events.

So, why don’t these “self pronounced super networkers” have similar results? They weren’t there!

Why weren’t they there? They might say that they don’t target companies that have sales in the millions. They might say that they don’t target companies that do business internationally (even though they’re based right here). They might say that they knew the weather was gonna be nice that day and they wanted to play golf. They might say that they wanted to make cold calls that day. (Yeah, right!) My guess is that they didn’t have the $125 admission fee, or they didn’t have enough confidence in their sales ability to get a return on their investment. (No call to action here. Just think about it.)

Super networkers?………Yeah, right!

American Idol

Have you thought about the American Idol phenomenom? Think about it. What an exercise in capitalism.

I’m pretty upset that Melinda got eliminated, but I never voted and who do you think is gonna buy more CD’s, when they make it big, me or the teenie boppers that voted for Blake and Jordin? Isn’t that what it’s all about? Let America vote for who they want to pay to listen to. How many of the contestants have been marketable? Not just the winners and finalists, but how many of the twelves are now generating profits in the music business?

Forget the music. What an idea!

Rainmaker Success

A client called yesterday with a question. We started working together about six months ago. When we started working together, they were barely keeping one crew busy. As of yesterday, they have three crews (That’s right! THREE!) booked solid through the summer. This is huge. Not only did they triple sales, but they tripled sales THREE MONTHS OUT!

His question was, “Now, what do we do? We can’t sell anymore.”

We explored options. They’re already qualifying so that they don’t go on a sales call unless they’re going to sell. They’re already referring opportunities that don’t fit to their competitors. Their margins are up. It looks as though if they want to keep selling, they’re going to have to increase their production capabilities.

I love my job!

Nicholson, Cruise & Selling

Remember the movie, “A Few Good Men”? I was thinking about the exchange between Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson and the underlying lesson to salespeople. Here it is.

Jack: You want answers?
Tom: I think I’m entitled.
Jack: You want answers?
Tom: I want the truth.
Jack: You can’t handle the truth!

When I researched for accuracy, I found another quote from Jack in the same movie. I’ve removed some details, but they don’t affect the lesson.

Son……………I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who…………Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.

OK, who’s the salesperson? Who’s the prospect? What’s the lesson?

Sales, Golf & Lexus Navigation

This morning, Dave Kurlan and I were talking in the office. Neither of us was supposed to be there, but it started raining on him after 4 holes of golf and I had stopped in to see if Chris Mott wanted to have lunch. So, we had a few minutes to socialize. When he told me that his golf game got rained out, I suggested that we trade houses. Then he could grab a hole whenever he had a few minutes. He then mused aloud, “How can you live on a golf course and not play golf?” I replied that I had witnessed a lot of frustration from my back yard and I didn’t see myself asking for frustration. Dave told me that he’d stopped feeling the frustration. He now realized that occasionally he’d hit a shot that wound him up off the fairway. When that happens, he looks at the lie and thinks, “How did I get here?” He then looks in the direction of the green. Picks up a club and gets himself out. Almost simultaneously, we both added, “Kind of like sales”. How many times are you on a sales call and you ask yourself, “How did I get here?” As long as you’re in the moment, you look at where you are, where you need to get and ask the next question.

This exchange reminded us that there’s sales lessons everywhere. All you have to do is watch. Yesterday, Dave and I went to Cambridge to have lunch with Brian Halligan, followed by a meeting with him and my son Mark. Then we got to meet Dharmesh Shah and the rest of the Hubspot team. It was cool being in a building with all that brainpower and entrepreneurial spirit. Anyway, the sales lesson actually happened on the way to lunch. We’re in Dave’s Lexus, and he had put our destination into his navigation system (the map mistress) and we’re following the blue line on the map.

Here it comes. You ready?

So, Dave’s on the phone and not giving the map mistress his full attention and he misses his turn into Boston University. This was so cool. The screen flashed. Then the words, “RECALCULATING ROUTE” came on the screen and a few seconds later we had a new blue line on the map. There were two sales lessons here.

First, the map mistress looked at where we were, where we wanted to go and showed us how to take the next step.

Second, the map mistress didn’t berate us, call us stupid, or tell us to pay attention. It just showed us the next step. How many times have we wasted time and energy on a sales call yelling at ourselves (in our heads) when all we needed to do was take the next step in the right direction.

There’s one more thing. If I hadn’t been in the car, Dave wouldn’t have known that he missed the turn, nor that the route had been recalculated. He would have ended the call, looked down at the blue line and gone on like he hadn’t been off the fairway. Cool, huh?

Incidentally, both Dave and I realized that this story needed to be posted. I got elected.

Thank you for reading.

Competition and Exclusivity

How do you look at competition? Are you afraid of it? Do you try to keep the competition down or do you make yourself better? Do you help competitors? Do you ever refer people to your competitors? Are you the best or are your competitors just worse than you are?

When is an exclusive relationship warranted? Some networking groups will only allow one member from any particular occupation. I.E., one lawyer, one doctor, one CPA. Is that wise. Who do you want in your group, the best doctor so you can refer them to your friends and they can get healed or the best connected doctor who knows everybody and can refer you to many potential clients? Do you make exclusive relationships with your vendors or customers? Is it two way. Are they the only one in their industry that you sell to? Are you the only one that they buy from? Do you have any “one way streets”?

Even if you’ve never commented before, now’s a good time. Incidentally, if you’d like to comment anonymously, use the link at the top of the page to send me an email. I’ll copy the text of your comment without disclosing your identity.

Taking control or over-reacting

Do you watch movies? Do you ever get lessons from them? If you saw Crocodile Dundee in 1986, you may remember this part of the movie.

Dundee is threatened by a mugger with a switchblade]
Sue Charlton: Mick, give him your wallet.
Michael J. “Crocodile” Dundee: What for?
Sue Charlton: He’s got a knife.
Michael J. “Crocodile” Dundee: [chuckling] That’s not a knife.
Michael J. “Crocodile” Dundee: [Dundee draws a large Bowie knife]
Michael J. “Crocodile” Dundee: *That’s* a knife.
[Dundee slashes the teen mugger’s jacket. He and his friends run away]

How about the Untouchables in 1987? Do you remember this advice from Jimmy Malone (Sean Connery)?

“He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That’s the Chicago way!”

I love movies with a message.