Sales Professional, Politically Correct, or Real

Yesterday I had an email exchange with Frank Belzer, who you probably know blogs as The SalesArchaeologist  and the host of Sales Talk Live. I didn’t decide to blog about it until Father Ron talked about political correctness in his homily.

First, excerpts from the exchange with Frank.

Sent: Saturday, August 28, 2010 7:41 AM
To: Frank Belzer
Subject: RE: Should We Continue Talking about …..

It can’t be more ‘tee-d up’ than that.


I read this and find myself asking myself – …..

(text deleted)



From: Frank Belzer
Sent: Saturday, August 28, 2010 7:54 AM
To: ‘Rick Roberge’
Subject: RE: Should We Continue Talking about ……


Respectfully, I hardly see this as “tee-d up”.

It looks like they encountered the same resistance as I did – (omitted) just decided to respond by sending a Roberge-esque email. I decided to ….. (text omitted)
I don’t think it will.

From: Rick Roberge
Sent: Saturday, August 28, 2010 8:13 AM
To: Frank Belzer
Subject: RE: Should We Continue Talking about …..

Thanks, Frank. Perhaps, “tee’d up” was the wrong word choice. What I was referring to was ……(omitted). Either way, we saved time.


You don’t need to use “respectfully” with me. You could start with “You’re doing it again.” Or “Did you read what you wrote before you clicked send?”

From: Frank Belzer
Sent: Saturday, August 28, 2010 8:40 AM
To: ‘Rick Roberge’
Subject: RE: Should We Continue Talking about …..

Well I do respect you and it’s not in my nature to not “pad” what I say.

I guess I look at this account differently ….. (omitted)

That’s all.

So, when I received the last email from Frank, I started thinking about Frank’s view of his relationship with me, whether he viewed it as ‘real’ and how it related to salespeople. Then we turn to comes Father Ron’s sermon. Be reminded that Father Ron’s been a priest for 50 years. He’s very well respected as well as being well liked. He started his sermon by walking out into the congregation, putting his hands on the top of two ladies’ heads that were sitting near the front of the church and told the congregation that these two ladies were both celebrating their birthdays that day. Then came a round of applause. Then he asked, “How old are you?” One of the ladies just looked at him. The other said, “39”. Then he started talking about political correctness and how our desire to be politically correct takes us in the wrong direction and we often end up in the wrong place. He shared several examples of church leaders being politically correct and winding up in the wrong place.

Now, Frank probably felt that “padding” his pushback was the professional thing to do or the polite thing to do, and it probably was, but think about your ‘real’ close relationships. Can’t they handle the truth? Don’t you think that they see and ignore the padding anyway? Is it really necessary? Remember Jack Nicholson talking to Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men? Tom Cruise wanted the truth and Jack Nicholson said, “…You can’t handle the truth!”

Think about your sales calls. Do you develop a ‘real’ relationship with your prospect, or would you call it professional or politically correct? Do you treat your prospect like they can’t handle the truth? Do you find yourself in a place where you’re afraid to tell your prospect or customer the truth? Is that the type of relationship that you want? Don’t you want to be real?

Come Network with me at John Dillingers in Worcester

If you’ll be in Worcester on the evening of September 7th, come network with me. If you haven’t been to Dillingers, you’re missing a great experience. It’s under the stars, trackside, atmosphere from gangster days like you wouldn’t believe and if you enter “rickroberge” as the discount code you’ll attend as my guest! Click here for details.

Sales Mirror

Dave Kurlan has a pretty interesting picture in his post today. He also shares two very short, very interesting stories. It got me thinking. Have you looked in your sales mirror lately? I’m pretty sure that if I asked you if you were perfect, you’d say something like, “Nobody’s perfect!” But what would your answer be if I asked you whether you were as good as you could be? What would you say then? “Yes”? “No”? How would you know?

I don’t know. The post just got me thinking about the number of SMB’s that are struggling because the owner thinks that they’re as good as they can be or is afraid to learn that they’re not.

Sales Issues

I’m at Goose Rocks Beach. It’s not really a beach day. Mark, Robin, Matt and Melissa are playing golf. Elaine went shopping. I am sitting with my laptop and a bottle of Tempranillo waiting for Kai and Zane to wake up.

Sales Issues – Where should we start?

A stubborn CEO?

An emotionally involved salesperson?

How to handle your prospects when they get emotionally involved?

How to handle a collection issue when a customer that really needs the help stops paying?

How to handle good customers when they want to change the rules?

How to handle a rogue salesperson that thinks he’s more important than he really is?

How to handle a top performer that irritates the rest of your team?

Or, something else? How about this? Give me a scenario. It’ll be a post. If you want to do it in the comments, great. If you want to do it anonymously, click here to send me an email . Either way. Real life.

Here’s a twist. If you want. Send me the issue. I’ll recommend an approach. You try it and write a guest post to share the results.

Sound like fun?

Incidentally, if you decide to share in the comments, don’t use the subjects’ real names. We’re looking to learn, not smear.

Coaching through Resistance to Change

 I started working with John several weeks ago. He’s a good student. Pays attention and participates in training classes. First one in the office. Last one to leave and works pretty hard while he’s there. I should also note that he’s an experienced salesman and evaluated as a strong salesman. The company that he works for has been a reactive company for many years and like most reactive companies, they have a busy season and a slow season. I participate in this company’s daily huddle and this morning, everybody agreed that inbound calls had tailed off significantly. I reminded everbody in the huddle that telephones were truly remarkable and that they could be used to dial out as well as to answer inbound calls and we agreed that John would make 30-50 outbound calls to past customers and opportunities that didn’t close starting today. At 3:44 this afternoon, John called me.

John got involved in a bid and realized at 3 PM that he hadn’t made his calls. He decided that he should start rather than try to explain to me tomorrow why he hadn’t. On the third call, he got this response. “Oh, I’m glad that you called. Can you give me a quote on 300 rolls of ‘stuff’? $5,000! John told me that he hung up and said, “F___ing Rick.”

Progress! Then I asked, “By the way, John, did you ask about compelling reasons, urgency, decision date, etc?” He sheepishly replied, “No.” (One step forward. One step back.)

I asked, “John, do you remember if your evaluation indicated that you had a tendency to get emotionally involved?” Yes.

Most salespeople that I talk with truly hope that I could help them improve, but when I tell them that I can double their sales in 90 “days, their response is typically “Impossible”. John’s evaluation not only showed that he was strong but also gave us a ‘911 warning”. A “911 warning” means that John felt that he was so good, that we would not be able to help him, so he was likely to resist our training and coaching. Today, we made headway on that. It was a good day.

Let me close with this.

“The natural progression of development goes from IMPOSSIBLE to POSSIBLE to PROBABLE to DEFINITELY to DONE!”

What then?

I went to church today and had a difficult time staying with the sermon. Honestly, he wasn’t a great speaker. After what seemed like an eternity, he said, “One final point…” and made what was supposed to be his final point. Then he went on and I thought, “Oh no!” as he began to relate a story about Malcolm Gladwell talking with a student about his plans for his future. Every time the student stated a goal, Gladwell purportedly asked, “What then?” until the student realizes that he hasn’t reached his first goal and he has to plan his life all over again. I tried to verify the story, but couldn’t. However, doesn’t take away the effectiveness of the exercise.

Think about it. What are you working for? and when you reach it, what then? and when you reach that, what then? and when you reach that, what then? and when you sell your company for a guzillion dollars, what then? and then what?

Is that important enough to be thinking about it today?


Will what you do today have any impact on getting you there?