You can draw sales lessons from everywhere in life. The reason for this is that most of sales is about the interaction of human beings with each other – about the acts of persuasion and communication. I write constantly about how everyday life teaches me valuable lessons about how to become a better salesperson and sales manager. First, I wrote about Sales Lessons in a chick flick. Then I wrote about Sales Lessons from my 7 year old. Then, sales lessons from my 2 year old. I also wrote recently about sales lessons from my colorblind brother.
I gave my “Sales 101 for entrepreneurs” lecture to the entrepreneurs at DreamIT Ventures in Philadelphia last week. If you aren’t familiar with them, its a TechStars / Y-Combinator style incubator that helps launch great companies on a shoe-string. It does so by providing a great environment and access to top notch mentors and experienced VC’s and entrepreneurs. I was honored to be one of their speakers this year.
During my presentation, one of the entreprenuers asked me a great question: What should I look for when I’m hiring a sales candidate?
Recently, I spoke to someone who had followed my advice about being completely truthful in the sales process, and was finding that he wasn’t getting as many sales from it as he thought. I started digging into his process, and instantly realized the problem.
Truthfulness does not mean “reveal everything at once” – nor does it mean that you don’t control what information you give at any time. You need truth in every step of the process, but that doesn’t mean that you have to show your entire hand from the get-go. You should be offering up information in snack-sizes and when it is required to move the process along. You should always be managing the process towards the end goal that you want – a close.
Yesterday, I met my brother at the gym early in the morning. After our workout, my brother asked me in helping him pick out the right tie for him to wear to work. (he had brought 4 to the gym with him). Why? My brother is colorblind. Not black and white only, but enough that getting himself dressed can present challenges.
I had forgotten this about my brother. I shared a VERY small bedroom with my brother for about 14 years before I left for college, and helping my brother with his clothing choices used to be a regular occurrence, but having not lived with him for so long, I forgot about it – and having him ask me about it reminded me of life in his eyes.
People that read QuotaCrush know that I am always talking about the need for transparency and honesty in the sales process. As I’ve said, when you do the right thing and when you are honest, sales happen for you. And the more honest you are, the more good karma comes back and leads to more sales.
A few weeks ago, I took a customer out to lunch since I was in town. This customer has been up on one of the software services for one my clients for about a month, and this was a great opportunity to get some feedback on the product, and talk about the implementation thus far.
When I was in my first job out of college, I worked for a containerized shipping company and wrote code for automating the shipping port. On the successful launch of our software, the CEO of the company came to the port to see the operation. While reviewing the smooth motion of the trucks thru the port, he saw a trucker changing a tire and he was struggling with a lug nut. He made an off-hand comment, “you know… someone should fix that… there should be an easier way,” and then he continued on his tour.
One of the most important, yet difficult, lessons that a salesperson needs to learn is that nobody really cares about the product you sell.
Prospects care about their own problems, their own issues, their own pain. They don’t care about your product.
The only reason they are interested in your product at all is because it solves a particular problem of theirs, or makes their job easier, or saves them money, keeps their boss off their back, or some other selfish reason. You can think your product is as cool as hell, but people don’t buy something cool as hell, unless they understand how it helps them. Yes… your prospect will be thinking about his/her own issues while you talk about your product. If they can’t make a match… they will not buy no matter how cool your product is.
I was having a great discussion with a very successful entrepreneur yesterday, and as we were talking about articles he had read on this blog and with the things that I’ve been doing at QuotaCrush, he said to me,
“Mark, all this stuff you talk about is great. Its the right message, and the right way to sell and think about sales. However, no matter how much you talk about partnership, and solution selling – remember that most of the world still thinks of you simply as a peddler.”