Here’s What Not to Do: 2nd Edition

terrible salespeople willy wonka

I make mistakes.  You get to learn from them.

What can I say?  I’m a giver.

It’s an interesting day when you have the opportunity to experience a truly powerful feeling of emotion.  For me today, that emotion is one of disgust.

As a highly opinionated individual with pretty high standards, it would stand to reason that I can become disgusted pretty easily…probably too easily.

What makes it such a strange sensation for me today is that it happens to be self disgust.  This doesn’t tend to happen as often.

Self disgust can be a powerful motivator to set things right and make some positive change.  Since we just established that most of our success comes from paying attention, this is a timely lesson to be learning.

Let me tell you about my error in judgement, and perhaps you can learn along with me.

It has to start with me sounding like a bit of an asshole…which is unfortunate.

I’ve spent the last decade making sales a pretty careful study.  I spend a LOT of time thinking about how to sell.  I feel like I have a very good handle on the subject.

I have (previously) believed my approach and my philosophy is so good that everyone just needs to get in line and do what I say.  Not optimal, I know.

I truly believe the stuff I teach…works.  It’s in the delivery that I’ve managed to tarnish my message more than I’d care to admit. ;/

The formula a decent salesperson follows is relatively simple:

1.)  Build Rapport

2.)  Build Credibility

3.)  Find / Probe the Prospects’ Needs/Wants/Fears/Concerns

4.)  Present Solutions to said Needs/Wants/Fears/Concerns

5.)  Call to Action / Close

The source of today’s disgust is that I realized that I have been failing to follow this simple formula which, ironically, is something I claim to be an expert at.

I was blind to the fact that I was failing to practice what I preach.

So where did I go wrong?

This past week I gave a presentation in front of a group at one of our rookie training classes.  I’ve been public speaking for a decent length of time and I thought I had it mostly figured out.   This week I described a massive challenge/problem that we have in the sales profession, and I prescribed “THE SOLUTION” to that challenge.

The issue is that a portion of the group I presented to didn’t feel uplifted and inspired to change.  They felt lectured at and demeaned.

It hit me today that if I had tried to sell like I have been trying to PRESENT, I would never have been successful at sales in the first place.  I have been TELLING people how to sell, instead of SELLING them on it!

Can you imagine walking into a prospect’s office and starting off your conversation with how terribly wrong they may be doing things now? You’d be implying that the prospect was incompetent…even if they were just doing their best.  You wouldn’t make friends very quickly.

This is the way I’ve been trying to communicate my message:

Brute force.  I’m right.  Listen up.

It isn’t working for me.

My presentation style up to this point has consisted of skipping over steps 1-3 above and going straight into the solution prescription and call to action “because I say so.”  No rapport building necessary.  No personal credibility establishment right?  Wrong.

I have been (naively) counting on the fact that “the message” is just so compelling that the audience will just naturally see my points and agree with “the truth” I am speaking, rather than asking them questions, discovering where they are and meeting them in that spot, with only what they need…

…which is insane, because I do know how to do that.  I do it all the time with my customers, just not with my salespeople.

I “know” how to sell so “well” that my personal convictions have hindered my ability to effectively “sell” the process of selling!  #deep

Think about how jarring this is for me.  I just realized that for the last 2 years of my life I’ve been throwing MY OWN damn philosophy out the window.  Bleh.

It would be hilarious if it wasn’t sort of tragically ironic.

Nevertheless…thanks to a good friend and mentor, this lesson was revealed to me today.  After he made this observation, we brainstormed how an effective presentation would communicate the same philosophy, in a more easily received, appealing package.

So now I feel a strange cocktail of sickness at what feels like a few wasted opportunities, combined with the excitement that I’ve made a great new discovery that I look forward to employing in the future.

A really smart guy once said that “all life asks from us is that we make measurable progress in reasonable time.”  This piece of progress took longer than I’d have liked, but hey…sometimes you don’t get to choose to progress.  Sometimes progress smacks you upside the head and embarrasses you.

Good selling my friends.




Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

One thought on “Here’s What Not to Do: 2nd Edition

  1. Dan,
    What a huge breakthrough for you! Self-awareness and looking back at that person in the mirror is not an easy thing to do.

    I appreciate this post, because it’s the part of the sales process that isn’t easily taught. Very rarely do you even see articles on this topic.