I reminded myself that we were in a well-lit office, not a dark alley. No need to get aggressive yet. I relaxed my jaw and tried to keep the fear out of my voice as I replied, “If you pull my people off your project, there’s no way you’ll meet the delivery date.”
My client looked at me blandly, as if he had delivered a weather forecast. In fact, he had devastated my sales forecast. Five fewer of my consultants billing their time to this client meant there was no way I would meet quota to earn my bonus. I needed him to engage with me. I forced a response with a direct question that was also a threat. “Did Juan approve this staffing cut?”
“Why would I check with Juan?” asked the Director of Information Systems Development (ISD) for Billing Systems. He ran his finger down a page of the MCI internal directory as he spoke, “Nobody (more…)
I am going to share with you a useful story about a huge breakthrough in sales effectiveness. My friend told me this story at a critical time in my career. First, some background on how I heard it and why its lessons are so powerful.
I returned to executive coaching full time in 1995 and put my coaching materials on the World Wide Web using CompuServe’s pioneering OurWorld service. My email newsletter was soon being read around the world. I soon received an email from an important coach in South Africa, Pat Grove, who became a valued friend and mentor.
Pat told me that he was in San Francisco in the early 1970s helping to invent coaching at the same time as Werner Erhard (EST), John Hanley (Lifespring), Fernando Flores (Action Technologies), and others. Pat developed and delivered his own training programs in South Africa and Israel for forty years, until his death in January of 2012. I never participated in his group training but I did get tremendous value from our emails and Skype conversations. I am sad that he is gone.
Pat mentioned once that being an effective coach is only possible if one is effective in sales. Simply put, if no one accepts your coaching you are not a coach. Pat, like me, was not a “natural salesman.” We also began our careers with traditional business training. He started as a bank accountant and my first paying job was with a “Big 8” accounting firm. Frustrated and bored, we each decided to try sales and we each failed. The story of my first breakthrough in sales effectiveness is told elsewhere on this blog. Here is Pat’s story, that he shared with me by email in 1996. Pat wrote quickly and informally so I present an edited version here. [My comments are in square brackets.]
No Big Deal
by Pat Grove
I gave up wanting to prove anything and just got the job done.
I chose to be a service agent…
The most important thing I learned was not to sell benefits but to enroll people into taking action on their dreams.
Selling Encyclopedias was at first for me a way to prove to myself, and others, that I was OK. Firstly, my background and experiences and lying about myself to others and to myself was catching up with me. [Pat used the word “lying” in a particular way here. He refers to the pretensions so common in our culture of pretending to “have it all together,” hoping people will think we are more competent and comfortable than we truly feel. This is all an “act” to prevent people from seeing us as we see ourselves.] So I found a system that had the potential to make a lot of money compared to (more…)
A client mentioned his plan to delegate the task of staying in regular, informal contact with customers between transactions. We naturally agreed that these “keep warm” meetings were a valuable and often overlooked source of repeat business. Since the activity is so valuable for the business, I asked how he was going to track the sales representative’s performance on scheduling and conducting these visits. “I’m not worried about that. Her personality assessment is clearly very high ‘I,’ so I know she will happily do the meetings.”
I told him that puzzled me. The most popular assessment tool is (more…)
Some people hate to talk to mechanics. Most people don’t know what their doctor told them.
No one likes reading the fine print. Computer departments often find it difficult to get support from the business side. The operations people find it impossible to get the technical people to listen. Jargon used with the wrong audience is a big part of the problem.
People want to be included but using jargon cuts both ways. If everyone in a conversation knows the jargon, everyone feels included. Everyone is “in.” The person who does not know the jargon is “out.”
Consider a sales call on a doctor’s office. The salesperson begins to talk about VoIP, SAAS, and generational back-ups. How would the office manager feel if he were a computer
expert? Respected, included, and comfortable. How would the novice feel? Disrespected, incompetent, and uncomfortable, perhaps? The typical reaction of a person feeling that way is to (more…)