A Word about Authenticity

 

Yesterday one of my people sent a letter in the form of an email to an exec at a Fortune 500 Company. The letter was a true and authentic representation of the current sales opportunity and a request for a meeting to discuss. While I won’t post the actual letter, I will post the “teachable moment” text of the email I sent to my team forwarding the letter.

________________________________________

Team,

The longer I do this the more I realize that people respond to authenticity; not the latest “talk track”. This letter that Chris wrote to an exec at Company X is a perfect example of being honest and transparent with someone about the truth of the situation. Everything in this email is absolutely and unequivocally true. It got a positive response within 5 minutes of being sent and now we have a face to face meeting with this exec on Wednesday. Customers are tired of the constant barrage of nonsense (aka bullshit) that software salespeople are doling out; a special discount THIS MONTH ONLY. (You won’t get it next month–yeah right). It is just one gimmick after another to them. I know I’m guilty of it too. But almost every time the truth is tried it gets you further down the road. These people aren’t stupid. They have seen it all before. And frankly, I’m tired of treating them like they are. Honesty and transparency are a breath of fresh air in the ocean of insincerity and inauthenticity that our technology sales culture breeds.

Top 5 Reasons That You Might Suck at Sales

#5) You’re Lazy

You “fell into” sales because you believed there was no structure or rigorous discipline required.  And while there is no one telling you when to get your sorry ass out of bed, or watching you when you clock out after lunch, there is a structure and discipline that is required for successful selling; especially today.  If you don’t have the gumption to create this structure and discipline for yourself, for God’s sake get someone to help you.

#4) You Speak Like a Moron

If every phrase or sentence that comes out of your pie hole is an overused metaphor, buzzword, or analogy, then you need to relearn how to speak.  After all, if you want to be on the same page, hit the ground running, and have your ducks in a row, then you need to zoom out to a 30,000 foot view and realize that your buyers have seen this movie before.  They’ve seen all the robust, seamless, cutting edge, actionable, and epic products and solutions out there.  If this sounds like you then you need to reach out to someone for help.

 

#3) You Don’t Care About Buyers’ Goals and Objectives

Being in sales presupposes that you have high economic values.  However, if all you care about is YOUR financial gain then you are wasting your buyer’s time AND you won’t achieve your goal.  The current buyers’ landscape requires that sellers have a vested interest in the outcome of their buyers.  While not caring about the buyers’ outcome may have short term success, you will eventually be found out.  The law of Karma is amplified in a hyperconnected world.  If this describes you then you need help reconnecting with WHY you are doing what you are doing.  Get help please.

#2) You are not prepared

Because of #5 and #3, you don’t bother to prepare.  You believe that your looks, charm and ability to think on your feet will win the day.  Buyers aren’t impressed.  Not only do you have to understand your buyer’s business but you have to add something to their understanding of their business. You have to change their minds about how they view their business.  This requires preparation.  If you don’t know how to effectively prepare for a buyer engagement then please get some help.

#1) You are Completely Full of **it

There is absolutely no connection between who you are and what you do.  Some call this a lack of congruence.  I call it living a lie.  Your buyer calls it an endless and unrelenting stream of BS.  Breaking through in this selling environment requires authenticity.  That means being in true alignment with why you are doing what you are doing.  It also means being in true alignment with your buyers’ goals and objectives which, in most cases, occur AFTER you close the transaction.

If you are afflicted by these symptoms don’t be too hard on yourself.  These symptoms are the result of years of poor instruction and bad conditioning.  It takes real commitment and courage to eradicate them from your life.  If you or someone you know are plagued by these issues please do us all a favor, and reach out for help.

Nobody is here!

 

I recently participated in a meeting.  There were about 10 of us in a conference room.  The table was full of open laptops, presumably for note taking.  Iphones and Androids were on the table.  As we began the discussion, people would tune in and out.  When addressed some would ask that the question be repeated.  There was a point during one of the discussions that a silence came over the group.  All that could be heard was the clickety-clack of keyboards.  Peoples’ faces were locked into their computer screens or their cell phones.  It dawned on me that…

At this moment, no one was actually AT this meeting.  They were all somewhere else. They were thinking about or doing something else.

This is the other side of technology — the apparent inability of people in the business world to be present and contribute fully to the task at hand.

The question is: what to do about it?  I’m still thinking about how I will handle it.  Do you have some good ideas about how to handle this?

Where is your power going?

 

Have had the pleasure over my lifetime to study the art of Aikido.  My Sensei was David Shaner, pictured above.  The value of Aikido for me has been to apply the principles to daily life.  In Aikido training, the question is frequently asked, “where is your/their power going?  Most commonly it is asked when the uke (attacker) grabs the nage (one being attacked) in any number of ways.  The job of the nage is to respect that direction, sense where the uke’s power is directed, put him or herself in alignment with that direction and safely immobilize the attack.

I was thinking of this concept in the context of “closing” a deal.  As I wrote in a previous post, closing is purely a sellers term generated from a seller’s perspective.  From a buyer’s perspective there is an entirely opposite perspective on this part of the process.  For the buyer, “closing” is in fact “opening” or commencement of the journey to value for what they have purchased.

I would guess that 80% of all sales training, coaching, management focus, is directed towards closing.  But the focus on closing is way out of alignment with what the buyer’s focus is on — which is ultimately recognizing value for what is purchased.  Finishing up the initial agreement – closing –  is simply a step towards achieving the value.

One of the reasons that salespeople lose control of deals towards the “close” is because the prospect senses that they are not in alignment with helping the client generate value.  In your next sales cycle, constantly ask yourself where your power is going?  Focus your power on value and generate excitement about getting started!

Your Own Sales Methodology

Many people ask me what sales methodology I use.  I’m very familiar with 4: Mike Bosworth’s Solution Selling and Customer Centric Selling, Infomentis’ Value Selling Process, and Challenger Selling.  I’m a big believer in deploying a sales methodology primarily because, a) most of them accurately reflect the stages of the buying process, b) they provide a common communication framework for the selling organization, and c) when set against running a sales organization by word of mouth, they work.  I use a process which is a combination of the methodologies I’ve learned, the unique gifts that I bring, and the sales experiences that I’ve had.

If you are traveling blindly down a path that someone else has created, it is by definition not your own.  Hence, using sales methodology too rigorously, without your unique gifts, creativity, and experience, will ultimately fall short.  Each of us brings a unique set of talents and experiences to our selling environments.  We should augment sales methodology with these gifts in order to differentiate ourselves in what is increasingly becoming an ocean of selling sameness.

In short, sales methodology is crucial; but it should be your servant, not your master.

Cognitive Dissonance in Sales Culture

Cognitive Dissonance:

“an uncomfortable feeling or stress caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a fundamental cognitive drive to reduce this dissonance by modifying an existing belief, or rejecting one of the contradictory ideas.” – Wikipedia

Today’s Sales culture is wrought with cognitive dissonance.  Here is an example:

The executive orators give great lip service to how we are in all this for the long term success of the customer.  All the marketing material says this, so it MUST be true, but you better frig’n get that deal in and hit that number this quarter…the interest of the customer is clearly secondary.  In addition, there are no metrics or compensation mechanisms in place to reinforce the behavior. Unfortunately, Salespeople live in this dissonance every day.  In fact, if you can’t handle a significant amount of cognitive dissonance, today’s sales culture may not be for you. (There are a few companies, however, that go to great lengths to align their corporate lip service to the compensation plans of their Salespeople.  We have a long way to go in this area but at least its a start.)

I’ve known some good salespeople who have been eaten alive by the cognitive dissonance in their sales organizations.  Unfortunately, pointing this out in one of these organizations will usually not do you any good.  Either the dissonance will chip away at your performance until you leave or you are asked to leave, you will succumb to it and become a second rate sales person, OR you will learn to navigate through the dissonance and serve the customer despite it.

I suggest the latter.