The Killer E's

Given the information-density and the significant IQ averages in our business, I suppose it’s understandable that there would be some ambivalence about saying “I’m in Sales!” Indeed, if you look at the business cards of those who are clearly in sales, you’d never know it. From business development to client partnerships to strategic account lead, we’re clearly going to great lengths to avoid the S-word.

When it comes to what we actually say we’re doing, the linguistic gymnastics gets even more impressive. We don’t say were going in to sell, or ask for money or persuade the customer to buy our stuff. No, we fall back on three verbs that I call The Killer E’s: Educate, Evangelize and Entertain. If you’re a sales manager or CRO, start listening for these verbs: they’re a pretty good sign that your seller isn’t going in with a clear purpose.

Most sellers end their meetings right before things get good. Prime information and qualification don’t happen until a closing question gets asked. In a short, time-efficient workshop, Upstream Group can walk your team through the process and role-play the very-real-life scenarios they face in the market. Reach out today. The consult is free.

Educate. This premise is often based on good intentions: but as we know, the road to hell is paved with them. If I just explain a lot of information to the customer about our product, our company, our research insights they’ll respect us and eventually buy us. The problem is there’s no point in most of it. We educate but then forget to say …and here’s what you should do about it right now.

Evangelize. You see this a lot in organizations where there’s a charismatic founder or leader. Touched by the holy message, others in the team try to share it with the same zeal. But evangelism is even more flawed than education. By nature we’re trying to crawl into the heads of our listeners and alter their beliefs when we should really be trying to change their behaviors. No customer is ever going to say, You know I really believe you! And because of that I think now I’m going to do this! If in your missionary fervor you aren’t clear about both the urgency to the customer and the path forward, you’re done.

Entertain. This is something we do wrong in a myriad of ways. Sizzle reel videos, fancy demos, slick capabilities presentations, elaborate case studies all end up being entertaining distractions – distractions from the business conversation, the qualification of the opportunity, the hard questions. Several years ago, one of my customers was under pressure from their sales force for a comprehensive product demo. Once it was released, sales actually went down. Once you turn your customers into an audience and it becomes your show, not many good things happen.

Beware of the Killer E’s. When you hear them, it’s often a sign that something other that sales is happening: something that’s not going lead to either commitment or revenue.

If you’re a qualified sales leader and want to talk about the next era in our business, you might like to attend Seller Forum on Wednesday March 18th in New York, reach out now for your invitation.