This post and the one that will follow it on Tuesday are the republication of "The Truth," a Drift I wrote back in 2007. As I'm sensing a desire among many digital and media sellers for a return to the core basics of selling, I'm offering it up again. Sales managers, nice weekend reading for your team members. Evergreen.
The Truth about your career in sales (in 10 simple points):
1. THE OPPOSITE OF YES ISN'T NO. The opposite of yes is anything except yes. Buyers just don't say no. To quote Guy Kawasaki, "there's just no upside to communicating a negative decision." If you haven't heard yes; if you haven't gotten true commitment - and you're always sure when you do - then you've been turned down and you've got more work to do. Save hope for things like Middle East peace. It has no place in your forecasting.
2. FAST IS GOOD, BUT GOOD IS BETTER. All your digital appliances and constant connectivity are conspiring to make you look stupid. Just because you can respond instantly to every collection of bits that hit your e-mail or crackberry doesn't mean you should. Some of the smartest things I ever said are things I never said. A minute or one extra reading can make all the difference in the outcome of a deal, the survival of a relationship, your career.
3. STOP ASKING "GREAT QUESTIONS" AND START BEING INTERESTED. A sales meeting isn't the invasion of Normandy. Stop over-thinking and over-planning the conversation. Human beings want to be heard and understood. They want to be appreciated and to feel interesting and wise. The very best salespeople are those who bring a warm curiosity to the meeting. They delight in learning and they listen to understand.
4. WHEREVER YOU ARE, BE THERE. Sales is a great job, but it can be pretty consuming. When you're doing it, give it your all. But when you're not supposed to be doing it - like, say, when you're with your kids or visiting your aging parents - then let it alone. You don't lose the spouse and kids because you travel or work long hours; you lose them because even when you're there you're not really there. We look back at the 1960s and bemoan a generation of executives who lived at work. Are we the generation who never unplugged?
5. CLIENTS AREN'T MONOGAMOUS. They don't even get married. If you're waiting for a moment when you'll achieve permanence in a customer relationship, you're baying at the moon. Your life is going to be more like the one Adam Sandler experienced in "50 First Dates." Assume you've got to keep proving yourself and making them fall in love with you all over again, every single day.
Look for points 6-10 in the next Drift post on Tuesday June 8th.