Sales Tops Fortune Magazine’s Best Advice Issue

In the May 12 edition, 19 accomplished people told Fortune Magazine about the best advice they ever got.  16 of those 19 were prominent business executives and no fewer than six of them cited something having to do with sales.

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg was advised to always ask for the order and when the customer says yes, stop talking. I would add that with the Inoffensive Close, you’re asking without your prospect realizing it.

Mark Hurd, Hewlett-Packard’s Chairman and CEO, was told that it’s hard to look good if your numbers are bad.  I would say that in sales, people won’t listen for very long if you talk the talk without walking the walk.

Sam Palmisano, Chairman and CEO at IBM, said he’s observed that the most successful people, the greatest leaders don’t make themselves the center of attention.  I would add that the same is true of the best salespeople; it’s not about them, it’s about their prospects and customers.

Thomas S. Murphy, former CEO of Capital Cities/ABC, said the advice was not to spend your time on things you can’t control and instead, spend your time thinking about what you can. I would add that the only things your salespeople can control are the number of times they pick up the phone, the quality of their conversations, the number of great questions they ask their prospects, their execution of the selling process and their thoughts.

Nelson Petz, CEO of Trian Fund Management, said his dad told him to get sales up and keep expenses down. I wouldn’t add a thing to that one.

Charlene Begley, CEO of GE Enterprise Solutions was told to spend a ton of time with your customers.