- October 20, 2014
- Posted by: Dave Kurlan
- Category: Understanding the Sales Force
In the old days, after speaking at a conference, I would frequently be told that I was the top-rated speaker at the event. More recently, people have told me that I “Rocked!” One time, as I was being introduced, an audience member came up to me and said, “Don’t Suck!” We can’t always be rock stars…
I apologize if it sounded like I was bragging. I didn’t mean to. I was just looking for contrast. For example, the great rockers of the last 50 years – the Stones, the Beatles and the Dead – now THEY have FANS! But even those three groups pale in comparison to the original rocker. No, not Elvis. Interestingly, I had to go 8 pages deep in a Google search for Rock Star before there was even a mention of anyone remotely connected to being a rock star. That’s when Joe Perry of Aerosmith was mentioned in the Google web search. Jack Black in his School of Rock role was the first “rocker” shown in the Google image search! Not quite what I had in mind – no offense to Aerosmith and Jack Black fans…
The greatest of all time to rock would be God. Who else could have His word in such a huge collection of books written over so many centuries, all while performing miracles? Who else could have so many devotees? I know. I just broke the biggest unwritten (maybe it’s actually been written) business rule of all time. “Don’t talk about religion.” Well, fuck that! If you’re one of the readers that usually shares my articles and this paragraph is making you uncomfortable, stop reading right now and don’t share the article with anyone. On the other hand, if you are OK with this paragraph and you would be OK allowing a little more God into our increasingly Godless lives, share to your heart’s content. I was just looking for some more contrast.
Back to speakers and then, finally, onto salespeople.
You’ve attended conferences and for every speaker that rocked, there were 3 that were so-so and 2 that absolutely sucked. As a group, do you think that salespeople, and specifically you and/or your salespeople, are any different from speakers? Do you think that all of your salespeople rock all of their sales calls? Do some of them rock some of the time? Do any of them EVER rock? Let’s explore a few of the characteristics of salespeople that really rock.
Salespeople who rock have mastered the following ten competencies:
- Animated – This is not just visual animation, like constant movement, but it’s also vocal animation, one’s ability to reach out with inflection and instantly grab people’s attention and keep that attention for the remainder of the meeting.
- Memorable – While this tends to be an outcome, the ability to stand apart and differentiate from everyone else is the quality that is most important for being memorable. Being animated helps, being likable is important, but the ability to stand out from the crowd is most important.
- Subject Matter Experts – This is more than being an expert about products and services. This is about being an expert on application, your industry, your vertical, your market, on process, on your target customer’s role and with cost justifications and ROI calculations.
- Know the Audience – A salesperson must not only connect with a prospect on a personal level, but they must also know their problems, challenges, frustrations, goals and objectives. A salesperson should understand the personal impact that these issues have on the prospect. To rock even more, a presentation should be tailored and customized to address what a salesperson has learned about the audience. I was a guest on Evan Carmichael’s radio show last week talking about this very thing at the 18-minute mark.
- Ask Great Opening Questions – Assuming that salespeople have and use consultative selling skills to have great and meaningful conversations (see this post for more), then the quality and depth of those conversations are in direct proportion to the opening questions they ask.
- Push Back – Polite and passive salespeople are nice to meet. However, they are not memorable because they fail to differentiate themselves in a meaningful way. From time to time, it’s important to challenge outdated thinking, push back on a questionable approach or question a decision that might not be in everyone’s best interest. Polite and passive salespeople will struggle mightily with this.
- Great Sense of Humor – I am coaching a salesperson who is always too serious. This caused his prospects to feel threatened, pressured and as a result, they would get defensive. They just didn’t find him likable enough! Having the ability to detect the moments where it would be useful to lighten things up by using humor makes salespeople more likable and keeps the pressure from mounting.
- Presence – When a salesperson is well-dressed, six-feet tall, graying around the temples and has a voice like James Earl Jones, it’s hard not to have presence. But the rest of us need to work at it. You might not be in an industry or calling on a vertical where your wardrobe can help. You might not have a great voice. You might be short like me. Wisdom may not have appeared in your hair color. So you make up for these physical shortcomings with pace, confidence, good listening, and a philosophy of less is more. When you do speak, you should be the voice of wisdom. Your contribution to the conversation must be significant, unexpected, articulate, relevant, and when possible, profound.
- Concise – Being concise will certainly enhance your presence, but one must strive for concise in all circumstances. No rambling, unnecessary details, complicated demonstrations, or overblown explanations. When it comes to a presentation, less is always more.
- Close – Salespeople must know when to close. This doesn’t vary and it’s not after X number of minutes, calls, meetings or questions. It’s not after a demo, presentation or proposal either. It’s when all required milestones within the sales cycle have been achieved. Final Milestone achievement can occur after one day or one year, one call or ten calls, one demo or five demos, after meeting with one person or twenty people. It’s milestone-specific, not time- or quantity-specific. And when it’s been completed, it’s closing time. This point in time is the first and best opportunity for closing and salespeople must be able to get the deal closed when this opportunity finally presents itself.
All salespeople have the potential to rock, but they may not have all of these competencies mastered. They can be taught and they can adapt. I’m certain that when I was younger, the only one of these competencies I had was a sense of humor. And if I was in front of an audience, then my sense of humor would have been buried beneath layers of fear. But at some point, I was inspired. I believe it was by God. And I believe that you and your salespeople can be inspired to master all ten of these competencies.
I don’t want you to miss the big one here. It’s the biggest secret of all. Inspiration. When you are inspired, you rock. When you inspire others, you rock!
Would you like to be more successful identifying salespeople that rock?