Sales Fundamentals…They’re Not Complicated

(My column as it appeared in Upmarket magazine week of Aug. 5th)

Nothing clears the head like a crisis in sales. You’re worried about how to sell this or that. You spend days, weeks, months, and sometimes longer trying to figure out your plan of attack. Then before the ink is dry on your 47th revision of your master formulation to increase sales it hits. You have inventory about to spoil, and no customer to be seen on the horizon. – Or. – No customers, and the bank wants to see your sales book for the next 90 days to ensure your credit line stays active. All of the sudden all that planning on what to do tomorrow is scrapped for “Whom can I see today. Now!”

One time I was giving a sales presentation to a group of very driven commission only sales people. This group did not suffer fools gladly and they had heard just about every so-called “Sales Guru” with a slide show try to sell them on some “New or Improved Sales System” hogwash. Many are intimidated when they get in front of a group like this, but you shouldn’t. They can actually become your best fans. Many have customers whom resemble this same group. They too can become your best customers. Why? Because they know what they want and they don’t play games. Offer them real advise, or real solutions that are actionable, measurable, without the dog and pony show and they’ll respond with thoughtful respect or business. And when you need to sell something, and need to sell it now, this is the group that will actually buy when you’re in need of sales. Cultivate this crowd for customers and you’ll end up saving time, money, and panic in the future.

I learned this valuable lesson from a person named Mason years back. I was at a conference and we were discussing over dinner a sales presentation he did that changed his career where he went from average salesman to V.P. in a heartbeat. He was in long drawn out negotiations with a client that involved 10’s of millions of dollars in revenue. Yet every time he tried some technique to close the sale it would just once again go down another path. Till finally he said, “Look. Here’s my cost. You fill in a price that works for you. If I can do it and make a reasonable profit, I’ll do it. Let me know what you come up with, if not have a nice day.” He was serious. Everyone in the room went quiet, and looked at each other. After a few moments of pensive silence the main negotiator laughed and said, “You know what, you’re right. Let’s stop all this round and round stuff with angling for whom slices the last penny and get something done that works for both of us.” He closed the largest contract ever for his company that day, and was quite a feather in his cap. I never forgot it.

A sale is about offering a client actual value. If you have something of value, you can dispense with all the classroom debate skills and actually start selling and asking for business. Anything less and all you’re doing is trying to pick their pockets, and they can see it a mile a way. Offer solid business that’s beneficial to both and selling becomes much easier.

And what about that group of sales people at my presentation? As I was being introduced there was a collective sigh of  “Oh no, not another one.” So I walked up to the easel took out a marker and stated, “I created the only proven sales formula that matters now, and will matter in the future.” Then I wrote in big bold letters the acronym S.A.L.E.S.
I said, “That stands for Sell A Lot Everyday….Brainiac! Any questions?” In what was only seconds but seemed an eternity, the room went from eerie silence to an explosion of laughter. We then went on to what turned into a great success.

Stop trying to complicate the easy stuff. Sell them what you know they need. Not what you want.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr