Tag Archives: Sales

How to Gain Trust With Customers

In a conversation a few weeks ago, I heard a phrase that, frankly, I was hoping had made it to the dumpster of old sales philosophies.  There is an antiquated mentality in sales that says “Buyers are liars.” This mindset teaches salespeople to be skeptical of everything a customer says and to never fully trust them. The logic is that if you don’t trust the customer, you won’t get taken advantage of or misled.  It’s a fear-based mentality, and as you know if you read my work, “Fear” is the worst four-letter word that starts with “F” in sales.

However, this distrustful approach is fundamentally flawed. You cannot build trust and have an authentic relationship with someone if you start from a place of skepticism and withholding trust. Trust has to be reciprocal – you have to give it in order to earn it. Salespeople who say they want their customers’ trust, but don’t extend any trust themselves, are being hypocritical.  And yet, this is something I hear a lot.  Let’s talk about how to REALLY gain trust with customers.

If you go into every sales interaction suspicious of the customer’s motives and truthfulness, the customer will pick up on that vibe. They’ll sense that you view them as a liar or adversary to be conquered rather than a relationship to cultivate. Why would they then open up, engage authentically, and place their trust in you?  Short answer:  they won’t.

The role of a salesperson should be that of a trusted advisor and solutions consultant, not someone just trying to tap the customer’s wallet, regardless of the result. When both parties enter the relationship with trust and authenticity as the foundation, better solutions are reached that serve both sides’ needs.

I’ve said before that “You can either embrace transparency or have it forced upon you.”  Well, if you want to gain trust with customers, you’d better embrace it.  In other words, you need to lead by example and be the first to extend trust to the customer. This means:

  1. Asking Open-Ended Questions & Really Listening: Too often, salespeople fall into the habit of talking at the customer instead of having a dialog. They make assumptions about what the customer needs instead of taking the time to truly understand through asking open-ended questions. Asking and sincerely listening shows you trust the customer to openly share their real needs, sources of dissatisfaction, desired future state, and thoughts.  In fact, let’s take this to another level.
  2. You must ask open ended questions, even when the answer might harm your ability to make a sale:  I’ve seen salespeople who are normally good questioners shy away from asking certain questions, because the answer might disqualify them as a solution to the customer’s needs.  Don’t do that.  “Putting yourself out there” in this way is a way to gain trust with customers – and it’s a way to avoid making deals that you’ll regret down the road.  Don’t ever be afraid to walk away from deals that will have a negative result for you or for the customer.  Many times, you’ll win that business back down the road.
  3. Being Fully Transparent About Your Business Process: Instead of obfuscating next steps or giving vague half-truths about pricing or logistics, be fully upfront and transparent about every aspect of the process. Lay out the exact path from where the customer is today to ownership and implementation of your solution. Hedge nothing. This open communication demonstrates you trust the customer can handle the full truth.  Keep in mind – your role is to help the customer navigate their Buyer’s Journey.  They already know what THEIR process is and where they are in it; you shouldn’t hide YOUR process from them (and of course, your process and their Journey should mesh).
  4. Being Upfront About Pricing & Value: Manipulative tactics like holding back pricing until the end, or overpromising value and downplaying costs, demolish trust. Be accurate and upfront from the start about pricing and quantify the concrete value/ROI. Trust the customer can make an informed decision in their own best interest.  Keep in mind:  Your customer CAN discover a price for your stuff – or your competitor’s – without a salesperson’s intervention these days due to technology.  If they have to resort to technology, you have made yourself unnecessary.  Don’t bitch when they treat you that way.

In today’s world of open information access and buyer empowerment, trying to “control” the sales process no longer works. In truth, it never really did – the customer always had the real control – but it’s definitely easier for customers to kick you out of their Buyer’s Journey now.  If you want to succeed in this world, you have to get rid of fear-based techniques, embrace transparency, build trust, and engage customers in an open and authentic sales conversation. When you lead by demonstrating mutual trust and transparency, you’ll get the right deals done – deals that make everyone happy that you did business, and deals that make the customer look forward to doing business with you again.  And isn’t that what we’re really after?

Sales and Marketing: The Marriage Whose Time Has Come

Note:  This article is a collaboration between myself and Stephanie Smith of The Grind Marketing.  I’ve asked Stephanie to collaborate with me because I want my readers to be on the cutting edge – and these days, you can’t be on the cutting edge of Sales without incorporating Marketing.  There will be more of this content to come.

For the entire time I’ve been in sales – and probably longer – there has been a disconnect between the sales team and the marketing team at many companies (including many that we have worked for and worked with). The salespeople, who interact directly with customers, often feel that the marketing materials and campaigns don’t match up with what they’re seeing and hearing from clients in the real world. Meanwhile, the marketing folks think the sales reps don’t fully appreciate the importance of presenting a cohesive brand image and messaging.

This divide causes issues. The messaging can be mismatched, lead generation suffers, and the overall experience for the customer gets jumbled up. When sales and marketing aren’t working together, it becomes really difficult to create a smooth, consistent experience for customers across all the different touchpoints they have with the company. This can damage trust and loyalty over time.  This is more pronounced now, since customers have more access to marketing messages through technology.

The key is getting sales and marketing on the same page through open communication and collaboration. They need to understand each other’s roles and perspectives.   Instead of working at odds, Sales and Marketing need to be viewed as one team with different, and complementary, roles.  Here are five good ways to get started:

1. Work-alongs:  We were tempted to call this “ride-alongs,” since the idea began with marketing people should periodically ride along with salespeople to see sales interactions in the field – but the concept works both ways.  Salespeople should be part of the creative process in Marketing.  In fact, the teams should have regular meetings to share customer insights, align their strategies, and get on the same page with positioning and messaging.  The marketers can take the customer pain points and challenges that the sales reps are hearing about and use that to shape more relevant marketing campaigns. And the sales team can apply the marketers’ skills around branding, messaging, and buyer psychology to have more impactful conversations.

2. Use Tech:  Sharing data and technology is also critical. You should be using a good CRM that both Sales and Marketing work with. When Sales and Marketing are using the same systems for tracking leads, analyzing customer behavior, and sharing data, both teams can make smarter decisions and create more seamless, personalized outreach.

3. Define Lead Scoring Together: Historically there has always been tension between Sales and Marketing when it comes to defining a “good lead.” When markets are hot and the buying power is in your favor, the definition surrounding what constitutes a qualified sales lead doesn’t matter as much, because the opportunities inbound are plentiful. However, when markets are down, the definition matters more. Without definition, Marketing will continue to contest; “what do you mean sales are down? We sent you 800 leads last month.” Determining how to score leads requires both teams to clearly understand the buyer persona and what makes the perfect prospect. Assigning real-time lead scoring based on an agreed-upon set of criteria reduces the blame game and allows both teams to focus on optimizing lead-generation tactics. This type of clarity also provides the flexibility for both teams to adjust mid-campaign. If the results aren’t where the team forecasted that they should be based on known customer behaviors and market conditions, the team can reposition messaging and establish retargeting tactics to fuel the funnel appropriately.

One note here – if the sales department doesn’t respond to leads quickly, they don’t have a leg to stand on in this conversation.  As I’ve demonstrated before in this space, leads get cold quickly.

4. Think Holistically About The Stages in Your Buyer’s Journey Map: Formally known as a Sales Funnel, this approach takes similar concepts in defining what stage a customer is within the sales cycle and understanding the amount of nurturing it will take to close the initial deal. With so many new ways a customer can enter the pipeline and equally as many new ways to nurture a customer without ever even having to meet with them face-to-face, this is where a sales and marketing collaboration can truly shine to deliver consistent messaging throughout multiple touchpoints required to prompt conversion. Through this tactical approach,  it is important for marketing teams to share real-time behavioral insights with the sales teams. Again, by leveraging a comprehensive CRM platform, this important customer data can help both teams understand exactly where a customer is at in the funnel before the initial call is ever made. Not only does this create a better customer experience, it also reduces the sales cycle and enhances the time-line to close.

5. Create a Service Level Agreement Between Departments: Okay, that sounds more formal than what it needs to be, but honestly developing a written agreement on deliverables and clearly defining expectations for both teams is one of the most effective ways to maximize productivity. This can be as simple as assigning mutually agreed upon goals that benefit both teams. For example, marketing will provide X number of qualified leads required to help support overall sales quotas and the sales team will aim to close X number of deals from lead generation tactics to meet specific revenue targets. All Leads that are not “sales-ready” (i.e. Motivated and ready to begin a Buyer’s Journey) will be marked as such by the sales team and sent to marketing to be enrolled in automated lead nurturing campaigns through the CRM.

In the B2B world especially, where you’re dealing with long sales cycles and multiple decision makers, having this united sales-marketing strategy is make-or-break. Your customers don’t want to have to choose between brand messages and figure out which one is the “right” one.  Presenting a unified front throughout the entire customer journey builds credibility and trust, ultimately leading to more sales.

The old silos have to come down. When sales and marketing get in sync through transparency, cooperation, and shared goals, the whole company can deliver a much tighter, more compelling experience that resonates with customers and drives better results.

Can Sales and Marketing work together seamlessly? Sure.  This article is an example; Troy Harrison is the Sales Navigator, and Stephanie Smith is a marketing expert, and we coauthored it.  In fact, we will be doing much more collaboration on this concept in the coming months.

About Stephanie Smith:

Passionate about transforming ideas into impactful stories, Stephanie Smith brings extensive experience in strategy development, marketing, content creation, branding, and digital tactics.

Results-driven with a history of leveraging new technologies and market trends to develop collaborative sales and marketing strategies that consistently generate new revenue growth. Her strategic insights and ability to navigate the challenges of blue-collar industries have led to her being approached by B2B family-owned businesses seeking to enhance their go-to-market strategies. Under Stephanie’s guidance, these businesses have seen significant growth, with some experiencing a 300% increase in year-over-year sales performance while earning industry recognition for their impactful campaigns.

With over 15 years of experience in the ever-evolving marketing landscape, Stephanie has led cross-functional teams to align with overall business goals. Her adaptability shines through in fast-paced environments, where she manages multiple projects seamlessly. This experience and Stephanie’s passion for supporting blue-collar workers and their businesses led her to a pivotal point in her career to launch a startup marketing community. Dedicated to delivering go-to-market strategies specifically crafted for small to mid-sized business structures in these industries this community helps companies thrive in today’s business landscapes.

As the Founder of The Grind Marketing Collective, Stephanie leads a team of talented professionals responsible for developing and executing innovative and impactful marketing campaigns that drive brand awareness, customer engagement, and revenue growth for the companies they serve. Leveraging their experience in marketing communications, social networking, and B2B marketing strategies that showcase the value and quality of their clients’ products and services.

Stephanie is always open to connecting! To contact Stephanie visit thegrindmarketingcollective.com or email her at stephanie@thegrindmarketingcollective.com 


Why Not? Four Innovative Ways to Prospect

Are you getting tired of me telling you that sales is changing?  Too bad.  I’m going to do it again.  Sales is changing.  That doesn’t mean that you have to throw out all of your old prospecting methods – but it does mean that you need to be adding new ones, and new tools to your toolbox.  That can be uncomfortable for some of us, but it’s necessary.

The reality is that we have more ways of contacting prospects than ever before. Some work – some don’t.  And there are some that you should try to see if it works for you.  What’s cool is this – there is no model of prospecting that “doesn’t work anymore.”  Teleprospecting?  Yep, still works, although the ratios are different now.  Walk in cold calls?  For many industries, they’re dead – but I have a client who lives off of them quite successfully.  And then there are new ones that you probably haven’t tried, nor have I.  Let’s talk about four innovative ways to prospect that you should probably try.

  1. Video messaging: This is an offshoot of a conversation that I had with a recruiter this week while on a speaking engagement.  He’s finding good candidates on LinkedIn and, instead of sending a generic text message on LinkedIn, he is recording a highly personalized 30 second video, tailored directly to the individual, and sending that.  Yes, it takes more time to do – but he tells me that his pull-through has actually doubled.  That’s a great idea for recruiting, but it might be a great way to prospect, too.  The key to this (as will be the key to all the methods we’ll discuss) is that it must be very 1-to-1 and speak to the individual – not a mass message.  Have I done this yet?    Am I going to try?  You bet your commission check I am.  And I’ll tell you the results.  But don’t wait for me; give it a shot yourself.
  2. Rethinking the cold call: We know that the ratios of calls to contacts (someone actually answering the phone) have dropped precipitously.  Whereas we used to see someone answering on about half of the prospecting calls we made, now it’s closer to 1 to 5, or even 1 to 10.  So why not make that work for us?  Instead of hanging up or leaving a boring voice mail, think of something exciting to say – and tailored – and consider it an opportunity to get your name on their radar screen, rather than considering it a failure if you don’t get an answer.  In my training with my clients, we see that salespeople who leave voice mails get views on their LinkedIn pages from some of the people they called.  Great!  Leave a tailored voice mail asking them to call you – but also to look you up on LinkedIn or to text.  When they do look you up, send a connection request.  Then slow-play the relationship development (see my comments on LinkedIn prospecting below) so you don’t immediately get blocked.
  3. Buy the appointment: OK, this one is out there a bit, but a close friend sent it to me and it was too good not to share. One ad agency discovered that it cost them $126 to get a lead on LinkedIn, so they skipped the middleman and sent out a nice brochure with $126 in cold hard cash, asking for an appointment.  As the article shows, the sample size is small so far – but the results are good at the start.  This is admittedly one for a company with a decent sized budget, but if you can, why not?  Save it for your top prospects, of course, but if you get business, the ROI is there.
  4. LinkedIn prospecting: You’ve probably seen it.  You accept a connection request from someone you haven’t met, and immediately you get bombed with a hard-sell message.  If you’re like me, you either tell them you’re not interested, or you block them.  Don’t get caught in that trap.  You absolutely should use LinkedIn to prospect, but you should also be aware that it’s a slow play.  Once you receive the connection request, just send a simple message thanking the person for joining your network.  Then, engage with them – like their posts and comment or share where appropriate (but make sure your comments are appropriate and not stalkerish).  Then – when they post or comment something that indicates an opportunity for you – send them a SOFT message suggesting that you can help with their problem, and asking if they’d like to have a conversation.  If they say no, keep engaging.  LinkedIn is a relationship based strategy, but it can work if you do it right.
  5. Send a handwritten note: Admittedly, this is not “new” or “innovative.”  But it’s pretty damned different now.  Nobody sends handwritten notes now.  And by “handwritten,” I don’t mean a note with a printer that looks like handwriting.  I mean an actual handwritten note.  Again – as are all of these methods – it must be tailored and speak directly to your prospect on a one-to-one basis.  This is one that I can tell you works today.  In fact, on a percentage basis, it might work better today than it used to.  Want to combine old tech and new tech?  Send a handwritten note on a card that has a QR code that allows them to reach out quickly.

While you’re digesting those four innovative ways to prospect, I want to cop to a change in my own thinking.  I used to say that prospecting was a function of the law of large numbers, and I told managers to discourage their salespeople from doing extensive research on prospects – instead, make the calls and get the appointments. A good database that tells you who your target contact is and their company’s demographics and industry data was enough. For some industries and environments, that still is appropriate.

For many of us, though, it’s time for a shift.  Notice that every one of those four methods above demanded tailoring.  To succeed, you must speak directly to your prospect on a person-to-person level that demonstrates that you know a little bit about them and have a reason for reaching out.  The good news is that it’s so easy to research now that, within five minutes, you can come up with enough information to have a ‘hinge’ for your contact.

Have I personally tried and trained on all of these methods?  No.  Not YET.

Do I think some of them might fail for myself or for you?  Possibly.  Not everything is a fit for everyone.

But we are in a moment where there aren’t many rules, where these four innovative ways to prospect present a relatively blue ocean (because not many salespeople are trying them), and thus you have an opportunity to use them to succeed.  So try things.  Learn things.  Innovate.  Hell, think of ways that I didn’t think of above.  Maybe in a year, you’ll have developed four innovative ways to prospect that are all yours.

Sales is changing.  You can sit back and not change with it, and you will likely fail.  Or, you can change with it, or even be an agent of change.

Let’s move forward together.

I can help.


How to Fix a Bad Sales Presentation

We’ve all been there.  I don’t care how good you are as a salesperson, a manager, or a speaker – you’ve been in the middle of a sales presentation and realized that it was going sideways.  In titling this article, “How to fix a sales presentation,” I don’t mean that I’m going to tell you how to CREATE a great sales presentation.  I already have videos and articles on that topic.

No, I’m going to tell you how to do something more challenging – how to fix a sales presentation while it’s going bad.  It requires some heavy mental lifting on your part.  It also requires an uncomfortable level of transparency on my part, because I have to tell you about my biggest failure as a professional speaker.  It’s a story that I don’t enjoy telling, and one that still bothers me, nine years later.  But to tell you how to fix a bad presentation, I have to tell you about my worst one and how I didn’t fix it.  So, if you’d like to watch me kick my own ass in words, click below.

It was the spring of 2014, and my national speaking career was still very much in the growth stage.  I was on a little mini-tour.  On Sunday, I was to give a keynote to office furniture dealers in Palm Springs, CA.  Then I drove to Las Vegas on Monday to speak on at a different conference on Wednesday (an extra day in Vegas is always a good thing for me).  Then, back to Long Beach to speak at yet another conference on Friday and Saturday.  Four different programs in seven days, at three different conventions, in three different cities, all of which promised a lot of fun.

It’s that first speech that I want to tell you about.  I was delivering a morning keynote.  At the time, keynotes were not my specialty (I’ve since come up with a couple of really good ones), but I was pumped up.  However, ten minutes into the speech, I noticed that it wasn’t landing.  There wasn’t any note-taking.  The laugh lines weren’t generating laughter.  And worse, the hundred faces staring back at me were blank.  I knew it was going bad.

Still, I pushed through.  I gave my speech as planned.  After all, it was the topic that the head of the association and I had landed on.  My speech couldn’t possibly have been the problem.  Maybe it was just too early in the morning.  When I called for questions after 50 minutes, there was one or two – I can’t remember which.  In a good speech, I typically have more questions than I have time to answer.  And when I ended, there was the politest of applause, and then everyone filed out.  NOBODY came up to talk to me afterwards.  That’s when I knew that I had well and truly laid an egg.

When the post-conference evaluations were sent to me, I was embarrassed.  The scores were low and nearly every comment was about how the topic wasn’t what they were expecting to hear.  I got no business from attendees (unusual), and to this day, that association won’t consider bringing me back.  That bridge is burned.  Understand – my speech wasn’t offensive, I used no profanity or off-color humor, nothing like that.  I just missed the mark by a long shot.

I’ve thought about it a lot since then.  If I had it to do over, I’d have done it much differently.  You see, what really bothers me is that I knew that I was missing the mark, and I did nothing about it.  I wasn’t being lazy – I just didn’t know what to do.  Afterwards, I decided that I’d never finish a speech that was going wrong without doing something different.  Here’s what I’d have done, if I had it to do over.

I’d have stopped my speech.  I’d have said something like, “You know, based on your expressions, I’m not talking about what you want me to talk about.  Let me ask YOU a question.  What can I do, from this stage, to make the rest of our hour together time well spent for you?”  It’s not like I didn’t have other material; at the time, I probably had ten other good speeches, and I’m good at winging it and making up material on the spot.  I have a feeling that if I’d asked, they’d have given me an idea that I could have used, and I could have shifted gears and done something they’d have appreciated and enjoyed for the last 45 minutes of my time.  Would it have been unorthodox?  Heck, yes.  But the key is that, at that point, my risk was zero. I was already bombing, and my choice was to either keep bombing or to try something.  If that other something hadn’t worked, either, so what?  I’d at least have gone down swinging, and I might have saved the speech and the relationship with the association.  Instead, I ruined both.

Maybe you’ve had that experience during a sales presentation – it’s going flat and you don’t know why.  If that happens to you (and if you sell enough, it either will happen or has happened), here’s how to fix a bad sales presentation.

  1. The first rule of finding yourself in a hole is:  Stop digging.  Stop the presentation when you realize it’s going bad.  If the presentation is falling flat, always remember that the risk of changing it up is zero – so your fear of doing so should be zero as well.
  2. The person in the room who knows what they want is right across from you – the customer.  Ask why your presentation is going wrong.  Put the burden on yourself – “You know, Mr. Customer, I feel like this presentation isn’t hitting the mark.  What have I missed?  Did I misinterpret your needs?”  In my case, the problem was that I hadn’t talked to any of the dealers who were attending the conference beforehand, so I didn’t know what it was that they were looking for.  I’d asked the wrong questions of the wrong people.  Most of the time, when a sales presentation goes wrong, it’s not the presentation itself – it’s the needs discovery beforehand.  At this point, if you have to go back and ask the right questions of the right people, DO IT.  Pressing on could cost you the customer.
  3. Change it up. This step requires a high degree of confidence and mental agility.  But we salespeople have that, don’t we?  Once you understand the real needs of the right people, NOW you can move forward.  Don’t be afraid to create a presentation on the spot.  By “presentation,” I don’t mean a slide deck (unless you just happen to have some visuals on hand that can help); I mean your VERBAL presentation that will address their needs.

When your risk is zero, the potential reward is high.  High reward with low risk is what we all want.  That presentation still bugs me, but I’ve never made that mistake again.  Ever since, I’ve been more careful about pre-conference preparation.  I’ve never given that particular speech again; in fact, I don’t even list it anymore. And only once since have I ever had that “This is going flat” feeling.  That was two years later, and I did exactly what I suggested above.  The last 30 minutes of that program were very well received, and I still speak for that association.

That’s how to fix a bad sales presentation.  Be mentally agile, able to perceive that “moment,” and mentally agile enough to change gears, and you won’t have to have that feeling that I have as I write about my biggest failure as a speaker.

The Four Decisions Every Buyer Makes

Sometimes I think we make selling entirely too complicated – and by “we,” I mean my profession of sales authors and trainers.  Sure, selling can be difficult.  That’s why they pay us the big bucks.  We’re dealing with people and trying to persuade them, and that’s always a challenge.  Still, why make the sale more complicated and cumbersome than it has to be?

The truth is that, boiled down to its elements, every sale consists of a prospective or current customer making four decisions.  The trick is that there’s no gray area – every decision must be in your favor, or you won’t win the sale.  Here they are:

Decision One:  The decision to engage with you.  Yep, the first decision that your customer makes is the decision to talk to you – or to engage with you, if you prefer that terminology (and I do; “engagement” implies a two-way street).  If you can’t get an audience with your customer, you can’t sell them.  Yes, you can receive an order from someone who doesn’t talk to you (technology these days is wonderful), but you won’t have an opportunity to persuade or affect the outcome of that decision.  This means that your approach to them MUST communicate the value of a conversation with you.  In fact, in most cases, that’s all you should be shooting for; by trying to sell more than the simple value of the conversation, you can get neither.

Decision Two:  The decision that you can solve their need(s).  Every customer has needs.  Your ability to discover their needs, and then solve them, is the key to getting a “yes” at this stage of the sales process.  That means that, first and foremost, you must ask copious amounts of questions.  Even if you THINK you know what the buyer needs, you don’t KNOW until you ask them.  Ultimately, you must know how the BUYER will define a successful purchase.  Not how you define it, not how most of your other customers define it, not how your boss says it’s defined, but how the buyer defines it.  Without knowing how the buyer will define a successful work, everything else is just guesswork – and guesswork rarely wins sales.

Once you know their needs and how they define success, two burdens are placed upon you.  The first burden is this – if your offerings do not and cannot solve the buyer’s needs, and meet their definition of success, you must bow out.  This is the only way to retain your (and your company’s) professional credibility.  Yes, I know, there’s nothing more painful than walking away from potential dollars – but would you rather collect the dollars by hammering someone into a bad purchase, and then live with the failure?  Walking away early means that you live to sell another day when your solution fits; making a bad sale means that you are forever disqualified.   Even pushing a solution when your buyer knows it’s not a solution can forever disqualify you.

The second burden is that, if your solution does meet the buyer’s needs and definition of success, your presentation must be specifically and intimately tailored to those exact needs and definition.  This is harder than it sounds, as sometimes (many times) you have to develop a presentation on the spot.  Salespeople can get into the “sell sheet” or “slide deck” mentality that says, “I have all this great information, and I have to get it all out,” even when the customer doesn’t care about all the information.  If I go to the doctor for a sore shoulder and he gives me a pill that will fix it (I know that’s not a real thing, but work with me here), I don’t care that it will also solve a sore throat because I don’t HAVE a sore throat.  When presenting, present specifically to the customer’s needs.  Hit the points hard and often that are meaningful and leave out information that is meaningless.  If you execute these steps correctly, your buyer will make the second critical decision – that you can solve needs – and move you to the next step of the process.

Decision Three:  The decision that your solution represents good value.  If your buyer is interested, he/she is probably going to say, “Okay, how much?”  At this point (or as soon after as you can), you offer a proposal with price and terms.  Your buyer is then going to evaluate your offering and basically ask themselves whether it’s a good spend of money, time, and resources, or not, and make their third decision.  If you’ve asked enough questions about priorities, needs, and the impact of solving those needs, you should already be 80% toward the answer to this question. Still, we sell to human beings, and those human beings can be somewhat unpredictable.

Decision Four:  The decision to buy from you.  “But wait, Troy, isn’t the decision that you represent good value also a decision to buy?” Nope.  Not in the slightest.  This is where variables outside of your control come into play.  Sometimes your solution is a good spend for the department you’re selling to – but corporate priorities dictate that resources go in a different direction.  Or, the timing just isn’t right (maybe they have other projects going on that require the attention and resources that would otherwise be devoted to yours).  In any case, you can have the greatest solution to a big problem, priced right, and still not win the sale because some externality is blocking you.  Your best strategy here is, back when you’re doing the questioning, to ask questions about overall company priorities, ongoing projects, etc.  Sometimes you can sell against those priorities if you know about them – but final decision time is too late to ask or sell against it.

Here’s what you need to know.  All of these decisions MUST go in your favor, and each one qualifies you to move to the next step.  Fail any one and you will not win the sale, even if your buyer “allows” you to keep selling (by offering a price that won’t result in a sale, for instance).

How to Prepare For a Sales Call

I’ll be honest.  How to prepare for a sales call is something that is so fundamental that I forget to write about it.  For one thing, it’s not all that “sexy;” it’s much more fun to give great presentation tips, or some killer questions, or even talk about management strategy.

But then I talk to salespeople, the conversation slips around to how to prepare for a sales call, and I realize that many salespeople still don’t use all the resources available to them.  So, in that spirit, here are four ways that you should research every prospect with whom you will be meeting:

  1. Company web page. Yeah, it’s simple, and I have to think that nearly everyone does it – but not everyone looks for the right things.  We tend to get overwhelmed by the ‘pretty’ of the site and fail to read what we should be reading.  Here are the biggest touchpoints on their site:

    The ‘about us’ page:  This is where they will show potential customers why those customers should be buying from your target company.  In essence, this is their best foot forward.  Know it and refer to it.

    Their ‘news’ section:  All too often, this will be obsolete – if it happened in 2017 and it’s still top of their blog, they don’t have much ‘news.’  That said, if there is genuine news, scan it to see if there’s anything that impacts you or gives you a feel for their company culture.

    Executive bios: Is your contact listed here?  If not, why not – are you starting your selling efforts too low in the company? If so, what can you learn about your contact?

    Ease of contact:  This will give you a great idea of how “open” they are to the world.  This might seem surprising to you, but some companies close themselves off to the outside world.  They have a great web presence, but getting ahold of them can be very difficult, to say the least.  Openness to contact can mean openness to new ideas.

  2. Reviews. You should ALWAYS look at their reviews.  If they are on Yelp (for instance, food and hospitality), look at those reviews.  If not, Google and Glassdoor can also be great sources of insight into what their customers and employees say – and you’d be surprised at how often a sales need can be uncovered in looking at reviews.  Don’t be afraid to ask about those reviews in the sales call, even having them up and on your phone to refer to if necessary.  It’s possible that your customer might not have even seen the review.
  3. LinkedIn. You should always look up your contact on LinkedIn.  Looking at their career history is good – looking at their activity is better.  What things do they like or share on LinkedIn?  What causes are they passionate about?  What GENUINE (never fake this) commonalities can you find with yourself or your company?
  4. General Web Search. Finally, search (Google, DuckDuckGo, Bing, etc.) the company name and your contact name and see what comes up.  A couple of years ago, I had a client who sold large-ticket items that usually involved some level of company-offered credit terms.  A quick Google search ended that idea – the first ten results after the company web page were lawsuit filings from the previous year – all for non-payment of debts.  Usually your results won’t be this dramatic, but you can get some good general insight on the company by searching them.

How to prepare for a sales call isn’t that tough; you just need to plan for it. Are there more things you can do to research? Sure – but sometimes it’s better to simply ask questions in the call.  Hitting these four touchpoints above won’t take you that long (probably fifteen minutes or so), but will make you far better prepared to ask good questions to discover deep needs which then gains you a competitive advantage.  Don’t skip this step.

How to Build a Sales Process That Works.

This is actually an update of an article I wrote six years ago after missing a flight.  The article is still a very pertinent tutorial on how to build a sales process.  While there isn’t much that I’d change about what I’ve written, I’ll add a few notes in italics that reflect our current realities in 2020.

Skipping steps in your business processes can be disastrous.  Read why here.

I’m writing this article from the Baltimore-Washington Airport.  That wasn’t my intent.  My intent was to write it from the warmth of my living room (yes, I do write a lot of these articles at home).  Unfortunately, I can’t do that.  The reason I can’t do that is that I missed my connecting flight.  And the reason that I missed my connecting flight is that I skipped a step in one of my processes.

When I fly, no matter what I’m told, no matter what’s printed on the boarding pass, I do the same thing every time I get to the airport, whether it’s a connecting flight or an origination flight.  I pull out my boarding pass, and I carefully double- and triple-check the flight number, the gate, and the time.  However, after arriving in Baltimore from Providence, I didn’t do that. I looked at the board and saw my destination and time, and didn’t check the flight number.  You guessed it.  I was at the wrong gate, and I arrived at the correct gate two minutes after the doors closed.  The result was that I ended up cooling my heels for four extra hours in Baltimore, and getting home later than I should have.

You know, every time I fly now, even six years later, I remember this moment and I recall sitting in the airport after a long trip, pretty disgusted with myself.  I’ve had similar feelings over the years whenever I attempted to skip a step in my sales process and it came back and bit me.

And yes, there’s a sales lesson on how to build a sales process here, and here it is.

Don’t skip steps in your sales processes.  Salespeople tend to get really excited when we get positive signals from a customer – so excited, in fact, that we want to speed things along and get the deal done.  Sometimes that causes us to skip important steps – like a complete discovery, a full proposal, etc.  And invariably, it comes back to bite us.  Usually, the results cost more than a few hours in an airport.

One of the issues, I think, is that too few salespeople and sales managers really understand “sales process.”  So, I’ll lay it out here in very simple terms, and you can expand on it as you need to.  The definition of a “Business Process” is this:

A Business Process is a set of steps, tasks, or operations that must be performed EVERY TIME to generate a successful result.  Notice that I said “must be performed.” One common mistake I see in businesses that want to build their processes is that they include steps that are good, and perhaps advantageous, but don’t have to be done every time to get the desired result. Here’s how to build a sales process:

  1. Find someone to sell to.  Whether this happens through prospecting, inbound marketing, or a current customer relationship, the sale begins with the identification of the person to sell to.
  2. Discover needs.  When a purchase is being considered, needs must be discovered and identified in order to move forward.
  3. Identify Product/Service Recommendations.  The needs are then correlated to a product or service that should be purchased.
  4. Price and Terms.  Most of the time we consider this the Proposal phase; the customer must be made aware of the necessary price and terms for the purchase.
  5. Decision.  The customer decides to purchase.

These steps happen on EVERY sale and purchase.  Right now you’re saying, “But wait, Troy, what happens when the customer buys and doesn’t even talk to a salesperson?”  Guess what – the customer still goes through those steps.  The difference is that the customer executes those steps HIMSELF OR HERSELF.  The customer still identifies his or her own needs, identifies a product or service to satisfy those needs, finds the price and terms, and makes a decision.

That’s not all parts of how to build a sales process, of course.  Your sales process may include other steps.  For instance, for a technical product, your customer may have to go through a technical demonstration, and this may be a mandatory step so that the customer fully understands your product.  That’s fine, but don’t fall into the trap of introducing steps into the process that don’t HAVE to happen.  The prime example of this comes from a regional manager at a company that I used to work for.

He discovered that closing ratios were much higher if the customer took a plant tour prior to buying, so he mandated that all prospects had to take plant tours before they could be offered a proposal.  The result?  Sales dropped dramatically.  The reason was simple – most customers didn’t want to take plant tours and wouldn’t. Yes, closing ratios were higher IF the customer took a tour – but the tour wasn’t a mandatory part of the process.  And if you’re wondering, sales at my branch were fine.  I ignored the directive.  The point was that my regional manager attempted to add an extra step that was nice IF we could get it, but shouldn’t have been mandatory – hence not part of our process.

Where salespeople really get into trouble is when they try to skip or shortcut steps.  For instance, salespeople – in a hurry to get to the close – will cut the Needs Discovery short because they think they have all the needs, when in fact they don’t.  Missing needs means that the customer probably won’t buy.

I’m sitting in an airport writing this when I should be home eating a nice dinner, and the reason is that I shortcut one of my key processes.  Processes exist for a reason.  If you shortcut yours, it might cost you more than time.

Here is what I would add.  In addition to thinking through the steps in your process, you should also think through HOW they will be accomplished, and leave flexibility.  For instance, will these steps be accomplished by phone, video, or live and in-person?  Can you build in options?  Let’s say that you need to add a step to demonstrate a piece of equipment, and the ideal way to do it is live and in-person.  If that live demo is impossible, how much of that live experience can you simulate via a remote demonstration or a Zoom call?  Today’s salesperson must be competent in both process and the means of delivering the process – which requires more of us.  That’s okay; we need to always be developing our skills.

You might also benefit from my video Six Tips For Better Video Selling.

How To Compete With Online Vendors

I paid $22.99 for a magazine yesterday.  Not a magazine subscription; a single issue of a magazine.  The magazine is called Magneto, and it is (big surprise for those who know me) a car magazine.  But it’s not just any car magazine.  It’s perhaps the finest magazine focusing on rare and exotic vintage cars, and the racing thereof, that I’ve ever seen.  And in the fact that I paid nearly 23 bucks for it is a sales lesson that’s very timely and very applicable in how to compete with online vendors.

You see, I’m passionate about car magazines.  I love them.  I love reading them, and I spent over ten years writing for them as a freelancer.  In fact, I wrote over 300 articles for them, and one of my stories was nominated for a National Motorsports Press Association award.  I was good at it and I loved it, although it was never more than a side gig.  I quit writing for them in about 2008, when two things happened – first, my business as The Sales Navigator started occupying all my professional time.  And second, the magazine business itself was in a decline.  Magazines got thinner in both page count and paper quality, the amount of space allotted to editorial content went down, and there was less of a demand for the in-depth analytical articles I liked to write.  And, full disclosure, the magazines were paying less.  It felt like a race to the bottom.  That was one race I had no interest in.

Fast forward to 2020.  Most of the magazines I used to write for (Circle Track, Stock Car Racing, Street Rodder, Rod & Custom, Racing Milestones, and many others) are gone.  History.  In fact, the largest publisher of car magazines shut down 19 titles last year.  The few that they have left are a shadow of what they once were.  Even Hot Rod, the magazine that arguably started the car magazine industry, is a shadow of what it was just fifteen years ago.  The reason is simple – the level of content and photography that those magazines used to provide is now widely available on dozens of websites, for free or very inexpensively.  Those titles attempted to continually cheapen their product to try to make the numbers work in the face of Internet competition – and they lost.  (Is any of this starting to ring a bell yet in your business?)

So, you’d expect that when I go into my local Barnes & Noble, the magazine rack would be barren, right?  Nope.  The space once taken by thin, low-quality magazines is now occupied by high-end magazines.  Magazines like Magneto, Rodder’s Journal, and many, many other titles that, on a per-copy basis, go for double or triple the price of the magazines they replaced.  And yet, people buy them.  Why?

Because those magazines are incredibly high-quality in all phases. The editorial content is the best, period.  The cars covered are unusual and important, and the stories told are complete and interesting, and not just a list of specifications and dates.  The photography is high-end, done either in studio or on location by the best photographers, in the best lighting, with the best equipment and the best editing software.  Advertisements are present but don’t dominate the magazines.  And these magazines are BIG.  My new issue of Magneto is 178 pages of automotive goodness, and it’s produced on very heavy paper and cover stock, most resembling a paperbound book.  In fact, some people refer to these as “bookazines” or “coffee table magazines.”  Are they successful?  Many of these magazines are all out of back issues for purchase, so I’d say that, yes, they are.

These magazines are successful because they don’t attempt to compete with cheap online vendors.  They have picked out a niche, they are doing that niche better than anyone else, and they have created an economic structure (the amounts they pay for writing and photography) that the Internet simply can’t match.  Do they sell as many copies as, say, Motor Trend?  Probably not – but they make the economics work very well for them, and have figured out how to compete with online vendors.

Take a look at your business.  At least once per week, someone asks me, “Troy, how can I possibly compete with cheaper online vendors like Amazon?”  My answer is, “You probably can’t – especially if you’re trying to do it the same way.”  Cheap online vendors aren’t a fad – they are here to stay.  But there is still a high demand for a higher-service, higher-contact, higher-quality business model.  Here are five quick ideas to help you compete, and win, against pure online vendors:

  1. Establish two-tiered pricing. Some of you CAN compete with Amazon on pricing – IF you do business the Amazon way.  With Amazon, everything is automated and there is no personal customer service involvement whatsoever.  If you’re selling a more commoditized product (for instance, reams of copier paper) and can make money at that pricing level as long as no personal service is involved, consider allowing your customers to buy at that price point IF and only if they are willing to buy with the same no-personal-service model.  But when they need personal service – even if it’s a phone call – they get a different and higher price point.
  2. Do it better. Let’s be honest – Amazon doesn’t thrive off high-end products.  Their biggest niche is in the low-end, cheapest possible, products.  Look at the Magneto solution; sell products that are so good they nearly require the buyer to have a more personalized experience (and the higher price point to go with it).
  3. Know your customer. One big edge you should have is this:  Your salespeople SHOULD know your customers better than any online vendor ever could.  That SHOULD be because they consistently question and update their knowledge.  It’s an unfortunate truth that too many salespeople don’t ask questions and don’t know much about the customer (good sales training should focus on questioning as a primary skill) – and those salespeople then wonder why they lose business.  Not only should you be asking lots of business-related questions early on, you should be updating your knowledge of those issues every six months or so.  Your business changes, and so does your customer.
  4. Focus on helping your customer run his/her business better. This is related to the previous point – what do you do to truly help your customers run their businesses better that isn’t tied to a check?  For instance, do you refer business to your customers?  Even better, do you put customers together who could do business together?
  5. Create an experience. I often pick on the car business, and for good reason – I sold cars at the start of my career.  As part of my education, I read a book called Customers For Life, by Carl Sewell, the owner of Sewell Cadillac in Dallas. He talked about making a visit to Sewell an experience.  When salespeople greeted customers, they didn’t race each other to get to the door and they didn’t immediately ask them about buying a car.  Instead, they welcomed them and opened by offering them a cup of (good) coffee, a glass of wine, or a soda (I visited the dealership several years ago, and they really do this). They created an experience out of a visit to Sewell – and they sold an awful lot of Caddys.

There are, of course, numerous other ways to compete with the Internet vendors, but this is a start.  The key is to not try to be Amazon.  One of my favorite sayings (and as far as I know, it’s my own) is:  “You can’t beat your competition if you’re trying to be your competition.”  Magneto and their counterparts have figured that out, and that’s why they’re successful.  You can be, too.

How to Make Classroom Training Effective

A few days ago, I saw a post on LinkedIn asking, “Is classroom sales training effective?” Unfortunately, like most of these threads, it quickly devolved into post after post of sales trainers saying, “Well, no, most isn’t – but MINE is!” I honestly hate that, because some people are looking for real information about this topic. So, I’ll answer as best I can and I won’t mention my training; if you want to learn about it, you’re more than welcome to, but that’s not what this article is.

The truth is that classroom training gets a bad rap. If classroom learning didn’t work, why would we spend all those years going to school? And don’t give me that “but adults learn differently” stuff. They might – a little – but classroom training still can be very effective. But making it effective requires work – on the part of the trainer, on the part of the trainees, and on the part of management. I’ve been doing classroom training for 20 years, and here are the key elements I’ve discovered.


• The trainer should learn about your company, what you do, and what specific functions your people perform, and how that will impact the training.
• The trainer should prepare enough to be at least conversant with the language of the trainees. He/she doesn’t need to know as much about the specific work environment as the trainees – that is unrealistic – but at least the basic terminology; the trainer should incorporate this into the training materials.
• The manager should be open to conversation with the trainer. Sometimes, managers will want to hold back on their true impressions of their staff a bit to have the trainer ‘evaluate’ their people during the training. This is the wrong approach. The trainer’s job is to educate, not evaluate; if you want a second opinion on your staff, this should be a separate project. Sure, all trainers – myself included – will gain impressions and will probably share them, but this shouldn’t be their prime mission. If you want the best training experience, help your trainer help each person get the most from the experience.
• The manager should set expectations with his or her staff. Those expectations should include sharing the trainer’s bio, their agenda (the trainer should provide you with these items), and what the expectations for both learning and conduct will be. For instance, staff should know beforehand that phones should be silenced, side conversations kept to a minimum, etc.


• The training should be as interactive as possible; nobody wants to listen to a talking head all day. The trainer should break up the lectures with exercises, role plays, and other ways to get staff involved.
• The manager should be in the training session. I can’t emphasize this enough. Talk to any trainer – myself included – and they will tell you that the worst and least productive training sessions they have ever done have been those where the key manager is absent. This means that the manager doesn’t know what’s being taught and doesn’t know how to follow up later, and it means that the conduct of the staff can be unproductive.
• Which leads me to this. The staff’s conduct should be professional and they should participate. It’s okay to have fun – good training should be fun – but the primary mission is to learn. On a (fortunately very) few occasions, I’ve had training programs that felt like Romper Room. The trainees just basically played around, talked among themselves, etc. “But it’s the trainer’s responsibility to control the room!” Not really, to be honest. I’m there (and other trainers are there) to help staff learn important techniques to help them succeed. I’m not there to babysit, and frankly, if your staff needs much “controlling,” you have deeper problems than a training program.


• Most training fails to affect behavior because the training ends when the trainer walks out of the room. To make sure that the training bears fruit, the manager (who was in the training, remember) should reinforce what is taught with follow-up exercises, role plays, and on-the-job observation. Most of the time, less than 20% of what is taught makes it into the actual workplace. Good follow up can radically raise this number.
• The trainer should give some tips or guidance on how to follow up with staff. This can be written or verbal, and it can be as simple as showing the manager how to use the workbook to create future training and dialogue. If the trainer has an advanced program, milestones can be set up to trigger when that program is appropriate.

As a trainer, the most gratifying aspect of my work is when a trainee tells me that they have used my training to make money. The worst aspect of my work is finding out that the training died in the training room. In either case, proper preparation, in-training conduct, and follow up makes all the difference in the world. You’re investing the time and money in training. Invest just a little bit more and make it stick in the workplace.

What Does It Mean to ‘Invest In Yourself?’

I’ve talked a lot in this space about salespeople and their tendency to not invest in themselves and their own productivity.  I’m constantly amazed at the fact that, despite sales being one of the highest-paid professions, most salespeople won’t spend $20 on a book to build their skills.  Let’s get beyond that, though, and let’s discuss real and genuine investment.  Let me tell you about Dave.

Dave is a salesperson for an office supply company in the Midwest.  In fact, Dave is, and was, the company’s top salesperson.  Six years ago, Dave had a problem.  He was topped out.  His territory was strong and he was making decent money, and he had a strong and stable customer base.  Most salespeople, at this point, would have gone into “coast and collect” mode.  Those salespeople would have watched that huge base of business decline over a period of years, too, but that’s beside the point of this story.

One of Dave’s attributes is that he is very good at self-analysis.  When Dave analyzed himself as a salesperson, he new very clearly that he had one primary strength.  Dave is that rarest of salespeople.  He’s a pure “hunter.”  Dave is at his best when he’s chasing, presenting and winning, new business. Dave is like a seasoned thoroughbred racehorse.  On the other hand Dave recognized his primary weakness: He not a Farmer. Account management is neither his favorite part of selling, nor his top skill set.  Dave still wanted to grow his territory.  But all those hard-won accounts were now monopolizing his time, so how would he do it? He was at a greater risk of losing many of those hard earned accounts because he couldn’t keep up with the daily administration.

Dave did what a lot of salespeople would do first.  He went to management and asked about getting a skilled inside account manager to augment his efforts.  Management, looking at dollars and cents, and felt it wasn’t in the budget. So, this is where Dave got creative.  A couple of offices down sat another salesperson named Karen.  Karen had been with the company for just a few years, and Dave had noticed that Karen was a very gifted administrator, and that cold calling and knocking on doors was not her primary strength.

Dave approached Karen to see if she might be interested in making a shift in her responsibilities and becoming the inside account manager for the new Dave/Karen account management team. Dave would be the knock-on-door-cold-calling machine and Karen would take over the admin side. As Dave would say “I will Kill ‘em, Karen will Grill ‘em”. (NOTE – no actual customers were harmed in the making of this sales success story.) Dave figured that he and Karen, both using their specific skill sets and talents, would be a dynamic sales machine.

To make this work, Dave and Karen would merge their businesses into one territory. Dave then gave up part of his own compensation to increase Karen’s earnings. From that point on as the business grew, both Dave and Karen would benefit financially with continual account growth.  The company’s ownership, to their credit, allowed this innovation.  Thus, Dave and Karen determined that focusing their own individual strengths could catapult them to greater success and higher earnings.

If you’re waiting for me to tell you how the story went wrong, you’re going to be waiting a long time.  It’s been a rousing success.  Six years later, Dave’s territory (remember, already the company’s largest), now the Dave/Karen team’s, has grown over 260%.  This unique team approach has been wildly successful.  By far and away they are the top producers for the company in terms of sales revenue, gross profit, new account acquisition, customer retention and customer satisfaction.

Dave acknowledges that there is no doubt that Karen, with her inside account management gifts, is a heroine in her own right.  Not only does she retain accounts, but she also helps to grow those existing accounts.  The team of Dave and Karen could be a prototype for sales success.  What makes it work?  Let’s ask Dave.

“For us,” he says, “It was really about capturing and combining both of our unique talents, giftings and personality traits. It was also about completely honest in recognizing areas of ‘less than’ qualities. I’m good at certain parts of selling, and so is Karen. Between the two of us, we add up to a great sales team.” Dave says that it’s New Sales Math… One plus One equals Six. “Since both of us are working in our personal talent zone, we are motivated and happy. Yes, did I say happy. Ultimately it translates to having happy satisfied customers that notice a significant difference in their perception of our company, the services we offer, and most importantly how they are treated by Karen and myself. I’m sure you have heard the saying about marriage; Happy Wife, Happy Life. Well, Happy Customer, Happy Commission Check.”

This, Dave thinks, can be or should be a model for other salespeople and companies.  He’s probably right.

I believe that many company managers and sales people won’t take the risk or make the personal financial investment to see if they can multiply their output. If you have a territory that’s reached its practical limit in terms of productivity, maybe it’s time to think out-of-the-box like Dave and Karen.  Dave reminded me that Henry Ford’s greatest invention wasn’t the Model T automobile, it was the assembly line. Instead of building cars one at a time, as before, Ford subdivided the responsibilities with people using their greatest gifts and proficiencies and produce a thousand automobiles a day.

Here are the issues as I see them.

In any company, the sales role essentially consists of three elements:

  1. New account selling – prospecting, needs analysis, presenting, proposing, closing. This all falls under the umbrella of “Acquisition” selling.
  2. Driving growth in existing accounts through upselling, cross-selling, etc. I refer to this as “Development” selling.
  3. Retaining existing accounts through relationship development. This is “Retention” selling.

Let’s be honest.  Few salespeople – even superstars – are superstars at all of those elements.  I would bet that at least 80% of all salespeople would welcome the opportunity to sub out parts of the sales process that are not their favorites.  For instance, I’d guess that somewhere around half of salespeople would gladly get rid of prospecting if they could.

Many of those salespeople will, in fact, request to offload parts of the sales responsibility.  Even in companies where there’s only one salesperson, I’ll hear comments that ‘if the company would just get someone to set my appointments for me, I’d be so much more successful,’ etc.

What separates Dave from nearly all of those salespeople is his willingness to put his own skin in the game.  Dave didn’t just ask for an account manager – he volunteered part of his own compensation to make it happen.  In doing so, he was betting on himself.  Dave’s bet was that the money he gave up to pay Karen would more than be repaid back to him through growth in his sales territory.   Seeing the results, it’s hard to argue with him.

Should you go down the Dave road?  That depends.  First of all, you have to make a good self analysis.  What are you good at, and what are you not good at?  That’s the easy part.

Second, you have to gain an understanding of what it will really take, compensation-wise, to provide the parts of the sales process that you wish to offload.

Third – and this is the painful part – you must then be willing to invest in yourself, as Dave did, to make it happen.  Don’t get me wrong, if you can get management to provide the resource at no cost to you, more power to you!  But for most of us, that money has to come from somewhere – is it going to be you?

Fourth and finally – this is not a fix for failure.  I wouldn’t advise any business owner, sales manager, or salesperson to try to ‘save’ a failing salesperson with this model.  This model worked precisely because both parties were successful – Dave at winning new business, and Karen at retaining and developing.

Dave believes that this could be, and should be, a new model for selling.  I think he could be right – IF salespeople are willing to put their own skin in the game.  Whether that’s you is up to each of you to answer.