The Tao of Sales
An Easier Way to Sell in Tough Times
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Sales Success Stories: We learn to stretch our own capabilities by observing others. But observing and copying are very different. Find what’s true for you in each of these stories. Find out what challenges you in each of these stories. Ask yourself:

Other Stories

Tanda Meets the World's Best Car Salesman

Can you Deliver it in an Hour?

Contact Shawn

Shawn's new book, The Manager's Pocket Guide to Training, will be published by HRD Press early this fall. This is the second book he has written for HRD Press. His first book for HRD press was The Manager's Pocket Guide to Motivating Employees.

B2B Magazine has contracted with Shawn to publish his monthly column on leadership. B2B magazine is published in the Philadelphia area and is distributed to over 30,000 executive level subscribers.

An Australian publisher has acquired publishing rights to The 10 Foundations of Motivation and will publish it late fourth quarter in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore.

Keep checking back for more updates!

“If you try to use the master carpenter’s tools, you’ll only cut your hands.

Find your own.

(Adapted from the Tao Te Ching 74)

That's a Big Slide Deck

© 2007 E. Thomas Behr, Ph.D.

Before he started his own consulting company, New Light Learning and Development Inc., Shawn Doyle was VP for Learning and Development for Comcast Cable. In that role he sat through a lot of sales calls from prospective vendors. He tells the story of one rep from a training company who walked in, and after saying hello, loaded a slide carrousel into the projector set up in Shawn's office.
"Wow. That's a big presentation." Shawn said. "How many slides are in there?"

"Sixty," the rep replied. Shawn looked at the carrousel. He thought about the experience of having to slog through 60 slides, then considered the hour he'd scheduled for the meeting, and everything else he had to do that day that really was important. Then he looked again at the carrousel.

"I've got an idea. Suppose you just pull out the 10 slides you think I might really be interested in and just talk to me about those. Then we might have some time for questions - yours and mine."

"Oh I can't do that," the rep answered.

"Why not?" Shawn asked. "If you make me sit through a numbing slide show like this, with you doing all the talking and less than a minute available to present each slide, I'll tune out after the first 8 minutes, and get increasingly bored and irritated for the remaining 52 minutes. I'll probably kick you out of my office after a half hour. Then you can forget any chance of a sale to our company."

"I know that," said the rep. "It happens all the time. I know it's crazy, but my boss would kill me if he found out I didn't go through the entire presentation. I don't have a choice."

Lessons to consider: All of us who have spent time on either side of the desk have lived through this story one way or another. There certainly are managers out their so preoccupied with making sure their reps "Do things right" that their sales team rarely "Does the right thing" - generate sales.

I worked with a client that suffered from a constant battle between marketing and sales about how best to present their company to new prospects. Marketing would spend weeks coming up with the "perfect pitch" based on their research and the unique value proposition of their products - at least one per quarter. Sales would express their frustration at having to make prospective new customers - each with their own unique needs - sit through a presentation, much of which didn't apply to them. The less experienced, less successful sales reps persisted in doing what they were told to do - and lost sales as a result. The experienced, successful sales reps just customized each presentation by initially spending time with the prospect to verify potential areas of interest and need, and then just flipped to the pages they thought would be most appropriate. With current customers they knew (some of whom were already using the programs marketing was "re-pitching" in the deck), they just yanked out all the pages that didn't apply to each customer they met with.

The question of how to resolve the tension (or open conflict) between sales and marketing is the subject of a forthcoming article, "Ending the Sales vs. Marketing Wars." But the point to consider here is that as sales reps, we always have choices about what we do with customers - and those choices always come with consequences attached. There's a consequence attached to not doing what your boss tells you to do, and a consequence for so boring prospects and customers that you never make a sale. Because it's your career (not your boss's), you need to make the choices that will help you best meet your goals. Besides, the odds are that if you're really bringing in sales, your boss will leave you alone.