The Sales Weakness That Is Actually A Strength
I was interviewing for my first sales job and sitting across from the Vice President of Sales. I’d been through a few rounds of interviews and completed the last step in the hiring process – an assessment. I felt confident – it had all gone well. So, I was in the middle of thinking that I’d be getting an offer when the sales executive said to me, “You know, Scott, everything in our sales aptitude test is telling me that you are not going to make it in sales.”
He goes on to say that the assessment indicated I wouldn’t be a good closer, “that you’ll focus too much on the client relationship …. and won’t press hard enough for the business. Everyone here thought you’d be good, but I just can’t hire you.” He said I had “high closing reluctance”… it felt like the professional equivalent of a bad medical diagnosis. At the time, I was devastated.
What I know now is that his data was absolutely right. But his conclusion was misguided and wrong.
The notion of applying pressure in order to get someone to make a buying decision and closing hard was completely unappealing to me. I wanted to do work that was about helping clients meet their objectives, solve problems, and reach their goals.
Four years later, I finished as the #2 sales professional worldwide at the Fortune 500 company that decided to take a chance on someone with “high closing reluctance.” I’ve since been a Senior Vice President and Executive Vice President of Sales for a couple of different companies, each time leading teams that achieved record revenues and profits. Yes, closing deals was important, but my teams did that by developing business relationships based on value.
Even though that sales executive couldn’t look past the results of their assessment, my commitment to relationships made all the difference in my career in sales. Today, relationships are built on your ability to add value, provide expertise and insight, and help your customers achieve their objectives. That’s how your sales team can become a competitive advantage for your company.
I’ve been highlighting this story in Zoom Keynotes to kick off the year for Sales teams, and I’d love to connect with you about addressing your sales team. If you want to read more about the topic, these two articles Would Customers Pay for your Sales Calls? And Get Over Your Fear of Sales present relevant research.
What Won’t Go Back To The Way It Was After The Pandemic?
This week I accompanied my daughter to traffic court. She was pleading no contest to a traffic violation and needed a parent to be with her. Traffic court here in Florida, where practically everything is open, is still being conducted by Zoom. As we attended from the comfort of my office on Monday afternoon, I wondered if we’ll ever go back to doing these kinds of hearings in person.
Prior to being called, we watched many people handle their interaction with the Judge. It was actually kind of entertaining for a while. Most took less than a minute as the judge recited the same lines about pleading no contest to a violation, having points withheld, and paying a fine to the court. Going to the courthouse, parking, waiting, and all the associated tasks and hassles would have taken 2-3 hours on a good day. With no disrespect to the judge (who’s primary role seemed to be that of reminding people more than a dozen times to change their Zoom name to match the name on their ticket), I suspect a droid with modest artificial intelligence will be able to handle 90% of the work in these hearings as well. Most of the responses to the judge were of the “Yes” or “No” variety, with limited commentary.
In most businesses, there are not just efficiencies to be gained, but improvements in the effectiveness of your processes and approaches to working with clients and each other. What won’t go back to the way it was once the pandemic is over? Let me know what you think by replying to this email. I’ll share a list in the weeks ahead.
The first month of 2021 is drawing to a close and it seems like my to-do lists just keep getting longer, no matter how productive my day is. We’ve all been in ruts like this, when you feel like you just can’t keep up even though you’re working really hard. This article from the Wall Street Journal highlights the connections between productivity, efficiency and motivations. Even though it wasn’t on my to-do list today, after reading, I feel slightly better prepared to tackle a new month and thought you might benefit from a reminder as well: