The True Starting Point

Old Young Women


Greetings my friends in sales!

Have you heard the term, “Beginning with the End in Mind?”  It encapsulates the practice of establishing what the destination looks like before taking the first step.  It’s the starting point for constructing and navigating the map of the journey.  In subsequent posts I will share some thoughts on how a high performing salesperson might work in setting goals, creating his map, and navigating the voyage.

For this post, I would like to summarize the key aspects of the material covered to date. In many respects I believe the content attempts to encompass the essence of the true beginning point of any journey: A clear understanding of where you are now!

Let me start by reinforcing this thought; ” The map is not the terrain.” As a high performing sales professional, my success is linked directly to the clarity of the lens  through which I see the world; and the degree to which the map that I have created to navigate it, accurately reflects the terrain as it truly exists.

As you  read the summary below, have you thought about my view of the terrain and the lens that informs it.  Do you think my map is accurate?

Those things that are most personal, are most general.”  Just like I cannot expect to cram for the harvest, The Golden Rule governs consistent behavioral consequences in response to my actions on both my internal and external worlds.

“Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing.”  If customers are not buying, I am not successful. If I am not constantly looking for ways to personally engage buyers (to understand and meet their needs), chances are I am not focusing on the highest leverage activities that will result in the outcomes I am seeking.

Understanding “Power” and who has it.   I do not sell, my customer buys!  This was a very powerful realization for me and it took many years to internalize.  Choosing how I spend my time and how I make make commitments based on this awareness (part of my power), has a major impact on my productivity and internal balance.   Think about how you might respond to the immense power of an oncoming 50-foot wave?  One could exert tremendous energy fighting the wave for a return of only fatigue and stress; one could give up and allow the wave to consume them, or one could learn to surf and leverage this tremendous power as a guide to the destination facilitated by the surfer.

Yes, the high performing sales person is an expert surfer!

If you have any questions on these topics I encourage you to look through my previous posts for more discussion.   Of course, I would be delighted to hear from you!

Your Salesman for Life!


Quote on my mind: “Let every interaction be an opportunity to lift the other up”

Does Incorporating Obligation Mean “Controlling the Sale”?   

Controlling the Sale

Greetings my friends in Sales!

In my last posting I wrote that successful execution of a commercial organization’s mission means that it must also carry out its obligation to be profitable.    As sales people representing ourselves and our companies, we are in turn obligated to utilize our resources effectively in facilitating the buying exchange.

So here is my question, “Does being a steward of his company’s resources mean the successful sales person needs to control the buying process?” I have heard this term many times in my career and I believe it’s a trick question!  As a sales person I may have the ability to manage how I deliver my resources and decide with my buyer under which conditions they are provided.  My experience in facilitating many customer successes requires that I do this.  It’s part of the value I bring to the exchange.  However; never forget that it is the customer and no on else who makes the decision on what to buy, how to buy, and when to buy!

Let me clarify with some examples:

  1. After establishing credibility as a potential supplier and some level of understanding of your prospective buyer’s needs, ask about her evaluation process for seeing her needs resolved. What steps are required? Who needs to be involved and when does each step need to occur? Write these items down and recap them in a concise letter for validation. Documenting these steps with dates, resource needs and expected results can prove to be an excellent aid in helping your buyer move the process along when delays occur. Instead of trying to force next steps you are adding value by helping your prospective buyer execute her buying plan.
  1. In one popular sales training program I attended during the 1980’s and 1990’s, one of the most valuable insights shared was a process step where the salesman after establishing credibility and articulating the prospective buyer’s needs, asks this question, “If you find the right solution, who will need to approve the buying decision?” The sales person then proposes the following question, “If I can show you how I can help you meet your need, will you introduce me to the approving stakeholder?”   If your buyer says “no” than as a steward, you have two main choices.  The first is to assess whether you can help prepare your buyer to successfully run this inevitable meeting without you.   I have proceeded down this path many times with great success and personal satisfaction. The key is partnering with the right prospective buyer. If your confidence is not high or you suspect that your interface point is not committed to investing in the buying process, you might be wise to consider disengaging and looking for a new prospective buyer.
  1. Remember that your ability to incorporate obligation to facilitate mutual agreement on buying process steps:

–   Increases to the degree your prospective buyer believes that you can help him  meet a prioritized need

–   Decreases to the degree your prospective buyer does not require your further assistance to come to a decision.

The moral of the story; Understand needs well and get agreement early!

Let me leave you with these final thoughts.   Believing that the sales person “controls the sale” is like believing that committing to a forecast has anything to do with the Buyer buying.  It does not!  You might be willing to pay the price in the form of added anxiety and the hope of delivering on your promise.  The only results you can count on are the added stresses to your internal and external worlds.  This is because you are promising to bring about outcomes not in your domain of control!  This is a powerful truth we will investigate further in the future.

Your Salesman for Life!


Quote on my mind:

Don’t get caught in the thick of thin things!

Stop Preaching about the Customer…I have a Quota to Make!


Hello friends.   I started my sales career for a publicly traded software company in 1987. I was 27, ambitious, competitive and out to prove that I had what it took to be a peer among the best salespeople anywhere.

“Focus on the customer” and “prospecting with integrity” were not among the top agenda items I recall from sales meetings.  On one occasion, now over 30 years ago, I listened in partial bewilderment as one of our top sales people thanked his customers for making him successful!  Today I have no doubts about the wisdom of this statement.

I believe that true power in sales comes when the salesperson truly understands that making ones quota and placing top priority on meeting customer needs are deeply integrated aspects of the same formula. Think about this….  A company cannot be successful in meeting the needs of its customers unless its sales people are successful!    Let me break this down further by discussing this topic in terms of mission, culture and obligation.   

First let me ask you about your mission?  You might define it as the deepest part of who you are and what you believe.    Based on this personal creed, what values do you express through everyday behavior that reflect integrity with your mission?   I believe the highest performing sales people are very clear on what is important to them and they are relentless in seeking out and becoming part of organizations where there is clear alignment between their personal mission and the mission of their organization!

What about culture?  In an organization culture is what one would observe as the common expression of values, manifest through behavior that is shared throughout an organization; top to bottom.  If you are fortunate enough to experience this, it can be magic.  There is a common bond, sense of purpose and true power that one owns.  You know what to do without being told.  If values are aligned you are simply being you!

Finally,  obligation.     A company’s mission will be a concise statement  clearly defining  the results that it helps its customers achieve.  In any commercial organization its obligation is to make a profit.  Yes, it’s not only okay to make a profit, it is an obligation! Without this, the company cannot fulfill its mission.   As sales people we are obligated to effectively utilize our company’s resources in serving our company’s (and our own) mission!

So, how does a top performing salesperson truly integrate serving his customers and consistently exceed quota?

  • If you have not done so, I encourage you to spend some quiet time thinking about what is most  important to you.  Write your thoughts down. Be thoughtful and concise with your words.  Come back to it on occasion.  Ask yourself everyday if you are acting consistently with your deepest truth.  If you are interested in more, the first three chapters of Stephen Covey’s book; “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” were a good source for me.
  • Remember the “rule of the harvest”.  If you try to cram success you will not be able to circumvent the consequences on your internal (and inevitably your external) world.
  • Find an organization, promote a product or service where the results bring true alignment with your personal mission and that of your company. Don’t short cut this process by quickly accepting words exchanged in an interview or by reading a web site.  Remember the statement, “What you are doing screams so loudly I can’t hear a word you are saying”. If after evaluating your current situation you see a disconnect, ask yourself if you can positively influence change in your organization.  If not, consider making a change at the right time for you.
  • Remember that serving your customer means that you are obligated as a trusted company steward to effectively use your resources and the resources of your company. This may mean at some point saying “no” to a prospective customer!

In the next posting  I will share specific examples of what effectively incorporating obligation into the buying process might look like.    For now let me leave you with this thought.    The benchmark and unyielding quest for any high performing sales person is to constantly improve her proficiency in directly engaging prospective buyers and helping them quickly get to the point where they can (maybe better than you) clearly articulate:

  1. Their needs and motivation for change;
  2. How your product or service will help them meet their needs!

When this happens “closing the deal” for the price you are asking becomes a non event.    The buyer truly buys in a win/win exchange!

Your Salesman for Life,


Quote I had a chance to reflect on from my nephew’s graduation on Saturday:

“Live like you are going to die tomorrow.  Learn like you are going to endure forever”