Dear Mr. Molloy:
I’ve been a salesman for the last three months and I’m just learning the business. The top sales trainer just quit and went to work for another company as a salesman. There were rumors that he was fired but he told us the reason he was moving was he wanted to go back to sales and I believe him. Obviously, he made more money as a top salesperson than he did as a trainer.
I only went to two of his training sessions but I hung on every word and learned quite a bit. The new trainer they are hiring to replace him has never been a top producer, so how can he possibly train salespeople. I’ve been reading your blog for over a year and you said that you often formed groups to discuss problems. I’m wondering if you could form a group of top salespeople and ask them how they go about selling? If you would print their answers in this blog I would appreciate it.
Name and address withheld
Dear Future Salesperson:
It’s obvious that you are very new to sales or you would understand that most sales training is designed to get the average and below-average salesperson io imitate top salesmen and as a result sell more of the company’s products. The only problem with that is it doesn’t work. Most top salespeople have no idea what makes them top performers. Often they base their advice on their own experience and that is why one will tell you that knowing your product really well is the key to sales, while the second will tell you that going into technical detail will turn off most buyers and the third will assure you that it’s neither of those factors but how you dress when you are selling that is critical to success.
In fact, all three are telling the truth from their perspective. If you talk to top salespeople they usually admit when they first got into sales they had problems but they overcame them. One will tell you how by studying his product and the top competitors products he was able to convince clients to purchase his. Another will tell you that his method is the KISS method “Keep it Simple Stupid”. While the third will tell you that image is everything. The reason they tell you this is when they changed one aspect of their presentation their sales shot up. A simple fact proven again and again by research is most sales are made or killed when you walk through the buyers door. To make a positive impression you must look like a relaxed, friendly, competent, confident, professional and the top salespeople were telling you that other factors are really critical because they have always looked relaxed , confident, competent and friendly so they skip over those because they came naturally.
I am now finishing a book on popularity and preparing to write a book on sales. I have all the information I need, I simply have to update it. The reasons I didn’t write a book before this is when I wrote “Dress for Success” there were literally hundreds of imitators many of whom are still in business today, most of whom do not know what they are talking about. That created two problems first they were given consulting jobs because they worked for less and when I approached the companies who used them, they told me they tried dress for success and it didn’t work. The reason it didn’t work was my imitators put their own spin on the results of my research and once they did it was no longer valid, which put in question the whole concept of dress being an important factor in success. Since I was making a very nice living speaking on sales, I decided not to share my research with the world but since I’m no longer traveling around the country speaking I will share it with you on this blog in the near future.
Please don’t dismiss your new trainer because he was never a top performer. Every superstar from Babe Ruth to Mickey Mantle wanted to be a team manager. However, when star players were hired as managers most failed miserably. The great managers were usually third-rate players who studied every aspect of the game while the superstars were usually so talented they didn’t have to understand the game to be great. Classic example of this was Ted Williams who constantly talked about studying the game but I do not think that was the reason he was a great player. During World War II he became a fighter pilot and of course took the three tests necessary to be a fighter pilot. His reflexes were so good that he still owns the record in one of those tests. Add to that two facts, first the great managers were rarely great players and second when companies put superstar salespeople in charge of sales forces, sales usually dropped. That is why you should give your new sales trainer a fair shot, past experience indicates he is more likely to train you to sell than most top producers.
I’m now preparing to write “Popularity and Sales.” . In it, as an all my other books, I will not give my personal opinion b ut advice that is based on research. I can tell you now it’s the far different from anything you’ve ever read about sales. If you’re in sales it’s a must read.
Until then, good luck!