How Not To Suck At Sales

“Let me tell you why I suck as a salesman” – Tommy Callahan

Let me preface this by stating that I have been a professional sales guy since the age of 17. I have sold clothing in the mall (commission only for Merry Go Round), beer, and IT hardware and services since 1997-ish.

Along the way, I have succeeded greatly, I have failed miserably, and I have been complacent, but the one thing that was always constant was I was always myself.

Along the way, I have seen just about every version of sales guy there is. The good, the bad, the severely ugly, and the non-existent. I feel at this point, I can articulate with some certainty on how not to suck at being a sales guy. So here it is…

If you read a book and utilize sales tactic verbatim, you are going to suck as a sales guy.

Wrong Sandler…

I had someone “Sandler” me once, it was one of the most awkward moments of my life. I was simply reaching out to this person to have a cup of coffee and to build a relationship. His response:

“You know what Bob? I’m a busy guy. Business is incredible over here. I’ll be honest with you, you should be working for me. That’s how great things are going, I can tell you straight up I don’t have the time to sit down with you and to be more honest, you should spend the time learning about what we are doing here because we are blowing up.”

You see, this person used this cheap tactic to make me want to deal with him more by creating “excitement” where there honestly was none. I have had people try to defend this kind of training, but at the end of the day, listening would have gotten him 100 times farther than cheap book tactics.

If you think you are going to talk someone into buying something they don’t need, you are going to suck as a sales guy.

Analogy [HERE]
Sales isn’t about pushing a product to someone unsuspecting. It’s about listening, understanding, and solving a problem

Example: I tried buying a TV from ABC Warehouse. I wanted a 55” Samsung LED. The “sales guy” was begging me to buy the LG model (which I didn’t want). I then noticed there were 25-30 of them on the floor and I then realized the boss probably told them to push them. It didn’t work, and I haven’t been back to ABC since…

If you are hard to get a hold of, you are going to suck at being a sales guy.

People have asked me why I am a good sales guy, and the answer is simple. I am honest and I am available. I have worked with sales guys who are impossible to get a hold of. 3-4 voicemails unanswered, emails unanswered…

Listen, I understand people being busy, I travel, I am on planes, I am in the car, I have an itinerary a mile long, but I also am waiting for planes, I am sitting in cars, I am eating breakfast/lunch…I am sorry, but there are no excuses if you can’t be available for your customers or your network.

If you try to bs someone just to get extra commission, you are going to suck at being a salesperson.

Yes you, sales guys in blue shirts with yellow logos.

Raise your hand if you heard this before…A sales guy calls and wants you to buy something for him because there is a contest.

Listen, every time I go to a car dealer, the sales guy tries to push me into a lease. I am at the point in my life where I can smell bs when I see it. All I hear is, “I make more money selling a lease, so I am going to tell you to buy one”.

At the end of the day sales guy, just be honest and appreciate the business you get, regardless of how it fits in your comp plan.

If you don’t follow up religiously, you are going to suck as a sales guy.

It’s the pillar of salesdom. Be honest and follow up. Simple. If you say you will call Monday at 2, call Monday at 2. If you tell them you will email them the latest PPT, do it within a business day. If you don’t follow up, you will not be trusted as a business advisor.

It takes years to build a trusted business relationship, but it only takes 2-3 “f-ups” to destroy one.

If you state your product is something it is not, you are going to suck at being a sales guy.

I argue with Dave all the time. He thinks the sales guy just spews nonsense, and then throws it over the fence for the engineers to build/fix. Guess what? He’s right. There are sales guys that do this.

They are so happy simply getting a PO, that they burn bridges inside their organization and with their client selling vaporware.

Know the good and the bad of your product, inside out. I understand the limits, I set expecations properly, I position the correct product into the correct environment.

If you punt, you are going to suck at being a sales guy.

I hate the punter. Basically, everytime a customer calls him, he says, “Oh, that’s not my job, you have to call customer service!” or “No no, call my inside guy, he will help!”

That doesn’t cut it. Your “customer” will soon learn not to come to you for anything. Own the relationship, tell your customer “I got it”, then call the people behind the scenes to get them what they want.

Your customer doesn’t want to play musical phones with their vendors, they want stuff off of their plate.

Well, there you have it, I might write more later, but this was all top of mind. I hope reading this makes you suck less as a sales guy. Until next time…