How Getting Fired Saved My Sales Life [Guest Post by Matthew North]

Matthew North has genuine sales experience to share with us here. It's about the lazy attitude towards training displayed by many companies. That their focus is on making sales by whatever means—and if it grinds the salesperson's soul into dust, who cares...and the shift you can make so the process of selling can become much easier for you.

Let's join Matthew North as he describes the trainwreck of an experience that lead to his personal shift in selling...


matthew north afraid of selling fired sales

This is a guest post by ex-sales pro turned writer Matthew North. You can follow him on Facebook for more posts like this and see if he'll write for you.

Let's talk about getting you in front of a trove of qualified people whose wallets are wide open, ready and waiting to buy from you.

I'm reporting from experience of being on the front lines. As a former sales guy, I became desperate to connect with people who actually wanted to speak with me. I grew tired of being the marauder of phone books and telephone directories. Sick of calling fax machines and the dominion of secretaries.

But things were good. So it never occurred to me why some people were easier to sell to than others. You just had your good days, then your bad days. And besides, the sales were easy. People kept buying, so I kept selling—which was fine until we ran out of leads.

I didn't suspect anything at first. Fewer people than usual called me back, and a couple of proposals fell through. No problem. I was going through a downswing, and soon I'd be on my way up again.

Things continued like this for a while. Each sale we lost would expand the pressure on the company to keep itself standing. Consultants of many different hats and titles were called in to doctor the cause. None of this mattered. The business had been kicked and dragged around towards bankruptcy.

But we had a plan: a list of old recycled leads. These people had shown interest at some point, and it was my job to close them. Just as I started calling, secretary commandos paraglided in to subvert me. "James? Is that who you want? Well, he doesn't work here anymore." "Brian is in meetings all week. Why don't you leave your number and he'll call you back if he's interested." "I don't really see why I should put you through unless can you tell me what this is all about." A whole calendar worth of presentations, gone. Management roared with criticism. They then gave me an opportunity (as they called it) to either meet target, or get out.

All this would culminate on a Wednesday morning. I was pulled by the neck to a small room; inside, my manager had waited. He closed the door, and handed me an envelope. I knew what was coming. He looked at me. I looked at him. We both stared. They then kicked me out, to a street that was laden with garbage. "Send him back where you found him," I heard them saying.

Over the next few months, everyone watched as our former employers went out the back door, and left behind a death knell of lawsuits and press releases addressed to anyone who'd read them.

Matthew North: Lessons Learned

It didn't matter how many dials I made, how polished my pitch was, or what kind of jokes I told: nothing had made a difference. Prospects had turned into brick walls.
A decade later, things are now clear: once the walk-in buyers were gone, it left only the "Not interested" punters behind. There was no real finesse to what we were doing, no process. We chased, and they ran, that was about it.

So if my company was wrong about selling, what's trick or sneaky shortcut to making huge bags of money?

Mature thinkers know that nothing worthwhile is easy or guaranteed. So there is no a magic close that will force someone to buy, or a pitch so persuasive it sells itself. To seek the easy answers is a misunderstanding of what sales is really about. We cannot force people to do anything.

Instead, give people what they want, listen, and see things from their point of view. Because it's the customer's situation that determines if they buy. We don't call the plumber if our taps aren't leaking; we don't want to shoot the breeze with the cable guy. We engage with companies because we want something, and it's the same for why people will buy from you.

Don't listen to the marketer's jingle of awareness to transaction (which is from the businesses' perspective.) What is going on in your prospect's world? There will always be some unsatisfied need or want if a sale is possible. And if you can't help someone get what they want, it doesn't matter about your prices, how good your product is, or anything else.

What all of this means is that you do not make sales; you find sales. The opportunity of a sale being made is either there or it isn't. And yes, everyone has a fishing story or two of turning somebody around—but how often does that happen? Selling is not alchemy.

When people buy from a salesperson, it's because they were thinking about buying already. The salesperson was just kind of 'there,' handing over what they wanted. In practice, this means there are two distinct, yet concurrent parts to any good sales conversation: qualification, and what happens after. When we talk of simply finding the buyers (qualification), it's the first and most important step of the sale - not the close, nor your glossy sales kits, but who you speak to that matters the most.

This was a guest post by ex-sales pro turned writer Matthew North. You can follow him on Facebook for more posts like this and see if he'll write for you. For a live interview with Matthew North on SalesTactics, click here.


Tony Gambone Interviews Jason Kanigan on Cold Calling

Tony Gambone Interviews Jason Kanigan on effective cold callingTony Gambone Interviews Jason Kanigan on the Tough Talk Radio show in this 25-minute discussion on why cold calling is almost always ineffective.

Jason shares the reason why: phone prospecting is frequently executed in a clumsy way and with the wrong purpose.

He then goes into changes you can make to turn your phone prospecting results around.

What's Wrong With Cold Calling, Explained As Tony Gambone Interviews Jason Kanigan

When you call someone who has never heard of you, and the first thing you do is try to sell them something, it's the equivalent of going on a blind date and immediately after meeting ask, "So, do you want to get married and have a family?"

Sounds outrageous, doesn't it. Yet this is what most people believe cold calling is.

Jason Kanigan is on a mission to transform 100,000 people from being perceived by the public as slimy tricksters who will say anything to get an order into trusted advisors who are well rewarded for their expertise.

A perception problem does exist between the public and salespeople! This problem has been created and perpetuated by bad salespeople. But the public has typically not encountered a true professional B2B salesperson, whose purpose is not to push a product or a service but to find out how best they can serve the prospect. And that service may be concluding, "Sorry, we're not a fit."

The idea of a salesperson NOT doing their utmost to force a prospect to buy is incredible, isn't it?

This perception is at the root of why cold calling doesn't work when attempted by untrained individuals with the wrong purpose.

Tony Gambone Interviews Jason Kanigan On How Cold Calling Can Be Effective

In the interview Jason points out how strange it is that we can slap a nametag on anyone, call them a salesperson and shove them out into the showroom to talk to potential customers. We would not do this in any other profession! Can you imagine saying, "You're a nurse now," to someone, and sending them out without any training to deal with medical problems? Or an accountant? An engineer? Yet it seems OK to do this with salespeople for some reason.

Why we would expect someone to be competent at phone prospecting without any training, with this perspective, is hard to understand. The truth is cold calling needs to have a different purpose than immediate selling to be successful. This is discussed in detail as Tony Gambone interviews Jason Kanigan. To work well, a cold call needs to reach the decision maker, and then start the conversation in an effective way so that there IS a "rest of the call". The purpose must be Filtering. Qualifying. Looking for Fit (or lack thereof, and that's OK). Qualify First, Sell Later.

Click here to listen in as Tony Gambone interviews Jason Kanigan, starting at 35:00.


Do Classic Sales Methods Still Work?

Do Classic Sales Methods Still Work?Do classic sales methods still work? I have to admit, I was all ready to get uppity about this article because of its title. Turned out, though, author Gregg Schwartz of lead generation firm Strategic Sales & Marketing, Inc., had something different in mind than what I was thinking.

My error was assuming that when asking "Do classic sales methods still work?" Schwartz was going to wax on about the effectiveness of features and benefits selling--pushy, machine-gun selling that doesn't care whether your solution is best for your prospect or not; selling that just tries to knock them over and make them buy. I've already said what I wanted to say about these tactics. If you follow me, you know we're not interested in fooling anyone into buying from us. We want best fit, not any sale. That the "I'll take anyone" approach simply leads to too much trouble. But Gregg surprised me in this article.

The "Death" of Classic Sales Methods?

First, he aims at cold calling. Is this proven sales method--what I would call a prospecting method, actually--"dead"? Companies mighty and tiny are continuing to use phone prospecting. This method continues to work. So no, cold calling is not dead. Why, then, are so many people uncomfortable with it? Because they have not been trained on how to effectively make prospecting calls. They even begin with the wrong outcome in mind: desperate to make a sale off this very attempt! No one has educated them on what to expect. What needs to happen for a call to begin well...which leads to a good qualifying conversation. So with the wrong goal in mind and no skills to achieve it, is it any surprise that people feel uncomfortable when the results don't turn out as expected?

Second, Schwartz points out how some "experts" have exclaimed solution selling is also dead. That buyers can now educate themselves with the information available online, and come to a decision without the help of salespeople. This leads straight into Gregg's third question: do we need salespeople at all, anymore?

Of course we do. Despite all the available information online, that data is not complete, exhaustive nor tailored to a prospect's individual situation. The prospect is not the expert. The prospect is not qualified to know whether this solution is the best fit for them or not. That is the role of the salesperson. To probe, to agitate if necessary, to be a matchmaker. A good salesperson is likely to uncover hidden issues in the prospect's world, and potentially add much greater value than the prospect could by buying as if from a cafeteria.

Do Classic Sales Methods Still Work from the Buyer's Perspective?

From the other side's perspective, sales expert Troy Harrison shared his experience as a car buyer. Now this is an interesting example, because car buying really has descended into the realm of commodity purchases. What's the real difference between Harrison buying his 1996 Impala SS from one dealership versus another? The dealer salesperson is going to have to demonstrate some things, like an understanding of Harrison's situation, to attract Troy into feeling comfortable buying from that source. Yet the dealerships Troy emailed wouldn't even answer his questions; they simply invited him in for a test drive.

Look and act like a commodity salesperson, and you will be treated like a commodity salesperson. Don't complain when prospects don't appreciate you when you behave this way.

Harrison invited salespeople to have a dialogue with him about specific questions (that's "pain") he had...and they one and all refused to do it!

How stupid is that?

So don't tell me "Today's sales teams have been trained and know the latest methodologies"; the evidence on the street shows exactly what the CSO Insights Report showed...nearly all salespeople don't have a clue what they're doing.

>> Jason Kanigan is a sales force developer. Is there someone you know who would learn from reading this? Please Share! Do you have a question about sales methods? Comment below to let us know! Did you appreciate this write-up? Like us on Facebook with the button on the right! And keep up with the latest posts by following us on Twitter or subscribing.<<