Can't Catch Fish with a Rubber Hook...and Sales

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Fri, Oct 12, 2012

Summer 2011 Morning Sunrise 1 resized 600Most days, I commute back and forth from the NH beach on the left to our sales office in Boston.  For most of the year, the commute is not an issue since I leave early and can usually squeeze in a quick walk on the sand at dusk.  For the rest of the year, I come and go in the dark, but since that particular seasonal shift also marks the snowboarding season, I know I'm headed to the mountains at the end of the week anyway, which takes the edge off the commute. 

Bottom line: the ocean in the summer and Vermont's mountains in the summer is a pretty good combination.  Plus, living on the ocean for the last couple of years, I've also gained a deeper appreciation for fish and fishing.  From whales only a couple of miles offshore to the fish shop around the corner, I look out every day to an ocean filled with lobster boats, commercial fishing trawlers and that nasty gang of seals that hangs out on the nearby rocks. 

During the summer months, (as I'm also working my way in the real world through Q2's selling season) everything always looks picture perfect both on the beach and in my sales plan.  The sun's out all the time, kids are playing in the tide pools searching for anything that moves, the ocean is flat allowing the lobstermen to easily work their traps, the bass surfcasters are out every morning, and overall, it appears that the fishin' is easy.

Come this time of year however, deep into October and Q4, the bass are pretty much gone and the lobster traps are coming up empty rather than the oversupply that comes with the heat of August.  The days are not only shorter, but they are weighted down with much more pressure given the time of year and the demand on everyone's time.  And yet, the work of fishing...and a way of life that needs to occur every day, every week, every month, and every quarter...good times and bad, rough water or not.

Sales is a QuestionIn this environment of uncertainty where no one really has any definitive answers to the economic impact of the upcoming elections, the direction of the U.S. jobs outlook, what the Fed is going to do next, the probable blowup in EuroLand, the increasing slowdown in China and every other worrisome news clip that haunts us everyday (and that we can't do anything about), the only activity that we can absolutely respond with and actually control is that all of us can SELL MORE STUFF. 

I know, easy to say...

...but, in fact, it's also easy to do.  It's just that, as sales professionals, we simply can't continue to market and sell the way that we used to sell...way back in the good ol' days prior to five years ago.  The very good news is that there's been a revolution in the profession of Sales over the past couple of years that gives us many more tools, more hooks, more processes and a much more intimate way of engaging our customers.  Better for us as salespeople.  Much better for our customers with whom we want to become "Trusted Advisors", not just "Relationship Managers"

"Relationship Selling" is dead!  My attitude is just shut the casket and don't waste any more of your valuable time trying to create relationships with your prospects.  The process has always been an inefficient way to sell, but, more importantly, in today's super-efficient, ROI-based sales processes there are a myriad of highly effective sales tools that can be used to allow us to catch more fish.

Can't Fish With a Rubber Hook

In today's world of market uncertainty and a strong desire on the buyer's side of the table simply to do nothing unless there's a screaming need, the impact on all of us as sales professionals is that we need to create much sharper hooks and much more impactful, process-driven ways to fish. 

This is a great time of year for all of us in Sales.  Quota pressure is turned up high, the end of the year is just around the corner in another 50 selling days, and the idea of coming back into port with full loads of freshly caught fish and fat commission checks is no longer a dream since each of us can smell success around the corner.

But, what we cannot do is to fish with the same old tools that we've been using.  So this weekend is the perfect time to sort through all of your selling tools.  Lay them out in front of you.  Decide what you should be using over the next two months.  Sharpen and oil the best of your hooks (Rehearshing your Value Proposition would be one example, role playing your negotiating tactics, another).  Then turn your attention on focusing exactly where you're going to go fishing over the next 50 days, stay the course and ramp up your time on the phones and get your butt out of the chair and out on the street. 

Good Fishing!!!

Head Coach
Linked In and Sales

For a few of our sharpened hooks, click on the toolbox below...

Jack%27s Sales Toolbox resized 600




Tufts and salesIt's that time of year again, when in my "other" job as a marketing professor at Tufts, I begin to think about company projects for my students for next semester.  For 12 semesters now, we've woven the theory and tactics of the rapidly changing world of marketing into six real world companies.  With five students per team assigned to each of these companies, the students are presented by management with complex, semester-long marketing projects ranging from detailed market research on new product launches to building complete marketing plans . 

If you're interested in participating, just email me, and I will send you an outline of what's involved.  The deadline for selecting the companies is December 1st, and we are limited only to six companies only each semester.

Tags: sales productivity, sales coaching, Sales Optimization, sales, sales management, sales management effectiveness, sales plan process, sales coach, sales management coach, sales effectiveness, sales enablement, sales planning, sales tools, selling, sales management training, selling skills, Sales quota, sales training, sales plans, sales enablment, sales jobs