Read an Excerpt
Are You a SalesDog?
The moment is here!
The answer is about to arrive. All of the months of hard work, waiting, wondering and anticipating will be over in a few short minutes.
You live in a unique world of black and white. There is no reward for second place. This is an all-or-nothing game. Winner takes the prize and the loser walks away hungry. Despite the complex and carefully woven language of our profession, there are really only two words that matter-"Yes" and "No."
As you wait for the answer, your mind can't help but play back the tape of the last few months.... It all began in a crowded elevator three months ago when a friend handed you a scrap of paper. On the paper was a name and a phone number. "Give them a call," your friend said, "I think they might be interested."
The game was afoot...
You made the initial contact-battling your way through a world-class personal assistant to reach your decision-maker. There were meetings. Scores of e-mails were exchanged. The turning point came during a pivotal teleconference call. You piqued their interest and you made it to the final cut.
It was soon time to present. You'd scouted the competition and if all went well, you knew this account was yours for the taking. During the presentation, you were at the top of your game. Your movements were smooth. Your voice carried with power and reason. In a dimly lit room you moved through your presentation with grace and precision. You drove home your point with carefully crafted beams of light. Everything was perfect. Until, that is, you got "The Question."
There was an almost audible gasp as your team heard "The Question," but you stood tall and delivered your response in your trademark unflappable style. It was a tough question, but you were well rehearsed and prepared. No one in the room detected the concern that echoed silently through your mind. Or did they? Should you have answered the question differently? These are the ifs, buts and maybes of hindsight; these are the thoughts that plague you as you wait for the jury to return their verdict. There is nothing more you can say, nothing left to add, nothing but the uneasy uncertainty that now fills your mind. All of your efforts hinge on the discussion taking place behind a closed boardroom door on the thirtieth floor of a Manhattan highrise.
You look at the clock and watch the second hand move in triple-slow motion. You are keenly aware that by now hands have been raised. The vote has been tallied and the decision is made.
You're shaken out of your internal movie by the sound of the telephone. You have to stop yourself from falling over the desk as you lunge to answer-you just want to know, the torment is worse than the decision! Just in time you stop yourself, gather your thoughts, put on your poker face, take a deep breath-"Hey if I get it, great; if not, tomorrow's another day." After a couple of rings you pick up the receiver, and with as much optimism as you can muster say...
Does this scene sound familiar? It should. We have all been there.
It's life in the trenches. It's a constant, relentless pursuit. There are many losses and rejections sprinkled between the victories. Joy, anticipation, elation and excitement mingle uneasily with fear, rejection and despondency. One minute you feel ten feet tall and bulletproof, the next a klutz! But still, it's the thrill of the chase that keeps drawing us inexplicably back.
Many salespeople will share with each other in private that it's "a dog's life" in the world of sales. However, hidden in the sarcasm is more truth then you might think. As salespeople we have much in common with our canine friends.
For instance, have you ever watched a dog chase a stick?
You pick up the stick and hurl it far across a lush, green meadow. With tongue hanging, drool flowing and ears flapping, the dog seems to glide over the daisies and buttercups, all muscles straining, in a relentless pursuit of the stick. A smile pasted from jowl to jowl, the dog's mind dances with excitement, because this moment is heaven. All the pestering to get taken out for a walk, all the whining and scratching, all the effort to get to the park was worth it-the dog lives to chase that stick! Have you ever asked yourself, "What is it that makes dogs LOVE to chase sticks?"
Have you ever asked yourself, "Why is it that I keep chasing deals?" If you have ever watched a dog pester someone to toss a ball or a stick to him, you will begin to understand the similarity between sales and dogs. A dog will drop that slobbery stick at that innocent person's feet over and over again. In their own way, they somehow KNOW that the person will eventually pick it up and toss it for them. Despite the many times that the dog is ignored or rejected, he will return with the same enthusiasm and anticipation the next time around.
Kids are the same.
My son Benjamin, when he gets his mind set on doing something, is just as relentless.
"Daddy, will you come play with me?"
"Sure Ben, one second until I finish typing this."
"Daddy, will you come play with me now?"
"Sure Ben, I said just one minute."
"Daddy, is a minute up yet?"
If you have ever asked, ever begged, ever tried to convince, negotiate, maneuver or even manipulate another person's point of view, you are in sales. In fact, if you really enjoy winning these types of situations, you may have more in common with our canine friend than you think and possibly even more to learn from him. You may be what I call a "SalesDog"! The truth is that a SalesDog's life is a great life.
The champion SalesDogs of the world are among the most respected, highly paid and sought-after corporate heroes of our time. Without SalesDogs, businesses cannot survive. Without great SalesDogs, businesses cannot thrive. Nearly all great business leaders, successful entrepreneurs and great investors trace their roots and the core of their success to their sales training and sales experience.
The ability to fetch and to hunt with passion, talent and skill is a unique and treasured gift. Without question, the better you are at selling or convincing or negotiating, the more of the world is open to you in terms of wealth, opportunities and great relationships.
The rewards of large inflows of cash commissions, ever-expanding networks, resounding accolades and free and unencumbered lifestyle are available to anyone, whether you are meek and quiet, social and friendly or even technical and intellectual, and whether you are in corporate sales, network marketing or independent sales like real estate, or in insurance or retail. The key to success is not trying to copy the traits of others, but learning how to leverage your own unique talents. So first you must identify your breed. In the following chapters we will highlight the characteristics of each pooch.
Once you know what breed of SalesDog you are, you can generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash to build the lifestyle that you want. You can learn what your natural strengths are so that you can turn them into positive results for yourself. You can also spot your natural soft spots and learn how to avoid them or compensate for them so that you can generate "yeses" everywhere in your life. If you choose to learn the ways of the great SalesDogs, you can have whatever wealth you desire.
And since sales can be a team sport, your ability to identify the talents and breeds of those around you will have a tremendous impact on your chances of success. Everyone who is in contact with your prospects is part of your team. Whether you are a sales manager or a member of the sales team, being able to identify the breeds of your colleagues will be an extremely valuable tool.
You'll learn how to understand those around you and to translate that knowledge into amazing results.
CAUTION: Not everyone is a DOG! This is not about cats, horses or birds. If you are a dog, you may be able to hunt. I cannot speak for other species. Deep inside, do you suspect a bit of a canine urge?
Are you still unsure if you are a SalesDog? Ask yourself the following questions:
* Do you get a "rush" when a prospect says "yes" to you?
* Is the "hunt" sometimes better than the reward?
* Would you give up a little commission for additional fame, accolades and recognition?
* Do you have a natural persistent streak in you?
* Do you have a soft spot for a good story?
* Do you have a tendency to try to convince others?
* Do you find that when you are talking in a group about something that you are interested in your voice gets louder and that you naturally get more dramatic?
* Do you experience ranges of emotion from being a legend in your own mind to being a complete klutz?
* Do you have fun occasionally "people watching"?
* Do you spend time trying to figure out other people's psychology?
* Do you love to win?
If you answered "yes" to at least some of these questions, you may be a true-blue SalesDog who has the potential to make tons of money. It is simply a matter of knowing your breed, learning the best of other breeds and following the simple yet powerful example set by that contented canine lounging in the corner of your kitchen right now.
ALL DOGS CAN HUNT and SELL and WIN, yet some will and some will not. Are you ready to learn what it takes to "get the stick"?
Let me give you an example of a champion SalesDog. There was no magic, no gimmick, and he was selling a service that had no major bells and whistles over the competition. It's just that he was a SalesDog.
Years ago he was selling health insurance in Austin, Texas. As an account manager he was prospecting for new businesses that needed health insurance for their employees. He happened into a small office in which could be seen about a dozen people scurrying around assembling personal computers. There were tables stacked with circuit boards and boxes lying all around. He asked to see the owner and was directed toward a twenty-year-old sitting at a back table working. It turned out that this young fellow had just left the University of Texas and had decided to build his own company assembling PCs. My friend the SalesDog had a hunch about this guy's vision for the company that he wanted to build. The problem was that the SalesDog's insurance company would not write a policy for a company with less than fifty employees. Our young PC guru had only sixteen. For my friend, the real sales pitch had to begin. He went through his manager, around the organization and everywhere he could to get around this deal-breaking rule. His boss said no, but for a real SalesDog that means go! Through impetuous selling and bending a few rules he was able to secure the business. Within one year this little business went from sixteen employees to a staff of five hundred! That guy behind the table was Michael Dell, and his company is now legendary.
This is a valuable lesson: To be a great SalesDog you sometimes have to jump fences to get to the goal. You have to be willing to bend the rules, to sacrifice a few sacred cows to get the best deals. Many times that means the toughest sell is to your own team or your own company. If it adds value to all concerned and it's legal, ethical and moral, do not cower after the first no.
The best part of this story, however, is that my friend lost the business to another large healthcare insurer soon after Dell had grown to five hundred employees. The day he lost it, he started his sales cycle all over again. A true SalesDog never quits. He could not seem to get an appointment or to get the attention of anyone at Dell. He took on the detective hat of the Basset Hound and started researching like crazy. In a Dell annual report, he found the name of a person on Dell's board of directors who was also a senior manager for his company. My friend got on the phone and called his head office to track down this lead. After many calls, letters and attempts, my friend got this manager to agree to give a referral to the key buyer in Dell. Did he get the business? No. The fellow at Dell claimed he was happy and did not want to entertain the idea of switching again. Our SalesDog friend began what would become a long process of building a relationship with this individual. He invited him to benefits and sporting events, and he provided a continuous stream of timely information to this buyer-information that was not necessarily promoting our friend's company but was helpful to the person at Dell in keeping up with the changing demands of the insurance industry in a growing company. He built the frequency that will be referred to later. Agreement after agreement after agreement. Serving, serving and serving some more. He built a truly connected relationship with this fellow, until one day, the competitor faltered. There was a phone call, a few exchanged words, and our SalesDog and his firm were back in. By now Dell had 1,500 employees.
By the time my friend left to go to work as the head of sales and marketing at another healthcare insurer, Dell was up to 15,000 employees. (Nice commission checks!)
My friend learned his Retriever lesson in the end. He said, "There was no way that I would ever lose that account again. I made sure that I peed in every corner of Dell computer to secure that territory." He did not really urinate there, but he did create allies in every department. He made sure that the key people at Dell knew of their new health plan, and he made sure that someone was always going in there to be sure that they understood their benefits, how to process their claims and how to handle any problems that might occur. That was ongoing.
My friend's name is Herman, and he has soared in the arena of healthcare insurance. I asked him if he could summarize the lessons learned. He smiled and said:
1. "Sometimes you have to break the rules." When the company said he could not sell to a company with less than fifty employees, that is when the real selling started. If you are going to serve the customer you have to do the right things!
2. "There is no such thing as a lack of connection." There is always somebody who knows somebody who can get you in the door. If you spend a few hours on the phone, there is no person in the world whom you cannot somehow access through someone else. Look through annual reports, journals, article lists, the Internet, and do your market research!
3. "Your competition's greatest weakness is the day they land a deal." He knew that when he lost that account that was the moment that his competition was feeling the most complacent. They had no idea what he was up to or how he had infiltrated the customer's site with frequency, information and service. When you lose a deal, it only means that a new game has begun.
Copyright (c) 2001 by Blair Singer