Sales is not a battle, a war, or an athletic competition. Sales is a simple process with altruistic overtones and shading and needs not be complicated. In The Tao of Sales, author John Fabiano offers a unique and refreshing look at sales methods that are simple as well as elegant, emphasizing considerations and processes meant to strip away clichés’ and lead to a mutually successful and agreeable process for sales people and buyers.
Different from traditional sales doctrine, Fabiano presents an eclectic conversation about effective methods for success in sales based on simplicity, questioning, ownership, ethics, and working smart. The Tao of Sales gives a plethora of how-to tips regarding a simple, organic sales process that is a collaboration between sales person and prospect rather than a competition.
Fabiano uses his personal experiences to underscore many of the methods, principles, and points. Because sales advice and training takes many forms, shapes, and colors, he encourages practitioners make educated choices and to apply what resonates from within. The Tao of Sales is geared for the novice, the beginner, those needing to make choices or changes, and those looking for a better way.
Praise for The Tao of Sales
“As one who has toiled successfully on both sides of the office door—sales consulting and sales management—reading this book felt like a great affirmation of all of the best things I’ve learned from my mentors over the decades, minus all the bad stuff.”
—Patrick Cuccaro, Managing Director, Affairs to Remember Caterers Small Business Advisory Council Alum, Yelp! Past Chairman of the Board, Georgia Restaurant Association Advisory Board, Special Events Magazine
Are good sales people born or are they nurtured and developed from observation, experience, training, curiosity, and imitation?
The question remains unanswered.
The high achievers I met “owned” every piece of what they were doing to bring in the business. Basics, fundamentals, always won out and it was hard to get away from that. Those who had turned their sales process into a Zen like state were top performers. Those who knew the product and the competition backwards and forwards were top performers. Those who took the time to get to know their prospects inside and out were top performers. These were people who didn’t compete with their clothes, grooming, and delivery. These were people who could deliver their presentations with their eyes closed, never having to look directly at the slide and who never “read” the slide, but talked from it. Simple fundamentals allowed them to be elegant with all they did.
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Read an Excerpt
How to use this book ... (... or not to)
We learn by questioning. Little kids are great sales people because they are always asking "Why?" That is a great start and it is simple. Via the Dali Lama, we learned that Buddhist philosophy teaches to question everything: Siddhartha supposedly told his disciples to question everything, even what he taught them. The Socratic method of learning lies in asking questions. Christ advised his disciples to do the same. Today Pope Francis admonishes the faithful not to fear questioning. Even Albert Einstein spoke of the importance of questioning. Do not take anything at face value.
Here is another premise of this book: Occam's Razor. Know it? It states that in any given situation it is most likely the simplest solution or explanation is the best. With that consider another construct of the razor: don't over think the situation; be observant, and remove anything that does not make sense.
When questioning, keep it simple and have no fear or apprehension. The worst that can happen is "no" as a response. So what; move on. But never be hesitant about questioning as long as you are polite, direct, and to the point. Emotion has no place here (do not take it personally); however, "sales" for the prospect many times is emotional process, but "business" is not.
Give yourself credit for having a brain, despite all other influences to the contrary. I accept that you have one; use it. If you don't, this book won't work for you.
What you find following is the result of years of experience of not only myself but many others as well as observations of both good and bad across the continent.
What is presented herein works; it worked for me and worked for the people I observed doing it. The question is, will it work for you?
T hat depends upon you. If you are seeking information to validate your decision to accept sales as a career, you will find straight forward "talk" to consider. If it makes sense to you, if it resonates, whether you have yet to start your career or have already started, then work to make it yours.
You can't do me any more than I can do you. See the chapter on "Making it yours" to understand some methods you may employ to take ownership and put your stamp on what you have learned to do.
The internet is crowded with information about selling: how to techniques; psychology of selling; psychology of buyers; how to read body language to your advantage; consultant selling, solution selling, commodity selling, financial selling, prospecting, closing, qualifying, training, consultant services, and on and on and on. Find what you like, see if you can make it yours; if it resonates, and try it.
To imply that the methods herein are the only ones that work would be the height of conceit and erroneously proselytizing. And I hate that.
There may be times when you are told "what" to do, rather than "how" to do it. Learning "how" is a better route than being told "what". If all you are hearing is "what" to do, find someone who will show you "how", otherwise, leave.
Look for a "mentor", someone in the organization who is willing to guide and help you through the early days and months of your career. Look for someone who is very good at what they do and has had a lot of time on the job; someone you feel confident can show you, or at least explain, "how".
Make your own decisions. But think first. Do homework, research, due diligence, until you are satisfied that the path you choose is the right one for you.
Don't fear failure. It is part of learning, an important part. Don't let failure stop your enthusiasm, your desires. A good leader will understand his failures as well as those of his followers and not begrudge or judge them for it.
Just don't stew over it or make failure a habit.
Odds are that you will come across many people, both sales people and buyers, who are prone to saying "trust me" as a way to acceptance. You may take for granted that many buyers do not trust sales people for any number of reasons, some because of pervious bad experiences, some because they lack confidence, some because they feel no resonance and make a negative decision based on first impressions. But trust is critical to success today, and continued success tomorrow.
Lincoln said that you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time; Robin Williams said that you can fool some of the people all of the time and "abuse" the rest. But you can count on what goes around comes around; it is like a law of physics.
Take what you read within here, make it yours, and use it to your advantage. Or, consider all this and make your own, educated, decisions.
The Sales Professional's Index
The following is the result of a lot of internet searching and the credit goes to the authors of numerous blogs and sites offering sales help and solutions on many levels. It should be remembered that while the internet is considered to be an ocean of information, parts of it are shoals two inches or less deep.
The point remains, however, that sales today is not perfect, nor are sales professionals, managers, and buyers and a process that is a combination of natural aptitude, science, and art is about as difficult to corral as it would be to herd cats. Sales is neither fish nor fowl but a simple process that is equally valuable to the buyer as it is to the sales person
Use your own best judgement, but keep in mind the lessons that lurk behind the lines. Trust your gut.
12.3% of all jobs are in sales, inside and out
1 Trillion dollars are spent annually on sales forces
55% of sales people should be doing something else other than sales
64% of sales people fail because they are in the wrong sales job
50% of sales managers admit they are too busy to train or develop their sales force
50% of sales people have no planned approach
50% of sales professionals do not have a playbook
The win rate exceeds 50% for 66% of the companies that have a defined sales process
Those with a playbook are 33% more likely to be high performers
The national sales closing rate is estimated to be 27%
67% of all sales people do not attain individual quota
27% of all companies do not even know if their sales force has achieved quota
In any given situation, only 59% of the sales force is effective
65% of all sales calls end without the sales professional asking for the order
65% of all sales calls are made to the wrong person
Replacing the bottom 20% of the sales force relates to a 20% increase in productivity
Top performers out produce the average sales person 2 -1; the below average 10-1
High performers are 25% better at qualifying
61% of sales people are good at uncovering customer problems and are 28% more likely to achieve quota
Of sales people, 17% win less than 25%; 37% win less than 50%; 4% win more than 50%
20% of the sales force delivers 80% of the revenue
52% of sales professionals are able to access key players
46% of sales professionals believe their pipeline is accurate and spend 2.5 hours per week preparing forecasts
50% of a sales professional's results come from natural talent and aptitude
91% of buyers will offer referrals, but only 11% of sales professionals will ask for them
85% of sales people do not generate enough referrals
At 8 calls per hour it takes 6.25 hours to make 1 appointment
Only 2% of cold calls result in an appointment
40% of sales professionals experience serious unwillingness to make cold calls
92% of customer interactions take place by telephone
The average cost of customer contact by phone is $33.11, in person $276.48
Of phone calls, 82% of recipients remember tone versus what was said
82% of customers report being dissatisfied with telephone experiences
95% of all sales professionals talk too much
Buyers are 74% more likely to buy if they perceive they are being listened to
A successful sales professional listens 75% of the time and talks 25% of the time
First impressions are based 55% on looks, 38% sound, and 7% on what is said
Personality types and style aligned with the prospect account for an 82% success rate
Buyers respond more favorably to personalization's
80% of sales are lost because of failure to establish trust and credibility
A buyer values: competence 39%, quality of offering 21%, solution recommended 22%, price 18%
Only 14% of buyers consider price
65% of all buying decisions are emotionally based
70% of sales involve problem solving decisions; 30% of decisions are to gain something
Personal value has a 2 – 1 impact over business value
2% of sales result from the first meeting
50% of all sales go to the first contact
Average number of calls it takes to make a deal: 5
In getting to 5, 47% of sales professionals quit after 1 call, 22% after 2, 14% after 3, 12% after 4
8% of sales professionals ask for the order on the 5 call
2% of sales made on 1st contact, 3% 2nd, 5% 3rd, 10% 4th, 80% 5-12
Continuous training equates to 50% higher net sales per employee
On average a company loses 14% of its customers per year
Satisfying current customers is 3 – 10 times less expensive than acquiring new ones
A 5% reduction in customer defection can lead to as much as an 80% increase in profits
Customer relationship management improves lead conversions by 300%
Customer relationship management applications increase revenue up to 41% per sales person
Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text
After a presentation 64% remember stories while only 5% remember statistics
Successful presentations contain 50% more objections
Satisfying objections leads to a 69% improvement in results
Lead nurturing leads 66% of buyers to respond with commitment
Nurtured leads result in 47% larger contracts
Inside recommendations account for an 82% success rate; 20% from effective cold calls
Sales contributions to company strategy can lead to a 15% increase in quota attainment
25% more revenue is achieved when sales and marketing are aligned
Companies of 100 – 500 employees have 7 or less decision makers
Buyers are moving away from industry publications
A brand is no longer what the company tells the customers it is; it is what customers tell each other it is
"WE NEED TO STOP INTERRUPTING WHAT PEOPLE ARE INTERESTED IN AND BE WHAT PEOPLE ARE INTERESTED IN." Craig Davis of J. Walter Thompson
The Seminal Salesperson
"What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving, how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world, the paragon of animals." (Hamlet, Act 2 Scene 2)
Okay, sue me. I did spend a lot of time earning graduate and post graduate degrees in theatre.
"What a piece of work is a sales person, to work with people who many times defy reason, when having to master infinite skills and labors, including to think, act, speak, dance, and over all, perform well while endeavoring to present a form and image delightful, pleasing, and acceptable to the potential customer. Yes, an angel, a god, a conundrum." (The Tao of Sales, Chapter 2)
Are good sales people born or are they nurtured and developed from observation, experience, training, curiosity, and imitation?
The question remains unanswered.
The high achievers I met "owned" every piece of what they were doing to bring in the business. Basics, fundamentals, always won out and it was hard to get away from that. Those who had turned their sales process into a Zen like state were top performers. Those who knew the product and the competition backwards and forwards were top performers. Those who took the time to get to know their prospects inside and out were top performers. These were people who didn't compete with their clothes, grooming, and delivery. These were people who could deliver their presentations with their eyes closed, never having to look directly at the slide and who never "read" the slide, but talked from it.
And these top performers never seemed to be cold calling or hard prospecting; they always had several deals going at any given time. They were "in" the local business community, not "of" the local business community. They were established, known, and respected. And they made everything they did look effortless. While nothing is perfect, not even you or I, these folks came closer to perfection than anyone else. Everything was double, triple checked, verified, confirmed, and tested.
Was it easy? Of course not. It took time to reach such heights; experience that came from mistakes learned hard or easy; getting up and dusting off while coming to understand the lesson. We learn from failure. But they put the time in to "own" all of it, and to make sure it came across naturally, they put the time in to make it all theirs. Yes, one could watch and learn from them, but no one could ever "do" them. 90% of creativity is theft and it works only when one makes it his or her own.
Sales is a craft to be learned and if it was easy, everyone would be doing it and you never would have purchased this book. Attend: a master baker did not start at the top of his profession. A father in law, many years ago, had me work in his bakery for a year as payment for permission to marry his daughter. He was Czech and in any European country, a master baker is an artist. In the old days, the novice started out doing menial jobs at the baker's farm. After several years of shoveling you know what, he moved to the actual bakery, where he moved up to inside menial jobs, and then to the most basic things: lugging sacks of flour, cracking eggs, shelving product that needed to rise in retarders, sweeping floors and cleaning work benches. Then if he did that well enough, he was introduced to "bench work" making bagels, cookies, pastries, and the like. There were many steps he had to learn before he got to the top, which was a decorator — that took skill and creativity and was an artist's work. It would take a young man 5 to 10 years, pending how hard he worked and his skill and aptitude, before he advanced to the decorators' bench. I was artistic, worked hard, and had the aptitude, and as the son-in-law and heir apparent, it took me about two months.
As a sales engineer starting out with a leading telecommunications company, I had a sales manager who didn't really fit the profile. A white guy who wore his hair in an afro, liked to drink his lunches at a topless bar, and belonged to a photographic club that once a month would hire nude models. He was very well groomed and wore only the finest, classic suits, shirts, and ties. He was an excellent listener and successful at his job. He was extremely street smart. He relied on me for almost all of his product knowledge and I developed a great deal of respect for him; he was never judgmental. And, for whatever reason, I was his favorite in the office. One day, as he enjoyed his vodka lunch at his favorite "peeler" bar, he questioning me about what I thought of the capabilities of the sales people I frequently accompanied on calls. As the office was relatively new and the company was just a few years after lifting off, sales were not robust, but enough to encourage further investment. As one might expect, the 80-20 rule, ruled: 20% of the sales people brought in 80% of the business. "Why do you suppose our one salesman closes the most and the other four struggle?" He asked. "Because da cats in da know ain't bustin' dey hump" he exclaimed before I could answer.
Nailed it. Right there. In ten words. Simple.
Our top sales person made it look effortless because he had put a great deal of effort into making sure he knew more about the product than anyone else, that he knew the market better than anyone else, that he knew more about his prospect and his prospect's business than the prospect did, and he knew what sales techniques worked where and when. He knew when to get aggressive and when to walk away. He always outperformed everybody else and always surpassed quota. And he never stopped learning.
You couldn't beat this guy even if you were giving the product away.
He knew how to distinguish himself above all others in the market, the field, the community, and the office.
He knew exactly what he needed to know, top to bottom, and, above all, was able to lead a pleasant, leisurely, family life outside of work. He wasn't "bustin' his hump".
Words to remember, maybe even worthy of a tattoo: Work smart.
Quality #1: A sales person absolutely, positively, always must be an exceptionally good listener. Most folks are in an accepting mode when they come to believe that what they are saying is heard. A national statistic reports that 95% of all sales people talk too much. A good sales person listens 75% of the time talks 25% of the time.
We learn by listening and a good sales person knows that almost all of the time, a prospect will reveal how he or she can be closed if the sales person listens carefully.
The prospect really isn't that concerned about how much the sales person knows about the product but he or she is absolutely concerned about how the situation, the problem, may be solved.
Excerpted from "The Tao of Sales"
Copyright © 2017 John Fabiano.
Excerpted by permission of Abbott Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Dedications and Acknowledgements, v,
Chapter 0: How to use this book, 1,
Chapter 1: The Sales Professional's Index, 5,
Chapter 2: The Seminal Salesperson, 12,
Chapter 3: The Right Sales Job, 21,
Chapter 4: Step 0, 30,
Chapter 5: Rating Sales Calls, 44,
Chapter 6: You Gotta Love on Your People, 50,
Chapter 7: The Basic Sales Process, 55,
Chapter 8: Profitable Prospecting, 72,
Chapter 9: Making It Yours, 77,
Chapter 10: Presentations, 82,
Chapter 11: The Reality Pill, 90,
Chapter 12: The Value Proposition, 95,
Chapter 13: The Value of Value Add, 98,
Chapter 14: Ethics, 102,
Chapter 15: Effective Writing, 108,
Chapter 16: Polished Communications, 114,
Chapter 17: To stay or to go, 119,
Chapter 18: The Journal, 124,
Chapter 19: The Loyal Opposition, 129,
About the Author, 143,