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Your Mom was Wrong



Moms are great people. Without them, none of us would be here.

My mom was awesome. She was a real southern lady. Polite and kind, but with a sharp wit and tongue to match that and she could put me in my place when she needed to.

Unfortunately, she’s not with us anymore, but she is still one of my heroes. Mom was nurturing, loving, supportive and she made me the man I am today.

Over my lifetime, Mom gave me some great advice. Of all of the advice she gave me, Mom was really off base when it came to sales tips. I bet your mom gave you the same advice. Let’s debunk it.

Don’t talk to strangers.

Ok, I was an outgoing kid, and an only child to boot, so I was used to talking to adults. Anywhere, any time about any subject. I still do it. My wife asks me about the new friends I made at the grocery store. And, yes quarantine has been tough.

My mom would say, “You can’t talk to strangers like that! They might abduct you.” By the way, she talked to EVERYBODY she met and at great lengths, so I learned it all from her.

You laugh, but too many sales professionals have taken this advice from their mothers and still hang on to it like they are clinging to a life raft in a stormy sea. We see this all the time with our clients in technical industries.

For many of them, the smarter and more technically adept their salespeople are, the more introverted they are.

These are your farmers. They provide great service to their existing customers but aren’t so great at bringing in new customers.

If you are trying to seriously grow your business, your salesforce has to talk to strangers. You can only get so much business from your existing client base, although we have recommended tactics for getting greater market share (and that’s the subject of another blog post).

Your salesforce has to continually bring in new customers. That means prospecting and networking. For introverts, it’s tough, I know, but still, it has to be done. This is where working from a clear sales process and pairing it with a strong marketing approach can bring in warm leads that don’t really feel like you are talking to strangers.

Also, knowing and believing in your offering and the value it brings can help introverted salespeople.

Do yourself a favor and forget that piece of advice from dear old mom.

Don’t steal.

That was a BIGGIE for my mom. When I was five, I stole a Nestlé Chunky candy bar from a convenience store, and my mom caught me unwrapping it in the back seat of her Ford Torino. She read me the riot act and convinced me it was a felony to steal a 25 cent candy bar. Mom honestly told me I could go to jail, and she was going to take me directly to the police station if I didn’t go back into the store, pay for the candy and apologize to the clerk, which I did in complete tears with hopes that the authorities didn’t find out first and throw me in the slammer.

So, that’s one I agree wholeheartedly with 99.9% of the time. The only exception I make is when it comes to sales. Sometimes your prospects make bad decisions about who they buy from, which can mean they have chosen to work with your competitors even if they are inferior. To let that happen would be a travesty of justice. Your salesforce is morally obligated to steal them back.

In all seriousness, the name of the game in business is growth. Stealing market share from the bad guys is an important component of growth in the best of times, and when times get tough, it’s critical.

Look, when the pie gets smaller in a recession, you have to be able to take more than your fair share, and that comes at your competitors’ expense. Plus – brace yourself – they are knocking on your customers’ doors right now.

Now, don’t think I’m suggesting market share at all costs. Getting new business with low margins is rarely our recommendation. This means your sales force has to sell value. If they have not done this in the past, they will need training, and your marketing people had better be helping you with some clear, targeted resonating value propositions.

Don’t talk about money.

My mom beat that one out of me (literally) at an early age. When I was about 6 years old and I’d meet an adult with a big house or a cool car, I’d ask, “Nice Corvette. What do you do for a living, and how much money do you make?” It would mortify my mom, but honestly I knew that I would need to get a job one day, and I wanted one that would pay me enough money so I could buy a cool car. I’d think, "maybe I could do what this person does when I grow up.”

Why is this important? You can’t really qualify an opportunity without talking money. How many times have your salespeople heard “that’s out of our budget” while working on a deal?

Don’t assume your pricing is off. You may have just had the wrong prospect, and the salesperson should have figured that out 20 minutes into the deal, not 20 weeks into the deal. Talking about money is only hard because we listened to our moms.

You need to know early on if you have the right prospect. After all, this is a commercial offering we are talking about, not a dinner party. So, your sales force should be talking about money early. If you have the most expensive offering on the market, tell the prospect early. Justify it, and ask if that is going to be a problem. If it is, thank them for their time and move on to the next opportunity. If it isn’t, then you have yourself a pre-commitment to buy…Congratulations.

My final chirp.

Moms are truly special people, although they can give lousy sales advice. Make sure your sales force is out there talking to strangers, stealing from your competitors and talking money early in their interactions with prospects. But those behaviors are easier said than done. They require sales training and tight interaction between marketing and sales. If you need help getting your sales and marketing teams aligned or your marketing message sharpened, reach out. We are happy to help with our time-proven expertise.