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Jeff's Selling & Success Newsletter
February 2006

Dear Jeff,

Thanks for reading my newsletter. If you find it valuable I'd greatly appreciate your forwarding it to a friend or colleague via the forward link at bottom of the page.

This month we start a new feature. Check it out to the right underneath my pic.

  • Ask Jeff!
  • It Doesn't Matter What You Think

  • It Doesn't Matter What You Think

    Provocative title, right? It can be taken many ways. Clearly, in terms of achieving goals and having the things you want in life your attitude and the things you think are extremely important. What I'm talking about here is that between you and your customer, it doesn't matter what you think. The only important thing is what your valuable customer thinks.

    I recently had an experience that humbled me and taught me a lesson. Those of you who have seen me work know that I tend to use a lot of humor in my presentations. I do so because I enjoy it, the people I'm working with seem to enjoy it and, in my mind, it's a way to keep you involved and to prevent you from getting bored while learning new techniques that might help you be more successful. This hasn't been a problem in the past. About a week ago, however, I actually lost an engagement I was very much looking forward to. Among the reasons my valuable ex-client gave me for choosing to not work with me further was that he felt some of my humor was inappropriate for his team.

    Before you jump to conclusions, I didn't (and don't) use foul language or sexual innuendos during my presentations. But I did say some things that clearly offended this client. When the client shared his feelings with me I listened carefully, apologized and wished him the best. The truth of the matter, though, is that while listening to the things he felt were offensive my mind was saying, "Wow, how could you be offended by that? Are you nuts? Don't you have a sense of humor? Didn't you hear your entire sales team laughing along with me?"

    Later, while thinking about the situation it suddenly dawned on me. Like everyone else in the world, I do the things I do because those things make sense to me. I dress a certain way, speak a certain way, train a certain way. To some extent it's true that you can't please everyone and it's also true that while I'm a good fit for most organizations I might not be a good fit for everyone. But it's also true, and far more important to realize, that it doesn't matter what I think. The important thing is what this customer (and all customers) thinks.

    I feel the humor I used was funny and completely appropriate. Does that matter? Not one bit. I still lost the gig and while, typically, no one customer makes my month or year I greatly value and appreciate everyone who does business with me. What matters here is that my customer didn't find my humor appropriate. To me, it's not about the money. Losing the money wasn't very important, you can always make more money. In fact, I didn't charge the client. What was important was that this customer felt let down and, to me, that's completely unacceptable.

    So how does this apply to us as salespeople? How often do we sit across from prospects and clients in a selling situation and think to ourselves, "This person doesn't know what they're talking about. I hope this jerk will stop talking soon so that I can dazzle them with my brilliance." I suggest that by having this type of mind-set we often talk ourselves out of business, simply because what we think (even to ourselves) usually gets expressed in some way.

    In order to be more effective sellers we have to be better listeners. Part of listening means turning off our inner conversations. You know, the little voice inside your head that's whispering to you almost constantly while the other person is talking. To be a more effective listener we need to come from the fact that the most important person in the sales relationship is the customer. They've got a situation, problem or need that you might be able to help with, fix or fill. If we listen through the filter of, "I hope they stop talking soon because I don't really care what you think, I just want to show you what I've got," we'll miss what the prospect or customer is saying.

    By practicing turning off that inner voice and realizing that the customer has the most important things to say to us (how we can help them and how we can sell them) we'll deepen our relationships, be better listeners and close more business. Tough lesson for me to learn but it's the tough ones that make us stronger and better!

    Make It Happen,


    Ask Jeff!
    Resized Headshot

    This month begins a new feature of my newsletter. One of the parts of my job I enjoy most is helping people, usually salespeople and sales managers, be more successful. I get asked questions on a daily basis and enjoy answering them. Each newsletter will feature a question along with my answer. I hope you find this section useful. If you'd like to ask a question and have it answered in this column e-mail me at jeff@jgsalespro.com.


    I enjoy your newsletter and always find your advice to be on the money. I am considered to be an excellent presenter and I know at least a dozen closing tricks I can use for just about any given situation. Here's my problem: You'd think with my strong presentation and closing skills I'd be the top producer in my office but I'm not. In fact, I'm in the bottom 50% of the salespeople on our team in terms of production. What am I doing wrong?

    Ken W. NYC

    Dear Ken,

    Without knowing what you sell and who you sell it to, and without actually knowing more about your approach to selling, it's difficult to tell you what you're doing wrong. However, based on what you've told me my strong hunch is that you're making the same mistake most salespeople make, believing that selling is about presenting and closing. In fact, selling is actually based on three things. Asking the right questions, (and listening to the answers) telling stories and developing relationships. The best salespeople are almost always the best question askers (interviewers) and the best story tellers. By asking the right questions and listening effectively prospects will tell you everything you need to know in order to help them get involved with your product or service. By telling stories (often called verbal proof stories) about another customer who benefited by using your product/service you gain substantial credibility. Finally, it's true that people tend to buy from people they like and trust so great salespeople are almost always adept and creating and nurturing strong relationships. In fact, if you do these things, price is almost never an issue and you'll find yourself closing more business and you'll quickly move up in the rankings at your company. Feel free to call or e- mail me if you need more help with this.

    Make It Happen,



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