Strictly Sales with Jeff Hoffman: The Best and Worst Sales Advice
Tell me about your best sales moment.
My best sales moment came much later in my career when I was starting my own business. I had to start from scratch, and after exhausting all the usual suspects I had to find people who were willing to take a chance on a person they didn’t know and invest in my services.
I was running down to the wire, and had a deal that was about to close. I found out very late in the process that the company was acquired and was going to put the sale on hold.
I decided to take the authority to close, and tell my champion exactly what to do to make the deal go through. That can sometimes be a risky move in sales as it may not always result in a closed-won opportunity, plus there is the potential of damaging the relationship in the process. But I thought, if I am going to advise people on this approach, I need to do it myself. I closed the deal.
What is your worst sales story?
Anything bad has been a result of all the things I didn’t do. Yes, people have hung up on me. I have lost competitive deals. But I never looked at those things as failures. They’re just part of the business. What I have learned, however, is when I’m at a crossroads I have to ask myself, “Which choice requires more courage?” Once I answer that question I know what to do. It’s not about taking the easier route. When I do that it often blows up in my face.
Okay, that’s all great Jeff, but we all have a war story or two…
At the end of the day it is about the customer. When I built my program, I wanted to be unique. I isolated the skills that people needed so that we could really focus on one skill set at a time and then the customers would build their program a la carte. I was explaining that model to a room of execs and I could see that they liked it. They got what I was doing.
Then one woman asked me if it was possible to have inside sales reps focus on prospecting skills, and outside sales reps focus on closing. And I said, “No, it’s modular but it’s a package.”
When I got to my car I realized what I had done. They most certainly could build the program that way! Listen to your customers — they may have a more creative way of buying than you have of selling.
What is the best sales advice you have ever received?
Whenever you sell to a committee it is important to isolate every person. If you are in a competitive situation and you have a champion, keep in mind that the competition most certainly has a champion, too. And if that opposing champion is on a call with you he or she is most likely going to be quiet. That’s why it is so important to engage with everyone. Without isolating each person in the room, you won’t know who is waiting to kill your deal.
What is the worst sales advice you have ever received?
“Don’t be a sales person, be a consultant.”
No one is upset that you are selling to him or her. In fact, every company is selling something, so stop pretending you aren’t in sales and embrace it. Be honest, be likable, and focus on the customer.
I want to hear from you! What is the best and worst sales advice you’ve ever received? Leave your comments for me and Jeff below.
Read the Other Posts in the Strictly Sales Series
- The Keys to Prospecting and Sales Management
- The Best and Worst Sales Stories & Advice
- Dealing with Tire-Kickers and Oh Sh*t Moments
- How to Hire Top Sales Talent and What Recent Grads Should Look for in a Sales Role