(Blog #12 in the ongoing series derived from a book Harris DeWese wrote several years ago—“A Year of Selling Profitably.” The book was written for printers to use as a guide in training their sales teams through a series of two-hour sessions over 48 weeks.)
One night long, long ago in a land that was far, far away, a failed print salesperson and I sat in a bar analyzing his pathetic status in life. Booze can lead to some brutal truths and this night was no exception.
Augie was almost crying when he slurred, “If I’d only had a plan. I never had a plan. I just muddled through to mediocrity and now I’ve stumbled all the way to outright failure.”
“Now the boss has sent you to fire me! What will I tell my wife and kids? Can you help me find another job?”
“You gotta help me O you mighty Mañana Man!” (I hate it when people call me mighty
Mañana Man. “Exalted” or “omnipotent” will be good enough.)
Now, Augie was sobbing. He just bawled on and on, bemoaning his lack of success.
I had made many team calls with this guy and he seemed to have it all, or at least ostensibly most of it.
He was handsome, charming, articulate, glib and spontaneously funny. Now he was number 15 on a sales team of 15 and his sales were 65 percent under his quota for the year. Last year, he was also number 15 and was 48 percent under quota.
People liked him. Old women wanted to adopt him. Young women wanted him. And, remarkably, men of all ages liked the guy despite his “Mr. Perfect” attractiveness to women. He could talk NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball. He could hunt and bring home game. He could fish and catch his limit.
Augie was a real man’s man and even to men he was a lovable man’s man.
That wasn’t enough. He was just never organized. He was convinced that he could get by— in fact, get rich_on his savoir faire. If Marvelle Stump, the world’s worst salesman is still reading, I should define “savoir faire.” It is the instinctive ability to know how to deal with any situation that may arise, or the ability to say or do the right thing and do it gracefully.
I have observed thousands of printing salespeople during interviews, on team-sales calls and at sales seminars. I wish I’d kept an accurate count and been more scientific about the damn thing. I should have kept track of the demographics like gender, age, experience, training and etc.
I did keep track of the plant tours that I have taken and I recently reached a milestone of sorts when I toured the 1,000th plant.
Chief among my observations is that there is a strong correlation between advanced sales planning skills and superior sales performance. High-performance printing salespeople have developed highly personalized, but also systematic, planning habits.
For the most part, these sales planning skills were developed by accident. They have evolved in some salespeople through the observation of a mentor; in some, an instinctive need to plan has led to the development of the skill; and, for far too few, sales planning skills are the product of formal company training.
Our next two blogs will be devoted to sales planning. When you are finished with those lessons, you will not only be beautiful, you will have a great plan that should catapult you to success and keep you out of bars crying on the Mañana Man’s shoulder.
While you’re waiting, you need to get out there and sell something!
By the way, I paid the tab and drove Augie home. The next day, I called him early and told him to sleep off the hangover. I prevailed on his boss, the owner, to give me 90 days to get him straightened out and he agreed.
A Year of Selling Profitably By Harris M. DeWese with Jerry Bray
Employ techniques and tools that turn weekly sales meetings into energetic learning experiences, resulting in a more enthusiastic, more motivated, and more effective sales force. Understand how these techniques and tools required to build successful marketing, sales and, ultimately, profits, will help you achieve “A Year of Selling Profitably.” Click to order a copy.