Thursday, April 26, 2007

Quit whining, start selling

I interviewed Martyn Lewis, the President and CEO of Market-Partners, a sales consultancy, the other day. Martyn's served as President and CEO for Drake International in North America, VP Marketing and Sales Services at DEC Canada, and in the major accounts division of ICL in the UK. We talked about what sales execs need to do to move up the ladder to the CEO's office.

Martyn also sent me a copy of his self-published book, Sales Wise -- a paperback of short, story-driven sales lessons. This one, in which he attends his first national sales conference, caught my eye. In it, the corporate VP of sales starts with the standard 'rally the troops' speech and then, abruptly changes gears, saying:

We know in that in some cases our products have a few holes. We know that our competitor's offerings are not that far behind us. We know that at times our customers see certain weaknesses in our overall offerings. We know that at times our competitors leapfrog us in some areas. And we don't need you to tell us--we pay other people to tell us this. Your job is to sell around the holes. If we always had the best products and our prospects and clients always viewed us the best solution provider, we wouldn't need a sales force. The only reason we have you is to sell around the holes.

The lesson, writes Martyn, "Don't waste your time complaining about the competition and other factors you can't control; focus on the strengths of your own offering and what you can control."

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