a Business Owner
and productive salespeople sell as if they were a business owner or
CEO. They apply a strict return on investment mentality on all of their
activity. They also manage their company’s assets as if they were
their own. Salespeople who take on a business owner mentality view their
territory or account base as their own company where they have total
fiscal responsibility. Even though they may be salaried employees, they
act as if they were an enterprising entrepreneur or someone who is on
straight commission. The litmus test or desirability metrics they use
to assess their activities is: If I had to put my own skin in
the game, if I had to cover my own salary, benefits and expenses, would
I feel comfortable investing it all in this deal? Asset management is
just good governance.
Hirth of Selling Dynamics, a former colleague and mentor, originally
created this concept of CEO mentality. He recognized the importance
of salespeople having full fiscal responsibility for their day-to-day
we created our sales methodology we decided to model the best practices
of business owners and apply them to sales. In our research, we found
that business owners were very effective in managing and controlling
the key assets in their own business. They not only applied these assets
to the operating side of their business, but also to the sales side.
our findings, we discovered that business owners, when put into a sales
role, were effective while selling, not because they were necessarily
good salespeople, had good sales strategies, or were great at building
rapport, but rather because they were masters of managing their assets.
They knew when and under what circumstances to allocate their valuable
assets to get an optimal return on their investment.
knew that their assets of intellectual capital, time, trust, company
resources, and self-concept/confidence were their leverage and control
points in a sale.
who adopt a business owner mentality judiciously guard and protect these
assets and allocate them in a very selective manner. Their assets are
their currency and capital. Through a balance/gain equation, they evaluate
every opportunity for risk and reward. They are not only good asset
managers, but they are also good risk managers. They apply sound oversight
principles to all of their investment strategies.
is a description of each of the five assets:
is money. Moreover, as John Hirth would say,
“It is a depreciating asset that is non-recoverable. Once you give
it away, you can never get it back.” When most salespeople think
of time, they think of it in relation to time management. John Hirth
reminds us that “time management is an oxymoron. You can’t manage
time but only what you do with it. In essence, you can only prioritize
many salespeople make the fatal error of confusing managing their calendar
and planning their week with time prioritization. After carefully examining
their calendar, it wouldn’t be unusual to find that they logistically
organized their week very diligently with activity that was low yielding
and with prospects who were low probabilities.
Hirth always reminded me when I was a client of his that “time
kills all deals. The longer they sit there, the greater the likelihood
they go south.” This was a very valuable lesson for me under his
tutelage because I operated under the exact opposite assumption. My
deluded belief was the longer they sat out there, the greater the chance
I had to patiently hang in there, out-distance the competition, make
a lasting impression with my prospect about my commitment and get them
to feel a strong connection to me. I believe most salespeople feel compelled
to be persistent, even at the cost of wasting their time, because it
is the only option they have because they have poor selling skills.
Poor use of time is definitely a symptom of lack of an effective sales
process. The following reinforce this concept:
- There are always
two winners at the selling event. The first winner is the salesperson
who was awarded the business. The second winner (silver medalist) is
the salesperson who lost quickly, easily, and effortlessly with expending
minimal energy and time.
- The most underrated
and underutilized sales skill today is knowing when to walk away. Salespeople
who practice a business owner mentality know that selling is a game
of efficiency. Learning to cut your losses is a great way to utilize
time. You protect your asset of time when you realize selling is not
only who to sell, but who not to sell.
- A lot of time
is wasted and poorly allocated because of avoidance activity. Because
salespeople generally loathe prospecting, they will spend an incredible
amount of time chasing, groveling, and inappropriately following up
on the same group of prospects who give them glimmers of false hope
or throw them occasional bones, because the alternative is even more
painful… prospecting. Wasting one’s time not only provides a false
sense of security, it also provides a safe haven from prospecting.
of the biggest complaints I hear from salespeople is the fact that prospects
don’t respect their time. The reason they don’t respect their time
is because salespeople demonstrate that they don’t respect their own
time. Until salespeople respect their own time, they can’t reasonably
expect that their prospects will respect their time.
real estate, the mantra is location, location and location. In sales,
the mantra is timing, timing and timing. Whether it is your information
or your resources, proper timing and allocation will determine your
yield or your percentages. Time your solutions when prospects are in
a position to make decisions. Anytime before that, you put your time
asset at risk.
asset of time is also misappropriated when you over-rely on transactional
selling. This style of selling is hugely time-consuming and costly.
You incur the direct costs of selling over and over again each time
prospects present you with an opportunity, as opposed to strategic selling,
which is efficient and keeps down your costs of sales.
is your intellectual capital. A salesperson with a business owner mentality
plays their cards close to the chest and judiciously guards and protects
their information and dispenses with it sparingly. You allocate your information when your
prospect is in a position to make decisions. Your information represents
your leverage and control points in the sales cycle. In the past, salespeople’s
value was firmly established by the information they brought to the
table. The information economy has changed all that. Since information
is accessible freely and widely, salespeople’s value proposition has
been neutralized and marginalized. Salespeople’s mandate now should
be to get information, not give it. This totally changes the dynamics
of a typical sales call.
are now paid and rewarded for your questions, not your answers. No longer
can you afford to build a product case. You have to build a business
case, which is heavily influenced by your ability to garner important,
privileged and sensitive information from your prospect.
is more about what you don’t know versus what you do know. The prospect’s
information carries the most weight. Yet, salespeople act as if their
information is king and they invariably overplay their hand, in turn
diminishing the importance and dignity of their prospect.
Trust. People buy from people they like.
This used to be the old relationship tenet. Today, it has shifted to
people buy from people they like, but far more importantly, they buy
from salespeople who have the expertise, the patience, and the understanding
to learn about their business in a way that no other salesperson could
match. In other words, people they trust. Hence, the salesperson with
the best understanding of the customer’s business will consistently
outsell the salesperson with the best solution.
salespeople fancy themselves as consultive sellers who build strong
relationships. However, the reality is that many salespeople are merely
empty suits. They are often goodwill ambassadors and overpaid customer
service reps who do not bring substance to the party beyond good service,
attention to detail and good follow up with a friendly and sunny disposition.
to the universal parity in products and services, salespeople’s ability
to build trust and long-term relationships is their only remaining differentiator.
Trust is the ability to build relationships and the skill to engage
prospects at a deeper level. This happens to be the most sustainable
competitive advantage companies have over one another in today’s marketplace.
build trust you must first extend it. Trust is created when the salesperson
puts their self-interest aside and honors their prospect’s freedom
and independence to self-discover their own answers and conclusions,
independent of the salesperson’s personal agenda.
Resources. Your resources are anything that
costs your company money that you allocate to customers. Most salespeople’s
behavior reflects the belief that their company has infinite resources.
One resource that is constantly misallocated by salespeople is manpower.
Ask yourself, how often do you do flimsy quotes and proposals that are
prepared by estimating or by the technical department without any consideration
to cost? If you were the owner of your own company and you had to pay
all those direct costs out of your pocket, you would probably think
long and hard about it.
resources are your leverage. Allocate them according to when you can
optimize your position. Look at your resources as an investment. Would
I invest in this account if I knew I was vulnerable to a low probability
of return? One of my machine tool distributors built a $500,000 state
of the art demo room. The first month, they were ecstatic with the activity
it generated. Unfortunately, they soon realized that salespeople booked
the room with tire kickers and their two top producing salespeople couldn’t
schedule their two best accounts in for that month. Granted, they sold
them the next month, but it did increase their cost of sales because
their salespeople were not utilizing their leverage.
should guard their resources not because they are good corporate citizens
concerned with costing the company money, rather they should guard their
resources because it is their control and leverage point in the sale.
Salespeople should adopt an owner mentality because if they allocate
their resources wisely and accordingly, it will personally make them
more productive and efficient. Ironically, what is good for the goose
is good for the gander.
should have a desirability matrix to use on all prospects who are tapping
your company’s resources: do they qualify for your resources
and what is the likelihood of a positive return on that investment?
Self-Concept/Confidence. One’s self-concept is one
of the most important assets salespeople need to guard and protect.
Without confidence and a healthy self-esteem, the other four assets
predictably will be severely neutralized.
will generate results at a level consistent to their own self-worth.
In sales, your self-worth is controlled and defined in part by your
own rejection/success ratio and the resulting thought process that follows
it. One is easier to control and manage than the other.
only way to manage rejection is to be more discerning and discriminating
as to whom you make an offering. Rejection would play a lesser role
in sales if salespeople were far savvier about pursuing high percentage
business, in lieu of pie in the sky opportunities. Salespeople who adopt
a business owner mentality always factor in their self-worth, passion
and emotional expense when assessing the viability of deals.
need for approval can be very devastating to one’s self-esteem. Salespeople
with a high need for approval set themselves up for high levels of rejection
because they are unwilling to risk the approval of their prospects by
asking tough questions. They tend to get used and reduced to free consultants.
Be aware that no one can give you approval but yourself. Ironically,
seeking approval from others prevents us from recognizing and experiencing
it in ourselves.