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Common Questions and Answers
Sales will always be a “people” industry.
Although the work used to feel dirty, the internet holds people accountable today. Unfortunately, too many people leave sales up to chance with Google and social media algorithms.
Prospecting is something salespeople still have control over.
Jeff wholeheartedly believes that people need to understand what sets them apart and who they want to help through their work.
If you can’t figure that out, the alternative isn’t good.
On the NASP podcast’s maiden voyage, Jeff discusses the main points of his book: The Five Forgotten Fundamentals of Prospecting.
Imagine the archetype used car salesman: going to any lengths to win a sale and coming off as desperate.
Chris mentions that a lot of today’s small business owners find themselves in this car salesman mentality because they accidentally wade into sales without any experience. This doesn’t work because the push-pull aspect has changed.
So, how can you transfer that motivation and energy of the car salesman to today’s landscape, especially while buyers are chronically in defensive mode?
You have to understand your fundamentals.
Why are you there? What do you bring to the table?
This alone will set you apart from the competition because no one bothers to do it.
Jeff says that if you can’t differentiate yourself from the competition (and there’s a lot), you won’t be able to sell anything.
It’s not about your logos, colors, or design — it’s your why. What can you do that no one else can?
If you can’t figure that out, you have to resort to competing based on price: a race to the bottom that Jeff refuses to enter.
The only thing worse than racing to the bottom and winning is coming in second place because you’ve devalued yourself for virtually nothing. What’s the point of that?
Jeff says that this attitude leads people to race out the door every morning without any direction. They act before thinking things through.
His workshops aim to change this mentality. Instead of speaking at people, Jeff encourages people to discuss what sets them apart in groups where others can provide feedback. This environment forces people to answer questions about themselves and think things through before they act — which Jeff says no one does otherwise.
Rick says that you really need to understand the value of what you bring to the table to figure out who you should be talking to. This helps you narrow down your focus and concentrate your energy on the right things rather than trying to control everything.
Just because you love your product doesn’t mean that everyone wants it. Jeff points to a quote from Seth Godin: “Sell nuts to squirrels; don’t waste time convincing dolphins to buy nuts.”
In order to do that, you need a deeper understanding to develop your ideal customer base. Jeff recommends thinking in terms of how you deliver the product rather than the product itself.
What sets you apart?
Far too many people focus on trying to make as many calls as possible. These people waste time and energy because they lack focus. The way Jeff sees it, your hustle is overrated if it’s not pointed in the right direction.
The actual interaction with a client is just the tip of the iceberg. You need to spend time evaluating everything, so you can execute with precision. As Abraham Lincoln is thought to have said, “Give me six hours to cut down a tree and I’ll spend the first four sharpening the axe.” That same strategy applies well to sales.
Rick mentions that no one puts themselves in the right state of mind. They make things up as they go, and this is a huge mistake.
It’s not about reaching as many people as humanly possible, it’s about reaching the right people effectively.
Jeff’s approach is a little different than others — it’s untraditional. But that’s okay because he’s crafted this instinct over the past 14 years. For him, it’s much more than a gut feeling.
He does, however, have some advice.
Jeff says it’s crucial to treat every person with respect. Stop distinguishing between decision-makers and non-decision-makers. Everyone in the organization has an important role to play in the process.
Jeff remembers his days selling in operating rooms. His competitors would disregard nurses, assistants, and anesthesiologists. Guess what? Jeff would end up hearing the people in those positions talk smack because his competitors didn’t offer basic respect.
Chris and Rick point to the idea that just about everyone runs a business these days. The guy in sandals and shorts sitting next to you at the bar could be the head of a massive company. That’s just another reason you should treat everyone with respect and shouldn’t take any interaction for granted.
The traditional salesperson was trained to identify and exploit pain to create tension. The goal was to make people feel as uncomfortable as possible, so they give you their money to make you go away.
This strategy isn’t practical because people buy things for deeper reasons than just pain. People don’t buy expensive cars and watches because they’re in pain — it goes much deeper than that.
That’s why it’s so important to build rapport and form a connection. This relationship creates healthy tension rather than a power struggle.
Jeff says the trick here is to sound like an expert without coming off as arrogant. He recommends building a reputation to demonstrate your expertise with podcasts, blog posts, and speaking engagements.
Create things you’re proud of that will last forever and make a deep impact.
Just go out there and own it: Think of every sale as a performance. Listen to songs that get your endorphins flowing.
Jeff believes everyone has the power to influence others more than they realize. The key is to harness and direct this power.
About the author
Rick Middlemass has almost a decade of experience in Entrepreneurship, Business Development & Sales.
Rick began his sales and entrepreneurial career at 18 opening up a new territory for Student Painters creating over 100K in new business over the next 3 years. Rick also worked in various sales & marketing roles & internships throughout his time at Michigan State University.
In his first role out of school Rick joined NuWave Technology, a Cisco Systems Premier Partner in Michigan, and quickly worked his way up to be:
2014 Sales Person of the Year
2015 Sales Person of the Year
16 Time Sales Person of the Month
Rick Middlemass now works with the National Association of Sales Professionals helping salespeople and sales leaders reach their true potential and continue to grow through our behavioral conditioning programs.