The Only First Impression A Salesperson Needs To Make – Ever

There is only one first impression you need to make as a sales person. It’s the impression you can deliver value.

Any other impression is immaterial.

The next time you meet a buyer for the first time, you’re only goal should be to get the buyer to say,

Man that person was impressive, they could make a serious impact on my organization.

You can make other impressions. You can make the impression you’re fun. You can make the impression you’re smart. You can make the impression you know the product. You can make the impression you’re a good salesperson, but if you don’t make the impression you can deliver value, no other impression matters.

Our jobs as salespeople is to deliver value to our customers and buyers. Therefore, that should be the first and only impression you’re leaving?

Amp Up Your Sales


I know, right?

Who wouldn’t want to amp up their sales? Sales is a tough business. I’ve long argued on this blog the importance of deliberate learning to becoming a badass.

My boy Andy Paul, author of Zero-Time selling has come out with another book; Amp Up Your Sales, Powerful Strategies That Move Your Customers to Make Fast, Favorable Decisions. Ya gotta love that title.

In Amp Up Your Sales Andy does a good job of breaking down the concept of sales and how we underestimate the steps required to get things done that ends up with sales people skipping many of the critical steps. His changing a lightbulb metaphor is great. It’s too easy to forget the important steps.

What I like about Amp Up Your Sales is it’s not ethereal. Andy gets right at it. He gives you actionable insights that you can apply to what your doing today. I’m also a big fan of how Andy frames his suggestions. He provides context throughout the book that allows you to understand what he’s suggesting and why it matters.

Amp Up Your Sales tackles all facets of sales. From sales funnel, to cold calling, from planning to follow-up, from value to objections and qualifications, he hits all.

If you’re into deliberate learning put this book on your list. It will make a difference.


P.S. Andy’s also put together a 6-part video series with sales giants Jeffrey Gitomer, Jill Konrath, Anthony Iannarino, and others on concrete strategies you can use right away to amp up your sales. When you buy the book, you get instant access to the video series. And, please drop mean email about how fast your sales cycle speeds up after you read Chapter 13: The Power of the First Perception. Learn more here.

Production Is The Name Of The Game

You may not like it. It may not seem fair at times, but at the end of the day, production is the name of the game.

Production is what we bring to the table, it’s our contribution to the business pot-luck.

Production is our input, it’s our way of adding to the bigger picture, it’s our way of making a difference.

But when we stop producing, not only are we not adding to the pie, we’re taking away. Because the seat were sitting in could be used by someone who’s producing.

Showing up for work, following directions, checking the boxes and doing what’s expected isn’t producing. If you want more responsibility, if you want more money, if you want more challenges, then measure your value in production, not time in a seat.

It’s how everyone else is measuring you, we all might as well be on the same page.



Why Ferguson Happened That No One Knows Including Most Black Folks

For those of you who follow this blog, you know that every once in a while I take a break to take on race in this country. Considering what’s happening in Ferguson, I wanted to take a sales time out to break down for all ya’ll why Ferguson is happening, because as much as you’d like to think you know, you don’t. You have no clue. This goes for black folks as well. As a society, although the information is available to us, it’s never been put in front of us in this fashion, so I’m going to break it down for everyone, black folks and white folks.

Before I do, let me make something clear. I do NOT condone, support or agree with any of the violent protesting, looting, and bullshit that’s happening around the country. My message to my brothers and sisters, cut it out. You look like fools. With that said, I understand and empathize with the anger and frustration of the black community and challenge my white friends to stop and take in the wisdom I’m about to drop. As much as you’d like to think this is “simple.” It’s not. It’s very complex.

So here it is.

The reason Ferguson has happened is because society is inadvertently playing cat and mouse with blacks and the American Dream.

I know, you’re asking yourself, what the fuck does that mean? So, let me spell it out. Stay with me, this gets heavy.

Success in America is and has always been predicated on three very powerful elements. First is the American Dream. All immigrants to this country and their decedents have leveraged a belief in the American Dream to be successful. They leveraged a powerful belief and uniquely American concept to build the greatest country and further their lives. Every immigrant who came to this country came here with the belief that they could make a better life here than they could where they came from. They believed and bought into the American Dream before they ever stepped foot into this country. The belief in the American Dream is what propelled them to make the trek across the Pacific or the Atlantic Oceans or to cross the border from the south. It was the belief that America welcomed anyone and everyone with streets paved with gold. This “dream” drove millions and millions of immigrants to the streets of the U.S. in search of a better life. It is the “belief” in this idea that if you work your ass off and try that you can rise up and be anything you want. We all know that the reality of the America Dream was not as rosy as the stories. There were ghettos, racism (against Jews, Italians, Irish, Mexicans, Germans, etc), corrupt corporations exploiting workers (lack of unions and labor laws) and more, but in spite of all the hardship, for most immigrants it was better than their homeland AND they believed that if they kept forging forward, if not for them, for their children they could build a better life. They could get ahead. This vision called the American Dream was and still is very powerful motivator for immigration and at the core of success in this country. There is NO success in America without it.

It’s the presence of the belief in the American dream that is at the core of all immigrants’ success in this country. The American Dream is such a powerful vision and motivator of success we still leverage it today, passing it on to our children in school and home. Phrases like; “You can be anything you want to be when you grow up.” And “If you work hard, get and education, you can do anything.” These messages are at the center of American lexicon and America’s growth as a nation.

Because of the American Dream, people from around the world “chose” to come to this country. Choice is the second element to success in America. Immigrants chose the hardships; they chose the struggles, they chose the difficulties because they believed it would be worth it in the end. They chose to come to America and suffer what every cards were dealt because they believed whatever difficulties they would encounter, America was better than staying in their home country. They believed America would give them a chance if they worked hard enough. Millions of other people didn’t choose to come to America for whatever reason, they chose not to put in the work, uproot their families, or suffer. But for those who believed in America, they chose to come here, and that choice can not be underestimated in the success of immigrants.

This leads to the third element of success in America, identity. The one thing almost every immigrant who came to American brought with them was their Bible, their Torah, etc. Most immigrants who left their home country brought with them a piece of who they were. They brought their culture, their history, their food, and their beliefs. They brought their identity and like the American Dream, they leveraged this identity to pull them through the hard times. They prayed to their gods. They told their stories. They practiced their rituals. They leveraged their families. They connected with others from the same country in order to persevere. When things became tough, they leveraged their identity and sense of self to push though. Many immigrants learned the language, and assimilated, but very few of the early generations abandoned their heritage and identity. To the contrary, they leveraged it to be successful. They integrated where they came from, into their new life. As generations passed and each generation moved further from their immigrant parents, heritage and identity became of less importance, but in the earlier generations, they were paramount to success.

With the American Dream, choice and culture and identity at the core of success in America, it is quickly becoming obvious why Black Americans’ have not achieved the same level of success in this country as all other groups, including other “blacks” who have immigrated from other countries. The American Dream was not part of their life. It was NOT something they passed from generation to generation, quite the contrary. The message blacks perpetuated from generation to generation, as told and reinforced by America is; the American Dream is NOT for you. Don’t even try!

There are only two groups of people in this country who lack “ immigrant status.” They are blacks from the slave trade and Native Americans. Neither one of these groups chose to come here embracing the American Dream. In addition, both had their way of life and culture stripped from them. Although I am fairly familiar with the plight of Native Americans, I don’t believe I’m qualified to speak to their situation, so I’m not going to. However, it is important to note that their circumstances are similar as it relates to this thesis, and their lack of success in America is similar to that of blacks.

Blacks (I use the term blacks deliberately, because Africa is a content, void of a single cultural identity and very few descendants of slaves know where they came from in Africa) didn’t choose to come to America. They were brought here as slaves. The American Dream or choice was never instilled into blacks or part of their American experience. To the contrary, they were sent an entirely different message for 350 years. The message, The American Dream is not for you.

For 250 years blacks from Africa were stripped of their languages, their religions, their rituals and any and every other thing that identified them as people. They weren’t considered human and were told and treated this way for over 25 generations. Bought and sold, families were constantly ripped apart; children and spouses commonly sold 100’s if not a 1,000 miles away from one another. They were forced to procreate like animals in the interest of producing better workers. They were separated into good and bad blacks, field niggers and house niggers, pitting them against each other. This system, lasting 250 years, is one of the world’s greatest human atrocities as it created, for lack of a better term, a new race of people. America has done what no other society has done to my knowledge; they literally and physically created a new race or culture of people. Stop and think about that for a minute. Black Americans, African Americans or whatever you want to call us were socially engineered, created from a system designed to exploit them for the bigger and broader benefit of others.

After 250 years of slavery, blacks suffered another 100 years of oppression and humiliation at the hands of Jim Crowe and Plessey v Furgeson (separate but equal). In essence, for 350 years, it was reinforced that the American Dream did not apply to blacks. The system was established to systematically deny the American Dream to blacks by its citizens and the American institutions equally. The American Dream has no place for blacks, has been a central theme of America for almost it’s entire existence.

Lacking immigrant status, blacks from the slave trade have lacked the key elements for success in this country; 1) belief in the American Dream, 2) choice, and 3) a cultural identity. Blacks didn’t choose to come here. They didn’t choose to give up their language, their homes, and their homeland for a better life. They were violently ripped from their homes and then literally chained up for 25 plus generations. In addition, their identity, language, and their sense of self and pride were systematically stripped from them. They were hollowed out as people. Slave owners understood the power of identity and culture in creating strength and hope and therefore were extremely deliberate in eradicating anything that would or could allow blacks to persevere in any environment other than complete and utter servitude.

This is why blacks in America don’t perform as well as Togo’s, Nigerians, Liberians, etc. who come to this country today as immigrants. It’s also why blacks haven’t been as successful as other immigrants, THEY WERE NEVER IMMIGRANTS. They didn’t choose to come here. They didn’t have their cultural identity to leverage for strength, and they spent 350 years being told the American Dream didn’t apply to them.

Fast-forward to today and what you have is a population of people socially engineered (man, that’s hard to say) as servants for 250 years, then forcibly and emotionally forced to society’s edge as undesirables for 100 additional years only now to be expected to have their shit together. The question then becomes, what will it take for blacks to believe the American Dream does include them? What will allow them to chose to “immigrate” here and not feel like a hostage. By immigrate, I mean emotionally. Yes, they are here. But too many don’t feel wanted. Thus the argument of two Americas. What will it take for more blacks to put 350 years of messages reinforcing the fact that they are not wanted here and that the American Dream is not for them behind them? This is what we are fighting today. This is at the core of today’s challenges.

Blacks are being asked to get their shit together, and I’m one of the people saying we need to. We are being compared to other groups who successfully assimilated to this country under entirely different circumstances and that’s not fair. We’re being asked to “immigrate” after the fact. After choice was stripped, after we were told the American Dream wasn’t for us, after our identity, and culture was torn away. This is a monumental task. One too many people under estimate. It’s like a wound trying to heal without a bandage. Every little thing aggravates it, at times making it worse through infection. Healing like this takes time and lots of attention. Healing an open wound is a delicate process.

Every police shooting of an unarmed black man, every racist comment from a NBA team owner, every time a man is dragged behind a truck by white men, every time a father tells his daughter she can’t date a black guy, every time a black person is profiled or pulled over because they are black, every time a black person receives a harsher sentence than a white it’s a reminder or a suggestion that American Dream STILL is not for blacks.

This is why blacks have not succeeded as well as all other groups in this country (with the exception of Native Americans). This is why Ferguson happens. It’s because we’ve been denied the very things that are required to make it in America; choice, a belief in the American Dream and sense of pride that comes from one’s identity and culture.

Ferguson is aggravating the wound. It feels like many of the messages of the past. It feels like the country is telling Blacks, you’re not welcome. Ferguson is happening because too many blacks have not chosen to immigrate to this country. Ferguson is happening because too many blacks are still searching for an identity. What is our ” culture?” Who are we? Ferguson is happening because too many blacks don’t believe in the American Dream, and every “perceived” racial injustice reinforces what they’ve been told for 350 years, the American Dream is NOT for you.

Until the three key elements of immigrants to this country can be instilled in the black community, nothing is going to change. Until blacks buy into the American Dream, nothing is going to change. Until blacks choose to emotionally immigrate to this country and believe they can create a better life by doing so, nothing is going to change. Until blacks can find and embrace what it means to be “black” in America and who we are and what our culture is, nothing is going to change. Until white Americans accept the impact of their systematic deconstruction of a race of people and the impact it has on the subsequent generations, nothing is gonna change. Until white people accept and openly and aggressively fight to eradicate systematic racism, nothing is going to change. Until white people AND black people change, nothing is going happen.

How we got here is unprecedented. Ferguson isn’t an isolated racial incident. It’s the legacy of 350 years of a people living without the American Dream. Somehow, some way, blacks have to find a way to embrace the American Dream, AND whites must find a way to convince blacks the American Dream is real for them too. If we don’t there will be another Ferguson.


What Most Sales People Do In The Demo That Loses The Deal

In the world of SaaS and cloud solutions, the demo is everything. As the demo goes, so goes the sale. Give a shitty demo, and you’re not gonna get the sale. Give a good demo, and you’ve just increased the chances closing the deal. Give a killer demo and get ready to cash your fat commission check and prepare for Presidents Club.

With the demo carrying so much weight in the sale, treating them as a way to highlight every feature your product or solution has is stupid, annoying, unnecessary, boring, and unsophisticated. That is how too may sales people treat them. And, managers take note, how too many managers and sales organizations teach sales people to do them.

Here’s the ONLY way to do a demo. Pay VERY close attention. This isn’t a suggestion. This isn’t an ideology. This isn’t one person’s thoughts. This is the concrete, irrefutable, only way to do demos and if you’re not doing it this way, you’re doing it WRONG!!!

Listen up;

When doing a demo, every feature you show must be tied to a specific business goal, operational process, work-flow, execution issue or opportunity that specific customer has — PERIOD!

In other words; if you’re showing a feature and are saying; “If you email your clients for meetings then this feature will . . .” or “If you have two systems for doing reports, this reporting feature will . . . ” Or worse, if you just whipping features around like they are cars on a car showroom floor by saying “And the next thing I want to show you is.” You are doing it wrong — very wrong!

There is no room for “if” in your demos. There is no excuse to show a feature that isn’t germane to the specific the business and highly targeted to the operational or executional needs of the buyer. Demos should not be used to demonstrate your product, but rather to show how your product can affect your buyer’s business. Demos need to be used to give the buyer a vision of how your product will change their current environment for the better. Demos should be used to show the client how what they are doing today can be done differently with your product. The buyer should feel silly, outmoded and inefficient as you seamlessly execute a process they are currently doing poorly. They should bubble with joy as you demonstrate how your product can execute brilliantly on a process they can’t currently do, something they have wanted to do for a long time. Your demo should be enveloping them in the power of your product changing their specific and unique environment for the better, not in features and functions that may or may not be relevant to them.

This is how a demo should go.

“You stated you use three systems for reporting, let me show you how reporting is done with our product and how it would create reports in your environment in a tenth of the time.”

“I know that being able to track email response is important to you, let me show you how you will be able to track responses faster with our solution and how you will also be able to . . . ”

“Understanding that you’re trying to increase revenue by 15% this year through your existing client base, let me show you how we can make that happen with the. . . feature”

“I recall you were saying you’re struggling with getting (insert customer problem), let me show you this feature. It is designed to do exactly what you said you were looking to do as well as. . . ”

The key to a successful demo is to make sure every feature, every function you demonstrate is attached to your buyer’s unique problems and challenges. If it’s not, your not giving a good demo. You’re wasting everyone’s time.

Demos are not meant to be product highlights or product showcases. Good demos demonstrate how problems will be solved and how opportunities will be leveraged. Good demos temporarily and virtually insert the seller’s product into the buyer’s world. They are like digital or virtual changing rooms where the buyer can see how everything fits.

Good demos let the buyer try on your product for fit. Like a changing room, the buyer wants to see how your product fits their unique body type, curves, and all.

Give your buyers a virtual changing room. Structure and deliver your demos like changing rooms where they can see themselves in your product. Attach every feature and function you demonstrate to their unique environment so they can see how it fits. Don’t show features that you can’t attach to their business. Don’t ever, ever, ever say, “If you. . . then this feature will. . . ” There is no room for “if then” statements in demos. Don’t show a feature unless you know exactly how and why it is germane to your buyer.

Demos are not spectator events or shows where the buyer is a participant on the sideline. They are meant to be interactive, virtual tours that put the buyer in the product, allowing them to see how it fits on them. Anything else is a waste of everyone’s time.

Stop wasting time!

Help for The Grammar and Spelling Challenged

I’ve written a lot about grammar and grammar nazis. If you’re a regular reader of this blog you know I’m not the best editor and my spelling and grammar here are suspect to criticism. With that said, my issue with grammar has never been that it doesn’t matter as much is that it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t detract from the message or story.

It appears that not everyone agrees with me. Grammarly, a cool service that edits your content in seconds, put out this infographic the other day. It tells a very interesting story.




It sold me. I signed up for the service and will be using it via their free 7-day trial. Even if you aren’t grammar or spelling challenged you should seriously consider getting it. Use it for important emails to clients. Use it for your resume. Use it for all your important writing.

Grammar matters, but not so much that it takes hours to edit and limits your output. With Grammarly, that’s no longer a problem. Edit your writing in seconds, and then you stop worrying, you just know.

Grammarly has pretty much taken away any excuse for grammatical errors.

Ya gotta love a site that takes away excuses. I love it!

Sales Fail: 5 Surprising Questions Sales People Can’t Answer

I just stumbled across this from Forrester Research. It’s appalling, and unfortunately way too true. I have argued since day one, that it’s not about the product or what you’re selling. It’s all about the customer and what the customer wants.  Unfortunately, it appears sales people aren’t getting the message.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 6.05.57 PM


Notice the abysmal response percentages for the MOST CRITICAL elements of selling. Sales people can’t provide value if they can’t answer the questions above or if they are uninformed about the world their customer lives in.

If your sales organization isn’t providing this information to the team, they’re not getting the support they need. If sales people are part of the 70+ percent in the last 5 questions, they’re not sales people, they’re pitchmen and that’s a problem.

It’s time we start shifting how we send sales people out into the world. Imagine if we never taught them a thing about the product, only what it can do. I wonder how that would change things.


4 Things Sales People Do That Customers Loathe

As a sales leader and a life long sales guy, I’m prolly the worst person in the world a sales person can sell to. I can’t help myself, but I critique everything the sales person does. If a kid comes to my door selling something for his High School, she gets my money AND some tips on how to do it better, cause their approach sucks and I want the kid to sell more.

Yup, I’m that guy. I’m a pain in the ass to sell to. You’d better have your game on when selling to me. With that said, I may be a pain in the ass but I’m not an asshole and a sales person can always count on a little free advice on how they can up their game.

A sales person plays the defining role in the buying experience, and if they screw it up, they can screw up the sale. The fastest way to screw up the sale is to forget it’s not about you. Selling isn’t about you, your quota, your commission check or making your sales manager proud. Sales are about delivering game changing solutions to your customers and clients, and if you can’t do that, you’re not selling.

It’s because of this that customers and buyers hate when sales people do these four things. It drives them up the wall. So if you do them STOP!!!

Not do your homework

I recently went through a demo where the sales person kept showing us features that were irrelevant to our business. They were features that we wouldn’t use, because we’re not that type of business. I wanted to blow a gasket. It was a complete waste of my time.

Do your homework. I don’t mean some quick search, some quick peruse of your customer’s website, but actually do your homework. When sales people show up for the call and don’t know anything or almost nothing about the customer, it’s infuriating. Customers are giving sales people their valuable time. Customers have businesses to run and they have to know you’ve done your homework and that know what it is they do, who their competitors are, what their products and services are, and why you think you can help them. Doing your homework is the committing to the sale and to the buyer. Nothing pisses off a buyer more than feeling they are putting in more time than you or that they are more committed to the sale than the sales person.

Don’t screw this up. Do your homework. Know who you’re selling to, what’s important to them and how your product can help them.

Platitudes and Ass Kissing

Customers are busy; they are trying to get shit done. Telling a client their product is awesome or that you love their most recent blog post or how you love the picture of their boat that’s sitting behind their desk doesn’t help the sale, it just makes you look like a kiss-ass and undermines your credibility. No one likes a kiss ass.

Customer’s want to know you will challenge them, tell them the truth and disagree with them when they are wrong. They don’t want another yes-man. Buyers want their sales people to business people who get down to business and get things done. If they sense, for just one second, you’re inauthentic, it’s over — kissing ass is inauthentic.

When you whip around baseless platitudes, like Eddie Haskell, you look like a clown, and the buyers see it and it pisses them off.

Save the ass kissing for after the sale. Be authentic and stay focused on what matters and that’s the problem’s your customer is dealing with and how your product is gonna make those problems go away.

Wasting Time

Buyers have a business to run; they have no time to waste. Dealing with sales people who waste time is insanity. Buyers don’t want to do your job for you. They don’t want to have “follow-up” calls. They …

Why Sales People AREN’T Supposed To Win Every Sale

Let me drop a little mad wisdom to kick off this post.

We’re not supposed to win every sale and if that’s the attitude you take into selling, as a manager or as a sales person, you’re a shitty sales person.

Yeah, I said it, and if that statement irritates you, then I’m not sure what to tell you, other than you’re a shitty sales person and it’s time to evaluate how you sell.

Here’s the deal. If you go into every sale thinking your going to win it, you’re missing the point. The point of selling isn’t to win every deal. It’s not to have a close rate of 100%, it’s to help a person, a company or an organization improve their current environment. The goal is to bring value. It’s trite, I know, but it’s accurate. Assuming every prospect or buyer can get value from what you’re selling is a mistake. There is no way to know if you can bring value and/or how much value until you get into the sale. You don’t know what their problems are, what their goals and objectives are, why switching or change  is what they need and why switching to YOUR product or solution is the right choice. None of this is known until you get into the sale.

Selling is about being a steward of business for your buyer or prospect. A good steward recognizes that not every deal is a good deal. Not every prospect can or will benefit from what they are selling. The best understand this and don’t expect to win every deal.

The best expect to win every deal that creates substantial value for the buyer and walk away from everyone that doesn’t. The objective shouldn’t be to win every sale. It should be to find value in every sale and not every opportunity will have enough value. .

Sales is not a 100% game, don’t treat it that way.

How to Know If You’ve Lost The Deal For Real


There is the old adage that says

The sales begins when the customer says No!

It’s the adage we, sales people, use to make ourselves feel in control and to not give up so early. We hear often statements like this to act as motivation to keep from laying down our sword and quitting the fight.

The truth is, there is no truth to this statement. The customer’s no has little bearing on weather the deal is really lost or not.

The sale doesn’t begin when the customer says no but it’s not over when the customer says no either. The only time a deal is lost is when both sides of the deal, the prospect and the sales person recognize there is no value to be had in the deal.

I wrote about this last week for Hubspot. You can read it here, but I also wanted to share it on A Sales Guy as well. Understanding when a deal is really lost is critical. Too many sales people AND prospects stop the sale prematurely. Conversely, too many sales people and prospects hang on too long, trying to work a deal that just shouldn’t be made.

Here’s how I break it down;

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 1.32.59 PM

A deal is only lost when there is no perceived value from BOTH the sales person and the buyer — period!

Sometimes the sales person understands the value, and the buyer doesn’t. So yup, it’s the sales person job to get the prospect to see the value they don’t see. Just because the customer says no doesn’t mean there is no value. Unfortunately there are times the sales person just doesn’t “get it” and they buyer will go cold because they can’t see the value that exists. This is far too common, because most sales people are too busy pitching a product and have no clue what specific value they’re selling. Either way, it’s in the bottom right quadrant that most deals are lost unnecessarily. Why? Because the sales person is incapable of communicating and demonstrating the value of their solution or product to the buyer, so the buyer doesn’t buy. But the deal wasn’t lost, it was given away — via shitty selling. It artificially puts a deal in the bottom left quadrant

Other times, the buyer sees the value but for some reason the sales person doesn’t.  In these cases the buyer just buys. The sales person feels like the luckiest person in the world.  They think they just won the lottery.  Truth is, the buyer understood the value in what the sales person was selling and just didn’t want to waste their time trying to get the sales person to see it.

When both the client and buyer see value, that’s when selling nirvana happens. Everyone is working together and the best possible deal is in play.

The only time a deal is really lost is when the buyer and the sales person recognize there is no value. When no value exists, then the deal is dead. It’s that simple.

If there is value, keep selling. Dig deeper, be more clear, provide more information, create strong use cases, get supporters, do what ever you need to do to make sure your buyer understands the value, ’cause if there is value, the deal ain’t dead.

If there isn’t value, then just stop, it’s over.