Sunday, July 27, 2014

"So What?" Selling - Asking All the Right Questions

Ask yourself these questions so your customers never have to.

Among many attributes, it takes humility, an inquisitive nature and great listening skills to be a good salesperson. Those attributes seem almost obvious, right? Okay, I'll give you that. I think what takes a little more thought and may not be as obvious is the inquisitive nature requires more than just a curiosity about how things work, how people interact and how to creatively solve problems. You also need to constantly wonder what other people are wondering, especially what your customers are wondering. This is why I titled this blog "So What?" Selling. You need to be constantly asking yourself, "So What?" You should be doing this as if your customer is the one who actually is the one is asking it. So every time you mention a product feature or new channel program you should hear your customer's voice saying "So What?" Every time you tell your customer about a new technology or a new solution you need to assume they are thinking "So What?"

Your meetings with your customers will be at least 10X more productive if you spend time before the meeting rehearsing what your approach is going to be based on the research you have done on the customers pains and buying process. You can then focus your rehearsal around knowing the answers to their "So Whats?" The customer will thank you for not wasting their time. Notice that I assume you research the pains and buying process for the buyers prior to your meeting. I also assume you are meeting with buyers (decision makers) and that you rehearse your meeting. I have done countless sales presentations and training and I still rehearse almost every time to some degree.

Using the "So What?" method allows you to get to the three core questions sooner in the sales meeting / conversation. For this, you should have answers to these three core questions prepared before the meeting ever starts:

1. Why do something? Have you given the customer a compelling reason for action? Have you made the customer realize a pain or competitive disadvantage he/she wasn't aware of? This is sometimes a tough one to remember because when you are passionate about your products or solutions. They seem like a no brained solution and you may forget that you need to make a compelling presentation or "argument" for it to your customers. Not everyone sees the obviousness of the value of the solutions you provide as you do. You need to pretend that the customer knows nothing of our business and that they are always saying "So What?" This just happened to me when I was telling people about grAVITation TECH. To me, it was so obvious that our industry needed training that I didn't need a clear value statement, but my customer needed to hear it from me. I can't tell you how many lessons I've learned from my customers.

2. Why do something now? Have you convinced your customer of the urgency of the situation? Have you even tried to? Or did you just go with the customer's budget and timing? One of the keys to " So What?" Sales (part of the Da Vinci Sales model) is to assign urgency for the customer. You need to guide the customer in setting the expectations and understanding of the timeline. They need to have an understanding of the detrimental impact of waiting to implement your solution. By showing the customer the cost of not doing anything or delaying action, you assign urgency to the implementation of your solutions. Whether it is a continued lack or lessened productivity or loss of customers because of perceived lack of innovation (example being not invested in collaborative solutions), these examples need to be shown in strategic, political (competitive landscape), financial or cultural terms. These are the areas that people of power (decision makers) are focused. There are many ROI, TCO, ROO and other top end calculators (free from vendors in our industry) out there to use for this purpose.  These are typical in selling to C-Level people, but they are helpful in making the business case and showing your strategic literacy when working with all types of key decision makers.

3. Why do it with you? Have you made the compelling case for the customer to select you as a business partner? Sure people do business with people they like but that is after all the other things are said and done. And by the way, no sales person has a relationship quota. It is great if you make a lot of friends out there but you need business partners more. So have you given the customer the compelling reasons to do business with them? These reasons have more to do with the people, programs and processes within your organization. Have you given the customer reason to believe that your people will take care of them after the sale and that your programs and processes match their needs and wants? Make sure that you talk with their purchasing, operations and support teams to see what types of programs and processes you need to offer to support the after the sale "So Whats?" and make sure that is included in your offer up front. The whole idea is to answer the “So Whats?” before they are ever asked.

Just imagine that there is a little version of your customer sitting on your shoulder. That little version of your customer is there while you are rehearsing in the mirror the night before or while you are driving on your way to the big meeting. He/she is there saying: "SO WHAT, SO WHAT, SO WHAT?!?!?!" If you remember that, you are half way to the big sale. Remember, half the outcome is determined by the preparation. Keep listening to that "SO WHAT, SO WHAT, SO WHAT?!?!?!" Have your answers ready and you'll knock them dead!

"So What" Selling, is part of the Da Vinci Sales model. You can read more about Da Vinci Sales in the upcoming book by Max Kopsho. Pre-Order today at or book a Da Vinci Sales Seminar at

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Three BE’s of Moving from TECH to SALES

How many sales people do you have that transitioned from technical staff into sales?  How many of those people had proper sales training?  How many of your sales staff has had any formal sales training for that matter?   Does it matter?  Of course it matters.  Back a while ago in my blog I recalled the following: there is an interesting cartoon recirculating around social media where two business men are conversing and one says, “what if I train my employees and then they leave?”  The other responds, “what if you don’t train them, and they stay?"  This illustrates one of the toughest dilemmas in personnel management.  I think we can agree that employee development is very important and a good management practice.  The dilemma is when you do support your employee and their growth and they end up growing beyond the needs of your company?  How do you address this?  The key is to remember that at the core of the issue these two seemingly conflicting paths are in fact very much aligned.  In this blog I outline the complex issues that come with transitioning from tech to sales.  The bottom line is that sales people need training and techs transitioning to sales need it even more.

This article is also for the many people who are now being required to make the transition from tech to sales.  There are a myriad of reasons for having to make this transition: tech bench work is going away; earning potential is higher in sales; the needs of the business has changed; etc.   If you are making that transition, you should read this just to get an idea of what you should and should not focus on.

First we should define what ‘technical’ is.  Technical is anything that is not soft skill.  Administration, operations, design, engineering, install, service, customer service, IT and so on are all technical.  We often limit ‘technical’ to people who are wrench turners and code writes, but remember if you work a process, write checks or other similar jobs you are technical too.  This article is for you as you transition to sales.

I am currently in the final stages of writing my book and it will soon be published (October 2014).  The book is titled– the Art and Science of Da Vinci Sales.  The subtitle is The 7 Keys to Selling Like Leonardo (How to Move from Tech to Sales for People Who Hate Selling).  You can find more information at  The core theme of this book is making the successful and lucrative transition from a tech focused life to sales and doing so without selling out.  What does it take for a technical person to be successful in sales?  In this blog I will just talk about 3 steps to begin or refocus your transition.  You will have to contact me to schedule a seminar or buy the book when it comes out to get the 7 Keys to Selling Like Leonardo to completely answer this question.

Making the transition requires the three BE’s:

Be True to Yourself:
Don’t try to emulate a salesperson as you understand them or that you see in your organization.  People buy from people they like and nobody likes a phony.  If you are faking your personality or pretending to be someone you are not just to ‘act’ like a sales person, your customers and partners will see right through it.  That boisterous egotistic sales attitude works for some because that is who they really are and their customers are gravitating toward the fact that the sales person is being genuine not that the person is slimy or slick.  We may read it that way, but that statistics show that the ‘used car salesman’ is successful not because he is a tricky person, but because he is confident in whom he is and comfortable enough with whom he is to stay true to that person with everyone he meets.  Stay the same person you are, all that needs to change is your activity and some of your goals and targets, not your personality.

Believe in Your Products and Solutions:
If you are selling fur-lined sinks (sinks that have a fur lining) or fur-bearing, egg-laying, milk-producing pigs or any number of products or solutions, you have to believe in them to sell them well.  Sure, those products don't make much sense, but if you believe in them you can sell them.  Don’t get me wrong you can get away with convincing people to buy stuff without really believing in it, but that is usually short lived.  If we look back to what step 1 says, when you are true to yourself your customer can tell. When you believe in what you sell you are being true to yourself.  You are emotionally invested in your products and solutions and your customers can tell.  If you do not believe in what you sell you have a choice to make.  You have to learn to believe in what you sell or sell something else.

Be a Trusted Advisor:
You need to leverage the fact that you were a technical person.  Just because you are making the transition to sales doesn't mean you are no longer a technical resource for your customers.  If you were to ask a large group of people who consider themselves strictly sales people and have little technical background what they would like to do to improve their career, most would respond that they would like to get more technical training.  You, as a former technician turned sales, have an advantage in sales.  Do not let go of that advantage.  Most sales training programs teach sales people to work on becoming a trusted advisor to their customers.  With your technical background, you are and can remain a trusted advisor.  Stay current on emerging technologies and keep your certifications up to date.

My book, Da Vinci Sales, goes into much more detail on how to make this transition.  I also have a 3-day boot camp for technical people to make the transition to sales and a 1 day seminar.  I am available now for your company to book one of these sessions.  Contact me at  A career in sales is a very rewarding and an extremely fun one for technical people.  I have had the pleasure of working in sales for a long time and I have enjoyed it immensely – even though I hate ‘sales people’(hopefully you sales people know what I mean when I say that - because you know I love you if you are problem solvers instead of 'sales people')

Happy Selling,

P.S.  By the way; Eskimos do need ice cubes, so what is that all about?....