It’s Not What You Sell, It’s How You Sell It

Have you ever strutted around like you just kicked ass only to find out you were woefully wrong about the entire thing? Have you ever put unintended strains on your coworkers and created a rift between departments? If you are in sales, then the answer is probably every fucking day! The funny thing is that sales does not have to be that way, it can coexist and it can thrive with the other parts of the company. In fact, it can help set the tone about what matters most to the company by focusing on the long term rather than the short terms wins. It took a harsh dose of reality for me to understand this for the first time:

My boss called me into his office right after we closed a $1MM deal for what I thought was going to be a congratulatory pat on the back. I opened up the door to the expected balloons, whiskey and cigars but it was my boss looking rather stressed and serious. “Keith, I just got back from an offsite where a large conversation came around whether we should fire you for this deal.” I was taken aback, how could anyone be angry at netting such a large deal? This is one of the biggest deals in the company’s history, everyone needs to chill and bow down to the fact we made it happen.

Well, I soon found out the pricing was wrong, the production costs were going to be out of control and the timing was horrible. It was a bad deal. It put an unneeded strain on the entire company and for what: so I can hit my goal? At first, I was defensive and angry to be put on the spot but now I can reflect back on how this was the turning point in realizing that for truly excellent sales people and sales organizations it’s not what you sell but how you sell it.

Sales, by it’s very nature, is friction. Done right, there are two sides that ultimately want the same thing but there might be slight pressure in how you get there. When you have two forces moving relative to each other, this turns kinetic energy into thermal energy (also known as converting work into heat). So when you are engaged in an open dialogue with your partner and you allow for space to listen to what they are looking for while sharing your POV and defending your value, you are not being a difficult partner, you are converting work into heat. It’s that heat that creates the momentum and drives the opportunity. It’s that heat that smart agencies and clients respect and appreciate from their partners. It’s that heat that will make you a respected part of the company not just a seller who hits goals.

Conversely, when a seller does not apply respectful pressure, allowing only the agency + client to be the one moving a deal forward, what’s being created is not friction, it’s erosion. It’s erosion of the personal brand of the seller and it’s erosion of the brand that seller is representing. It might feel like the easiest way to get a deal done and you may very well get many deals done this way, but you have whittled yourself down in the eyes of your partners to an order taker or worse, a weenie. And no one wants to work with a weenie.

Trust that the process of protecting the value of your offerings while providing a strong POV on how it can help your client wins out in the long run versus chopping the CPM or giving discounts. The respect you gain from your clients and your company are way more valuable than hitting that Q1 goal. So, how are you turning work into heat?

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