Saturday Morning Sales

Kevin Latchford


Modern Conveniences - March 31, 2018

It would seem as though my post from last week caused a bit of a stir among a few clients. Not necessarily in a bad way, but definitely opened the door for commentary. Many of my clients that reached out expressed their own frustrations with the younger generation of sales candidates, especially those that just don’t understand what sales is really about. Several clients asked me to elaborate on the topic as it pertains to “modern conveniences”.


You see sales, at the very core of the role, is about human relationships. It is about becoming a partner or trusted advisor to the customer. It is about being not only capable of having a conversation, but managing a mature conversation in sometimes very tough settings, such as at the negotiation table. It is in no way about modern conveniences. What do I mean by modern conveniences?


Modern conveniences are tools we use every day to do our jobs. It’s the Internet, Email, smart phones, Google, Skype, or any other technology aimed at empowering us with communication. The fact of the matter is most young sales candidates and sales professionals cannot make it in their role without these tools. These modern conveniences have become crutches for which the sales person relies too heavily upon. So, when the hard work of sales comes knocking, these individuals do not know how to handle the situation.


I’m sure you’ve heard the term “body language”. Nothing has changed in over a thousand years when it comes to reading someone’s body language. However, you cannot read the person through email or even over a telephone call. Only in a face-to-face meeting can this occur. Another old saying, “the pen is mightier than the sword” can be very true, so long as the person holding the pen has experience. And, where does experience come from? In the trenches. No one can win a debate without being trained in debate, having done their homework, and practicing.


Modern conveniences even extend to the ways in which young sales people are compensated. All too often companies will provide a comfortable base salary with a small commission and/or bonus structure for sales people. Where is the incentive to work hard? Give me someone that wants little-to-no base salary and a hefty commission plan. They want success and they are willing to work for it. Here is an example:


Joseph (Candidate #1): He is graduating with a four year degree in business administration and interviewing for an entry-level sales position. He has not participated in any internships although he does have a rather high grade point average. Joseph has a positive attitude and is fairly well spoked for a young man of 22 years old. During the interview process he was not afraid to jump right in and ask questions. He asked about the starting salary. Will he get a company car? How many weeks vacation will he receive during his first year? Does he get a laptop and company iPhone?


Kerry (Candidate #2): Kerry graduated from the same school in the same class as Joseph. She majored in business administration with a minor in marketing. She participated in three internships from her sophomore through senior years. She was polished and professional; kind yet with a sense of urgency. She too was anxious to ask questions. However, none asked had anything to do with compensation, perks or modern conveniences. Instead Kerry asked questions about expectations set for her. Who will train and mentor her? How will her successes and sometimes failures be measured?


Kerry became the candidate of choice. She understood the sacrifices that would need to be made in order to learn and advance her career. She accepted with appreciation for the compensation plan, tools, and training that would be provided. She even challenged herself during the final interview and offer process by talking about her first year plans and how to exceed the goals set for her.


Modern conveniences are great and can be used to advance ones agenda on a day-to-day basis. However, these tools are only as good as the person using them. Young sales candidates should be prepared to work hard without the tools until the foundational skill sets are in place. Once these skills are learned, then and only then will these modern conveniences be of help.

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