Monthly Archives: October 2009

Mully Looks Past 40……and Learnin’ Stuff!

 

 

Best Experienced With:          Jimmy Buffet;      A Pirate Looks at 40

 

(Please right click on the link below to cue up the suggested background music for this treatise.)

 

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQGTaS0IFOs

 

 

  

Looks at 40?  Looks?  I blew right through 40 in fifth gear.   The devil is not wise because he is the devil, the devil is wise because he is old.  With that mind, let’s examine sales training, great behavior, and predictive stuff.  As always, this is only one man’s opinion.    A man that owns seven cats.

 

Am heading to Texas this week to join some old friends and some new friends for an eight day training session.  Man, but we love participating in training here in The Attic!  Of all the business activities I have had the pleasure of participating in, watching the transformation of new sales professionals from the first evening to the end of the final training day always puts a big, silly grin on my face.

 

While preparing for training, the faces of some of the best students run through my mind.  Have seen hundreds of surgical sales reps go through training over the past twenty years.  All are unique.  All should be treated uniquely because everyone learns differently.  Some are “top ten percenters” and those are the ones I picture while preparing. 

 

Here are the top three from the past twenty years and, more important, what made them memorable.

 

Marvin (1993)

 

First person I ever hired as a surgical sales person back in 1992 and today am truly fortunate to count him among my best friends.  Marvin has excelled at selling in three separate market spaces and taught me the phrase “selling isn’t telling.”

 

Marvin showed up in Cincinnati for his interview and answered my “what are your personal limitations” question like this.  He paused, looked down, looked confused, and then deadpanned the following: well, I can work for about two and a half days straight, but I’m going to need eight hours on that third night.”   Then he sat there, patient and stone-faced, waiting for the next question.

 

Some examples of what made Marvin great:

 

  1. Marvin had a section in his Franklin Planner labeled “Poppy” (that’s a euphemism for Mully).  As questions came up during the day, he meticulously wrote them in his book and we would go through the questions at night, during non-selling time.  He did not call every thirty minutes, while driving, with no ability to take notes.  He also then had a record of all the questions and the answers at his fingertips.  He did not have to boot up a computer to look something up…………the answers were with him in the OR. 
  2.  He bought me pizza a lot.  
  3. The in-service on your primary product is the most critical seventeen minutes with prospective customers.  Marvin had me write out an eight page in-service long hand.  He took it home and recorded it on a cassette tab verbatim.  He listed to that tape while driving around IN, OH, and KY.  He picked me up at a Northern Ohio airport and we drove five hours down to West Virginia doing a seventeen minute inservice back and forth non-stop.  His idea. 

 

Marvin and Mully when we had skinny faces and no gray hair

Marvin and Mully when we had skinny faces and no gray hair

 

Jen (2006 and 2007)

 

Had the pleasure of having Jen in training at two separate healthcare companies.   I choose to start training on Sunday afternoons and run late into the evening.  Midnight is always a good stop time when you are starting the Monday class at 6:30 a.m., but if you have to go until 1:00 a.m., that’s OK.  This sets a good tone and pace, especially when the class is going to be in surgery every day early…..and every day late. 

 

Jen is a Steelers fan and we began her 2006 training class on February 5, 2006.  Yes, you are correct.  That is the evening the Steelers played in that NFL championship game in the ugliest and most war torn city to ever host a Super Bowl, Detroit.  Based upon Detroit getting a Super Bowl, Cleveland should be in contention next, followed by Youngstown, OH, Gary, IN, and then Newark, NJ. 

 

We worked through most of that Super Bowl evening and Jen did not complain.  Throughout the week she took copious notes, scored the highest on 90% of the tests and quizzes, and sought out extra time to present.  I always allow anyone in any class to stay as late as they wish to practice on products and Jen was the last to leave the building most evenings.  I had to throw her out of the building.  That was not as hard as it sounds because Jen is quite diminutive and has holes bored into her head like a bowling ball. 

 

 From day one at the first company through this morning, Jen has been the epitome of high maintenance, Type A, and idiosyncrasies.  And, most of the best sales people exhibit all three of these. 

 

Two of the best:  Jessica and Jen

Jessica and Jen: Jen does not like this picture. That is why I chose it.

 

 

Jessica (2009)

 

Jessica stood out in a large class, full of talented individuals.  Moreover, she was brand new to surgical sales where half the class had significant experince.   The first two days, she was the epitome of what a “newbie” should be:  soaked in everything like a sponge, did not ripple the water, and only asked a few, well thought out questions.  If you are new to a company, “silent and sponge like” is always a good offense for the first year or so.

 

You can tell a great deal about how well a person is going to sell while watching them after hours.  You can tell who is disciplined and respectful and you can tell who will be able to use the power of a positive “no” properly.  This is especially true when you have 90% men and 10% women, as is the typical proportion in surgical sales.   Although goaded on the third evening, Jessica drank water and cheerfully declined all offers of alcohol flavored beverages.  Further, she bowed out early most evenings to study.   It is easy to say “yes”:   the best sales professionals are able to harness the power of a positive “no”.

 

Jessica never went anywhere without her notebook and sparks flew from the speed at which she wrote.  We powered most of the building that week from just the pen’s kinetic energy.  When all fifteen members of her class left the classroom for an important session, she was the only one to bring her notebook.  This vexed me because every word that comes out of my mouth is solid gold.  Jessica was also the only one I did not have to instruct to walk all the way back to the classroom to get a pad and pen.  We spent the time waiting for the others arm wrestling and she beat me 43/47 times.   YTD, Jessica has the highest sales revenue from the class from the highest number of purchase orders. 

 

If you are a sales manager, it’s good to track both total revenue and number of PO’s.  The latter shows a high activity level and is a predictor of future sales from a wider base of customers.  Jessica has the highest activity level I have ever seen in a “new” sales professional and meticulously executes the plan she writes each Sunday. 

 

 

All The “Top Ten Percenters”

 

If you had a gun to one of my cat’s heads and asked for the common eleven items that set apart the three individuals above, as well as the top folks in most classes, all exhibit 11/11 of the following:

 

  1. Great partners to their mates.
  2. Great parents to their children.
  3. Asked great questions….questions that did not begin with the incorrect pronouns “I” and “me
  4. All took copious notes at all times.
  5. Learned their products and everyone else’s via rote memorization before they came to class.  This allowed them to treat training as a finishing school, as opposed to kindergarten.
  6. None said “but
  7. None say “I didn’t have time to……”  You always have time; it’s what you choose to do with that time that sets apart the true great ones.  No one truly runs out of time, we all get 86,400 seconds in a day.  How wisely you use them is up to you.  Proper time management is a sign of discipline.
  8. All were in their seats ready to go a few minutes before breaks ended.  This demonstrates respect for everyone’s time.
  9. All knew that business trips are not Spring Break.  They would retire to their rooms to study instead of heading to the hotel bar.
  10. All said what they meant, meant what they said and acted in a fashion that was consistent with what they said.
  11. Great partners to their mates and parents to their children.  This is not a typo:  I know it was #1 and #2.  Both are a significant predictor of business success.

 

 

You may be asking “how does that equate to sales success because the only way to measure sales success is with the numbers at the end of the day?”  Great question!  When I pay someone to cut my grass, I expect the lawn to be fully mowed at the end of the mowing session.  Not 72% mowed or even 97% mowed.  Success at cutting my lawn means that you cut the entire lawn.  If you tried really hard to cut my lawn, or had the shiniest lawn mower ever, or you worked really long hours and yet still did not manage to get the entire lawn mowed?  What am I going to do when my lawn needs mowing?  

 

“Mowing” is a far superior word to “cutting” because it is a far more humorous word.

 

I’m going to go find someone else to cut my lawn.  If you are a great person and we get along well, but you fail to completely cut the lawn as per our agreement?  Please move in next to me and be my neighbor!  We can have barbeques and chat over the fence each evening, but I still do not want you mowing my lawn.   

 
The answer to your question is all three apt pupils have demonstrated exceptional success after sales training.  Marvin has been in the top 10% in sales volume everywhere he has sold and I expect him to always be in the top 10%.  Jen is has been number one for the last three years and set every record at her current company (top line revenue, EBITDA, most number of Jello squares “snarfed” in two minutes, yadda yadda).  Jessica took a vacant, non performing territory, squeezed every dollar she could out of it through hard work and perseverance, and will be in the top three out of fifty plus sales people on December 31.   My crystal ball says she will be number one. 

 

Why is performance at sales training so predictive?  If you look at the stories about Marvin, Jen, and Jessica and the eleven items in the list, all are what your customers expect out of a great sales representative.  I have led a lot of sales classes over the years and can tell you by the middle of the week who is going to make it over a long event horizon, who will fail, and who might have one of those outlier years before falling back towards the mean.  Your customers have seen a lot of sales people and they see what I see.  Since they have the money, your customers are as exacting in their standards as I am.  And my bar is somewhere around 35,000 feet.

 

 

It is challenging to hide behaviors or who someone really is during six, fourteen hour days.  A solid week of training shows who you really are as a person and as a sales professional.  

 

These two go together like LeBron and Shaq.  Just as all life lessons are business lesson, all life behaviors translate into business behaviors.  If you are a good listener normally, you’ll probably be a great sales person.  If you are on time and cognizant of others in your personal life, that is how you will be in business.  If you are disciplined in your personal life (reading, working out, spending), you will most likely be a disciplined, successful sales professional. 

 

Am very much looking forward to October 23 to October 30th because there is nothing in this world as fulfilling as having the chance to interact with the next Marvin, Jen, and Jessica. 

 

I learn far more from them than they learn from me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mind of Mully

 

Now I go for younger women, lived with several a while

Though I ran ‘em away, they come back one day

And still can manage to smile.

It just takes a while.  It just takes a while…………..

 

 

Mully and Marvin before we surfed in Scotland.   BRRRRRRRRR

Mully and Marvin before we surfed in Scotland. BRRRRRRRRR

 

 

....and just before we walked into the final negotiations for Silver Cross Hospital in Joliet, IL

....and just before we walked into the final negotiations for Silver Cross Hospital in Joliet, IL

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No One Wins a Price War

 

 

 

Best Experienced With:          Social Distortion;    Story of My Life

  

(please right click on the link to open up a new window with the suggested background music for this treatise)

 

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuKOc_Mpumc

  

(Ed. Note:  This treatise appeared in Mind of Mully (Classic) last month as a sample.  We gussied it up a bit for you if you have already read it.  How was your day?  Great!  Thanks for stopping by again.)

 

  

No one wins a price war.  No one ever, ever, ever wins a price war.

  

Oops.  Was only looking at that from a market participant point of view.  The buyer always wins during a price war.  The buyer always, always, always wins a price war.  The sellers lose.  You cannot win an argument with me on this because math and science are on my side.  And God.  God is on my side because I am Irish Catholic and we are the chosen people.  Mostly though, I have math and science on my side. 

 

Was reminded of this last month when Microsoft lowered the price of their X-Box Elite by 25%, from $400 to $300.  Why?  Sony had just dropped the price of PlayStation 3 to $300.  Stupid. 

 

If you have sat through one of my classes, sat across from me at a desk, or chatted with me on the phone about business, you have heard me say “no one wins a price war”.  If you have called me and said “well, (insert name here) is less expensive than me and they are going to buy from them” then you know my reply is a two parter:

 

  1. “Well, then you lose……go sell somewhere else and quit whining”
  2. “Looks like you failed to qualify the customer properly OR you failed to show that there is value in you and your product.  Now quit whining and go sell somewhere else”

 

Regardless who you are or in what market you compete, someone will always be less expensive than you.  If you are the price leader right now, I promise you that within a year or two there will be a new entrant that is less expensive than you.  How do I know that no one ever wins a price war?  Is it just my opinion?  The opinion of a publicly educated kid from Cleveland?

 

Nope.  It is the precept of one of the best known and most studied Harvard Business Review case studies called “Phillip Morris:  Marlboro Friday”.  If you click the link at the bottom, you can invest $7.00 in your future and purchase the full case study.  It clearly shows that waging a price war loses money for everyone….the most expensive folks in the market space and the least expensive folks in the market space.  The only people that won were the smokers that are all going to get FREE healthcare even though they choose to poison themselves daily.  I wonder if I pay for their oxygen tanks and chemotherapy treatment, maybe the smokers will cook me dinner once a week.  That seems fair.

 
Have sat through meetings where others argued for market share at any price using General Electric’s 1960 PIMS rationale.  Profit Impact of Market Strategy (PIMS) was worshipped as god for many years and, rightly so, still holds some measure of truth.  GE had a great advanced dB that analyzed various marketing strategy on business performance.  PIMS showed that over a long event horizon, relative market share was the greatest predictor of profitability and the best indicator of where to invest new capital for the greatest ROI.

 

The very simple argument of “we need to grab market share” is nonsensical as a stand alone argument.  In any given market space, you have a pie cut up into various pieces of gross profit margin (GPM).  There will be a slice at 60-70% GPM, a piece at 50-60% GPM, a piece at 40-50% GPM.  Each of these slices is a different size, the the higher GPM slices being significantly smaller than the slices of lower GPM’s.   It is very, very difficult to change a market space.  You and I are not that powerful.   Really.   

 

 

Your price to the street is only one lever/input, the two other important ones being your manufactured cost and what unique differentiating features and benefits your product has.  More important than the latter there is whether or not your customers think those differentiating F&B’s are important to them.  Only then will they pay you more for those unique F&B’s.  That is why we are all about the questions here in The Attic!  Ask your customer on the front end if those differentiators are important to them and then ask if they will pay more for them.

 

 

Market share at any price is a Pyrrhic victory at best and is very dangerous to have as a sustainable strategy. 

 

 

Here’s where people began messing the market share grab thing up.  They believed that if they dropped the price to gobble up market share as rapidly as possible that the PIMS theory would hold.  It doesn’t.  Parts of it hold (e.g. economies of scale because if you have the highest market share you should be able to get the best pricing from your suppliers, etc), but not all.  Whenever you do multivariate analysis and regression analysis of sales, you’re going to screw the pooch by missing unobservables.  Within General Electric, the study was valid and many postulate this is because of what?  Guess.  Go ahead, guess.

 

Management and culture!  Cannot copy either of those, can you.  Strong source of competitive differentiation and sustainable advantage, that management and culture!

 

Every scientific study done on PIMS in the last twenty years has shown there is a diminishing marginal return as you increase market share.  Moreover, there is an optimal market share in each market space for each participant in that market.  There are times where it is more profitable to give up market share.  Really!

 

Throw a little Nashian gaming theory in there and you are going to lose a lot of money in a relatively short period of time.  You think the other folks in your market space are going to sit there and watch you gobble up market share?  Heck no.  They are going to come back at you and then the toilet starts flushing.  Never consider your pricing decisions in a vacuum.  Always consider what the other people in your market space are going to react.  They will react.

 

Competing on price is easy and the least bright of any monkeys can do it.  Choose to join me in not respecting those that primarily compete on price.  In fact, let’s call them wussies to their face.  How tough is that?  How challenging?  And how rewarding is it to that sales person when the customer calls and says “Great news!  We chose you because you cost less!”  I have not heard that in twenty three years and I’d be hard pressed to think of anyone on one of my sales teams that has ever heard it.

 

 

Price does not matter.  

 

 

 Do not start a price war.

  

 

No one wins a price war.

 

 

Click here to buy the Harvard Business Review case study mentioned above.  If you are in sales and marketing, you want to own this.  It’s $7.00.

 

http://harvardbusiness.org/product/philip-morris-marlboro-friday-a/an/596001-PDF-ENG

  

 

 

You still here?  Cool!  That means you are truly engaged and an apt pupil and my hat is off to you.  If you want to go deep on this, look up Jacobson and Aaker’s work from the mid 1980’s through now.  I stumbled across them a while back and they have some good stuff.

 

Another really good one is John Dickinson’s work at the University of Windsor.  He takes Jacobsen and Aaker and includes gaming theory.  I love me some gaming theory!  And Hostess snack cakes, too.  Man, but I love me some Hostess snack cakes!

 

Sharpies Are Fantastic Tools

Sharpies Are Fantastic Tools

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So, You Want To Make $243,533? Prime Numbers!

 

  

 Best Experienced With:       Wreckless Eric;        Whole Wide World

  

(please right click on the link below to open the suggested background music for this treatise.  If you have a guitar near you, please play along!  Simply alternate between E maj and A maj.  See?  Simple and a fun song to play.  You are welcome!)

  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUFL8WSxTgY&feature=related

 

 

  

Since all business people should love numbers and embrace them as they embraced their teddy bear during their youth, here is your quota attainment and revenue generation by the prime numbers.  This little exercise uses hospitals as potential places to sell and assumes a sales force of fifty sales people.  

  

2,514,217:  Total amount you sell in 2009 by December 31 at midnight

  

243,553:     Your W2 statement says this is what you earned

 

 4513:          Number of hospitals in the United States (roughly)

  

631:            Number of times you must call potential customers on phone

 

 277 & 281: Cousin primes indicating 2009’s number of selling days (total)

 

 83:              Number of hospitals where you can sell each day

 

 61:              Business days left where you can be face to face with customers

 

 47:              Times each potential customer must say “no” before buying

 

 31:              Euclidian prime…number of potential deals you should have

 

 7:                Times you will have to re-propose during negotiations

 

 3:                Months to go in 2009

 

Since 1 is neither a prime nor a composite, we shall call 1…..you.  Go sell something.  The fourth quarter is always a magical and mystical quarter, provided you make the right choices each day.

  

Incidentally, a good sales person states that the list of prime numbers is infinite.  A great sales person ask the following question.  “How infinite is the list of prime numbers”? 

 

 

We are all about the questions………………………..

 

 

 

The Mind of Mully

 

When I was a young boy, my momma said to me…

There’s only one girl in the whole wide world for you

And she probably lives in Tahiti

I’ll cull the whole wide world just to find her

 

 

 PS:  If you want to see Will Ferrell’s best movie ever, rent “Stranger Than Fiction”.  It is a brilliantly written drama and he plays this song in the movie.  You are welcome!

 

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You Want To Be in Surgical Sales? Shocker!

 

 

Best Experienced With:          MIA;           Paper Planes

 

(please right click on the link below to open up a new window and cue up the suggested background music for this treaty.  The sexiest Tamil rapper in the history of Tamil rappers)

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqlY0VOFtyA

  

 

 

So, you want to get into medical or surgical sales?   Really?  Well, there’s a shocker!  That’s certainly not something I hear every day.  Do you understand that most everyone between the ages of 23 and 35 wants to be in medical and surgical sales?  Do you understand that it involves discipline and sacrifice if you want to be wildly successful over a long event horizon? 

 

Do you understand that it is not sexy or glamorous in any way, shape,  or form?  It’s not.  I’ve lived it for twenty-three years and while surgical sales is fascinating and very rewarding, it is no more glamorous than selling hosiery because all of the keys to success are the same.   There is an algebraic formula for happiness that involves reality as one variable and expectations as the other.  This MLOG is the reality……….you are in charge of the expectation variable.

 

Is it fulfilling?  Oh, heck yes!  You see a five year old being wheeled into an operating room in a red wagon, holding his mommy’s hand to have a new valve put into his or her heart and then see the parents crying tears of joy later when the surgeon says it was a complete success?  That’s cash money!  You get to watch some of the most amazing things in the world standing in surgery all day.  You get to see lives saved and lives extended.

 

That is exactly 1.3% of the job.  The rest is hard work.  Not as hard as slinging asphalt or breaking up concrete and rebar driveways, but close.  I have done all three of those jobs and, done properly, all three are hard work.  Sales, done properly, is not glamorous.  It is an awesome career, but it is not a fancy career.

 

When someone says they want to be in sales, I think of my favorite Thomas Gray poem.  Especially the parts about being “with caution bold” and “nor all that glisters gold”.  Here is an excerpt of the poem.  You are welcome!

  

Presumptuous maid! with looks intent
Again she stretched, again she bent,
Nor knew the gulf between.
(Malignant Fate sat by and smiled)
The slippery verge her feet beguiled,
She tumbled headlong in.

 

 

Eight times emerging from the flood
She mewed to every watery god,
Some speedy aid to send.
No dolphin came, no Nereid stirred;
Nor cruel Tom, nor Susan heard;
A favorite has no friend!
From hence, ye beauties, undeceived,
Know, one false step is ne’er retrieved,
And be with caution bold.
Not all that tempts your wandering eyes
And heedless hearts, is lawful prize;
Nor all that glisters, gold.
 

 

 

 

 

My father is a meat broker and I was fortunate to grow up watching him sell meat all day long.  He spent every waking moment banging the phones, calling accounts, and asking for orders.  Day after day he asked the same question: “do you need anything from me today”?  I have heard him say that one hundred times a day and heard him say it at least forty times the last time I was home, sitting with him at the kitchen table.  Dad is over seventy and he still sells meat for Mike’s Meats.  Why?  Because he loves to sell and his customers love to buy from him. 

 

It was through watching my father as a child that I understood that sales is not sexy.  My father also taught me through example that sales is a numbers game, a game of discipline, and a game that demands a Teflon exterior.  My pop heard “no” over and over and over and his demeanor never changed for that next phone call.  None of that “oh, I got messed over and should not have lost” or “oh, woe is me, I lost a deal”.  When he did not get an order, he would call the next person on the list and ask that person to order a little bit more.

 

That is the true essence of sales in any market space.

 

Want to do a little self check to see whether you have the potential to be a great sales person in any industry?  We are not going not going to check your work or pass papers to the person behind you.  Please be honest with yourself because this is all about you.

  

  1. You buy wedding cards a week before the wedding, not on the way to the wedding.
  2. You keep your house and/or car clean on a regular basis.  You don’t let it go to hell in a hand basket and then scramble every ten days to get it back to normal.
  3. You can have a 90 second phone conversation without getting your feelings hurt.
  4. You like to read and read at least two books a month.
  5. You enjoy being measured and compared against others daily, weekly and monthly.  For example, in college did you prefer the professors that posted final grades with your name or did you prefer when they used your Social Security number?
  6. Did you sneak in late at night to look at those grades or did you look in broad daylight with a big crowd around you?
  7. When someone breaks up with you, do you move on rapidly (within a day) knowing that there are 3,000,000 of the opposite sex out there?
  8. You believe “a place for everything and everything in its place”
  9. You started working by ninth grade and have worked every week since then
  10. You have participated in both team sports (football, basketball, soccer), as well as individual sports (track, swimming, gymnastics)
  11. You know how to write and you like to write. 
  12. You love to ask questions
  13. After answering questions, you actively listen instead of waiting your turn to speak.
  14.  When you dust, do you take things off of what you are dusting or just leave them in place?
  15. Are you able to say “no” and do you actually say “no”?

 

 

Here are a few that are surgical sales specific:

  

  1. You like to get up early….…..early being 4:45 a.m.
  2. You like being at “the office” at 5:30 a.m.  You should be in your hospitals by 6:00 a.m. at the latest. 
  3. You are able to roll with the punches because each planned day will deconstruct by 8:43 a.m. as all the previously scheduled cases change dramatically.
  4. You enjoy learning human anatomy and physiology and have a deep desire to learn more and more about it.  Then more, when it changes.
  5. You don’t mind sacrificing your play time the first two years in surgical sales so that you can learn more than anyone else in your market space.
  6. You do not mind standing all day long in the operating room, five days a week.
  7. You love watching people get fixed, with all the blood and removal of tissue that this entails. 
  8. If you are a female, you are willing to forsake mega makeup and big hair.
  9. If you are a male, you are willing to forsake mega makeup and big hair
  10. If you are a zebra, you are willing to forsake your stripes.  And big hair.

 

Check yourself with those twenty five items and please share them with your friends and family that want to join us in the surgical sales community.  We welcome fresh talent!  A rising tide lifts all boats so come on in and make us all better at what we do!

 

 

Just please make certain that you understand the last line in that poem. 

  

 

 

The Mind of Mully

 

 

No one on the corner has swagger like us

Hit me on my burner, prepaid wireless

We pack and deliver like UPS trucks

Already going hell just pumping that gas

 

Glove Man:  best sales person ever...and still selling

Glove Man: best sales person ever...and still selling

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Sell Me This Dinosaur!

 

 

Best Experienced With:          REM;           Wendell Gee

  

(please right click on the link below to cue up the suggested background music for this treatise in a new window)

  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcHORmlabYU

 

 

 

When interviewing for surgical sales jobs in the late 1980’s, I had the misfortune of having not one, not two, but three hiring managers look me in the eye, hand me their gold Cross pen they got for high school graduation and say “sell me this pen”.

 

Being me, I started with a series of questions.  “How do you think this pen would look shoved into your eye socket”?  “Shall we see”?  “Do you think your shirt will get ruined when blood gets on it”?  The only thing more demeaning than that silly “sell me this pen” comment in a professional sales interview would be to drop the pen on the ground and say “hey, pick up my pen and bring me a donut”.   Please never say that to a sales candidate when you are interviewing them?     Thanks!

 

With that in mind, let’s keep that idea, but make it more interesting.  67% of your time as a professional sales or marketing person should be spent asking questions.  In this role play, you are the sales or marketing professional from a boutique company specializing in dinosaurs.

 

I am in the market for a dinosaur.  We have spoken once on the phone when you teleprospected and asked me the magic question:  “Mully, will you be upgrading your current dinosaur or buying additional dinosaurs any time in the next twenty years”?  I laughed, said “of course I will need additional dinosaurs in the next twenty years” and asked you to send me information and a quote.

 

You, being a sales professional, asked for twenty-one minutes of my time to get a better understanding of my dinosaur needs.  You explained that you would bring information and then provide a budgetary quote after more closely assessing my dinosaur needs.  This is how our twenty-one minute conversation went.

 

 

ME:    Well, hello you.  Have a seat.  Tell me all about your wonderful dinosaurs and why they are better than all other dinosaurs!

 

YOU:  Mully, if it is OK with you, would very much like to spend these twenty-one minutes discussing you and what your needs are.

 

ME:  Sure.  Hey, pick up my pen and get me a donut.  Just kidding.

 

YOU:  Do you have any dinosaurs right now and would you please tell me all about them?  What you love about them, little things that you may not love.  How long have you had these dinosaurs, where you got them, etc?

 

ME:  Well, we bought our first dinosaur, a pachycephalosaurus about fifteen years ago and added a triceratops to the mix five years ago.  Bought both of them from Bobby at Dinorama.  They are well behaved and live back there in the yard. 

 

YOU:  Anything you would add to those dinosaurs?  Anything different you are looking for in your next dinosaur?

 

ME:  Well, we are running out of trees.  Maybe our next dinosaur could eat meat or fish?  I could put a pond in back there and some of the neighbor kids have been annoying the heck out of me.

 

YOU:  Noted.  Have you budgeted for dinosaurs this year and if so, what ballpark is the budget?

 

ME:  We have budgeted for a new dinosaur in 2011 and it’s somewhere between $450,000 and $700,000.

 

YOU:    Beginning of 2011 or end of 2011?

 

ME:   Sorry, but it’s at the end of 2011.

 

YOU:    No worries at all:  you buy when you want to buy.  A time frame like that will give us more time to get to know each other and allow you to make a well informed decision on your next dinosaur.   I have a long event horizon.  Oh, and is the ballpark closer to $450,000 or closer to $700,000?

 

ME:  It’s closer to $700,000.  I like your shoes.  Are those Velcro straps?

 

YOU:     Thanks.  Yes, they are.  It appears that you are somewhat maxed out on room in your back yard.  Have you ever thought about a flying dinosaur from the Pterosaur family?

 

ME:  Oh heck no, those Pterodactyls are way too much dinosaur for us.  We already have a dang triceratops.  That’s crazy talk!

 

YOU:     So, having a smaller dinosaur next time would be important?   I understand how you feel.  Many folks felt that a Pterosaur would be very big and what they found was that within that family there are many smaller, more easily managed flying dinosaurs.  Would you like to hear about a few of the smaller flying dinosaurs?  And do you prefer colorful flying dinsosaurs or a more sedate flying dinosaur?

 

ME:     Sure!  Would you like some Razzles?  I am going to have some.  Colorful dinosaurs, like my Razzles, would be wonderful. 

 

YOU:    No thank you.  Other families with limited space and two full grown herbivore dinosaurs such as yours have been most interested in the European Dorygnathus or the Central American Dimorphodon.  Not only are they compact flying dinosaurs, they are easy on the eyes and they can teach you French, German, and Spanish! 

 

ME:  Oustanding! 

 

YOU:  Mully, we have been chatting for twenty-five minutes and I promised you that this meeting would go not longer than twenty-one.  I will be back in this city in two weeks.  How about if we schedule an hour meeting then?  It will give me time to process all this fantastic information you have shared.

 

ME:  Fantastic!  Please bring information on your line of Velociraptors when you return?  I love me some Velociraptors.

 

 

(As we finished, you took all your stuff and rapidly exited my office….not hanging there to make small talk and make me feel uncomfortable.  You were in, you asked questions, took notes and POOF, you were gone.  Perfect!)

 

 

Great job there, you!  That was a perfect first meeting with a prospective customer.  You found out what I already owned, what I liked and would want to add in my next dinosaur purchase.  You qualified me on how much I had budgeted for my next dinsosaur and, more important, when I had this in my budget.  You did not mention Bobby or Dinorama at all, knowing that this is a sign of weakness and fear.  Sell your product, based upon the individual needs and budget of your customer.    Bravo!

 

You used “feel, felt, found” properly when I told you that thinking of flying dinosaurs were crazy talk.  Most important, you left on time and respected my day.  With an anticipate purchase date (APD) and an anticipated shipment date (ASD) of Q4, 2011, we have plenty of time to have further discussions.  Be bright, be brief and be gone….especially at your first meeting with a prospective customer.

 

Well done, you!  Thanks for stopping by and sharing some time in The Attic.  Isn’t that an amazing song?  One of the most underappreciated REM songs of all time.  Beautiful song with gorgeous lyrics.

  

 

The Mind of Mully

 

 

If the wind were colored

And if the air could speak

Whistle as the wind blows

Whistle as the wind blows, with me.

 

Subjects We Will Cover This Year
Subjects We Will Cover This Year

 

(Guess which book we used last night and today?)

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Mind of Mully Presents: Real Men of Geniusnessish Ville!

 

 

Best Experienced With:          The English Beat;        Best Friend

  

(please right click on the link below to cue up the proper background music for this treatise.  This song is a perfect fit for this treatise)

  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYYVJnaoAww

 

  

Mind of Mully Presents:      Real Men of Genius

 

Please do fake voices for this MLOG.  When you see the italics, do the sing song chorus voice from the Budweiser commercial.  Do the remainder of the fake commercial in the deep announcer type voice.  Nope….deeper than that.  Much better!  That’s fun, huh?  I did that over a thousand times while making up this stuff.  You should have seen how it looked and sounded before I remembered the Rule of Rattay.  Evil!

 

 

(Real men of genius)

 

Today we salute you, Mr. Sales Guy That Never Asks Any Questions.

 
(Mr. Sales Guy That Never Asks Any Questions)

 

Anyone can ask people what they want and what they need and what their budget is, but it takes a man like you to ignore all that and speak about the only thing important in the world.    You!

 

(Mr. Sales Guy That Never Asks Any Questions)

 

Sitting across the desk in your pinstripe suit and tassel loafers, you tirelessly throw out improper pronouns like “I” and “me” and “me” and “I”.  Then you follow it up with four thousand more “I’’s”

 

 

(Keep on talkin)

 

Needs? You don’t need to know no stinking needs!  What do their needs have to do with you

 

 

 
(Nothing……their needs have nothing to do with you, Mr. Man!)

 

  
After they buy from the other person, they will continue to tell tales about you, the moron that came in and sprayed silly things about themselves and their company and their product without asking one single question.  Perhaps they will hang and burn you in effigy. 

 

 
(Burn you in effigy!  It’s fun to sing effigy!)

 

 
So crack open a Mind of Mully 40 oz malt liquor beverage and chase it with a cup of hemlock, Non Question Asking Sales Guy, because no one is going to like you and at the end of the day you will have no idea how to position what you are offering!  Then you will point fingers elsewhere while eating a Hostess snack cake.

 

(Mr. Sales Guy That Never Asks Any Questions….eating a tasty Hostess snack cake)

 

 (End of commercial:  please stop singing)

 

Have you ever gone out to a romantic dinner and had a moron waiter ruin it by inserting himself into your date?  The waiter that misses the part about how their job is to answer questions, bring you your food, present the check, then take your money?  Get it?  That’s your job as a sales professional.  No one cares about you so please be quiet and pay attention to that ear to mouth ratio.  Here is exactly what you should do 67% of the time:

 

 

  1. Do your research
  2. Have a twenty minute phone call before your meeting to get a good 10,000 foot view of your customer’s needs.
  3. Have a list of questions
  4. Ask those questions
  5. Sit quietly and take notes!

 

 

It is not about you.

 

  

It is about them.     They have the need and the budget.  More important, they are the customer.

  

 

 Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

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