Are Your Sales Historical or Hysterical?

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Summer’s over. Back to school.

Boy, there are some memories. High school. College. Subjects you loved, subjects you hated. Teachers you loved, teachers you hated.

THE QUESTION IS: What did you learn in school? What lessons are you still using?

I have 2.5 major, early and later school-learned lessons I am grateful for:
1. Grammar from 9th and 10th grade. It’s the basis of my writing and communication. In today’s world, misuse of the words they’re, their, their, your, and you’re create lasting (bad) first impressions.
2. In college (Temple University in 1964), my modern European history professor said, “It’s not the date of what happened that matters. It’s what happened in response to the date (events, outcomes) that creates history.”
2.5 Later in life I came to the realization that algebra was not about math, it was about learning how to solve problems logically. I wish my algebra teacher could have put it that way when I started.

And how about sales and business? What lessons have you learned? What lessons are you still using?

I have 2.5 major, early sales lessons I am grateful for:
1. Questions control conversations. The person that’s asking is in control.
2. Relax, find common ground, and be friendly with the prospect BEFORE you start the sales conversation.
2.5 Find out why they want to buy BEFORE you start to sell.

Here are 11.5 lessons you can use to start this school year off with a bang – and a bunch of sales:

1. Study your (or your company’s) last 100 sales. The history of where your last 100 sales came from will predict and help you complete your next 100 sales.
2. Videotape the buying motives of your top ten customers. Call your top ten customers and meet with them for a short, casual conversation about WHY they buy from you. Video the conversation.
3. Meet one customer a day for morning coffee. Just talk personally. In a year this will give you the personal insight of 250 customers.
4. Study service issues. Find out what issues customers have. Study how (and how fast) they were resolved.
5. Study backorders. Why did the back order occur? How was it dealt with? How was it resolved?
6. Talk to users, not just buyers. Go to your customers and talk to the people that USE your product or service. Find out what they love and what’s missing. Video the interviews. SECRET: Get purchasing people to be at the meeting with the people that USE your product, so they can understand the difference between price, productivity, value, and profit.
7. Talk to your loyal customers that don’t buy price. Find out the true non-price buying motive(s) for dealing with you.
8. Get involved on a deeper, hands-on level. Make a few deliveries yourself. Take a few service calls yourself. Work in accounting for a day. Find out what’s really happening with and to your customers.
9. Get short meetings with executives. Talk about the issues they value the most – loyalty, productivity, morale, and profit. Maybe ask a question or two about their vision or leadership philosophy, and leave. DO NOT ASK FOR BUSINESS. Just make an impression. IDEA: create a blog around executive leadership philosophies.
10. Start your own value messaging in social media. Post your ideas and thoughts on all social media outlets. Then email the links to all your customers and prospects so they can follow you.
11. Post customer testimonials on YouTube. Then email and tweet the links to all your customers and prospects.
11.5 Create a customer “reasons” book. List all the reasons why they buy, say no, stay loyal, or leave you. As you write, answers and actions will become evident.

KEY POINT OF UNDERSTANDING: The lessons you have learned from your history of doing business with customers is very valuable, BUT not as valuable as your customer’s history of doing business with you. A subtle but powerful difference. Both are valuable, but your customer’s input from their perspective can teach you how to achieve and maintain loyalty.

KEY TO IMPLEMENTATION: Re-construct your sales presentation around customer’s responses and perceived values.

WINNING NEW BUSINESS: Where is your new business coming from? The best way to find new business is to talk to old business, learn the lessons, and refine your practices and presentation to be in harmony with their needs and expectations.

Those are lessons you can learn from and earn from.


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  1. Hi Jeffrey,

    Thanks again for a great post.
    The use of “they’re, their, their” in your first point must be a test! In no other context is this more apparent. Thanks for making the test easy for all of us who are spelling impaired.
    I read somewhere that you can reduce the amount of spelling errors if you get your ideas out on one day, and then proof read your copy the next day. Yes; I believe it was in a Little Red book.

    Thanks So Much and have a Fun day,

    P.S. when will you have a program or book available specifically designed for Grades 5-12. You know, before they have to relearn everything.

    Don McNeill
    Your Ed Tech Tour Guide
    ShopK12, Inc
    Phone: (541) 517-6814
    Fax: (541) 636-0401

  2. Good day,

    These are all great points. I love how your implement different ways to gather information from customers and being able to actually gain from it. The action of talking to the customer isn’t enough, your actions after talking to them is where it really matters.

    There are so many different strategies to use when it comes sales success. But two things will always remain constant, the more people you connect to the most success you’ll have and always hone your craft.

  3. Great article, Jeffrey!

    Learning and studying the history of sales at your company is key to better sales presentations and improving future sales. I’m very impressed with the content here. I just downloaded your app and followed you @gitomer, and I’m very excited to read your book!

    The 2.5 major, early sales lessons you learned are great! They’re certainly worth repeating:
    1. Questions control conversations. The person that’s asking is in control.
    2. Relax, find common ground, and be friendly with the prospect BEFORE you start the sales conversation.
    2.5 Find out why they want to buy BEFORE you start to sell.

    My favorite 2.5 things about sales are as follows:
    1. Being friendly, passionate, & having high-energy.
    2. Asking questions.
    2.5 Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up.

    Again, I love your article above. Here are my thoughts and ideas regarding the points you mention:

    1. In regards to studying our company’s last 100 sales, at Yozio we track two fields: who made an introduction (Salesforce contact record) and lead source (web, trade show, etc.). Do you have any other ideas?

    2. Videotaping with your top ten customers and asking “why” they buy is a great idea! Kris Duggan from Badgeville has a great video series about sales and suggests asking 3 questions: Why do you like us? Where do you see us taking you in 6 months or 1 year? Would I buy this product myself?

    Here’s the link: and my summary here:

    3. Meeting customers is extremely important, and meeting for coffee is a great idea. I always suggest coffee at Philz Coffee here in San Francisco. Sign up for LetsLunch and lunch with me at

    4. In regards to studying service issues, our company used Salesforce cases and ZenDesk to track how (and how fast) these issues were resolved. Both have great analytics and reporting, too. Any other ideas?

    5. In software sales, issues with backorders isn’t really relevant unless you’re talking about implementation. Creating a smooth transition from sales to implementation is extremely important, and we have workflows that automatically send updates to implementation once opportunity stages progress.

    6. Great secret! Connecting with business users and bringing along purchasing people is a smooth move :)

    7. Finding out the true non-price buying motive(s) from loyal customers is another great suggestion. My favorite sales leader Anthony Robbins always say that people buy for emotional reasons and justify with logic. Selling to your prospect’s emotions.

    8. I love working hands-on! In software sales, this applies to sales reps in a slightly different way – I suggest working a day in account management as well as service & delivery. “Work in accounting for a day” is a hilarious (and great) suggestion as well.

    9. Wow, that’s a very cool idea to have short meetings with execs and create a blog around executive leadership philosophies. I’d love to collaborate on a project like that!

    10. Value messaging in social media and sending to prospects is another awesome idea. I’m trying my best to be great at this. Do you have any best methods or suggestions that work extremely well?

    11. Posting customer testimonials on YouTube is a great idea!

    11.5 I have an idea for the customer “reasons” book you mentioned above. You should take the answers to questions and create custom fields in your CRM to record why they buy, say no, stay loyal, or leave you. That way, these reports can be generated for upper management.

    Again, great article, Jeffrey! I’m excited to read more. Follow me on Twitter @drcaseykerr and check out my links at,,, and


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