1) Andrew, what lessons have you learned from your sales assessment experience? Which is your biggest lesson?
It is a surprise and learning that many salespeople have stayed in their jobs because of a vacancy.
We have learned that being available and appearing like a pleasant person is not sufficient reason to hire salespeople.
Our greatest challenge is to break the bad news to the sales leader about their capabilities.
2) What should a person do immediately after completing a sales assessment?
A candidate who is not successful may need to reconsider their job. Salespeople often want more significant titles but find it difficult and become unhappy. By choosing a job that suits them, regardless of title, they will be happier, more successful, and have a better career.
People who get results that show they are qualified for the job but lack the skills should talk to their employer about how they can improve their skills and their chances of success. You don’t need to be a salesperson to succeed.
Rule number 1: Make sure you’re in the right job
Rule number 2: Make sure you’re fully trained for the job.
Rule number 3: Don’t believe the grass is greener, and enjoy your newfound happiness and success.
3) How did your sales career start?
In the middle of the seventies, I began my career as an electronics engineer and moved into the early days of computer engineering in the late seventies. After becoming a computer engineer, I became a product specialist at an Intel Partner. This was right before the launch of Intel and Microchip. After working for a while in this role, I realized that my product design was leading to customer purchases, sometimes without any salesperson involved. So I moved to technical sales.
After several years of doing this, I was offered a full-time sales job with a British company that produced Ethernet components. This was right at the dawning of the networking revolution. At first, I sold, then managed European sales, and then went global.
I was in my late 80’s when I joined a major US Telco. I enjoyed success there and then made my last move to ICL in mid-’90.
ICL was closed when I started my first business, Intellectual Capital Development Limited (which is still in operation), in 2000. I developed the basis for the Fit-4 product while I was at ICL.
4) Which was your most challenging sale?
The hardest part was convincing my wife that I was right to quit my secure corporate job and “risk it all” with my own business. It was a huge success, thank goodness! It could be that I’m not here today talking about it!
5) Most memorable sale? Did it have to do with money, adrenaline, recognition, or power?
None of these – it was memorable because it was the one sale I wasn’t sure I wanted. It is tough to go out on your own, especially if you have children at private schools and a house that costs a lot. It was true, but I was constantly looking for ways to “lose” the deal. I was selling to my wife and to myself.
6) Which sales books are you most fond of, and would you recommend them?
Charan & Tichy’s “Every Business is a Growth Business” is one of my favorite books. It is because if you are not in business to grow, you should be a charity! ); and “Differentiate or Die” by Jack Trout. Because if your product isn’t unique, it’s not worth being in business.
7) What’s the biggest mistake a salesperson makes?
The biggest mistake is not to spend the time to understand their customers’ businesses in the same way that they study their competitors.
This is crazy! They end up designing their businesses to be “followers” of their competitors, trying not to innovate and lead but to keep up with them. We all know that there is no prize for being second in sales. Perhaps some companies “design in” being second? What do you think?