No one likes a desperado

Dennis the management consultant arrived late to a public sales seminar I was conducting. The rest of the participants arrived early for their 8.45am registration and had been chatting amongst themselves.

He apologised for being late, rushed in and sat down. His body language was stiff and noticeably anxious. Although now behind schedule, for Dennis’ benefit, I asked everyone to again quickly introduce themselves and describe what businesses they were in. All were happy to oblige.

A couple of minutes into the introductions I sensed Dennis’ energy. He seemed disengaged and uninterested in the stories the others were sharing. I continued into the morning break paying extra attention to him but not at the detriment of anyone else. As soon as the other participants left the room for the break, he approached me and explained the seminar was not what he had expected.

Dennis was a short man with silver-grey hair and the lines on his face told me he was in the twilight of his career. He looked stressed and his desperation was obvious. He thought the content was about generating more leads. I explained this was not advertised; the session is about the ‘sales fundamentals’ ? things that are easy to do but easier to forget.

He responded, ‘No thanks, I’m really busy, I just need more leads.’ His comment didn’t make sense to me, but the resolve in his voice assured me that there was no point explaining the situation. With half a foot out the door, he promptly accepted my offer for a refund but pretended he didn’t care about the money.

When everyone returned from the short break I explained that Dennis had left for his own reasons. With a collective shrug of their shoulders, everyone quickly drew their attention to my presentation on the big screen. Unperturbed, I continued with the seminar.

What Dennis missed in the next section would have provided many answers to his sales problems. Namely, the fundamentals that are ‘easy to do but easier to forget: aligning values and maximising value, buying-in and being interested in others, learning your ABCs (‘Always Be Contributing’), and the Seven Sales Pillars (‘Presentation, Preparation, People Skills, Passion, Persistence, Patience and Process’).

We explored how to create and develop business friendships and a retro-service culture by harnessing change while retaining the essentials of human interaction: courtesy, politeness, integrity, listening, trust and loyalty.

Also in attendance was a young girl, Taylor, who was just starting her business journey. With long blonde locks and stylish clothing, she was an attractive girl inside and out. Dennis and her worlds couldn’t be further apart.

She had just graduated from high school and came along with her stepfather who owned a promising online start-up business. In a relaxed manner she listened intently throughout the session and engaged and contributed where she could. Her receptors were wide open and she devoured the content as nourishment.

Taylor wanted to get into PR and marketing when she graduated from university. To her credit, she is already investing in her own development. If she stays on this path her success will only be limited by her imagination.

The reality is, regardless of whether you understand the fundamentals or not, there is a world between knowing and demonstrating them.

As for Dennis, he’s still chasing leads, and for his sake I hope he does catch them eventually. Had he taken the opportunity to stop chasing and start contributing he would have learnt that when you get the fundamentals right, the business will chase you.

This blog is an excerpt from Trent’s book The Naked Salesman.

Trent Leyshan is the founder of BOOM!, Australia’s leading sales training and development specialist. He is the co-founder of Expand People and author of OUTLAW: Fight for your customers and sell without fear.


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