The science and structure of sales does not always come easy to everyone but when done properly will help you prove greater value and competitive uniqueness to justify your higher prices.

For sales trainers and coaches, you not only need to understand sales, but you must first be able to pinpoint the steps to your own approach and why it is successful. In today’s episode, Jim Pancero breaks down some of his proven concepts on how to strengthen your sales coaching & leadership abilities to gain ultimate success.

Jim has been influencing, guiding and inspiring sales professionals for over 30 years in more than 80 different industries to increase sales, market share and profitability and this episode is packed with valuable tips you can implement immediately.

  • 2:21 – Sales is a science, not an art
  • 4:37 – Why learning by doing is important
  • 7:22 – Skills + structures lead to success
  • 9:37 – The two types of sales environments
  • 14:00 – Using assumptive positioning to sell
  • 16:15 – How buying has changed dramatically
  • 20:23 – The 4 levels of selling skills
  • 25:22 – The secret to effective interviews
  • 30:37 – Challenges that redefine how selling works
  • 32:22 – Defining your competitive advantage
  • 40:28 – The natural talent assumption
  • 42:17 – How to initiate change in a sales team


Book Mentioned:

Spin Selling – Neil Rackham

Full Episode Transcription :
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Todd: (10:25)
Jim, thank you so much for connecting today. I’m so excited to talk with you.

Jim: (11:08)
Honored to get to be a part of this. Thanks for asking.

Todd: (11:11)
Absolutely. Absolutely. So you’ve had many decades in, in your world of sales training and coaching and would love to hear a little bit about you know, obviously what you do and really why, why that has been such a driver for you and, and why you have decided to dedicate your career to this.

Jim: (11:34)
Well, I appreciate that. I’m, I’m fundamentally a salesperson. My first sales job was actually my first paying sales job was over 15 years ago now this is officially old. And started when I sold all through college and graduate school. When I was in graduate school, I had a mentor that was a sales expert and self esteem expert and I became a, a mentee of him. His name was bill McGrane and talked about how selling was a science and a structure, not an art and what you can do to improve your consistency in the delivery of that. So it looks artful and that really lit a fire for me. And I went and worked for the IBM corporation in their large computer division in the early days of computers and applied his concepts and they really worked. And as I expanded and learned more and discovered more, especially about the complex selling process, well you’re selling maybe a couple of hundred thousand dollars pieces of equipment to an organization developed a lot more structures that were working for me, got some national recognition at IBM and decided that this was a path I wanted to go on. So 38 years ago I became a sales trainer and consultant with the idea this was my passion. I want to share it with others, helping you increase your competitive advantage.

Todd: (12:53)
I love it. And you know, it’s, it’s fun. We haven’t talked a lot about my background in conversion rate optimization, but that’s really the, the science of getting a website to convert more, whether a convert to lead or convert to sale. And in that journey I’ve studied some of the, the much older, older sales and marketing experts, like, I don’t know if you’re familiar with Claude Hopkins. David Ogilvy is obviously, you know, very well known name. But talk to me a little bit more about the science of it because I think in the world of sales, I think there are a lot of salespeople that are just good naturally and they might not even know why they’re good, but they’re, they’re just damn good at their job. They’re compelling, they believe in what they’re doing. But it’s, I was actually sort of surprised to hear you say that there’s, that sales is a science and not an art. So maybe you can talk a little bit more about that aspect of it. 

Jim: (13:50)
Sure. Well, I think, if you look at anything, there’s a duality to pretty much any effort or skill that you would do. So if we were talking about acting, how do you be effective in movies? We could talk about, yeah, there’s people that are just intuitively good at emoting and expressing emotions on camera. But if we take those people that are intuitively good and we actually give them some skills and some structures, show them how to hit their marks and how to apply that and understanding lighting so that they can do a better job of how they position themselves, they’ll still do a better job. The reality is selling is not an art. I don’t know anybody that was born in polyester and said, Hey, I’m going to spend the rest of my life being in sales. The reality is there are no born salespeople. Now there’s, there’s a lot of people that get into sales that have no training and have no coaching and have to figure it out on their own. So they intuitively find out they are persuasive and they have some success. The problem is, this is the same way my dad learned how to swim when he was 10 years old and in the 1930s. Oh, his mother sent him down to the local YMCAs. My dad walked up the lifeguard and says, my mom says you’re supposed to teach me how to swim. Lifeguard says, come on kid, I’ll show you how to do it. Took them out of the end of the diving board and as they sped there said, see all those other boys are moving their arms and kicking their feet. My dad said, yeah, and he said, you better do it now and pushed him off the board. Well, that’s the way most sales people learn how to sell. I would say probably over 90% of the experienced and successful salespeople I meet had to figure it out on their own.

Jim: (15:27)
They never got trained on how to sell. Over 90% of the salespeople can’t even write down something as simple as one of the steps of a sales call with the idea if you don’t know the steps, that’s going to be pretty hard to be consistently persuasive because selling in persuasion is pretty simple. If you don’t have any stress, if you don’t have any pressure and if you don’t have any time constraints, pretty much anybody can be persuasive. That’s why selling to a friend or to a relative is pretty easy. But as soon as there’s any resistance, as soon as there’s any pushback, as soon as there’s any hassles of any time, whether it’s time, hassles, I only got five minutes or whatever it is, that’s where the need for structures and process come into play because if you only have a couple minutes, what do you do about it? How do you take advantage of that and be more persuasive? So it’s a skill. It’s a structure. It’s a science. The problem though is because there’s so many people that never got trained when they got into selling. This is something is an intuitive art to them. The average salesperson only follows a three step selling process of show up, suck up and pucker up.

Jim: (16:35)
Their going, hey, anything you need, anything coming up, anything I can help with? How’s the family and this reactive kind of selling process instead of proactively going in and making change? You hear the difference in selling is talked a lot about a proactive versus reactive. And now here are people in a more proactive environment talking about how the rainmakers, the idea that they’re making things happen, they’re just not servicing what’s in front of them. Initiators versus responders are you an arsonist, are you a firefighter? And the idea that in sales and in persuasion, if we can make you more proactive, we can make you more of an initiator. If we can make you more bringing solutions that customers instead of just asking what they want, these are the people that tend to be more successful. But if we give them skills and structures, there’ll be even more successful.

Todd: (17:24)
Yeah. So what is it, what does it look like? Like what’s an ideal program for someone who wants, like they know that they want to improve their sales abilities, right? Or they’re in a role and they see other people like in a position they want to be in, whether it’s you know, income or status or you know, flexibility or freedom or it is they like about that role that they can see themselves in in one or two or 10 or 20 years. What is a, what is a program that is currently working for people to, you know, have that constant improvement built into their day, built into their week. So they, they are kind of guaranteed that they’re on the right path to improving.

Jim: (18:10)
There’s two types of environments of how we deal with salespeople. There’s the independent environment where you’re on your own. You’ve got to figure out what you want to do for yourself, all the, all these statements you just made. We’re talking as an or as a business owner, but with no coach or guide to help me, what do I do to become a better salesperson? That’s one part of it. The other part of it or the other side of the equation is when we’re talking to a company about this and to the company, we don’t ask them what does it take to make a salesperson more effective. What we do is talk about how do we make the sales person’s environment more effective? So the salesperson will measure up to that new expectation. So if you’re a corporation listening to this message, success in selling is not based on the salesperson’s level. Success in selling is based on the sales, leadership and coaching. You have to be able to guide your people through which, which is really today more of a paint by numbers system to show them the steps and processes they need to implement roleplaying with them to make sure they understand it and then let them implement your plan. It’s become much more of a consistency process compared to this faking it until you make it making stuff up as you go along. Now, so from a business standpoint, it’s fascinating. From a, I’m doing my majority journey, my work is with businesses in fact, most in that distribution services and equipment sales. And in that environment, I would say probably 90% of the companies calling me because of my internet presence, because I’m posting a lot of videos and have a lot of stuff online and they’ve seen me present at a lot of conferences. They’ll call up and they’ll say, we think we need your help. Really exciting. But what’s interesting is I would suggest 90% of the people calling me, the first thing they say is we need sales training help, but by the end of the conversation I show them that’s the last thing they need, not the first thing, and that the first thing they need to do is have their senior executives even agree what’s their selling process and what kind of best practices do they want their organization following. We’ve got to teach to a standard. Then the second level is we’ve got to work with the frontline managers to actually teach them how to coach and lead a sales team and actually improve skills, not just be a transactional manager once you close and who’s it going to be. And then the final level is working with the Salesforce, the frontline people of how they can be more persuasive and effective and delivering the messaging and using the tools that the company has identified.

Jim: (20:39)
But it takes all three levels for a company to be successful. You just can’t say, let’s go out and get some great sales people and turn them loose. I used to work in the old days. It doesn’t really work today and it’s not maintainable. Now, if we go back to your original question, which is how do I as an individual, if I don’t have a coach, I don’t have a sales manager, I don’t have a boss. How do I improve my skills? And that really comes down to the discipline to saying, what do you do to take advantage of what’s out there? The amount of free videos on selling today is just amazing compared to what it was. I’m producing more free material today than in the old days. I used to produce the sell over a year. Yeah. Because in marketing you need to get your voice out and you need to validate that you have worthwhile stuff. And the only way to do that today is you’ve got to help people. 

Todd: (21:28)
Yeah. You got to get it out there. And you are, you mentioned that you’ve done two as a 200 videos over the past year. Oh yeah. In the last year I, well, I’m posting four videos a week on all the social media. You can sign up for my stuff. I can even see a newsletter we have every Friday that summarizes all of my postings for the week with links to them at My website. Yeah. But the idea, it’s all part of marketing today. I tell people, my marketing strategy is every day I go to downtown Dallas where I live, standing on the corner of LinkedIn and Facebook, hold a sales Bible over my head and start screaming until somebody stops and gives me money. Well, that’s a marketing strategy. What’s amazing is it’s actually working, but it’s this idea of so much today is it’s interesting how selling has changed, so anybody that is trying to be persuasive, this has become a critical point. It used to be we can have what I’ve referred to as a blank slate philosophy of selling so I can get you on the phone and I want to talk to you about why you want to hire and buy my stuff. Whatever that stuff is. In the old days I could just ask you, where is your pain? What keeps you awake at night? What would you most like to improve with your current business? What’s the biggest hassle you’re currently working on? Let’s see if we can help give you some insight and improve it. In general, what kind, what would you most like from a vendor that would be most appropriate for you now, 20 years ago that was considered good selling. Today customers don’t have time. They’re going, I don’t have time to go back and explain my business to you. So one of the things we’re seeing in selling this being more effective today in persuasion is you don’t just ask questions about what do you need? What do you want? We today have to ask assumptive questions where we stayed in a position to validate as we go.

Jim: (23:13)
So an assumptive position would be, if I was calling you about your company, I would say, you know, in the kind of business that you’re in most of the other businesses I’ve seen in this kind of market, I’ve had three these three challenges. I’m curious how you’re dealing with them. They’re having problems if there’s no consistent messaging of why they’re unique. So they’re fighting a lot of price battles. There’s no follow through and consistency where people even think about what their processes are and how to apply them. And in most cases, there’s no coaching help. There’s more just administrative management how have overcome, or how are you dealing with those now? If those are the three things you need, you’ll go, wow, let’s talk. But you’re, I validated myself with the questions. It’s a simple idea of selling it.

Todd: (23:57)
You’ve done the legwork there. You’ve done the, you’ve done your homework and not just saying, I you to spend your 15 minutes to explain to me what your problem is, right?

Jim: (24:07)
You know, it’s more than homework though. It’s validating. As an example, if you and I had never met and you were here in Dallas and I walked, I was at your hotel and I walked outside and the two of us just bumped into each other, standing in front of the hotel. If I turned to you and said, excuse me, you don’t look very good. You don’t look good at all, do you feel okay? I’d bet you would start looking for. Start looking for a cop. You’re being harassed now. But if, because all it did was get your attention, but it didn’t validate anything. So if we turn it around and ice would’ve stopped you and said, excuse me, but I’m a thoracic surgeon here at Dallas general. You don’t look good. You don’t look good at all. Do you feel okay? I bet you’d answer every one of my questions now,

Todd: (24:51)
Very different, very different impact. You see them going, wait a minute, why is this person who really knows what they’re talking about? Asking me those questions.

Jim: (24:58)
Yeah, because the question is in my explanation of my question, I validated that you might want to listen to what I have to say. Yeah. That’s kind of the current selling mode. The old selling mode is I just walk up and say, Hey, you got a minute. I want to talk to you with the assumption you would say yes because you said yes to everybody and I had a good half hour to 10 find out what you need and show you how I could fit.

Todd: (25:18)
Now I can, I can pick up my phone and I can watch 17 videos in the time I could talk to you and tell you what my problem is and that I don’t even know if you have any way of solving it.

Jim: (25:28)
And this is, this is where the structures of selling become critical. This just brought up a great example of it and that is how buying has changed in buyers today and it’s changed dramatically. 20 years ago if you and your family, 10 years ago, if you and your family decided you wanted to buy a hot tub, first thing we would have done has gone to a hot tub store, walked into the sales room and said, we’re thinking again in the hot tub. What do you got and how can you help me and collect some brochures, go home and talk to the family about it. Today, if you wanted to buy a hot tub, what would you do?

Todd: (26:02)
Go online. You look up big hot tubs, cheap hot tubs, ecofriendly, hot tubs, whatever is top of mind.

Jim: (26:09)
In fact, that’s only cause you’re old. If you were a lot younger, your first item would have been to ask your friends, wouldn’t be them first you would have asked your friends. But if we’re older, our first assumption is we’re going to Google, but in all cases we’re not going to talk to a sales rep. Because that’s uncomfortable for us. So what you watch happen is on the average selling process today, the sales rep is being brought in much later in the buying process, having much less impact in the buying process and they ever did before. Yeah, I’ve done a lot of work with the John Deere organization in their agriculture and and turf division. And so a lot of their dealers have retail establishments where they’re selling riding lawnmowers in the spring, too new for you and your home. And we found out that over 50% of the people coming in to buy a riding lawnmower we’re bringing in a printout where they’d already gone online and decided what model they wanted, what features they wanted on in, about what price they were going to pay.

Jim: (27:05)
So all they did was walk in to confirm that you got this in stock and how much is yours? Yeah. Where are the decisions you’re already made? The problem is we found over half the people coming in and doing that had dramatically configured the wrong machine for what they needed. Most of the cases it was too small and too light equipment. 

Todd: (27:25)
So that’s, that’s a really interesting point. And that’s something like, you know, like, my website conversion brain is turning on because that’s a great ad. Like, like a, a social associated of Google ad to sell lawn mowers is, you know, did you know 62% of people who buy a riding lawn mower online configured it totally wrong. Right? And then that leads them to maybe a lead form. It says, let one of our sales reps, whatever they call them, you know, get on a 15 minute call and we’ll make sure you don’t make the same mistake. Right. That would be a very different approach to to starting that sales conversation. Maybe even earlier. You know as you’re saying, they’re starting a lot later now.

Jim: (28:09)
But , see the problem is because the customers are blocking you from getting involved because they’re not ready to talk to a sales rep yet. That means when the sales rep does talk, it requires more skills because they have to take more control. Yeah, we’ll recover from what has probably occurred. That’s probably wrong. Yeah. This is where the skills of selling and the structures of selling from it. Yeah. Now, but I want to go back and answer your original question so we didn’t really, what can somebody do that doesn’t have a manager, they own their own business or they’re self employed, but you’re in charge of sales. You’ve got to increase revenues for your organization. What do you do and this is, there is a tremendous amount of resources available. Free stuff can take hours of your time, go into YouTube and just type in something like your prices are too high or how do you sell and you’ll see a lot of videos available to you. A tremendous number of books out, both books that have been out for decades that are solid material as well as the newer stuff, and it’s just making yourself aware in involving yourself in the sales community to understand what’s being said and how you can apply those skills. 

Todd: (29:24)
What are some of the timeless approaches that that haven’t shifted? You know, is it mindset? Is it understanding emotions, how people think, what are, what are some kind of. 

Jim: (29:36)
Well, to look at selling, you really have to look at the levels of selling skills. There are four strata or levels of selling skills that somebody needs to be effective and persuasive. The first skill level, the first set, the foundational skills is your attitude and energy. How are you going to be a hard worker? How are you going to be professionally curious? How are you not going to give up having tenacity? How do you deal with rejection? Because you’re going to get probably 90 no’s to get one. Yes, in a lot of cases. So those are all part of how you have an attitude and energy. Kind of hard to train that, but that’s what a lot of the motivational speakers have focused on. Like Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins, they don’t have a lot of content. What they’re teaching, they’re teaching attitude, they’re teaching energy, they’re taking commitment, tenacity. That’s the first level. The second level that all salespeople need is their personal skills or your operational skills. Your knowledge of the steps of a sales goal is an operational skill.

Jim: (30:35)
How do you ask questions? How do you close? How do you qualify? All of the product and technical skills of your industry that you represent are operational skills. Cause all of those together make you come across as more persuasive and more credible. It’s your personal skills of communicating. The third set of skills like building on top of them then is your tactical skills and tactics deal with process structures or controls. What do you do from the time you would identify a new opportunity til the time you close on the sale? What are the steps of your process? Well, that’s not going to be an operational issue. That’s going to be more of a plan or a tactic or a process that you’re going to follow. Multiple step process. And then the final fourth and final skill is your strategic skills, which deal with your philosophy, your approach, your positioning. So if I can get you on the phone and I say, okay, look, you’re the third vendor I’ve talked to this week. Why? Based on all the options available me, do I want to buy from you? I don’t think you’re telling me the brands you represent are going to do it. You’re going to have to tell me what your philosophy is or your approach or how you’re different. So if we talk about how to raise your skills or what skills to raise, we really got to look at what level or category you’re talking about and you’ll find that the books that are really lasted the longest tend to be more on attitude and energy or operational skills. The more current books tend to have to be more tactical and strategic cause that keeps changing against your competition of what’s most effective and what works. Good operational books. If you’re new to sales, one of the best books still that exist out there is a book called spin selling, S. P. I. N. 

Todd: (32:11)
I was wondering if you’d bring that up.

Jim: (32:12)
By Neil Rackham. It’s been out maybe 40 years, but it’s, it covers the steps of a sales call very effectively and very persuasively. Yeah. Just as an example

Todd: (32:24)
Another book that’s just top of mind as you’re walking through some of these things. And I, and I curious to see what you think of this approach is Chet Holmes, the ultimate sales machine. You read that before?

Jim: (32:36)
No, I’ve, I’ve heard of him, but I’ve not read it. n

Todd: (32:40)
So there’s a part in that book that I thought was fascinating and it’s a, you know, I’m very into like putting things into practice to, to like really really immediately put someone to the test. So I’ll give just an a, you know, non-sales related example. Whenever I interview someone, I do an interview and then I have them actually sit down and do something that they would do if I hired them. Right? So if their job is going to be to manage an eCommerce site, I say, I want you to come in and for 45 minutes I want you to go through the orders and I want you to do what you would do if we hired right. And on the sales side, this is something Chet Holmes recommends. He said in hiring sales people. And I remember that cause I tried it. I don’t think I did a very good job at it. This was like 10 years ago, but he said, when you’re hiring a sales gun and you will only only you’ve committed to only hiring an absolute A player superstar, he says, bring people in, interview them. And then the people you really think have the best chance of being that A player, reject them and tell them you don’t think they have what it takes and see if they can sell themselves to the point where they literally prove on the spot that they can sell because you’ve just turned them down and they come right back and they sell themselves to you. So I thought it was really an interesting approach. And when I did it, even though I kind of fumbled it, I did end up finding someone who was really good and I sort of falsely rejected them and I said, yeah, I just don’t think you’re cut out for this. I don’t think you’re going to be able to handle the, the, the sales role. I don’t know if you’re really perform. And they turned around on the spot and they they fought and they said, you’re wrong. You’re wrong. And here’s why I’m going to be the best hire you’ve ever made. So I don’t know, it’d be an interesting book for you to look at.

Jim: (34:35)
Let’s talk about the concepts that you brought up. Now we’re talking about effective and by the way, positive talk about effective interviewing skills. Most people are very ineffective in how they interview other candidates. The, if you’re interviewing, looking for a sales person, the average person doing the interviewing would do most of the talking wouldn’t give the sales person a chance to do anything. They would only ask them about history and today things they wouldn’t ask them about future to say, show me how you would handle this. They would just say brag about what you’ve done. And the other part about it is that any effective interview that’s going to involve somebody dealing with the public in any way you’re most effective when that interview involves some kind of stress, it doesn’t matter what the stress is, it can be a number of different forms. But to see how the individual handles the stress, the stress of rejection the stress of I’ve had for one interview I went into the individuals turned to the side and there was a, a plant a dracaena plant along with a stock that long looked like a little mini Palm tree. And the guy said, see my Palm tree? And I go, you mean adracaena? He said, you’re arguing with me already. I said, great, looking Palm tree. How can I help you? And he said, sell me that Palm tree. And so that was the stressor. Now as I started through it, he cut me off immediately because he could see I had structure and I wasn’t going to be hassled by it. So there was no need to continue and he cut it off pretty quick. But we got to step back and do something else. What do you want in a salesperson has to be asked because all of the attributes you’re saying are actually rejected. In some industries.

Jim: (36:18)
You’re talking more retail, which is I want somebody with high hustle. I want somebody with a gift for gab. I want somebody that’s a real talker tell you what I’m gonna do. Cause I like the look of your face. 

Todd: (36:28)
I want to go back because the 10 year ago situation was when I was in the automotive industry.

Jim: (36:33)
I was gonna say, that’s no negatives to your listener. But these are the industries, insurance, car sales, real estate tend to have a shorter cycle of selling. So from the time you identify an opportunity to the time of the closing the sale in retail, and it tends to be a very short cycle. Yeah, it’s like playing blackjack. So if you talk to us, I’m like selling cars. The only concern they have is to close. How do we get through the steps of the sales call? So they’re going to have higher pressure closing techniques.

Jim: (37:04)
You’ve heard of the ABC’s of selling. Right. Always be closing. Well, you know, and in the car industry that might get you some business. But if you try that, if you’re selling cleaning supplies or industrial supplies or tools or parts that’ll just upset the customer. Now they won’t even want to talk to you because it’s a different environment. It’s a longer selling process though it’s not as high pressure. It is more of a consultative or a solutions focused discussion more than it is an energy and a pressure focused discussion. Now there’s more negatives. There’s no negatives to that retail side. It just involves a different level of pressure and assumption of what happens. In fact, what you find happened is the people that are most turned off by retail selling efforts are usually the people that are involved in business. The business by, I walked into a car dealership and as I walked in to buy a hubcap, that was all I needed was to buy a hubcap, cause I’d lost one on my car and I happened to drive past the dealer, walked in. As I walked in, I was a met at the door, had blocking the door is by a sales rep blocking my way as I entered. So I had to talk to him and he said, hi, interested in buying a car today? Opening with the close. So I said, well no, should I leave because let me ask them, will be turned off. It’s like by the way if I was gonna buy a car it sure wouldn’t be now because I don’t want somebody to say, Hey, how can we help you? I don’t want somebody to say, Hey, you’re ready to close. What color do you want? I should try. So that each selling arena has a different degree of pressure that’s applied and hustle for lack of a better term. So we got to look at what industries are selling on because the stuff you don’t see too many people leave the car industry and go into equipment sales. It’s not that they can’t handle the technical aspects of the product. It’s that the culture of buying is so completely different. They don’t tend to transfer and be effective. Just like it doesn’t work the other way. If you take somebody out of more corporate sales that’s on a six month selling process and you push them into the car industry, they’ll have a hard time. Because if the car in a car industry, if the customer leaves, there’s like a 90% chance they’re not coming back.

Todd: (39:20)
Yeah. So in, in what you’re seeing in the world today with the way things are changing what do you think is a critical focus or skill set that salespeople should be developing, right? Or, or companies should be developing in terms of their training? You know, as the world is changing, how can they stay ahead of the curve and make sure what they’re focused on now is is going to be relevant a decade from now?

Jim: (39:50)
Well, and this is the real challenge that there’s been just a number of challenges that are just redefining how selling works both in the retail environment as well as in the business. The business. In business, the business, we’re having a hard time of how you reach and discover and uncover new opportunities to talk about. So you’re seeing the growth of social media happened a lot of just different ways to try to reach customers because picking them up and making a phone call for most industries just is not working today. So you’re seeing a lot more alternatives of outreach of how we can start a conversation to be able to then continue the conversation to be able to help. The other thing that’s happening is differentiation. Today is a critical problem in selling because it used to be, frankly, if I was the one that showed up and nobody else showed up, I had a competitive advantage. Even if I had a generic product, but today you can Google and see everything available to you. You can see all suppliers and alternatives available to you and even sample or see how they look or how they compare. So then when you do talk to a salesperson, you have a higher level of competitive awareness that’s probably ever existed in selling or buy. So the salesperson is under more pressure to be able to communicate, why are we different and how are we going to do it? The other thing, and it’s the problem of Amazon models that have pushed everybody, the assumption is you assume everything is equal. So all you do is ask what the price is. Yeah, so what I have to do for the majority of salespeople have to do is we have to communicate that, Hey, we’re, we’re gonna, we’re not going to be lowest price, but if he give us a chance, we can prove why we’re lower. Total cost. We have to position this because otherwise the default position is the customer’s going to buy the cheapest they can find because they assume everything else is equal. Even when it’s not.

Todd: (41:44)
Yeah. That’s great stuff. Is there anything else that is come to mind as we’re exploring here a little bit? Jim, I know we’ve, we’ve kind of bounced around a few different topics, but anything else top of mind that you think would be valuable to,

Jim: (41:55)
Yeah, I think there, there’s two areas for just a moment. The first is I want to talk to salespeople that are actually in the job of selling and actively doing it. Now. One of the things I find when I work with salespeople at that level, the frontline level, and I asked him, what skills make you successful and have contributed to the success of your selling career? And we’ll build a list as we’re talking or as I’m writing with them riding along in the car, or if we’re on an airplane sitting next to each other, if they’ll let me talk to him and we’ll build a list and then I’ll explain the four levels of selling that we walked through. Attitude and energy, operational, tactical and strategic and pretty much the fast majority of time, the list that they wrote up was all just attitude and energy and operational skills. I, I’m a, I’m, I’m a good questioner. I know my products. I know my customers. I, I know how to handle objections. I know how to give a good presentation. I’m energized. I’m fired up. I’m a hard worker. I’m up every morning early and I stay late. Those are all positive attributes, but they’re all attitudes that in energy and operational in the problem is none of those skills will ever give you a competitive advantage. Competitive advantage does not come from execution of the job. I don’t know of anybody that said, Hey, I bought a car this weekend and their friend goes, why’d you buy a car? And the person says, I couldn’t help it. The sales rep did a perfect sales goal.

Jim: (43:21)
That just doesn’t exist. So the reality of the process is it makes you competitive. They have strong attitude and energy and strong operational technical product skills and knowledge, but there’s no competitive advantage. Their competitive advantage comes from tactical control and strategic positioning. The problem is the average sales rep is like the hellary bird ever hear the hellary bird. Three-Foot bird in forefoot brass spends his whole life saying, where the hell are we? The average sales rep is only thinking one move ahead. So I think next best. So he say, what are you doing with the Johnson account? They’ll be able to tell you, Oh, I’ve got a call set up for Wednesday and this is what we’re going to do. Yeah, but then if you say, and then what are you going to do? What’s next? They’ll go, well that depends on what happens on Wednesday. They’re not thinking multiple moves ahead. If you and I are playing chess and I only think one move ahead, but you think two moves, I’ll bet you’ll win every game. So now the question is how many moves out as a sales rep are they thinking? So the competitive advantage for a salesperson comes tactically more control of their process and thinking more moves ahead and strategically with better philosophy and positioning and differentiation and what they say. But those are two areas. Most salespeople are not even aware of. Much less working on.

Todd: (44:37)
I’m flashing in my head as you’re speaking, Jim, I’m flashing just so many examples from a really good friend and mentor of mine. Oh, I think I mentioned before the call who is who is sorta like yourself. I think he worked at Xerox and staples and taught me a lot about life, was that one of my previous agencies and he was very strategic and very tactically planned out every single fork in the road. And he came into this automotive dealership marketing agency and within eight months I think had smashed every sales record in the past decade at that company in less than a year because he just, he had the energy and the enthusiasm and the confidence and what’d you call it? The, the personal and the operational. But he really excelled at the tactical, the controls, the process and the positioning, you know, so he did have a strategic advantage and he’s just killing it. No one has been able to touch what he’s doing, even if he’s tried to train them. Or advise, I don’t know if train is the right word, but advise them so I can, I can very much, I very much believe in what you’re saying cause I’ve seen it.

Jim: (45:55)
Then that’s the second side of it is what you’re talking about is, is those that are in management, how do you help instill those skills and others? And that’s the challenge because too many sales, too many sales managers are looking for salespeople with natural talent. I want a born salesperson that come in here and that says two things. The one is says you’re probably not gonna. You probably gonna be disappointed by what you find. And the second is they’re not going to be as successful as you think they’re going to be. Because the assumption in that is you want to hire somebody that knows what they’re doing so that you don’t need to do anything with them except get out of the way and let them do it. And it’s too complexity environment today. It’s just seeing, then it’s not effective. It’s very rare that you see a company have a super salesperson that blows the doors off the place, but nobody else helping them. Usually it’s the other way around. The successful salespeople are the ones that have a strong manager coaching and leading and guiding them through the process. By the way, the same change has happened in the NFL.

Jim: (46:55)
If you look 10 years ago, the all the plays were called by the quarterbacks on the field. They had those plastic sleeves that had all the plays worked out so they were prepared. They don’t do that today. Often support up in the stands calls it. Now is that because quarterbacks dumber, I’m from Dallas. I’ll pause, give you a shot if you want, but it’s not because the lack of intelligence in the quarterback, it’s the game has gotten more complex and the competitors have gotten stronger, so we can’t afford to waste any plays. So now we have a strategist that our offensive coordinator that is directing the quarterback on what is the best play based on the current situation that’s going to have the highest probability of helping us win. Yeah. Well that’s, that’s what’s happening in sales leadership today. So the most effective sales organizations are not ones where they have transactional managers. The only one I asked you, what are you going to close and who’s going to be this week? And all they deal in is special pricing, expediting problem solving and suck up calls. But instead you’re seeing a shift to more of a selling process coach and leader manager where it’s not as important for them to get in front of customers to close the business. Their goal is to coach their salespeople and how to set up a better process to get them in there sooner with better language so they have a higher probability of winning the business.

Todd: (48:13)
Yeah. Can the process that you do just back to well did you, did you finish talking about the second you said there’s two things, right?

Jim: (48:23)
Well, the first is the salespeople. Just of understanding how the, what’s changing and what you need to do. But the other is realizing that success today is all driven by the manager. And frankly, if you have a really great salesperson that’s really functioning well on their own, that’s great. But imagine how much more effective they would be if they actually had some help and some guidance.

Todd: (48:42)
Yeah. Yeah. And it’s what I’m, where I’m taking here, what I’m hearing is, you know, the people that want these natural born salespeople, right? You can probably, well, you can certainly be naturally born with the attitude, right? I think that’s an innate characteristic. I mean, it’s probably groomed as you grow up, but the attitude part, like go, go, I’m going to sell. I’m amazing, right? That that attitude that does lead to some success in sales, but lacks the differentiation and the and the tactical approach, which is where what you’re saying is where most of them.

Jim: (49:21)
We also have to be careful. We can’t confuse ego with selling skill. So that just somebody sitting there going, I’m a winner. I’m going to make this happen, I’m going to do this. Could also be dealing with absolutely no sense of reality,

Todd: (49:37)
But I would say there is something to be said for confidence in sales. Right?

Jim: (49:41)
That’s the, here’s the difference. In the older days, under the baby boomer philosophies, we looked for natural talent because the assumption was that was our only choice. So the flashy is loudest of noxious person in the interview is the one you hired to make your sales rep and all you found out was you just added the most obnoxious person. Yeah, and drive everybody crazy. If you look today, there are ways to build confidence in a sales team. It’s through training. It’s through coaching is through play so that if they’re put into a challenging situation, they do well because they’ve already been through it before. It was part of their training was part of the, you know in the simulator there’s very few flights done in a simulator where you just take off, you have a nice flight and land for the pilot, something’s going to go wrong. That’s the whole reason you’re in the simulator. So how does a manager do that? To build the confidence, to put the structures in place to get the volumes of effort in the sales rep? So the sales rep has, all of the attributes that we use to talk about were naturally born that they have confidence, self confidence in what they’re doing. They are persuasive, they don’t get rattled very effectively. So the problem is those are all coachable skills. It’s not that we have to get this born obnoxious person that’s going to flame around everybody is the one that we want to make head of sales. Unless you’re in the car industry.

Todd: (51:07)
Exactly. Exactly. So how did, when when you, when you work with the company, what, what is, what is the process? Maybe you can do a little plug for specifically what you do. If someone had a larger company interested in bringing you into, I’ll coach, coach the team and, and training. 

Jim: (51:30)
I do a lot of consulting now remotely. So I’m dealing, In fact, one of my smallest clients right now is a two person staff and they’ve gotten into distribution. They bought a dealership. They’re not sure what they should be doing and we’ve been talking weekly by by Skype, by a zoom, by, you know, by telephone. Like we’re talking here to guide them through it. If you want to implement change in an in a sales team, if you’re alone as an individual, the best way you can initiate change is first identify who your toughest competitor is, who, who really are your toughest competitors and take a good look of what are they doing and what are they offering compared to how you offer it. One of the best things you need to do is sign up and follow and connect and friend all of your competitors so that you can see what they’re doing and get direction and indication to see if you’re aware. Because competitive awareness is really not just you knowing what your competitors, products or offerings are, and it’s not just knowing what their prices are or what their, how their prices compare to yours. Those are the easy parts of competitive orders. The tough part of competitive warmness is when you find out and learn what your competitors’ messages are and they’re selling against you. How are they explaining why you’d want to buy from them? The focus, I’d take companies through an individuals now for individuals. I have some sales products at my website, which is advanced sales training, I’m sorry, advanced sales So if you go to advanced sales you can see we have a couple of different video products of training that are available. One is on ha, how do you sell against low price high? And when somebody says your price is too high, what do you do? And the other is called the no BS guide to selling an under an hour. That covers all the selling skills except for product and technical skills. That’s great. But if you’re in a larger company, the success is going to come from what you can get the management doing and on. So when I work with businesses, the first thing I do is work with senior management to make sure that they understand and what the need for their future is. Of committing to more of a selling process coaching structure than just the transactional head deal closer and to ask, is this something that you see is a change that you want in your organization? Because usually the first thing that has to happen in an organization to improve their sales is we’ve got to free up 20 to 30% of the sales manager’s time to be able to coach because today they usually don’t have that time available. So we’ve got to actually rearrange their responsibilities, delegate some cases companies have had to hire people to be able to free up some time so somebody can actually coach the sales people. 

Jim: (54:08)
So the first thing is looking at the senior leadership to say, what kind of structure are you going to want and are you going to be willing to hold your people accountable for? Yeah, because until that’s decided, there’s no need to train anybody. Because the, if the executive owners, senior leadership is not pointing them in the right direction, no need for them to go in that direction. Right? Then the second set of skills is the work to develop tools. Most sales organizations have no tools. What’s your message of uniqueness? Can your people say it in under a minute? What are the steps of your process from the time you identify a new opportunity to in time and close on the sale to go after new business? What are your plans or steps of how you maintain and support your existing customers to keep the business from January 1st to December 31st what are your plans when you do have an account to get higher and wider and deeper within the organization and they’ll have more connections and contacts. So if one of your contacts leave, you don’t lose the business, what are the steps of a sales call? So you have more consistent persuasive events with your customers? These are all individual tools of selling that need to be identified. In a lot of cases, talk to the sales team so we can have more consistent implementation of how they sell.

Jim: (55:37)
The final step just to complete the cycle is only then after you have all the tools developed is you train the sales leadership on how to coach and then you train the sales reps on how to use the tools. Now that’s a complete process to really drive significant change. You can get shorter impact. But that’s, it’s a lot harder when we do the complete process. That’s when you see the most permanent and longterm increase in competitive advantage and profitability and market share that tends to stick.

Todd: (56:05)
Yeah. Well Jim, it’s, it’s very clear that you know your stuff and I have a couple of records. I have a couple of introductions I’m going to make right away because I have some people in my own network that that could really benefit from, from what you’re, what you’re teaching and how you’re helping people grow. So thank you very much for the time here to share your expertise and come on the show. It was a, it was great to connect and learn from your nearly 50 years of wisdom.

Jim: (56:32)
A couple of final things. If you want to connect with me on LinkedIn, I’m posting four videos a week, Monday, Monday to Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. I also publish a newsletter that’s free that comes out every Friday. You can subscribe by going to my pancero, P A N C E R O website and you can sign up for free and it’ll send you on Fridays an email that lists a links to all the videos I’ve posted for the week. You can also look me up on YouTube and Vimeo and some of the other sites that we have a lot of materials on as well as my own website and the final thing is checkout to see if any of those products might help you energize your skills of selling and persuasiveness.

Todd: (57:20)
Yeah, and, I’ll say I’ve looked on your site and one of the things that struck me right away that was different and unique is you you put out, you share a lot on there? Right? There’s a lot of trainers and speakers who they’ll have one little fancy demo reel with a few of their best of their best stuff. You have tons of videos you give, you give away a ton for free. So anyone listening or watching, I would say, you know, like go on there and take the time to go on there. There’s a lot you can learn and sign up for Jim’s newsletter and a connect on LinkedIn because you’ve got a lot you can learn from Jim.

Jim: (57:55)
Honored. Thank you for the promotion. Thanks for sharing the ideas. Thanks for what you’re doing.

Todd: (57:59)
All right. Absolutely. All right, well have a great rest of your day, Jim. Thanks again,

Jim: (58:03)
Thanks again, and you as well.

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