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Show up and throw up!

Published: Feb 14 , 2019
Author: Alan Smith

An evocative phrase that I heard in two different settings for the first time last week.

It concerns the behaviour of salespeople who spend inordinate amounts of time in what is best described as rampant persuasion rather than try to understand what the customer wants.

As you must know by now (if you are regular readers of this BLOG), Scotwork are absolute experts in the art of negotiation. We often describe negotiation as what happens when the selling (persuasion) stops.

Truth is that many of the skills of the excellent negotiator are complementary to the skills exhibited by the proficient salesman.

I was on the platform for a client’s sales conference last week, giving a few insights into negotiation for a crowd about to undertake our Advancing Negotiation Skills course.

Before I was on stage, I heard the sales director ask the group if any of them had heard of Graham Westport, as Graham had provided the best lesson in sales that the aforementioned director had ever received.

Not one hand went up, which was just as well because Mr Westport was a potential buyer for the young sales director on his way up the corporate ladder.

The salesman put in a cold call to Mr Westport in an attempt to present his companies wares and unusually he was put straight through! In shock, the young salesman went into his patter about what his company could do, how big they were, what their area of specialism was, etc, etc.

Mr Westport allowed him to ‘drone on’, his words, not mine, for 60 seconds before, delivering the best lesson in the young man’s sales life.

He said to him that he had just listened to 60 seconds broadcast about something that was not relevant, not important and certainly not persuasive. The salesman knew nothing about his company (and seemed pretty sketchy about his own organisation) and had wasted both of their times.

The good salesman knows that curiosity and doing your homework are critical to getting interest from the other side. Dale Carnegie said you can gain more influence by being interested in the other party for 10 minutes than you can in getting them to be interested in you for 10 months.

The salesman should know this, the negotiator must.

Negotiation requires us to really deeply understand the other side, and in a world of information overload, we should do our homework.

But nothing beats the face to face time of asking lots of questions, which ironically is the most persuasive thing we can do of all.

Finding out what the other side wants and how badly they want it allows us to create deals that will live in the real world. That is what showing up should be about.


Alan Smith

About the author:

Alan Smith
My background is marketing and advertising. After graduating in Economics I entered the agency world to become, at 28, MD of London's largest independent below-the-line marketing provider.

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