identifying sales prospects

I haven't sold anything, and my boss couldn't be happier

It's true. I've failed to sell anything despite training in how to do so, targets to hit and lessons passed down to me from some of the best salespeople in the country.

Some of you will know I used to work for a sales training company yet I still can't sell.

One of my first jobs while I was at University was in suit sales.  I couldn't sell then either yet my manager constantly held me up above all the other sales people because I would out perform them almost every day I turned up to work.


Even now that I run my own business I can't sell. I'm also weird in that I actively tell my employees to not even bother trying to sell what we do either.

The reality is that selling is gone. Those that try may have bursts of success but there will be zero long-term success. I've seen it first hand.

One business I worked for was hitting financial difficulty and everyone in the business was asked to stop their day-to-day to man the pumps, get on the phone and sell. We were given lists and targets and even had meetings to discuss who had sold what, and who wasn't hitting targets. We didn't succeed in hitting targets and everyone lost morale at the constant rejections from our scripted cold calls.

I don't sell because no-one should sell.

Selling is when you have something you want to part with for a profit and the other person simply needs to be subjected to a script or process and they'll crumble. It's high churn, impersonal and repeatable. When you realise you're being sold to it's actually a little uncomfortable and if you do buy you probably won't again.

The flip side to selling is Identifying.

You identify a prospect that needs what you do, but they may not realise it yet. You identify their problem and align it with your solution and you identify that you're there to help, not hit a target.



Changing your mindset to identifying a solution from selling a product was the reason I outsold my counterparts in the suit store. Instead of focusing on getting people to buy higher value items that they didn't need to meet my targets I asked questions, found a product that met their needs and then asked more questions that led to additional products being bought.

Even now, with Vanguard 86, we say 'no' to more business than we say 'yes' to. And that is almost always because when we identify the solution that client needs we don't match.

In a previous business we would have sold to them anyway. In fact, we were often told that there wasn't a business we spoke to that didn't need the services we were selling (not true). In a previous business we had to put targets first, and the needs of the customer came second - regardless of what that did to their business, or our reputation.

I'm still a terrible salesperson, and I think that's why I occasionally do better than the rest.

Stop selling and start caring. You might find you accidentally hit the occasional financial target.

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