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Cindy Novotny

Selling is not a ‘common’ practice.

Selling is not a ‘common’ practice. It is NOT easy. There are so many people who believe anyone can sell anything and really believe that if you can ‘schmooze’, drink the ‘booze,’ and work the room, you can sell. That is so far from the truth and anyone who has made a lot of money in sales will be able to give you consistent guidelines as to how they achieved their success. So let’s take a simple but serious look at these guidelines to success in selling.


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About the Author

Cindy NovotnyCindy Novotny has been branded a “Radical Mentor” by thousands of executives around the world for her straight forward, no nonsense approach to leadership. She began her company, Master Connection Associates, in 1989. MCA is a premiere international consulting and training organization that specializes in service delivery, sales and leadership performance. MCA’s work contributed to client success including The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company earning an unprecedented two Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Awards. For more information, visit Cindy’s website at www.CindyNovotny.com.

Jeffrey Gitomer

The hard side of training, and the soft side of learning.

When a new sales representative is hired, a company provides what is known as orientation and ramp up. Once those elements are complete, the company believes the salesperson can go out and begin earning money.

First, it’s a heavy dose of product training. The company and their trainers will spend days, sometimes weeks, on ‘what it is,’ ‘how it works,’ ‘how it’s used,’ and a myriad of other semi-useful facts.

Overlooked of course is how the customer profits from it, and what the customer’s motive to buy it is. Hello!

I’m about to give you a major AHA! for all product training. Forever. Trainers and training departments will scoff at this because it will mean a huge reduction in what they do and how they do it.

MAJOR CLUE: All product training should be given at a customer’s place of business. This is where your product is actually used. This is where a salesperson can gain real-world information about practical application, about flaws and service needs, and about merits and features that are most valuable to the actual user.

If enough time is spent at the customer’s place, salespeople will also uncover why the product was purchased, how the product was purchased, and the value the product has. It’s also likely, salespeople will dispel the single most erroneous aspect of sales: ‘the customer only buys price.’

REALITY: ‘The customer only buys price’ is an excuse propagated by weak and lazy salespeople.

BIGGER REALITY: If companies like Halliburton are able to sell hammers to the government for $6,000, somehow you should be able to get your price if you are within a few points or dollars of your competition.

BIGGEST REALITY: The reason salespeople deal with price is because they have no idea about the buying motives and actual product use. Reason? Product training took place in the corporate classroom, where I maintain it is just south of useless.

So much for hard (product) skills.
Now it’s time for the harder part – the soft skills – the selling skills.

Soft skills can be taught one of three ways:

  1. In-house training. Company trainers that may also include best salespeople, and outside courseware trained in-house.
  2. Outside training. Should be presented by someone who can sell an off-the-shelf solution with the intention that the salesperson will learn general sales, or a system of selling, or a customized sales process where specific aspects of the product and customer are taught.
  3. Voice of customer training. Voice of the customer training is when an existing customer tells their story of use of product (what their history is), why they bought it, what their experience has been, how they felt about it after purchase, and why they would recommend it.

PERSONAL NOTE: For the past 20 years, I have built my reputation on utilizing my expertise combined with voice of customer. I consider the training department vitally important, because they are the glue and history of the company’s success. These elements, if combined correctly, can make any salesperson or sales team THE dominant player(s) in their market – without respect to price.

The reason that soft skills, or selling skills, are the most important, yet most perplexing, aspect of sales success is because they must be accepted by the salesperson as valid, believable, and transferable before they can be successfully deployed. The salesperson must say to his or herself, ‘I agree with this. I think I can do this. I’m willing to put this into practice.’

Most important, the salesperson must do it his or her way, in his or her style, using his or her personality. That way the entire execution of the selling process is transferred to the customer as both authentic and believable.

If you’re a salesperson, and you are hungry for greater success, it’s important that you improve your soft skills to a point where they are equal to or greater than your product knowledge.

Please understand I’m not talking about learning some old-world, find-the pain, manipulative sales process. In today’s selling, ‘making a sales pitch’ and ‘closing the sale’ are pretty much over.

The biggest soft skill challenges in today’s sales process are finding the decision maker, creating harmony, engaging, proving value, transferring an emotional message, and earning the sale.

SALES REALITY: The hard skills (product) can be pounded in by a training department, but the soft skills have to be accepted as valid by the salesperson.

I’ve just given you a thirty thousand foot perspective on the new science of selling. It’s what I know to be true because I have executed it myself and created my own success with it. Some of you will accept it. Some of you will not.

JEFFREY REALITY: I’m sitting in a Starbucks at the Marriot Marquis in New York City. New York City is where most of my selling skills were acquired and polished.

I’m smiling, reminiscing, and calling to mind not just the soft skill sales success, but also the immortal words sung by Frank Sinatra, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.”

So can you. Come to New York City, make a few sales, and find out for yourself.

Reprinted with permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer.


About the Author

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website, www.gitomer.com, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at [email protected].

StrategyDriven Podcast Special Edition 21e – An Interview with Duane Sparks, author of Sales Strategy from the Inside Out

StrategyDriven Podcasts focus on the tools and techniques executives and managers can use to improve their organization’s alignment and accountability to ultimately achieve superior results. These podcasts elaborate on the best practice and warning flag articles on the StrategyDriven website.

Special Edition 21e – An Interview with Duane Sparks, author of Sales Strategy from the Inside Out explores how businesses employing a consultative sales method realize dramatically increased revenues. During our discussion, Duane Sparks, author of Sales Strategy From The Inside Out: How Complex Selling Really Works and Chairman and Founder of The Sales Board, shares with us his insights and illustrative examples regarding:

  • the five decisions individuals go through before making the final buying decision
  • how to bring other team members into the sales process and the benefits of this practice
  • determining the right number of client needs identification interactions before presenting a solution balanced with the client’s desire to hear the solution given their time investment
  • role of the sales professional in orchestrating solution presentations made by client personnel

Additional Information

In addition to the invaluable selling skills insight Duane shares in Sales Strategy From The Inside Out and this special edition podcast, please visit his company’s Sales Training or Sales Management site. To discover why this selling skill is so effective at maximizing sales productivity, purchase Duane’s book: Sales Strategy From The Inside Out.

Complimenting Sales Strategy From The Inside Out, are Duane’s four other books on the consultative sales process including:


Read a Summary of the above Sales Books.

Final Request…

The strength of our community grows with the additional insights brought by our expanding member base. Please consider rating us on iTunes by clicking here. Rating the StrategyDriven Podcast and providing your comments online improves our ranking and helps us attract new listeners which, in turn, helps us grow our community.

Thank you again for listening to the StrategyDriven Podcast!


About the Author

Duane Sparks, author of Sales Strategy From The Inside Out, is Chairman and Founder of The Sales Board, a Minneapolis-based strategic sales training company that has trained and certified more than 350,000 salespeople in more than 3,000 groups in the system and skills of Action Selling. He has written five sales books, personally facilitated more than 300 Action Selling training sessions and continues to engage in the business and art of the strategic sales process. Read Duane’s full biography and the history of Action Selling Sales Management Training.

StrategyDriven Podcast Special Edition 14 – An Interview with Duane Sparks, author of Sales Strategy from the Inside Out

StrategyDriven Podcasts focus on the tools and techniques executives and managers can use to improve their organization’s alignment and accountability to ultimately achieve superior results. These podcasts elaborate on the best practice and warning flag articles on the StrategyDriven website.

Special Edition 14 – An Interview with Duane Sparks, author of Sales Strategy from the Inside Out explores how businesses using a consultative sales process realize a dramatic increase in revenues. During our discussion, Duane Sparks, author of Sales Strategy From The Inside Out: How Complex Selling Really Works and Chairman and Founder of The Sales Board, shares with us his insights and illustrative examples regarding:

  • the five decisions individuals go through before making the final decision to buy
  • what the consultative sales process is and how it benefits both the customer and salesperson
  • why questions are the best selling tool and how to develop the best sales questions
  • using the consultative sales process as a management practice

Additional Information

In addition to the invaluable selling skills insight Duane shares in Sales Strategy From The Inside Out and this special edition podcast, please visit his company’s Sales Training or Sales Management site. To discover why this selling skill is so effective at maximizing sales productivity, purchase Duane’s book: Sales Strategy From The Inside Out.

Complimenting Sales Strategy From The Inside Out, are Duane’s four other books on the consultative sales process including:


Read a Summary of the above Sales Books.

Final Request…

The strength of our community grows with the additional insights brought by our expanding member base. Please consider rating us on iTunes by clicking here. Rating the StrategyDriven Podcast and providing your comments online improves our ranking and helps us attract new listeners which, in turn, helps us grow our community.

Thank you again for listening to the StrategyDriven Podcast!


About the Author

Duane Sparks, author of Sales Strategy From The Inside Out, is Chairman and Founder of The Sales Board, a Minneapolis-based strategic sales training company that has trained and certified more than 300,000 salespeople in more than 2,500 groups in the system and skills of Action Selling. He has written five sales books, personally facilitated more than 300 Action Selling training sessions and continues to engage in the business and art of the strategic sales process. Read Duane’s full biography and the history of Action Selling Sales Management Training.