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A Common Mistake from a VP of Sales


I have been selling for many years. As the VP of Sales at InsideSales.com, I do not usually give demos of our PowerDialer for SalesForce software. Today, however, I took the opportunity to present to Brian Geery, Interim VP of Sales at Sustainable Minds and a managing partner at Sales Productivity Architects.  Brian was a referral from a friend and sales expert, Trish Bertuzzi of the Bridge Group. I have been evaluating what InsideSales.com can do to improve our game and increase our sales growth in 2012.   I figured that doing the demo would not only clear my mind, but also get me close to our product and a prospect.

My demonstration was not as polished as one of my best salespeople, but it lasted the standard 45 minutes, and it covered in content and form, what a standard demo would include.  It was also received favorably with the prospect requesting a formal proposal.   It is good to know that an old dog still can do a few tricks!

At its conclusion, Brian offered a personal critique.  Simply stated, “The demo was good, however, I think you could sell more, faster, if your demonstration was less about what your software does and more about how it solves my problems.”   Brian was exactly right!

Innovative companies often begin creating products that solve a specific business need.  Early adopters experience those solutions through feature benefit demos that solve a particular business problem.  Early products tend to be less feature rich and therefore drive the discussion to business need and ROI benefit offered by implementing.  It works and they buy!

As products mature, so many features are added that the demo transforms itself into a sales training on product rather than what business needs it solves. Brian’s feedback was spot-on.  Effective salesmanship is when our solution solves our prospect’s problems.

We don’t sell software, we automate selling. I’ve upgraded my demo skills and those of my team to ensure that a good demo highlights the 2-3 core problems and demonstrates benefits of the PowerDialer for Salesforce.

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4 thoughts on “A Common Mistake from a VP of Sales

  1. Michael, great write up! I also had the pleasure of meeting Brian in person and receiving his feedback on my demo. He hit the nail on the head! I was spending too much time on the how to use our product instead of why you should buy our product and the problem we solve. Thanks for sharing this!

    Ryan Lallier

  2. Michael,

    I recently signed an annual agreement with your organization and have found the entire process to be easy and informative. It is obvious that your staff has been trained well and has a very good handle on the world of inside sales and service.
    I just read your post regarding your improved presentation skills and how you should present what the prospect needs to here to solve their problems. Yes, I do agree that after being in this business for more than 20 years that I think I know the prospects and what they need, but I usually end up being wrong when I follow that path without doing my due dilligence towards understanding their pains and frustrations. When you have a good handle on what keeps them up at night, you will easily be able to align your solutions, features and benefits to their needs. A lot of questions asking and listening can sometime go a lot further than the best presentation.

  3. Michael and Ryan,
    Wow, thanks! This post was just forwarded to me. I’m glad my feedback was useful. I feared I was overstepping my bounds.
    As an FYI, my new firm is Technology Sales Consultants. Still doing the same thing, working with software sales execs to build scalable sales process, just a new name.
    Sell more!

  4. WOW!!!

    Thank you for sharing this article! It brings up an extremely intriguing phenomenon that I have actively observed and enjoyed for nearly 2 decades! This phenomenon is something that I have witnessed across a plethora of areas in life! I have seen it in Sports, Sales, Business, Leadership, Service, Parenting, Competition, Boxing, etc, etc, etc…..

    Have you noticed this as well…?
    Well if you have ever had the incredibly amazing, totally inspiring, uniquely unmatched opportunity to work or be around individuals who are the top producers in their field, I am talking about the absolute best, the best of the best, the cream of the crop, the highest/top producers, the leading experts in their respective fields, then I would be willing to bet that you have also noticed this same phenomenon!

    Well, here it is…
    Doesn’t it seem that these very top performers are almost always open to feedback and/or criticism..? If you have witnessed these individuals in action than you would probably agree that they always seem to be the very 1st ones in line to receive criticism and feedback, to listen to others that are not anywhere nearly as successful, knowledgeable, or as experienced as they are, yet they listen attentively to thoughts or ideas on what these newer, less experienced individuals have to share about them and their performance. I have even witnessed some of these top performers gladly welcome and actively seek feedback and criticism from any and all sources they possibly can, even the newest employee on staff that is about 1/2 way through his 1st day on the job!

    Some of the examples that come to mind right now include…

    1- A real estate professional that I was very blessed to have met and spend years working closely with who consistently sold more than and out earned everyone in his field in the entire state for several consecutive years! This individual was the absolute best and was respected nation wide, yet I was blown away on multiple occasions as I watched him calmly listen to, and openly appreciate any and all feedback that anyone wanted to give him! During my time with him I witnessed him take feedback and criticism several times without taking any offense to anything! He did so from a myriad of real estate agents, brokers, and even clients! These individuals giving him this feedback probably didn’t have even 1/3 of the knowledge that he himself possessed, I imagine that they probably had less than 1/10 of the experience that he had! On one occasion I even saw him take advice from a brand new agent that has just finished his 3 week long real estate training and was yet to sell his 1st property!

    2- Another example is one I am sure some of you also witnessed. It was an interview with the very best basketball player of all time, Mr. Michael Jordan #23! I don’t remember the names of the other players that were involved in this particular interview but I do remember some of them being pretty new to the NBA. These other players were attempting to bag on Michel saying that the new generation of basketball players were coming up and that all of the “old guys like Michael Jordan” needed to step out of the way or get run over. Well these players (one in particular) were not even trying to provide constructive criticism, they were straight up disrespecting Michael. However, to my great astonishment, rather than coming back at these new players with some kind of a rebuttal, comparing stats, or even challenging them, Michael starting to think about and openly discuss what his potential weakness were, what he could work on, and even what he himself, basketball’s legend, could learn from these newer players! He took their negativity, turned it into a positive, benefited from it, and taught a lesson all at the same time!
    Well if Michael Jordan can improve in basketball, can’t we improve in our respective fields..?

    3- One last example is a story I heard about Zig Ziglar….
    It is a story of a 6 year old girl was forced to attend one of Zig’s presentations with her father because her mother was sick and her father was not about to give up the opportunity to see Zig live and in person. After the presentation the little girl approached Zig and pointed out the things that she did not like about the presentation (I am sure the father was dying at this point!). Mr. Ziglar, the top in his field, an extremely well seasoned veteran, proven expert, and inspiring leader, approached this different than the majority of us probably would. Rather than brushing this little girl away, ignoring her all together, or not even caring about what a “6 year old girl” had to say about his presentation, he got down on a knee, looked her in the eyes and said…”Well thank you very much my name is Zig, what’s yours? I am glad that you came today and I promise to work on (Zig then repeated whatever the little girl had complained about) and next time I am come to your town I want you and your daddy to come back and watch me from the front row so that you can tell me if I fixed everything to your liking. Does that sound like a deal young lady?” (Zig Ziglar then got the fathers information so that he could send them free front row tickets to the next show in their city)
    Well, If Zig Ziglar can get better in his field, can’t we..?

    After reading this article I now add Michael Critchfield to this list!
    If Michael Critchfield can take feedback and improve in sales, can’t we too..?

    I could keep typing for hours sharing different examples I have witnessed but today is my 12th Anniversary and my lovely bride is pretty close to knocking me out for being on the computer so I will stop…(for now)

    I do hope that this post was beneficial to some of you!

    Great article Michael! Thanks for sharing!

    -Brandon D. Byrge
    (801) 997-0023 Mobile | SMS

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