Mark Cox, Managing Partner of In The Funnel, a sales consulting firm based in Toronto, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!
[1:42] Mark sees the difficulty of the sales job itself as the single biggest challenge facing sales professionals today. He explains why, and mentions the basic tools and skills salespeople need to overcome this challenge.
[2:45] Mark suggests two reasons that B2B sales is getting to be more difficult. Mark believes the profession deserves more respect than popular culture assigns to it.
[3:45] Mark discusses demand generation, or cold calling. He says it has has been done very poorly for 20 years. The person you are calling has received perhaps 100 bad cold calls in the last 10 years and they want to get off the call.
[5:12] Besides phone and email contacts, Mark shares advice for salespeople about face-to-face, in-person meetings. He would like to improve almost every stage of the sales process. He wants more salespeople to see sales as a real profession.
[9:35] Mark sees consistent professional training as essential for improving the skills and image of salespeople. He cites Jason Jordan, saying there are no fundamental operating guidelines for sales. Business schools just do not teach sales.
[13:07] Mark remarks that startup incubators encourage sales coaching, and they give referrals to sales coaches such as himself. The most important factor for a startup is revenue, which is based in sales.
[15:50] Mark wrote a blog post, “5 Key Traits of a Successful Salesperson,” listing them as Resiliency, Natural Curiosity, Discipline, Strategic Thinking, and Resourcefulness. Mark explains how proper coaching can help develop all of these.
[18:36] Mark links optimism to resilience. A pessimist has a harder time becoming resilient. He describes his hiring interview process, and how he gauges optimism.
[20:03] Andy refers to the New York Times article on the “uselessness of job interviews.” Mark shares his thoughts, cites Who, by Geoff Smart and Randy Street, and then mentions his own interviewing protocols.
[27:28] Natural curiosity is a gauge for the salesperson’s opportunity to develop business acumen. He shares an example from a coaching call. Curiosity can be developed if someone wants to learn it.
[30:31] Heavy scripting represses a sales professional’s curiosity. Mark prefers guidelines over scripts. Listen with intent, and consult the guidelines for direction, as needed. The intent is always to add value for that specific prospect.
[33:29] Scripts prevent insights. Mark suggests pausing, and saying, “That’s a really good question.” Some generic questions can be prepared in advance, to initiate useful and valuable conversation.