Sales people determine a company's success

Oct. 1, 2004
BASED on his experience in training sales people for the past 23 years, Austin McGonigle says the vast majority who are out in the field think that selling

BASED on his experience in training sales people for the past 23 years, Austin McGonigle says the vast majority who are out in the field think that selling is telling — talking about their company's product and transferring information to potential customers.

They're missing a critical step.

“A true professional goes in and gets to know the customer and their business, and makes a decision whether they believe they can help them,” McGonigle says. “If they truly believe they can help them, that's where professional selling comes into play — where they're matching their products and services to the individual. Most companies don't spend enough time or effort in training their sales team, and it's their sales people who actually determine the success of the company.”

That was the premise behind McGonigle's presentation, “Ensure Your Company's Success,” which served as the Business Forum and keynote address at the NTDA Convention.

McGonigle, president of Success Cycle Inc, is known as “America's Thought Provoker” because he is considered a master at helping people to think and take action to reach for their potential. He believes that an individual's success in dealing with people is rooted in “interaction skills” — the ability to ask, listen, relate, and care.

His presentation included these key points:

  • I like me, I want you to like me, and it's up to me

    “It's having confidence in your own individual abilities — liking yourself and the products and services you represent as a sales person. When you meet a new prospect, you want that person to like you, respect you, and think you can do business. What I do as a sales person — the conversation I have, the questions I ask, the respect I show to that person — determines that.”

  • Adults resist being told

    “If adults resist being told, then rather than tell someone what they should be doing or tell someone they should buy the product, we should ask and listen and relate to their situation. Rather than tell, we should question, actively listen, relate to the situation the company's in, and show we care by offering the right product to fit the situation.”

  • Thank you is powerful

    “It's a basic concept, but it's very much underutilized.”

  • Fear can hold us back

    “Fears of rejection, failure, being unprepared or not knowledgeable, success. A lot of people can't get through the emotional part and therefore are less than successful in sales.

  • Mind your customers' business

    “Growing up, we're told, ‘Don't be nosy. Mind your own business. Curiosity killed the cat.’ It's the professional sales person's key role to be curious, to mind their customers' business, to get involved with it and know their business so you know what to offer them.”

  • Cross the bridge from distrust to trust

    “If you don't know me and I'm trying to sell you something, chances are you're going to distrust me because of the image of most sales people in society. Our role as a professional becomes taking the person from distrust across the bridge to trust. You do that by listening and relating and caring.”

  • Weakness #1: Not knowing needs

    “Not asking enough questions to get to know their needs.”

  • Weakness #2: Asking for commitments

    “At the appropriate time, ask for a contract to be signed.”

  • Use the thought-provokers

    “Open-ended questions that begin with what, why, how, and ‘tell me about.’ So you might ask a question, ‘What is your opinion of the current situation you're in? How are you going to be reaching your objectives for the year? Why do you think your company's in the situation it's in? Tell me about the situation.’”

  • Be an active listener

    “Letting the other person know you heard them. Asking a relevant question based on the information given. Repeating back information. Paraphrasing. Pausing. Eye contact. Body language.”

  • Assess: Change, train, coach

    “Assess where you are and make changes based on that assessment. If people have the potential for success, keep them on. Once the training program is in place where you teach people how to successfully sell, then you want to coach — which is refining the skills they are taught.”

About the Author

Rick Weber | Associate Editor

Rick Weber has been an associate editor for Trailer/Body Builders since February 2000. A national award-winning sportswriter, he covered the Miami Dolphins for the Fort Myers News-Press following service with publications in California and Australia. He is a graduate of Penn State University.