by Kraig Kleeman
Publisher / Chairman
Bob Dylan is, in my view, the man, the myth, the legend. He is an American singer-songwriter, author, poet, and painter, who has been a major figure in popular music for five decades. Dylan's early lyrics incorporated political, social, philosophical, and literary influences, defying existing pop music conventions and appealing widely to the counterculture. While expanding and personalizing musical styles, he has explored many traditions of American song, from folk, blues and country to gospel, rock and roll and rockabilly to English, Scottish and Irish folk music, and even jazz and swing.
Every year scores of executives explore many methodologies to complete their strategic business plans so as to increase sales and improve profitability. This exercise usually concludes with a take-no-prisoners plan that includes aggressive and sometimes unrealistic efforts from otherwise talented sales professionals.
But while the executive gurus are projecting new sales records with their Kinkos-polished business plans, regular old sales people are getting nauseated at the prospect of being held accountable to unrealistically inflated sales goals. And the effect of that nauseous sensation is, in a four letter word, U G L Y!
“I’ve been selling information technology software and services for more than 20 years,” stated a seasoned sales professional that I know who says sales are down by 25% despite “severe discounting” by the vendor community. Hmmm.
Hit last year by the mortgage meltdown, one particular document management company was forced to go completely out of business in the first quarter of this year. Shocked by the reduction of orders in the manufacturing / wholesale distribution segment, another SAP integration company was forced to reduce more than 50% of its workforce. Not pretty.
One drizzly Monday morning I had the pleasure of meeting the sales team of a large document management software and services company. Its management team decided to get serious about building a strong sales pipeline by deploying The Must-React System. The sales professionals gathered round the conference table and only one word could describe the atmosphere – S K E P T I C A L!
The first day was the toughest, as always. Since I had observed the team make cold-call presentations prior to arriving, I knew their particular skills and weaknesses. Wrongly, they were trying to use product-benefit statements to gain access to their targets. This strategy, though purported by books like Selling to Vito and Getting In do not work and cannot work in today’s culture for a variety of reasons. I had my work cut out for me. I had de-construct their current efforts, and then re-construct those same efforts utilizing the principles of The Must-React System.
The ultimate results were insanely productive. The team of six sales professionals, who were unable to get a single meeting booked during my observation time had made big strides. By the end of the week of training and certification, the group scheduled more than 70 meetings with their target buyers. And every single call originated from a cold lead list generated by doing a Hoovers search!
“For the first time in six years,” one sales professional stated to me at the end of the week, “I finally feel equipped to achieve the lofty goals pronounced by the executive team. Thank you for helping me get certified in The Must-React System.”
The drizzles on Monday had turned into a bright sun-shining day on Friday. As I boarded my American Airlines flight to head home, I cued up a Bob Dylan playlist on my iPod. Unplanned, I find it interesting (prophetic?) that the first song that jammed through my Bose headphones was Gonna' Change my Way of Thinkin' found on Dylan's Slow Train Comin' album. The very next song (no kidding) was circa 1964, The Times They Are A-Changin'. It was oh-so appropriate as Must-React had changed yet another sales team's way of thinking about cold-calling and prospecting!
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