I Spoke with the John Salley of Sales!

During the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls championship season, Michael Jordan played 3,090 minutes. John Salley, at the other end of the bench, played only 191 minutes over 4 months of action.

One of Phil Jackson’s key strategic objectives was to minimize the damage that John Salley could do to his team by keeping him off the court as much as was humanly possible. During their second 3-peat, The Bulls were notorious for using their big men like Salley to foul the heck out of other big men, slowing the game down to give Jordan, Pippen, & Rodman some on-court rest time and further limiting the damage that could be done by Salley and his friends at the end of the bench.

Not knocking John Salley too hard – he won 4 rings and is a popular media personality today. But to put his playing career in perspective, you can buy his over-priced rookie card for $0.99 on ebay. Conversely, his teammate, Michael Jordan’s, rookie card goes for $1,375. Nuff said. Michael Jordan was at least 1375-times as valuable as John Salley on the court.

Ugh! Me’s gots the “B Team” on this call!

When you’re on the receiving end of the “A Team” sales call, it can be helpful, informative, and a great use of everyone’s time. The “A Team” helps everyone feel good about the purchase. The opposite is true when you get the sales “B Team”:

  • I was on a scheduled call with a Google GSuite salesperson yesterday, and was subject to one of the laziest sales pitches in the history of the world – clearly a “B Team” player. Their first question: “What does your business do?” (Ever hear of googling us, Dude?!)
  • On a sales call with a different company, I experienced both the “B Team” then the “A Team” on consecutive calls. The first call made the product seem like a total dud, and we moved on physically and spiritually. Then, out of nowhere, I start getting emails from someone who proved to be an “A Team” salesperson, and low-and-behold, 1 call later, we signed up for the service!

How to be the Michael Jordan of Sales (…or at least how to take the first step towards improving your sales pitch):

  1. Listen, listen, listen. And then, if it’s a fit, offer perfect-fit (or at least close-fit) solutions. Here’s the best book I’ve ever read about listening. You’re welcome. Fwiw, more times than not, I’ve had to tell leads that it’s not a great fit, either due to their budget, their expectations, or our products not being a close fit with their business need. I’m trying to add value even when I’m not closing – I think that’s probably the main reason people continually come back to The Mighty Mo! for their WordPress support (most of our customers stick with us for years).
  2. Speak their language – don’t use jargon if they don’t know it! The GSuite salesperson mentioned above kept using jargony terms that I didn’t understand and had to google during our call. Here’s pro tip for you learned the hard way: If you’re speaking with a jazz aficionado, never use the term, “jazzy”!
  3. Know your audience. If you’re talking to tech people, talk tech. If you’re talking to business people, talk business. If you are talking to a cat, say “Meow!” If you can read this, you don’t need glasses.
  4. Don’t assume that price is a blocker to the sale – it often isn’t. I once had a real-life customer tell me, “I don’t care how much you charge” (and we were charging a lot.) “just so long as you get the job done.” I had another customer tell us, “Bid it high, because we want to make sure you feel great about the work.” I’ve purchased expensive business tools if they’ve gotten the job done (the most-expensive thing to purchase in business is people’s time (i.e. hire an employee), as you well know.
  5. Do some basic research: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? I’m not talking rocket science – just go to their damn website and click on a few links before the call. Specifically click on product/pricing pages and their about page. Don’t ever ask, “What do you sell?” Instead ask something not dumb like, “I see you are selling X on your website. How come you aren’t selling Y as well?” You’ll be delighted to hear the entire business story in response (and in that story, you’ll learn of a black swan if you’ll lucky)!

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Toby Cryns

Toby Cryns is a freelance CTO and WordPress Guru. He also writes for WPTavern.com.