Professional Sales and the All-Star Jazz Performance

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One of the most amazing musical performances I ever witnessed took place about 9 years ago in New Orleans.  We had front row seats at a small venue that advertised an “all star jazz band”.  The first musician to arrive was the guitarist, who sat polishing his axe (guitar).  Next, the drummer arrived and introduced himself to the guitarist.  Then the bass player arrived and introduced himself to the first two.  The next to arrive were the saxophonist and trumpeter.  They did as the others did, shaking hands and setting up. Someone mentioned to the guitarist that this was a jazz gig, not a rock gig, and he should get his other guitar out.  The guitarist nodded and took out the more appropriate equipment.  Finally, at one minute before 8 PM, the organist walked on stage, introduced himself to the other five musicians, mentioned that he was the musical director, handed out the arrangements, sat at the organ, and at 8 PM, yelled, “one, two, three, four” and the band began to play.  They had not only NEVER PLAYED together before, they didn’t even KNOW each other!  Despite that, they were tight, in sync, confident, flexible and completely aware of the expectations, where they were in each tune, and what they had to do to make each song sound like they had rehearsed it together a dozen times.  It’s their masterful ability to listen, observe and improvise within a defined structure.

If you want to know what professional salespeople should be able to do, it’s exactly that! 

They should be able to walk into any meeting, at any time, at any stage of a sales process, and any stage of the buying process, having never met a participant, and within minutes, be in sync, confident, flexible and completely aware of the expectations, where they are in the sales process, and what they must do to move that sales process forward to a successful outcome.  It’s their masterful ability to listen, observe, and ask unscripted (improvised) questions within a defined structure (sales process).

Professional Selling is just like being in the All-Star Jazz Ensemble.  It’s being so good and so experienced, that one can perform perfectly, on demand, in any environment, despite tremendous pressure, regardless of product knowledge and expertise.

How many of your salespeople have this capability?

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