So You Want a Career in Sales? How Fast Can You Type?


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Ryan24: I heard that Roger’s on a Sales Improvement Plan. He missed his quota last 3 quarters.
SLee: Seriously? He trained me when I was hired!
Ryan24: Selling’s changed. Roger didn’t. He still meets with customers F2F!
SLee: Can’t think of the last time I did that . . .
Ryan24: Same . . . 1 more bad qtr and he’s gone.
Ryan24: Hey—I made Club! U?
SLee: Yep. Can’t wait! Could use a week away from a keyboard.

Does this fictitious text message exchange seem far fetched? Josiane Feigon’s blog Sales Productivity Sounds provides a glimpse into the future. Numero uno on her list: “replace your talk time with keyboard time.” In 1990, my sales VP said, “Salespeople can’t sell when they’re in the office!” Today, a sales manager could just as likely growl, “get back in the office and sell something!” But in a detached, asynchronous world, could companies be losing valuable selling skills? Maybe . . .

More important, do millenials Ryan24 and SLee need the face-to-face selling skills that on-the-way-out-the-door Roger honed when he started on the bricks, or are there other competencies that are equally critical? Is face-to-face selling going the way of the rolodex—still there, but largely replaced by technology? Could Ryan24 and SLee be emblematic of a new generation of technology-enabled salespeople who never set foot in a prospect’s factory, warehouse, laboratory, or office—and perfectly content not doing so? I’ll address the first question in this blog, and tackle the others in the next.

Social media proponents argue that social selling tools better connect us with customers and prospects. Possibly. But, absent social skills and process, do tools such as Twitter and Facebook just take us down an expensive and unproductive road? (See Dick Lee’s recent article Are We Gulping Social Media Kool Aid?)

Axel Schultze’s recent blog, Your Sales Process is Old and it Sucks brought out some interesting thoughts, including this one from Brett Keirstead of Jobs2Web, “I think many people are using ‘web 2.0’ as an excuse for being lazy. Sending e-mails, surfing LinkedIn for contacts, tweeting, blogging, etc. are nice complements to core selling principles but are too often confused with ‘selling.’ Show me a rep today that can follow a disciplined, traditional sales process, engage prospects in all channels (web 2.0 or otherwise), understands how to ask good probing questions, knows how to present online, over the phone and in-person, and handles objections smoothly, and that would be a successful balanced rep.” Well put.

But could Ryan24 and DLee be interpersonal idiots and still bust their sales quotas? I’m not betting on it. A series of videos produced by Steve Kloyda illustrates how the more things change, the more they stay the same. Titled “The Biggest Mistakes Salespeople Make,” each video spotlights a slice of an actual sales conversation gone awry, and offers a sales lesson that transcends the medium of voice-to-voice communication. Phone. Twitter. Facebook. LinkedIn. Whatever. View any of them. In any order. Let me know what you think. (Caution: if you watch without squirming, check your pulse.)

1. Salespeople fail to listen. :31

2. Salespeople fail to ask for the business :33

3. Salespeople fail to build rapport 1:52

4. Salespeople fail to work through the gatekeeper :47

5. Salespeople fail to ask the right questions 1:12

6. Salespeople ask “how ya doin?” :35

7. Salespeople fail to articulate the value they create 1:03

8. Salespeople fail to have a clear opening statement 1:11

9. Salespeople fail to work through objections :32

Ryan24 and SLee, next time you communicate online, send Roger a text message to get his insight before he heads out for his next gig!


  1. Andy – great title! And thanks for the mention, but I only have time to use one social media channel, and it’s hand down Linkedin.

    Joe Lethert just wrote an intersting short article about the role of sales people changing from proactive to reactive that supports your premise. I’ll tryto get Je to post it here.

    As usual, you hit the nail on the head. Great post (as well as grewat title).


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