Tag Archives: John Travolta

The Sales Detective – “Who is ‘him’?”

Here at The Sales Cafe, we are devoted to bringing in the best and the brightest sales thought leaders to share their wealth of knowledge. Our latest Cafe blogger is Bob Davis, The Sales Detective. Bob Davis has more than 20 years’ experience in sales, sales training and marketing. He’s now part of The Sales Cafe team. (Read his first post here.) Please enjoy his take on sales transformation and join in the conversation by adding a comment below.

By Bob Davis

Often I have the privilege of spending a day in the field with a salesperson as part of my research when working with a new client. One such client happened to be in the medical device field. A new device was in the hands of the salespeople designed to ease the life of those responsible for delivering IV fluids to patients. Time savings and patient safety were the key value propositions of this new wiz-bang technology.

As was my usual routine, the salesperson met me for breakfast and set up plans for the day. The salesman (we will call him “Joe”—not his real name) plopped his new wiz-bang device on the table and proceeded to review the exciting features and benefits of the product. Not wishing to stop a sales person in whirling-dervish mode, I listened attentively.

By 9 AM we arrived at our first hospital for an appointment with the Director of IV therapy. After introductions and pleasantries, Joe said, “I want to demo my new whiz-bang technology that will save you time and increase patient safety.”

The Director was all ears and the conversation went like this:

Joe:                    “Let me show you how fast the set up is.”
Director:           “That is terrific!”
Joe:                    “This will save you significant training time with staff.”
Director:           “This is great, I will be sure to review that with him!”
Joe:                    “Also the safety clasp will protect your patient.”
Director:           “I have been speaking with him about those safety issues!”
Joe:                    “And the color coding means less chance for error.”
Director:           “I really like this device and will review it with him!”
Joe:                    “And it also…………”

At this point, I felt compelled to gently intervene and said, “Pardon me for interrupting, but may I ask, who is ‘him’ ?” Joe, who had been presenting his product like he was doing laps at the Indy 500, applied the brakes hard, and had a look of “I don’t believe I missed this!” on his face. The Director replied, “That would be our Operations VP. He has the budget authority for any purchases I recommend.” Joe got back on the right track and asked, “Is he available to see us today? I’d be glad to discuss the investment and easy to calculate ROI on this device with him.” The Director responded by picking up the phone and paging her VP, who agreed to meet in 20 minutes.

The Sales Detective lesson

Listen don’t just hear! We often become like John Travolta in Pulp Fiction, when Uma Thurman said to him, “Are you listening……or waiting to talk?”

Often, and especially when demonstrating an exciting new technology, the salesperson is in a technology induced trance. Rather than having a dialogue with the customer and truly listening to the customer, the focus is on demoing the product/service/technology and its wonders. As one of my client Sales VPs lovingly said, “They feature puke.” Joe heard everything the customer said, but was not listening.

Hearing is what you do with your ears….listening is what you do with your brain!