My sales career began 30 years ago selling office equipment for Lanier, something like the “Marine Corps” of business-to-business sales. I’d take the elevator to the top floor of an office building and cold call my way down to the lobby. I was taught to walk into an office and ask to see the General Manager for “just 10 minutes.” With good technique and 20 cold calls per day, I could see three prospects. Then in the afternoon I’d call the 17 prospects I didn’t get in to see that morning, seeking a pre-set appointment. After a few years on the street I moved up to major accounts, where our “system sale” to hospitals could run $500k and up, a complex sale to multiple levels of decision makers. I then became a sales manager, and eventually a General Manager where I hired, performed sales training, and coached over 200 salespeople.
One day in April of 1989 I was out working in the field with one of my salespeople. I stopped into a bookstore in La Jolla, CA looking for a book that might offer me new ideas for improving the quality of my next sales meeting. That’s when I saw it: Why People Buy by John O’Shaughnessy, Professor of Business at the Columbia University School of Business. Professor O’Shaughnessy and his research assistants interviewed both businesses and consumers about their buying decisions. The researchers found that when buyers feel uncertain about which product or service to buy (and who doesn’t?) they will seek to resolve their uncertainty with a rational and predictable buying process. For me, it was a blinding flash of the obvious! My entire sales career had been spent thinking about sales techniques and not buying behavior.
Three months later, I resigned from Lanier and hung out my shingle as a sales trainer. Operating in start-up mode out of a spare bedroom in a small suburb of San Diego, I knew I had found the right calling. Six years later, in 1996, my first book, Getting Into Your Customer’s Head, was published.
Since 1989 my company, and our valued and talented distributor partners in the U.S. and Canada have implemented the Getting Into Your Customer’s Head sales approach in many successful corporate sales organizations from dozens of major multi-national corporations and hundreds of small and medium-sized firms. Our clients have come from many different sectors: software, document management, transportation, business services, career/staffing services, financial services, professional services, wireless, telecom, healthcare, heavy equipment, media … you name it.