Working with The Hypnotist

Swinging WatchMy team and I have spent the past several weeks getting ready for our sales kickoff taking place next week in sunny San Diego. The number of hours going into the work is sizable but the expected payoff is a field sales force fired up for the new year. After four quarters of battle and the big push to end the fiscal year, getting everyone refocused and reenergized is critically important to the company.

Blocking and tackling

But selling can’t rely on emotion for the long haul. The long game looks a lot like any other kind of work…very connected to process, constant metrics, and measurable outcomes. The sales game isn’t won at the 11th hour on the last day of the quarter but is instead won in the mundane blocking and tackling that happens every single day. For those that aren’t familiar with U.S. Football terms, that’s the way coaches refer to performing the basics of the game very well: Blocking your adversary, tackling the guy with the ball. Do that well and everything else falls into place.

The Hypnotist

The reality of sales in nearly every software company is that a few sales people will sign enormous contracts and bring in the lion’s share of the revenue. They are known by many names like superstar, stud, rainmaker, and hotshot. I even worked with one who was called, “The Hypnotist” for his ability to convince a customer to buy. That term did him a disservice, though. He didn’t rely on parlor tricks to get customers to buy. Not at all. He was probably the most process-focused person I’ve ever met.

Laying the tracks

By the time he arrived at the moment to ink the deal, The Hypnotist had already laid all of the tracks necessary for the train to run on schedule. He had a perfect understanding of:

  • Business issues
  • Technical landscape
  • Value of the solution to the buyer
  • Complex relationships of the buyer’s organization
  • Timeline for creating change
  • Process for procurement
  • Buyer’s budget cycles
  • Necessary references
  • Proof points for a solution
  • Risk and benefit of change

Far from hypnotism, The Hypnotist arrived at the key moment with everything necessary for the deal to close quickly and with maximum benefit to both parties. The good news? Nothing The Hypnotist did is out of reach of most sales people. These things may be beyond what people are willing to invest in their jobs, but not beyond their abilities.

And The Hypnotist wasn’t laying the tracks for just one train…he was creating a relationship that would lead to a long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships. Many trains would run down those tracks.

Phoning it in

With that said, there’s a living to be made by doing the minimum and hoping the roulette wheel comes up black. It works often enough to keep people at the table and gambling, but not often enough to make them a superstar, hotshot, rainmaker or stud. That path is far less risky but takes discipline and direction. Those are qualities that have to be rewarded but importantly, a lack of discipline or direction needs to be caught early and corrected in one way or another.

Big rewards come from being good at the process of sales.


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Categories: Selling

Author:Chris Taylor

Reimagining the way work is done through big data, analytics, and event processing. There's no end to what we can change and improve. I wear myself out...

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4 Comments on “Working with The Hypnotist”

  1. Ramdas Murali
    December 6, 2012 at 6:19 am #

    Chris, At ILOG the term that was used was “Eagle”. Between two sales execs the one who will be more successful will be the one who not only follows the game plan but also excels at other soft skills such as communication, negotiation, risk management, story telling, relationship building and in some cases golf 🙂

    • December 6, 2012 at 6:25 am #

      You’re absolutely right… you can’t be great at process but not good at the other things. The problem, however, is that people having those soft skills and not process makes revenue unpredictable and there aren’t available enough to fill a team. Too may are all soft and no hard (process) skills. If you have’t guessed, I’m also am sales enablement now and facing that very thing head on.

      • December 6, 2012 at 9:29 am #

        Chris – I’m loving successfulworkplace and your focus on doing the right things the right way with tenacity. This article hit me hard because I am that guy who spins the roulette wheel. I struggle with process but have been able to make a good living off my soft skills. What is sales enablement? How do I get process and how do I teach it to myself and my team???

  2. December 6, 2012 at 11:03 am #

    Thanks, David. Contact me by email and I can show you what we have. If you can make a good living off soft skills (something few have), you can make a killing off process (something everyone can have but don’t work for).

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