When to Shut Up

Entrepreneurs generally have a particular talent or skill that spurs their individual business ventures. Some have more than a single talent and others—the most successful among the group—have varied talents that crossover the boundaries of creative skills.

Most entrepreneurs like myself, are more inclined to do well with the creative side of a business and more often than not find themselves short on running-the-business skills. Now, I’m not talking about leadership. I mean the basics of business.

Knowing What You Don’t Know

I have always prided myself on knowing just how much I don’t know. What I still have to learn about business in general is expansive and without a team to support my weaknesses, I can easily skid off the road to success.

Just Shut Up

A decade or so ago in Houston,  I hired a big name sales consultant to advise me on why I couldn’t seem to close a sale. My meetings with potential clients were like fan club meetings—that was my perception. But in the end, I would not get the sale. Why? That’s what I expected Mr. Big Shot Sales Pro was going to tell me.

The plan was to spend the day with me while I made a handful of important sales calls and a couple of presentations. The first meeting was a presentation to half a dozen software engineers to provide a marketing campaign for a software release.

Forty minutes after starting I had the entire room jumping up and down, excited about all of the ideas I brought to the table. “Slam dunk, baby!” We got back to the car, off to the next appointment.

“There’s no need for me to spend the rest of the day with you, Dan,” said Mr. Big Shot Sales Pro. I’m thinking, “You’re telling me, pal!”

“You are not going to close that deal and I’ll tell you why,” he said.

Imagine me looking incredulous.

“I’m not going to charge you for the day. I’ll just give you some free advice. The best thing you can do is, shut up,” he added.

It’s not the first time someone had given me that advice. In my enthusiasm for my product I sold hard and fast. What I thought was one of my magic bullets—the ability to generate dozens of creative ideas in an instant—was actually killing deals. Too much, too fast.

What’s your opinion? Share your own sales philosophy or biggest sales disaster. Click on the Share a Comment link.

Finding Your Seat on the Bus

Over the years I have endeavored to shut up—not always successfully. A professional salesperson  knows the business and understands that a good salesperson listens more than speaks. Yeah, that’s the part I was leaving out, listening to what the customer wants.

Lots of practice has given me a better success rate and when paired with a salesperson who knows the power of listening, I can usually close the deal.

Finding the right people and putting them in the right seats on the bus is paramount. Teamwork is everything and knowing how to be a good team member is just as important.