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1 Thing to Never Say While Interviewing for a Sales Job

I was recently interviewing a gentleman for a lead sales position and he said something that really rubbed me the wrong way.

“Hello, can I interest y’all in some cloud computing?”

It was so upsetting to me that I don’t really remember the rest of the interview.  He was a nice enough guy, unassuming with middle level industry sales experience (and probably middle-level history of success too).

Maybe I over-reacted?  I mean, it was just one spoken sentence within a 45 minute back and forth conversation.  No, I didn’t kick him out of the office dramatically or anything like that, but I also did not consider hiring him… not even for a second after he walked out the front door.

Maybe my company is in a unique situation and I don’t think we need a ton of new business relationships?

Maybe if I was with a younger-phase start-up rather than a company exiting start-up stage, I might feel differently and actually like the fact that he said this?

Maybe, maybe not.

So, what was this horrifying phrase that came spewing from the hole between his lips?…

“I can open a lot of doors for partnerships”.

AHH!  It’s even hard to type that out still today… it’s was that disturbing to me!  Why?

I have enough open doors!  In fact, I need help shutting doors, not opening more.  I have so many open doors that it keeps me up at night just trying to manage the relationships, not to mention managing the actual work we procure through these open doors.

Plain and simple, opening doors to more relationships is not what I need my sales team to do because it does not directly help to put money in the bank.

In the beginning, you think opening doors to talk to big companies, meet people at trade shows, and get introduced to vendors is great and what it’s all about.  But actually, you don’t need a ton of relationships in order to be successful, in fact, one of the most successful companies I know has just two customers… but makes millions off of each of them.  They turn away new business every day with other organizations because they are so ultra efficient at doing business with their two current customers, they do not want to lose focus nor lose margin pushing their services through other open doors.

The best relationships in business arise from need, not convenience.

In order to make forming a partnership make sense, I need my sales people to sell, sell more, then, sell even more before we engage with an organization to discuss a lasting relationship. I’m not being selfish either… this works vice-versa too.

If I am the buyer and not the seller, I want a smooth, easy, and efficient procurement process during the early stages, then once you establish that I need you and am proficient with your offering, lets then invest the time necessary to put together a long term strategy together.

This approach is in the best interest of my customer or partner too.  Do you know how many lost-leader partnership, MOU, and MSA’s I have worked though only to seem them go NEVER acted upon in any way?  Probably hundreds over my 10+ year career.   And, do you know who else spent time on those unneeded documents?… that’s right, the potential customers and partners also.

This wasted time could have been avoided buy allowing money to exchange hands over the course of several engagements, which would naturally formulate the “need” that would guide formal discussions on furthering our relationship.

Instead, only “want” was established and “want” is the equivalent to “lust” in dating… it’s fun and seems so perfect while your in the moment, but once the moment passes, something deeper needs to be there to keep you together or you drift apart.

What does Alec Baldwin have to say about this?:



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More Stories By Ryan Hughes

Ryan Hughes, blogging at www.RyHug.com, is the Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) of Skygone (www.skygoneinc.com), a Cloud Computing solution provider to SI's, ISV's, Commercial, and Government. Education: MBA in Project Management from Penn State University; BS in GIS from Bowling Green State University Ryan currently has 10 years in Enterprise-level IT Program Management and Operations Management, as well as vast experience in Enterprise System Design and Cloud implementation methodology.

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