Todd Hendries

Sales Lessons from the Wild, Wild West

You can learn a thing or two about sales from a cowboy...


Over time, I've had the privilege of interviewing some incredibly talented sales people.  No two of them have exactly the same approach.  And some of the best sales people seem to run away from the herd to ride their own trails.

Most sales organizations have a few cowboys/cowgirls who operate independently and are left to their own ways because of the results they obtain.  Good for them.  But wait...  Wouldn't it be great if everyone could learn to ride and rope the way they do? 

If you ask them, (provided you can catch up to them), "To what do you attribute your success?" Most will tell you, "There's no secret sauce, or magic. I just hustle."  

It's hard to dispute that claim.

You might then ask, "No, really, what's your sales process, how do you map it out?"  And you will more than likely get back something like this,

"Every customer is different, I just try to match what we can do to their needs."  

Still haven't learned much, have you?  Maybe, the answer is there -- it's just hidden.

Climb back on the horse and see if you can get a better perspective of things. All the cowpokes have told you, "Every customer is different".  There are two things you can learn from this statement:

  • First, potential customers are just that - they have the potential to be customers. To be successful, we need to consider their "fit" to our ideal customer model and select those targets with high potential.
  • Second, we have to begin every interaction and relationship with research, and asking the right questions. Every customer has unique objectives, strategies and challenges, so the questions aren't the same every time, and the answers we get are unique to each business--and sometimes to each buying influence.

I've been told by some that research takes too long and it isn't selling.  If understanding the customer isn't selling, what is?

As you mosey on down the trail, you'll develop a reasonably good understanding of your customer. But, don't let all that information die in a folder in the cloud - it's a gift!   Use it as a backdrop to think about what your customer needs to know about you and your organization.  


They don't want to know how your watch was built.
They want to know what time it is.

Consider the unique strengths you and your organization offer that fit with your customer's objectives, strategies, and issues.  (Make it a short list.)

Next, describe how your unique strengths help the customer achieve their objectives and strategies while helping overcome challenges.  The more connections, the better the fit.  Most importantly, you must monetize the impact your fit will have on the customer's business. If the value you create is greater than the discount they're asking for, you win, right?

One more thing - to really drive success, you have to present your understanding of their business, clarify your unique strengths, sell them on the value you can help create, then offer a simple, straightforward action plan to deliver on your value proposition.

So, yippee ki yo kayah!  The cowpokes were right.  Every customer is different.  The only way to create repeatable results is to follow a process:

  • Select the right targets
  • Understand their business and direction well
  • Access the right buying influences
  • Advance your sale through effective presentations
Happy trails to you,
Todd Hendries
Trail Boss

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