The Primary Law For Salespeople

Offense is fun. Defense is work.

That is the first thing you must learn when you get into the business of selling things. Meeting people. Discovering. Presenting. Persuading. Learning new products and techniques and concepts. All fun.

Returning phone calls. Following up on deliveries. Paperwork. Cold calls. Supervising staff. Filing. E-mail. Overhead. Estimates and illustrations. Reports. Compliance. Complaints. All not fun.

Michael Jordan once said that championships were won with defense and some talented teams could not win championships because offense is fun and defense is work and the work part got overlooked.

Same with sales. No defense, eventually no offense. But, it is a fine line. You want to do a good job with defense but you want to minimize it, too. Defense does not make money directly but it will cost sales if you ignore it.

Sales has an important advantage over basketball. You can hire folks to do some of the defense.

Find the unique skill that you can bring to the customer/client relationship and do more of that by freeing time from defense. Learn to delegate. It is a valuable skill. You can buy defense. As Harvey McKay says, “If you have a problem that you can solve by writing a check, you don’t have a problem, you have an expense.”

Wanting to control everything is a salesperson’s most common and most destructive trait. Try to avoid it.  Learn to trust people.  They will do better than you.  At least relatively better.  With defensive items, you cannot do a good enough job to make it worth your time.

Have you heard of David Allen? You should. He is an author and productivity specialist. He has written several books and while I have not yet read them, they are now on my list.

Here’s why.

I found this quote. “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.”

The Law: Pick your “anythings” carefully.

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.

Follow on Twitter @DonShaughnessy

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