The Scoop @ MSCO

Why 99 Percent Of Salespeople, Aren’t

The following article is by Mark Stevens, as seen on his LinkedIn blog.

picI can recognize a salesperson from a mile away. I can also identify a true SALESPERSON from the same distance.

What’s the difference between a salesperson and a true SALESPERSON (besides all caps)? The former allows prospects to make a decision as to whether to buy. The latter refuses to accept “no” for an answer.

Clearly we cannot force people to buy what we’re offering, so what do I mean by this? Simply put, the true SALESPERSON–the star, the elite–walks into every situation with a set of weapons far more powerful than an elevator speech (which is, in itself, for losers) or another tired PowerPoint presentation (a sure way to induce a coma).

True salespeople walk in with:

  1. A conviction that what they are offering will add immensely to the prospect’s personal or business life
  2. A belief that there is nothing better in the world the prospect can choose
  3. An absolute determination to communicate–through education and brute force of personality–that they are dead right on points one and two

This all relates to the fact that positivity is contagious. When salespeople attempt to sell their products or services, they may walk away empty-handed. But when a superstar SALESPERSON strides in with an overwhelming sense of his mission and a focus on making the prospect see and experience the wisdom of what he’s offering, the prospect becomes a believer as well.

Think of the conversations you’ve had with people who are passionate about an idea, a destination or a device that is unfamiliar to you. Their passion passes through almost like osmosis. Chances are high that you will become infatuated with the idea, the philosophy or the product the proselytizer is raving about. You’ll become a convert.

This is what the real art and science of true SALESMANSHIP is all about. It is not about getting “at bats” in front of customers and hoping to hit pay dirt with some. It’s about being armed to the teeth for every selling opportunity–not hoping to make a sale, but determined to enlist a convert.

Every time I am in a selling position I think:

  • I will make the sale.
  • Saying “no” to me is not an option–not for my good, but for yours.
  • If the prospect says “no” at first, I will not pack my bags and move on. I won’t even acknowledge the word.
  • I will get to a “yes.”

I never want to be just another salesman. I am a CEO and a true SALESMAN.

Are you?

The salespeople of the world aren’t there to actually, definitely, positively make a sale. Nope, they believe that they are visiting a prospect as part of a process whereby: a) you see large numbers of people, and b) you’ll get lucky eventually, and some of them will become customers.

They think that it’s all a numbers game: Toss a hundred darts against the wall (see 100 prospects) and something will inevitably stick.

That is not true salesmanship. That is going through the motions; that is hoping that the law of averages will reward you. Instead of being thrilled that three darts stick, enter the process with the determination to land every single prospect you visit.

You may not win them all, but I know from personal experience that entering the arena with an absolute determination to prevail every time vastly increases the likelihood of your closing 50 percent, 60 percent or even 90 percent of opportunities.

You see, selling is NOT a numbers game, in spite of what the Willy Loman playbook says. Instead, it’s a human game, and it’s a hunt. The human most important in this hunt is you, the truest definition of salesperson–the one who deserves to be spelled out in all caps. I am a SALESPERSON.

Everyone else is an impostor. You are the genuine article. And if you can’t find it within yourself to become this “winner takes all” person, you should find another career.

I think the Peace Corps needs volunteers.

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Four Trick Questions Interviewers Ask

The following article is by Mark Stevens, as seen on his LinkedIn blog.

A job interview is not really a job interview. It’s a cat and mouse game designed to lure you into traps of self revelation.

The way it is commonly structured, the interviewer does not conduct an investigative background search but instead gets you to shed an unattractive light on yourself.

Why would you do that? Well, you wouldn’t consciously, but the way the system  often works, you are lulled into sense of comfort and trust and thus fail to see the “tricks” in the trick questions.

With the goal of being forewarned and thus hopefully prepared, let’s see how this works.  We’ll start with trick question 1:

*Tee Up Your Proudest Moment:

Interviewer: I see you were varsity basketball in college.

Applicant: Yes. The practice was tough — what with a full academic schedule and all — but I loved it.

Interviewer: Highly competitive, I bet.

Applicant: Always and so intense. But if you can’t compete you, just can’t make the cut. I’m sure the same is true here.

Interviewer: How does that jell with the need to collaborate, which is a hallmark of our culture.

Applicant: Well, I mean, I guess –well, I don’t plan to step over other people, if that’s what you mean.

(Do you hear the gong? Believe me, I have been to these movies many times. You will be checked off  this interview as too aggressive for the team.)

*Get You To Out Yourself:

Interviewer: I have to say, you appear to be a honest person. Very much so. And I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that.

Applicant: Thank you. I pride myself on that.

Interviewer: As you should. Allow me to ask: if there’s one thing you’ve done in you life that you could take back, what would it be?

Applicant: Hmmm. Well, I don’t like to talk about it, but I married someone I didn’t really love. Hoped it would somehow work out. But I guess hope springs eternal. For awhile, it seemed like I ruined his life but I think he’s okay now. And I’m living with someone new and quite happy.

(A perfectly normal human story but a sure thing that the position will go to someone else.)

*Painting You As Desperate:

Interviewer: I see you haven’t been working for nearly a year. My guess is that you wanted to put your feet up for awhile. Nothing wrong with that.

Applicant: I wish. No, I’ve been networking, interviewing nonstop. At my age, it’s not easy.

(You took the bait. Now you revealed your age bracket and the deadly fact that no one else seems to want you. Gong!)

*Showcase Your Inexperience:

Interviewer: So this would be your first full time job, correct! No bad habits. Just a great ambition? There”s always something exciting about that.

Applicant: Exactly. Do you know how great it feels to finally be out of school. Yes!

Interviewer: I do. I do. But you really know nothing about the work ahead of you, do you?

Applicant: Well, I’ve read a lot about it.

Interviewer: I don’t see any internships on your resume.

Applicant: Wish I had but..

Interviewer: But?

Applicant: I went to this great summer camp as a kid and I just hated letting go. So I took counselor jobs every year. They barely paid anything but hey, it was like extending my childhood for four years.

Interviewers set the traps. People really do say/admit these things. Which leads to three nevers and a final piece of advice:

1. Look hungry
2. Reveal your age group
3. Say a single negative word about yourself
4. Most important, turn the tables on the interviewer, telling him what you think he wants to hear. Period.

All is fair in love, war and job hunting.

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Published In Leadership Excellence Essentials

As CEO and founder of MSCO, Mark Stevens’ voice has been featured in countless publications over the years. This time, the December issue of Leadership Excellence Essentials has published one of Mark’s thought-provoking articles.

The article, entitled Loners At Heart, is about how great leaders are often loners in disguise. Mark claims, “Even more than that, they prefer to be by themselves and ironically, it is this isolationist part of their personas that drive their ability to think, innovate and to inspire others.” 

To read more about this and find out the two main epiphanies that Mark believes we can all draw from this, read his article here:

To see the full magazine and articles published from all of the other great influencers included in this month’s magazine, follow this link:

For more of Mark’s articles and unique point-of-view, connect with him on LinkedIn.

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McDonald’s in Denial


The slide continues. One of the all-time business juggernauts that for generations knew nothing but rising sales and profits, markets to vanquish, raving customers clamoring for more, is imploding in front of our eyes. It appears to be a slow but inevitable train wreck.

I have written about this before, and even as 400,000+plus LinkedIn members agreed, the McD bureaucrats — the spoiled successors to founding genius Ray Kroc — insisted that they had all the answers. That the turnaround was in full view.

But this week sales and profits slumped again and worse yet, the new CEO insists that the company is seeing “early signs of momentum.”

Wall Street and Main Street are both seeing signs of something far more ominous and about as appetizing as a hockey puck Big Mac: Denial.

How can McD’s former branding chief turned head honcho see momentum in:

* US same store sales down 2 percent

*Net profits sagging 13 percent

Only if he means downward momentum. That the deterioration of the once venerable fast food king is accelerating.

It is this managerial myopia that is most troubling. We all know that much of what McDonald’s serves is fatty, dated, unhealthy, manufactured so-called food that is hardly going to increase anyone’s life expectancy. That’s a given from my perspective.

But that can change and though there are new menu items and other experiments underway to reverse the order of things, when management at any troubled business refuses to a) admit it has lost its way b)bring in fresh blood to rethink the model and c)execute like hell in a new direction, the prognosis for the future is hardly anything to celebrate.

While McD fiddles around the edges with modest changes in its 1950’s way of doing things, the 21st century rolls along, with healthy and edgy fast food competitors springing up on every corner, down the street from the tarnished arches.

The questions are two fold:

1. How long will consumers put up with McDonald’s tired fare and often sloppy stores?

2. When will the board and The Street demand a true fix from without, calling in a turnaround ace well before the company’s critical mass breaks down.

Complacency is a curse for any business. Denial is a deal killer.

Written By:
Mark Stevens

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Xerox Targeted: Why The Icahn Torture Test Continues

Just this week, the most famous and wealthiest activist investor in history, Carl Icahn, turned his guns on Xerox. Many are asking, “What does Carl want? Why does a man with $35 billion continue in the hunt for wealth?”

As Carl’s biographer, one-time neighbor and tennis partner, the answers are pretty clear to me. Carl always wants the same thing: more! It’s not the money, per se, as much as it is taking it away from those who he perceives to be the enemy: members of the corporate establishment.

He once told me–in so many words–that ‘these people looked down on me when I was a poor nobody growing up in Far Rockaway, NY. Now I want to pour vinegar in their martinis and break their golf clubs.’

Does Icahn really care about Xerox, its balance sheet or its shareholders? Absolutely not. But he found a soft target and he will play the only game this virtual loner has played so effectively all of his adult life. And chances are Xerox will pay the price. And drink the vinegar.

Check out King Icahn: Biography of a Renegade Capitalist here:

Written by:
Mark Stevens

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