Okay, Sherlock, What Do You Know Now?

Driver's deskYou’re ushered into the customer’s office for the first time. You’ve never met her before. The large, clean desk dominates the room. How are you going to conduct this sales call?

  1. Are you going to persuade with warmth, flair, or conviction?
  2. Will you appeal to feelings, procedures, or goals?
  3. Will your pace be fast/decisive, slow/systematic, or slow/relaxed?


The large, clean desk is an indicator that you’re dealing with a Driver personality.

  1. Sell her with the conviction that you believe in what you’re doing and selling. She can spot a phony a mile away.
  2. She’s the boss because she knows how to set goals and reach them. That’s what she’s looking for from you.
  3. She’s likely to make a decision on this first call. Be fast, decisive, and get to the point. She has no time for small talk.

I Didn’t Have Time to Write a Short One

Hollywood Sign

Doing a cold call, the president told me, “I’ll give you fifteen seconds to make your point.”

Thanks to having mastered the “high concept” idea described in Paul Brown’s book, Your Attention, Please, I was prepared and delivered. Hollywood scriptwriters use what they call the “high concept” to submit story ideas to producers and directors. The “high concept” requires them to clearly convey their story idea in twenty-five words or less.

How would you describe your service or product this quickly? For example, “GoDaddy.com offers everything you need to make a name for yourself on the Web, from domain names and website builders to complete eCommerce solutions.”  The television series “The Good Wife focuses on the wife of a former Cook County state’s attorney who has been jailed following a public sex and corruption scandal.”

Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician, physicist, inventor, and writer expressed the difficulty of succinctness in a letter to a friend: “I’m sorry about the long letter. I didn’t have time to write a short one.”

P.S.: Your first fifteen seconds can launch a career. Be ready.




Doing prep work with a local account (a screw and bolt manufacturing company) to gather material for our training session, I asked the owner what he looked for in people applying for sales positions with his company.

“I ask them to tell me the latest three business books they’ve read and what they learned from them,” he said.

How does this help to qualify or disqualify an applicant?

The owner said that 70% of the applicants can’t name three books. In fact, many have told him that they don’t even read books.

“Once I hear that,” said the owner, “I show them the door. They’re wasting my time. It shows they have no curiosity, they think they have all the answers, they don’t take the initiative to learn on their own, and they don’t respect the art of sales. No one is so smart that they can stop learning.”

People aren’t looking for reasons to hire you. They’re looking for reasons to eliminate you. And they can often do it with one well-conceived question.

The nuts & bolts: You can never learn enough. Knowledge improves your relationships, business, decisions, and leadership.