That is the title of Tim Hurson and Tim Dunne's didactic composition covering all aspects of sales. This reporter had the chance to contact one of the authors and Tim Dunne was eager to answer a few of my questions. The subtitle caught my attention, "how to sell better without screwing your clients, your colleagues, or yourself." Yet what pulled me in even more was some of the concepts the two Tims illustrated. One in particular was the idea that a good sales person is guided by an adjustable compass but one that is stable and universal.
In my discourse with Dunne, I asked, what inspired you with the concept of the North Star versus the Constellation point of view, as the guide?
"Tim and I like to simplify and synthesize," said Dunne. "In our efforts to help identify how one might define and focus on one goal as a driver and a motivator for anyone in life, we became uncomfortable."
"People are motivated by so many different things," Dunne said. "In the Orion’s Belt chapter in Never be Closing
we create a container for thinking about why you do what you do as a person, a businessperson and a salesperson."
"We tried to define and explain the context in which our readers would be operating," he added. "Most of the book, Dunne said focuses on why you do what you do in a very specific role? Especially when creating client relationships and selling a product or service." "But the principal is the same," he said.
"We endeavored to begin from a perspective, (whether it was about something more abstract, like values, or really specific, like taking notes at a meeting), that was broad enough so it could apply to all salespeople." "Then to explain that context, and identify the paradox (for example behaviors to ‘close the deal’ and to ‘build trust’ can be contradictory), and then suggest what tools, steps, type of thinking or process might be most helpful in different circumstances."
Dunne then went on to explain that...
"Initially there were three ‘values’ chapters that related to identity and values and paradoxes of sales and business in general. In the end, it muddied up the book. We considered jettisoning it altogether." "But, said Dunne we both agreed we couldn’t write a book about sales and be true to ourselves without a chapter on alignment of values."
"You could easily replace the word goals with values, said Dunne, business values, intrinsic values and/or relationship values. Those values aren’t applied selectively," he said. "They should all impact every area of your life. And that’s the point. That’s integration, the root of integrity.
Each star in Orion’s Belt represents a goal, Dunne said, or a set of goals. These goals exist within the container of our values, or are driven by what we value. Why a constellation rather than one star? Driving hard towards one absolute goal is dangerous for any entity, organizations or even nation. Indeed it may be the root of all evil," said Dunne.
Getting a bit more explanation that what I had anticipated, I was still intrigued. So, I asked him, how has that point of view helped empower the art and ethics of sales, as you see it?
"I think the most powerful question that comes out of it is this: do I live by a different set of rules at work, in business, than I do in the rest of my life? If you bifurcate your values, said Dunne, you bifurcate your identity. We don’t think this is good. That’s when your business identity rises up and you become your job. Which I suppose is one form of integration; one identity is subsumed by the other."
"Our values, he said hopefully, drive our behavior. Amongst all the noise of life, it’s not easy to figure out what you value and align your behavior with those values." "I happen to be a bit of a hugger. In the last fifteen years, since I’ve been out of corporate America, hugging or touching your colleagues is dangerous. (My acquaintances here in Catalonia, he said, I think would all be in trouble. They can’t shake your hand without patting your rib cage at the same time. It’s a very intimate gesture, and completely accepted and unconscious here.) Hugging is for me a natural behavior that I would have to quash in order to exist again in the corporate world."
"A big part of you (as sales person) being USE-ful
is you being you," Dunne said. "I think it’s a relief to be aware that maybe there isn’t a set of rules you have to follow. You can be yourself, (albeit sometimes prudently- no hugging!). And if you are, you’ll build relationships more quickly with people with whom you connect."
"This point of view, he said (which I’ll define as ‘I try to be the same at home as I am at work’) has yet to empower the art and ethics of sales. I think, though, when people read and think about it, it feels true or right. I hope lots of people do read it and that it might have an impact on the art and ethics of sales.
I mentioned to Dunne that...Trust is always an important element in sales, (especially big and ethical sales, like real estate). In your chapter on People or Process, is winning a client's trust the part of the process or the main goal?
"The main goal is the relationship, he said. Aim for it! Build a strong relationship and business will follow. And if it doesn’t, said Dunne, that person probably would never have been a client anyway. But you might wind up with a friend, and those are also useful," he said.
"The selling process is a tool, he noted - a big tool. It is aimed at finding out ways to be useful to your potential client. You figure out how you can help, and you promise to do that. Delivering on promises is the building block for any human relationship. That, said Dunne I think, is universal.
The reason why I asked Dunne this is because...
If a client has trust in a sales person, wouldn't they return again to that sales person, especially if it was regarding something very important to them like buying or selling a house?
"Yes," he said.
"Trust is a big part of the relationship. Perhaps it’s a threshold issue, said Dunne albeit one you keep affirming. If you step back over that threshold into distrust, it’s often hard to re-cross, he said. I have relationships where the trust has been broken, and with some I have never been able to get back across. (If you asked me today, I’d tell you I don’t want to rebuild the trust.)
There are, however, people I trust, or at least I think I do, that I don’t want to work with for other reasons. Maybe they’re trustworthy, but they don’t inspire me, said Dunne. Trust is big. Trust is foundational, he said but it’s not the whole relationship."
In this current era of a major economic downturn causing distrust, I would consider trust something vital if not valuable. This is especially so of major sales, like the ones we see in real estate. So I said to Dunne, And, if that trust is truly golden, isn't trust just as valuable or in some instances more valuable than "just another commission check?"
"Well that depends on what you use that commission check for, he said which relates back to your values." (Dunne then noted).
"When Lance Armstrong walks up to St. Peter’s gate, said Dunne, he might argue the following.
'Look Pete, I knew I was going to get caught sooner or later. But my whole goal was to generate as much money for cancer research as I possibly could. Winning the Tour de France was just a means to an end. It gave me a platform from which to do it. Knowing that I was lying and cheating to the world, actually took the enjoyment of winning away from me. I took the fall for all the children I might help cure.'
"LiveStrong (the campaign founded by Armstrong as Dunne pointed out) generated a hell of a big commission check for cancer, and in the end he destroyed a huge amount of faith and trust to do it."
"If the check is for your husband’s kidney transplant, it might trump your trust with your client. That’s an extreme example, but the answer to the question is contextual, based on circumstance and the values of the individual involved." "It also begs the question, to what end would you go to get that check?" "Nobody can answer that for you, Dunne said. We can only help set the frame for your thinking."
"Never Be Closing,
applied in normal circumstances, with normal size commission checks, basically says be USEful,
build trust, build a relationship." "That’s your job (as a sales person), said Dunne. If you do that well, you’ll make sales, and you’ll get to be more of you in the process, which we think is healthy." "So again, my answer to your question, Dunne said, is a qualified yes
Oh and here is another question I have, I said to Dunne. What do you think is the best thing that a sales person can invest their commissions into? Would that be, a) things (investments) to help them be good at sales? Or b) things they want, even if they don't need those things?
"This is a question really of personal preference, he said, values and circumstance." "Cash is fungible, he said. I can spend it investing on my skill set to make my life more interesting, satisfying and profitable, he said. Or, I can take my family to a dude ranch, because that’s what we need to invest in for us, fun."
Naturally, my question spurred the obvious once a sales person is established. How should a sales person “invest” their commission?
"I’d suggest they make a long list of options, and after, filter those options through their values and their current circumstance. And then, said Dunne, choose what’s most useful to them. There’s no across-the-board answer on that one."
Since August, reviews have been steady and positive. Yet as Harvey Schatcher wrote in his review for Canada's The Globe and Mail,
the book was something that stemmed out of a problem solving seminar put together by Hurson and Dunne for a client. The client was so impressed the CEO asked if the consulting team might put together something for the company's sales department.
Hurson, a former president of Manifest Communications poured his years of experience in marketing, sales, and strategic innovation into the book. all those years of experience are the basis for the principles and tools he speaks of.
Many like Janeen Halliwell founder of "We Move Forward" enjoy the book and find it helpful. She made post on her Twitter page.
And as Schatcher noted, many at that initial seminar "sales was not their gig. But as they thought about it, their work on what they (Hurson and Dunne) call “productive thinking” – digging deep to find the root of problems and solutions – was exactly what salespeople needed to do." (And, in following that train of thought, in many ways, that is what all people in business must do. They help their clients solve problems and resolve issues).
To learn more about "Never Be Closing - How to Sell Better Without Screwing Your Clients, Your Colleagues or Yourself," by Tim Hurson and Tim Dunne, visit the web site.