Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play

“Sales skills are life skills. What makes us better at sales makes us better in life. And vice versa.”

- Let's Get Real or Let's Not Play, page 1

Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play by Mahan Khalsa (the founder for the Sales Performance Practice at FranklinCovey) and Randy Illig (Practice Leader and Consultant for FranklinCovey’s Sales Performance Practice) is a book that teaches sales professionals how to be wildly successful through helping their clients become wildly successful, first.  Quite a different, yet refreshing mindset shift from most sales books that are out there.  

In this book, the authors teach us the fundamental mindsets, skill sets and toolsets for salespeople to follow to truly help their clients succeed. As author Mahan Khalsa says, “Helping Clients Succeed is not just a euphemism for sales – it is the essence of sales.”

The Big Idea

The Big Idea: The biggest takeaway from the book

Intent Counts More Than Technique (and technique is still important)

"If your intent is not crystal clear to you, it will not be crystal clear to the client."
- Let's Get Real or Let's Not Play, page 11

As a salesperson, is your intent to “sell” your product or service to your client, or is your intent to help your client succeed through the benefit your product or service can provide them? There is a difference. “Sales” cannot be about the sales person—it has to be about helping your clients! When we focus on producing big WINS for our customer, wins for the sales person will naturally happen. This is why it is so critical to get clear on what your intent is and why it is critical to declare that intent to those you sell to.  


Your intent is not something that you “put on,” it should be core to who you are and what you’re about. If it’s not clear to you, it won’t be clear to your client. “The client will react to positively perceived intent, by divulging more of what they think, feel, and believe to be true.  At the same time, you should feel that it is in your best interests, as well as theirs, if you are congruent with your intent. There is no need to eliminate nor conceal self-interest – only to align your self-interest with theirs” (220).  

One way to get clear on your intent, is to craft an Intent Statement. Here are a few examples:

  • My intent is to help you be more successful.
  • My intent is to find out whether or not there is a good fit between what you value and what we do well. If so, I’ll bring you good choices. If not, I’ll be the first one to say so.
  • My intent is to simply help you and your organization achieve the results that you are going after; whether that’s with us or someone else.

As a best practice, I would encourage you to spend time thinking about and writing out your intent statement. Practice saying it to the point that you act congruently with your intent.

Insight #1

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Keep the End In Mind

"What do we want the client to say, do, decide at the end of the meeting?"
- Let's Get Real or Let's Not Play, page 129

For many of us, our days are filled with endless meetings and phone calls. So much so that it feels as if we’re on auto-pilot—we go from meeting to meeting, often without proper preparation, planning or a sense of why we’re there.  

As salespeople, we need to realize that people are busy and help them to get value out of their interactions with us. The purpose of any sales meeting or presentation is to enable a decision of some kind. It’s getting clear on “what do we want the client to say, do, decide at the end of the meeting?” (129).

If we can begin our meetings with declaring the end we have in mind, and gaining the client’s agreement or input—it is much more likely that we can return to it at the end of the meeting and gain a decision.  

Qualities of a good End In Mind:

  • They are client focused.
  • We need to make NO OK.
  • They call for a singular decision.

Here are some examples of End in Mind statements:

  • “We assume you are counting on us during this meeting, to give you sufficient information to decide that either our solution makes sense or does not make sense, and you’ll pass. Is that what you were expecting as well?” Page 132
  • At the end of our meeting today, we’d like you to decide whether or not we should keep talking. And if that answer is no that is perfectly OK.  

At FranklinCovey, this would be considered an absolute best practice. I would encourage you to spend time thinking about and proposing an end in mind to your client before starting any meeting or call.

Insight #2

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life


"To execute well takes preparation and practice."
- Let's Get Real or Let's Not Play, page 194

In the book, the authors share a great analogy: “The most brilliantly delivered acting performances and speeches begin as a script. Actors turn the script into characters: they become the characters and the script is no longer apparent” (194).

Actors and sales professionals are not much different in this sense. Most salespeople and consultants would benefit from creating a script and practicing it until it flows naturally. Simply taking the time to practice with the proper amount of reps and the right quality of reps, can significantly enhance our ability to communicate and articulate in way that we naturally struggle to do.

Simple Recommended Ideas for Practice:

  • Write out your script.
  • Read it and say it out loud.
  • Record yourself saying it.
  • Share with colleagues to get candid feedback.

“The journey begins with a simple step: start by freeing yourself from selling something and instead focus on understanding what problems your clients and prospective clients want to address and the results that they value” (200). Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play by Mahan Khalsa and Randy Illig has had a profound effect on my paradigm as a sales professional over the years in the most positive and fulfilling of ways.  

I encourage you to focus on your client’s success and the personal success you seek will come full circle back to you in truckloads. Have fun!

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Justin Gasbarre

ABOUT Justin Gasbarre

I am a Sales Professional who's passionate about helping and serving others. I currently work as an Enterprise Client Partner with FranklinCovey and consult with executives, business unit leaders, and human resources professionals to help them build their organizational talent...
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