What Got You Here Won’t Get You There in Sales

"The dynamics of buying and selling in the second decade of the new millennium demand a new paradigm, a new frame of reference, and a new way to understand and maintain readiness to buy."

- What Got You Here, page 23

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There in Sales!, by Marshall Goldsmith, Don Brown, and Bill Hawkins, outline the sales habits your customers want you to give up and the methodology to create lasting change. The authors detail the changing nature of the customer-salesperson relationship, identifying empathy (emotional intelligence) as the new key differentiator in sales.

As they dissect the nature of modern communication and the ways technology has changed our interpersonal interactions, the authors advocate for a return of connection in our business and personal relationships. Beyond the accepted schools of thought (Solution Selling, Relationship Selling, and others), Goldsmith, Brown, and Hawkins have created a sales methodology for our generation.


The Big Idea

The Big Idea: The biggest takeaway from the book

The Era of Empathy: The X Factor in Sales

"The belief that you understand and acknowledge a person – that you not only viscerally understand but care about that person within the context of your business interaction – already exists almost without your trying."
- What Got You Here, page 27

From birth, “we naturally connect with others both emotionally and physiologically and usually do so without trying.” It’s in our nature to connect with others, to experience their feelings, even physically, and to care. In contrast, a career in sales requires a strong ego and the ability to persuade and convince others. The challenge in our new era is to balance this powerful ego with empathy, which fosters connection and caring.

The authors outline sixteen habits that impair our ability to connect with our customers in meaningful, empathic ways. And they’re habits our customers are desperate for us to break:

  • Failure to Be Present
  • Vocal Filler
  • Selling Past the Close
  • Selective Hearing
  • Contact without Purpose
  • Curb Qualifying
  • Using Tension as a Tool
  • One-Upping
  • Overfamiliarity
  • Withholding Passion and Energy
  • Explaining Failure
  • Never Having to Say You’re Sorry
  • Throwing Others under the Bus
  • Propagandizing
  • Wasting Energy
  • Obsessing over the Numbers

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There in Sales! dissects these habits and how they affect our ability to sell. We then learn how to identify one habit and break it – by stopping the behavior and engaging in follow-up coaching.

Insight #1

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

The Rules of Change Are Different for Successful Salespeople

"The first step in change for successful individuals is to own it, to recognize that the issue isn’t about the customer, the market, or even the product – it is about you. Second, you have to want to change."
- What Got You Here, page 127

A personal desire for change is the single best indicator for success in changing any of the sixteen habits. But successful people, in particular, have challenges in self-selecting for personal change. As the authors note, “‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ doesn’t apply to helping successful people change.” The very nature of being successful in their careers, may lead salespeople to avoid change.

It then comes down to the Natural Law – people will only change if it is in their own best interest (as defined by their values) to change. And for salespeople in particular, there are four factors that inspire change: money, power, status, and relationships. Determining which factor means the most to you provides the necessary motive to change.

Insight #2

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Getting Help, Getting Ideas, Getting There

"Behavioral change is not something you do alone. It requires two people: one to change and one to notice it."
- What Got You Here, page 137

Perhaps the most difficult challenge to affecting meaningful change is the need for accountability. And it’s often at this point where we resist change – successful people especially fear the embarrassment and vulnerability of asking for and accepting help with personal improvement. An outside stakeholder, however, provides the ability to be on the outside looking in, offering feedback and suggestions, and cheering you on. The key here is selecting a trusted individual who you won’t want to disappoint and who will want to see you succeed.

The authors go on to outline the FeedForward method of soliciting and accepting suggestions for improvement. Outline what you’d like to change, request two ideas for making that positive change, listen silently, then say thank you. With this quick, future-focused, judgment-free script, Goldsmith, Brown and Hawking provide a way to help successful people become who they want to be.
The most valuable portion of this book, for me, was the focus on and importance of follow-up with the chosen stakeholder(s). Most, if not all, professional salespeople have been subjected to a wide variety of sales training and sales methodology, usually a once-a-year event. We’re given our marching orders and sent back to the field, where everything we learned and planned to change is quickly forgotten in the course of our busy work lives. But behavioral science shows that follow-up coaching is the connection between training and performance improvement.

Asking for input and ideas to change just one habit, accepting those suggestions without rebuttal, and then following-up later provides a powerful means of coaching that is non-confrontational and helps to ease the vulnerability of making meaningful change. It’s also nice to have encouragement and support on this journey.

What about you? Do any of the sixteen habits resonate? What would you like to change or improve? Is there someone you trust as a coach and encourager?

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Jennifer Knighton

ABOUT Jennifer Knighton

WHO ARE YOU? I'm a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend. I'm a saleswoman, a rain-maker, a dragon-slayer. I like shoes, handbags, a cold gin & tonic on a hot summer day...
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