Chapter 4

The Sales Manager Question That Changes Everything

How will this customer be different as a result of doing business with us?

It’s the question most sales managers don’t ask. So the few who do ask it ignite a chain reaction that drives outstanding sales performance.

I know because it happened to me—only I wasn’t the sales manager; I was the sales rep.

During my late 20s, I worked for a small company that sold training programs. My boss, the vice president (VP) of sales, was a man named Durwood Snead. (You can’t make up a name like that.)

Durwood, an ex–Procter & Gamble (P&G) guy, had hired me away from P&G, where I’d been a sales trainer and manager. He convinced me to come to work at this small upstart training company, because he saw huge potential.

My job as an account manager was to grow the Southeast business. We were starting at ground zero. On my first day of work, I didn’t get a customer list, because we didn’t have any customers in my territory. Instead, Durwood and I created a prospect list, mapping out a plan for calling on the major companies in the Southeast. Then I hit the road.

During that first year, I met with Durwood once a month for a sales pipeline review. But Durwood conducted the review differently than most managers. When I brought up a customer’s name, he would ask standard sales manager questions, such as, “When are you going to close?” and “Who needs to be involved?” But he’d also ask questions about them as an organization and as people. “Who ...

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