Ever heard the phrase, show up and throw up? My hands are raised, and I was guilty of this sales sin. Even after being told not to “show up and throw up”, I continued to do so. As with anything else in life, there are different levels of showing up and throwing up. O.K., dude, this sounds disgusting, please explain for those who do not understand sales-speak!
The phrase, show up and throw up means when you are in sales conversations, you go right into pitch mode and spew out your product/service features… basically blah! blah! blah!… wanna buy? I think it is natural for the sales mind to go into pitch mode, especially when we have limited time in front of high-value buyers, so our mind shifts to opportunity mode and try to get out as much as possible. When the prospect you have been attempting to reach for months, tells you, you have 10 minutes, we go into throw up mode.
Now that I clarified and got everyone up to speed on throwing up, what is the solution to engage in this disgusting act? Try showing up and asking questions. Sounds simple, right? Wrong. Looking back at all of my sales conversations, the single most effective thing I could have done was to ask better sales questions and then deliver a tailored message. The hard part was that it didn’t come naturally. I first had to learn about the value of asking questions, prepare great questions and know what to do with the answers. If you don’t understand the value of asking well-prepared sales questions, then you will resort to what you.
Now could I have been so wired to go into product pitch mode so quickly? I reflected back on the training I have received, and most training focuses on product knowledge, product mastery and being able to name off every key feature and stat. We even role play and demonstrate our retained product feature learnings over, and over and over again. So yeah, muscle memory goes into autopilot and yes, here comes the throw-up.
As a sales manager and now sales trainer, I have tried to figure out ways to prepare sales professionals to ask great questions, prepare great questions and drill them on the practice of asking great questions. But when we get back into the field, I witness the yes, throwing up. I have to admit, that as a sales manager, I was consistent when I coached my team to ask at least three questions before giving any answer or feature. It started to stick. As a sales trainer, it is tough to create, because it is not linear, and questions can go down many paths and end up in various unknowns.
It might be the fear of just that unknown, and it should be o.k. I think it is the sales training’s version of “throwing up” or encouraging it by focusing on content heavy training sessions or a linear approach to a dynamic process. It is a mix that I seek to improve as a sales trainer and to be comfortable with training sessions that wind up going into the vast unknown, because honestly, it is better to go into that unknown in training versus in front of the customer.
The sales training should then be focused more on preparing the sales conversation and drills to practice asking great questions and then role-playing next steps. I know asking great questions not only increases sales but is also a great tactic to handle objections. So next time, try showing up and asking well-prepared questions. Resist the urge to go into… you know what mode.