David Versus Goliath: How Start-ups Can Defeat The Gorillas In Their Marketspace

By Steve Martin, Author, “Heavy Hitter Selling – How Successful Salespeople Use Language and Intuition to Persuade Customers to Buy”

Cisco is one of the most recognized high technology companies around the world. With annual sales just under $20 billion, Cisco is the gorilla of the networking communications marketspace. Beating the gorilla is a formidable challenge for any start-up. However, privately funded Veraz Networks did just that at Transcom, one of the world’s largest wholesales voice over IP carriers. In a deal valued at $10 million, it was recently announced that Transcom would be using Veraz Network’s gear to replace all of their installed Cisco gateways.

How did they beat the Cisco– the gorilla?

The answer may actually surprise you.

Most people assume that business is based solely on logic. After all, the high-tech industry is comprised of learned people with advanced degrees in the sciences of computers, math, engineering, and business. Therefore, we logically assume we are dealing with rational decision-makers. As a result, we focus on the logical and procedural aspects of the sales cycle. We prospect for customers, qualify the opportunity, explain the merits of our solution, and hopefully, negotiate a purchase.

The majority of the discussions we have with potential customers are based on the rationale behind the selection of our products. We offer facts, features, specifications, performance metrics, ROI’s, and business benefits. And, our sales process is oriented around the communication of this information. Unfortunately, our competition offers equally compelling reasons and statistics. In fact, the confusion this creates many times leads to customer paralysis and decision postponement (another feared competitor).

Undoubtedly, Veraz Networks does have a great product, but so does Cisco. And as you already know, offering a better mousetrap doesn’t automatically generate sales anyway. The key reason why Veraz Networks won, was because Cisco lost. Cisco lost the relationship with their customer, while Veraz Networks successfully built theirs. As Chad Frazier, President of Transcom, said, “Cisco promised us this and that, but I couldn’t in good conscience go down that road.”

The “real” sales process is the process of building a relationship with the customer. However, the entire high-tech industry is predominantly focused on technical arguments when there is very little product differentiation in the customer’s eyes. As an industry, we have become enamored with the technical mantras provided by our marketing departments. While they are important, there is an entirely intangible human side to the sales process that is actually responsible for the decision made. It is the art of mastering the human nature of high-tech selling that is the real difference between the winner and losers. In essence, it is the sales team that builds the greatest customer rapport and the strongest personal relationships that will command the day.

Three attributes are at the foundation of building the winning customer relationships. First, you need to speak each customer’s unique language. Successful communication is the key to all relationships. Second, you must create an unbreakable bond between individuals. You accomplish this by understanding their personal needs, wants, and motivations. Finally, you must convince the “entire” person to buy. You need to persuade both the logical conscious mind and emotional subconscious mind. Let’s review each of these attributes further.

Speak Each Customer’s Unique Language
Salespeople create a relationship between companies based upon the process of communication between people. This process is very complex. However, since we naturally communicate all the time, we underestimate the complexity of communication and take the process for granted. We tend to ignore the subtleties and for the most part become preoccupied with our side of the conversation.

Most people recognize someone’s spoken words as the most significant element of communication. However, this represents only a fraction of the communication process. The language a person uses is composed of both verbal and nonverbal communication and occurs in layers. It is through the use of this “whole” language that we express our needs, wants, and desires to the outside world. By comparing how computers speak to one another with how people communicate with each other, we can begin to understand the multiple dimensions of information that are constantly being transmitted.

Computers connect to one another via established standards. Standards are required because the wide range of computer manufacturers use a diverse set of operating systems (Unix, NT, Linux and so on). Within the computer communication model, layers of functionality are needed to have one computer “talk” with another. Once these layers are in place, information can be sent from one machine and the exact information will be received and deciphered by another machine.

Meanwhile, the human communication process is much more sophisticated and much more efficient. Unlike computers, we are able to bypass layers of communication. We can abbreviate thoughts while still preserving the original message. Humans also have the flexibility to send the same message structure with distinctly different meanings. Take the following example:

  • Mary, could you please send the report.
  • Mary, could you PLEASE send the report.

All these sentences use the same words but result in very different interpretations. When Mary reads the first sentence, she will feel a low sense of urgency and receive no indication of any unhappiness that the report has not been sent. The other sentences imply a different sense of urgency, and even discontent, that the report hasn’t been sent.

People, like computers, also have layers of communication called the Human Communication Model. However, these layers are much more flexible and can be combined in many different ways. Layers can be entirely eliminated or they can be fused together to form entirely new meanings. The layers of the human communication model are defined below.

Phonetics- The phonetic layer is the enunciation of the actual words we have strung together in the form of a sentence. This layer can alter the meaning of the sentence to convey a completely new and/or sometimes opposite meaning. For example, let’s say I tell my wife, “Your hair looks great,” but my voice trails off at the end of the sentence. She would immediately be concerned that her hair does not look good. Phonetics are both consciously and subconsciously applied. They are typically not recognized as part of the communication event except when it becomes so obvious that it changes or contradicts the meaning of the words spoken.

Content- The content layer is what most salespeople think of and listen to when they are having a customer discussion. However, people usually assume the content words they are using have the same meaning to everyone. People have their own personal dictionary or lexicon of words. In fact, the average person’s vocabulary is about fifty thousand words. However, the definitions or semantics of the words vary between people. Ascertaining the correct meaning people are actually trying to communicate by the words they select, the order of the words, and the way they are said is necessary for proper decoding of the customer’s message. Does the customer’s dictionary definition of a particular word match mine?

Purpose-The third layer is the “purpose” of communication. Words are assembled together to communicate an ideal or experience. Every sentence of every conversation between customers and salespeople are purpose driven. One way to think of this is that they both have an ulterior motive for everything they say. Of course, you and I have been communicating with selfish interests all of our lives.

Neroulinguistics- Although it weighs only three pounds, our brain is infinitely more complex than any computer. The brain has an incredible capacity to sort, prioritize, and process information. We organize our world according to the information received by our senses (sight, sound, and touch), and we use language as the method to describe what we have experienced. The language we use is dependent upon an individual’s unique wiring of the brain. Neurolinguistics is the study of how brain interprets and uses language. Great benefits in communication are gained if you understand your customer’s neurolinguistic wiring and adjust “your” communication style to fit “their” world.

Internal Dialogue- Every waking hour, a stream of communication is going on inside your mind. You are always talking to yourself. This conversation is an unedited, honest discussion that represents your deepest feelings. This is the fifth layer of the human communication model – the “internal dialogue layer” or the “internal dialogue.” Usually, the customer’s external words being spoken are a subset of the internal dialogue. In between, is an editing process to filter the precise answer. Salespeople want to hear the truth from the Internal Dialogue.


“Understanding why and how something is said is usually more important and revealing than what is actually said.”
Physical- Everyone is well aware of the final layer of human communication model, the “physical layer,” also known as body language. Body language is unique in that it is a three-dimensional language. Body language can be very subtle or more powerful than the actual words being spoken. When taken in conjunction with the other layers of the human communication model, body language plays an important role.

Unlike the layers in the computer communication model which are structured like a building with floors on top of another, the Human Communication Model layers are more like piano keys. All the keys may be pressed at one time or only certain keys may be pressed. Different sounds, or meanings, are created by pressing particular keys together in patterns or repetition. Piano keys may be depressed harshly or softly, just as communication may be explicit or subtle. The combination of keys may result in a soothing melody that the customer wants to hear over and over or just noise.

Bond with Customers by Understanding their Thought Process, motivations, and Personality
During the early `90s, the term “win-win relationship” was being used everywhere to explain how to successfully negotiate your position while still enabling the other party to achieve its goal. However, the concept of win-win relationships does not go far enough in understanding human relationships. Relationships are created when people share the same activities or when they are motivated to achieve the same goals. Goals can be defined into very personal prioritized desires, called “benefactions,” where there is a personal benefit from taking an action. The salesperson’s goal is to understand the benefactions of each member of the selection team.

The dictionary definition of Benefaction is, “The act of doing good or helping others, especially by giving money.” Clearly, all salespeople want the customer to feel good about giving them money when they buy their product. Nonetheless, the true definition is more intricate: “To derive an advantage that contributes to one’s well-being, such as happiness, esteem, power, or wealth, that results in influencing the way the person behaves during the sales cycle.”

A benefaction is something strongly desired, defined in a personal expression that is important to you. Each decision-maker has a very private and personal benefaction. For instance, the manager of the department may view the cost savings of implementing the product as the main goal. His benefaction may be being rewarded with a bonus for reducing the department’s expense structure (which he will use to buy the new car he or she wants). The person in charge of implementing the solution may view manageability as the goal. Since he will have to devote less time to managing the new product than the current one, his benefaction may be to have more time to spend on the projects he enjoys (or less time at work and more time at home with his or her family).

Your conscious mind is obsessed with benefactions. The most vital benefactions are driven by your physical well-being. If you are hungry at the moment, you may have difficulty concentrating on reading these words. If you haven’t eaten for the past twenty-four hours, you would definitely be more interested in food than any concepts on these pages. The conscious mind is fixated with the avoidance of pain, the preservation of self, and self-gratification.

“A unique and unbreakable relationship is created when the salesperson helps the customer achieve personal benefactions.”
The conscious mind is on a mission to satisfy the most urgent benefactions first. As a result, it will instruct the senses to collect the relevant data needed to accomplish this urgent sortie. However, one of the primary differences between most salespeople and Heavy Hitters (extremely successful salespeople) are the amount and range of data that is collected by the senses. Heavy Hitters gather data from all levels of the human communication model. Armed with this information, they are better able to determine their course of action based upon the data they have collected and past comparable experiences. By doing this, they can determine the sales strategy that offers the highest probability of winning. This process is most commonly referred to as “sales intuition.”

Most likely, the Heavy Hitter’s process of assimilating all these data points is not formalized. Rather, it is both a conscious and subconscious process. Although the subconscious mind is not actively assertive, it is always vigilant and capable of influencing actions. The ability to effectively send and receive information from each layer of the human communication model is a critical component for developing sales intuition. While it is easy to recognize the communication being sent consciously, the subconscious information being sent is just as expressive, but much harder to recognize and interpret. It is important to realize that the subconscious and conscious are communicating at all times, internally within the self and externally to others.

Persuade Both the Rational Intellect and Emotional Subconscious to Buy
Whatever your age and experience in life, you have already mastered how to use language. As a child, you learned the complex process of conveying your thoughts, how to tell the truth, and how to lie. You have become an expert on the nuances of how to say something with maximum impact, and understand, that sometimes what’s important isn’t necessarily what you say as much as how it is said. You already know how to create a message with a clear and a compelling sense of urgency.

However, truly great salespeople amplify their use of language by adding an additional dimension of meaning and structure within their usual conversations with the customers. By doing so, they instill their suggestions into the customer’s thought process with what seems like telepathy. The common term for this is “persuasion.” Persuasion is not solely a recital of logical arguments or factual information to a customer. Instead, it is process of projecting your entire “beliefs and convictions” on another human being. That’s why the founder of the start-up is usually the most important salesperson in the company– because he or she truly believes!

Benefactions affect your conscious activities as well as your subconscious mind. The conscious mind is obsessed with action and tactics to achieve benefactions. Meanwhile, the subconscious mind is constantly sensing and filtering additional data that may be necessary in the future.

In computer terms, the conscious mind is like a point-to-point model. For example, a salesperson wants to check e-mail while traveling on the road. Using his laptop, he makes a dial-up connection to the host computer. His only concern is to get his e-mail, and once he checks it, he drops the phone line. This point-to-point connection is similar to the conscious mind focused on a specific benefaction.

The subconscious mind is more like a broadband connection that is always on, such as a cable modem. The modem has a wider “band” of data and processes at a higher speed than a dial-up connection. The modem is always on, always receiving information. In the e-mail example, the salesperson is always receiving e-mail in real time. He or she doesn’t have to dial-up a connection.

The subconscious mind retains information that the conscious mind doesn’t. It simply isn’t efficient to store everything in your conscious mind. Remember the last time you misplaced an important item (your keys, wallet, glasses)? At first, you employed a conscious strategy to find it. You may have thought about where you had recently been and gone back to those locations. If you didn’t find the item, hours, days, or weeks may have gone by. Then suddenly, without specifically thinking about it, suddenly you knew exactly where it was. Your subconscious mind found it. In the same way, when your prospective customers say, “Let me sleep on it,” they are actually saying, “Let me see if my subconscious mind has any objections, since it has some additional information that I don’t have right now.”

“Since most salespeople find the human element of selling to be more complex, unpredictable, and difficult to manage, they don’t fully take advantage of customer behavior or they misinterpret and ignore it.”
The customer’s conscious mind acts like an emotion suppressing system. It is full of doubt, cynicism, and distrust. It is the cautious skeptic that is continually protecting the buyer from making bad choices or forming ill-advised relationships. Therefore, even truthful, helpful information that is presented in the customer’s best interest tends to be discounted or ignored.

In every conversation, both conscious and subconscious communication is being transmitted, assessed, and cataloged by each participant. And, each layer of the human communication model is capable of sending observable (conscious) and unobservable (subconscious) messages simultaneously. Although each listener can only receive a finite amount of information at any one time, very little of the information that is transmitted across all layers is lost. What isn’t consciously received is processed subconsciously.

Relationships are expensive and they involve investments of valuable time. Customers have to spend time to determine whether a product’s characteristics are as they have been represented. They have to spend time evaluating other suitors to determine whether they are picking the best possible partner to solve their company’s business problem. They will have to spend time learning to use the new products they select, implementing them, and most likely, debugging or fixing product problems.

These relationships also cost money. The customers will have to acquire the technology and pay ongoing maintenance fees to keep the technology current. They may have to pay for professional services or hire additional staff to help implement the solution. And they may need to buy additional technology in order to make the solution work.

Building relationships requires rapport. Building rapport requires the complex process of human communication. Unfortunately, many high technology companies today are making two common mistakes. First, the majority of sales training time is spent only on memorizing logical facts about their company, product, and competitors. Little or no training is given on communication skills.

The second mistake is made during the hiring process. Most companies make previous experience in the same industry their main criterion for hiring. Since experienced people command the logical facts, they are assumed to be qualified candidates. A more important hiring criterion is a person’s communication skills, mental agility, and the ability to build relationships. In other words, how quick-witted or fast on their feet are they, are they able to solve complex problems real-time, and whether or not you enjoy their company.

If you are in sales, you make your living by talking. If you were a pilot, you would attend years of flight training school and many hours of simulator training before you were allowed in the cockpit of a jumbo jet. If you were a lawyer, you would intensely study the law for several years and have to pass your state’s bar exam to ensure your proficiency. If you are in sales, you need to understand the use and interpretation of language. You need to understand the process of communication and how it determines the level of rapport that is established between people. You must be able to adapt your use of language to a customer’s thought process and personality. Language can be directly linked to a person’s behavior. It can be deciphered to predict future behavior, and truthfulness or used proactively to influence a person’s thinking or opinions.


CODE Cracking 101: From ‘Met to Net’ Insights from Cracking the Networking CODE

Dean Lindsay, President of The Progress Agents

There is this unassuming little word you often find in the biographies of famous people. The word is ‘met’:

William R. Hewlett met David Packard.
Dean Martin met Jerry Lewis.
Sid met Nancy.
Siegfried met Roy.

We meet people all the time. Meeting people is a part of life. Meeting people is one of the fundamental steps to building priceless business relationships. But it is not the only step.

There is a big, big, BIG WHOPPING difference between meeting someone and building a priceless business relationship with them. There is a long way from ‘Met to Net’ (networking), and because people misjudge this distance, the term ‘networking’ has gotten a bum rap.

I consistently ask professionals who come to workshops and speeches based on my book, ‘Cracking the Networking CODE,’ to share with me what they think of when they hear the word networking. Far too often, they say it conjures up images of manipulative, self-serving, insincere and predatory individuals, who are on the prowl for someone they can pounce on, try to sell something to, or solicit an unearned favor from.

I wish I could say this style of networking wasn’t out there, but it is, and it is a waste of time for ineffective networkers and the unfortunate people they corner. True networking is not about arm-twisting. It is not about trying to get someone to do something that does not make sense for them to do. It is not about scary old backslapping sales shenanigans.

So, how do you build priceless business relationships through networking? This is an important question to consider because, to a large degree, who you know and associate with determines who you become in life. The most successful, well-rounded and happy people are most often the ones who are best connected to other successful, well-rounded and happy people. When these people need support or information, they know who to call.

How well connected you are determines your access to those with the most money, the best contacts, the real power and influence (not to mention the best seats at sporting events). Being connected to the right people opens up opportunities for you and your company.

If you are looking for a new career path, deep down in your blood pumper you already know that you need to get out there and connect with people. Sure, in a perfect world, your track record and past successes would speak for themselves, but without professional and personal contacts, your spiffy two-page résumé on off-white professional-grade paper is likely just going to take up space in a pile on a hiring manager’s over stimulated desk. You are going to have to log off, move away from the keyboard and find a room to work.

Becoming a Progress Agent
To build great relationships, you need to help others be successful. You need to help them progress. Everyone connects with others with the goal of progressing in some way. To build priceless business relationships, you need to be seen as an agent for their progress, a catalyst for them to take a positive step forward. They need to feel that you make a positive impact on their life, that you bring value.

Everything we do, consciously or subconsciously, is because we believe the perceived consequences of those actions will bring us what I label the ‘Six Ps of Progress’:

This goes for eating, shopping, exercising, hugging, crying, working, going to the movies – whatever. Each of us makes decisions as to what to read, who to talk to, what to buy, where to eat, what to eat, who to take phone calls from and who to help, based on whether we think these acts will bring us these Six Ps of Progress.

At each moment, we make decisions based on what we think will bring these benefits – short-term or long-term. At a mostly subconscious level, we continuously think to ourselves: Is taking this action (e.g., talking with this person) helping me move toward pleasure, peace of mind, profit, prestige, power, or helping me to avoid pain? Is this action progress, or is it simply change?

I could (and do in the book) go on and on about this, but basically the people we meet must view being around us as progress, not change.

It helps to think of networking as a creative process: You are creating ways to serve and to help people progress. You progress when you help others progress. To build priceless business relationships and become a truly effective networker, you constantly need to search out ways to help others progress. You must position yourself in their minds as a catalyst in their progress, as an agent in their progress, as a Progress Agent.

Cracking the CODE
A nurturing, giving attitude is the cornerstone to Cracking the Networking CODE. The four letters that make up the word CODE stand for the four steps consistently taken by the most effective networkers to build truly priceless business relationships and be progress-effective networkers:

C: Create Personal Curb Appeal
Effective networkers feel successful and display a genuine desire to help others progress. They are Progress Agents. They look and act the part of someone you would want to have in your corner. They don’t go to networking events looking for success – they take success with them to the events.

O: Open Face-to-Face Relationships
Effective networkers connect with new people everywhere they go. They also research the various networking event options and commit to a networking strategy. They get out and about and reach out. They proactively open relationships. Be aware that it’s possible to go to a networking event and not have any ‘networking moments.’ It is not just about showering and showing up. It’s about connecting with people and finding ways to help them progress.

D: Deliver Solid First Impressions
Effective networkers know their first impression sets the foundation for all future impressions, and they make sure it’s progress-based. Effective networkers strive to stand out in a positive way in the minds of people with whom they want future contact. Effective networkers focus on being interested, rather than interesting. They turn people on to them by tuning in to others.

E: Earn Trust
My definition of trust is the promise of progress. Effective networkers follow up and keep in touch. They get to know and stay involved with the people they meet and earn their trust through a series of progress-based impressions. They continually find ways to help – to ‘be progress’ for those in their network. This is where most ineffective networkers drop the ball.

Networking is not about chance meetings. Hard work makes luck, my friend. Go make some luck. Even if your Blackberry or ACT database system is bursting with names, numbers and email addresses, it will not do you a bit of good unless you build the relationships.

Sure, being in business is challenging.
Sure, it’s nerve-racking to look for a new job.
Sure, sales can be tough to come by.
Sure, marketing is a moving bull’s-eye.
Sure, people are often pressed for time.

But here is something else I know for sure: People do business with, as well as help, share information with, brainstorm with and give referrals to people they trust and value. They trust and value people who genuinely care about them and provide progress for their lives. They trust and value people who offer the promise of progress.

Be Progress.

Why Does My Sales Manager Dislike Me? How the Seven Different Sales Management Styles Impact This Critical Relationship

By Steve Martin, Author of Heavy Hitter Selling—How Successful Salespeople Use Language and Intuition to Persuade Customers to Buy

My father-in-law has worked for the same company for over twenty-five years. This is not uncommon for a person in the aerospace industry. Conversely, in the high-tech industry where I have spent my career, it’s almost the exact opposite. Companies, products, and technologies change so often that an old-timer is someone who has been with a company for a few years. Since the average tenures of vice presidents are now less than eighteen months, they vanish so quickly you would think they are endangered species. As a result, salespeople must learn to manage their relationships with their frequently changing sales managers.

Over the past twenty years, I have been exposed to hundreds of different high-tech sales managers while serving as a salesperson, vice president, consultant, and sales trainer. Frankly, I have found many to be very good and a few that were just plain horrible. But I can honestly say I learned as much from the bad ones as from the good ones. More importantly, I began to recognize patterns of behavior and catalog management styles tendencies. I explain them in detail within my new book titled, Heavy Hitter Selling—How Successful Salespeople Use Language and Intuition to Persuade Customers to Buy.

Before we begin this discussion about management styles, it is important to put the conversation in perspective. It is human nature to judge others’ actions and behaviors using broad generalizations. We typically take a negative position when passing judgments on others as we are comparing them to ourselves and own our idea of perfection. Frequently, people are classified as bad sales managers without any understanding of why they act the way they do (even though they achieve results).

Many learned books have been written about sales management philosophies, processes, and how to develop the individual attributes required to achieve success. The intent here is much simpler. We are trying to provide a framework to talk about the different types of sales management styles from the perspective of the salesperson so that we can create a synergistic relationship.

Sales Management Styles
Just as people have different levels of gregariousness, assertiveness, and action-oriented tendencies, they have different sales management styles. I have found that seven management styles are most prevalent. Most likely, a manager has one dominant style. However, he or she will probably share a few characteristics from other styles and may even move from style to style depending on the situation. The seven most common sales management styles are the mentor, expressive manager, sergeant, Teflon manager, amateur manager, micromanager, and overconfident manager.

Each of these management styles builds a different sales environment by hiring their “type” of salespeople and establishing a culture based upon their belief systems and personality. The following chart below introduces the seven different sales management styles and the characteristics of the sales force environment they create.

Management Style
Sales Force Composition
Scholarly Students
Empathetic Egomaniacs
Sincere Soldiers
Patient Pollyanna’s
Schizophrenic Salespeople
Perfect Performers
Clever Conquerors
Cultural Characteristics
Investigative, Consultative
Me First, Bravado
Loyal, Obedient
Optimistic, Nice Guys & Gals
Unpredictable, Unlikable
Repetitive Task Orientation
Win at Any Costs

Obviously, there is quite a difference between the culture a mentor and a micromanager create. If you worked for a mentor and suddenly found yourself working for micromanager you would have to adapt to a completely different style. Conversely, a mentor doesn’t have the same priorities or thought process as a micromanager. You would lose credibility with a mentor if you treated him like a micromanager. Heavy Hitters (truly great salespeople) implement a strategy to build a long-term relationship based upon their sales manager’s style. Let’s examine each of the sales management styles further and the strategies Heavy Hitters use to manage the relationship.

Mentors are charismatic leaders and sales experts who measure their success using three criteria: exceeding revenue goals, creating an environment where the entire team can succeed, and helping all team members realize their individual potential. Mentors are confident in their own abilities and possess the business insight to know what needs to be done and how to do it.

Even though they believe in accountability and a strict code of ethical conduct, they relate well with their team and motivate by positive encouragement rather than fear. They are comfortable with themselves and are able to keep perspective and a sense of resolution during tenuous times.

The mentors’ philosophy is an extension of their personality. While their demeanor may range from gruff and cantankerous to friendly and personable, they are well liked and act as a unifying force to their sales team members. Although mentors tend to have a very hands-on management style, they don’t meddle in their teams’ daily duties. They lead by example instead.

Mentors’ sales intuition has been honed by many years of customer calls; therefore, their judgment is respected and advice highly sought-after. Mentors are highly effective in presentations or one-on-one customer meetings because customers genuinely like them and appreciate their presence. Just like long-term friendships, customers want to do business with people they like, respect, and believe will genuinely care for them forever. Mentors naturally create this environment.

Salespeople want to learn everything they can from mentors, so they adopt a strategy based on being a “scholarly student.” They invite their mentors on calls, quiz them about tactics over lunch, or chat with them after hours about their sales experiences. They also extend this strategy to their customers. They want to understand what makes the customer “tick,” the problems they are trying to solve, and befriend them. This becomes the culture of the organization.

Expressive Managers
Expressive managers are people-oriented with a flair for sharing their emotions and amplifying the emotions of those around them. They have a natural ability to put people at ease. They are very charming and gregarious individuals who are always ready, willing, and able to discuss personal matters in addition to events at work. They will frequently be seen chatting with coworkers in other departments at the “water cooler.”

Expressive managers create an environment where a considerable amount of energy is focused on how they are thought of and perceived within the company. They crave attention and tend to be overdramatic, by either exaggerating their accomplishments or overstating the prevailing circumstances their team is facing. These “sympathy complaints” are subconscious attempts to secure love and affection. Expressive managers are saying, “Pay attention to me!” Because of their need for constant emotional approval, they may become jealous when others receive recognition.

Expressive managers are master motivators of their team, and since people are so comfortable with them, they are very effective on sales calls. Customers perceive them as genuinely nice people who will personally take care of their account. However, their mood swings can be intense, and they have a natural tendency to become bored with mundane tasks because they would rather be working spontaneously based on their emotions. It is their emotions that drive their daily tasks and agenda.

The long-term strategy Heavy Hitters employ to shape their relationships with expressive managers is called “empathetic ego.” Empathizing with expressive managers requires sharing their experiences through unselfish listening and continual confirmation that the Heavy Hitter understands the situation or dilemma. Expressive managers experience tremendous highs and lows; participating in the celebration of the good times is just as important as commiserating during the bad.

A key aspect of the strategy involves protecting the expressive managers’ ego by supporting their position and validating their worth to others within and outside the sales group. This means only presenting information that supports their beliefs. Obviously this requires knowing where they stand on issues beforehand. One of the biggest insults to any manager, and expressive ones in particular, is being contradicted in public. Conversely, announcing their successes and broadcasting compliments will definitely yield relationship rewards.

The sergeant is named after the field sergeant in a military organization. Sergeants develop an intense loyalty to their team, perhaps even greater than their personal loyalty to their company. They are hard workers who are constantly worrying about their “troops.” They will even sacrifice their own best interests and tolerate personal hardships if they feel it will benefit their team.

Sergeants are strong performers on customer sales calls. Since they have participated in so many sales calls, they possess highly developed sales intuitions. As a result, they are excellent mentors to their team. And it is through their direct interaction with their team members that they draw satisfaction from their job.

Sergeants are likable, reliable people who have an intense pride in their work. They have a humble demeanor and will unselfishly pass any praise they receive directly to the team. They wear their emotions on their sleeves, and their team members always know where they stand. While they understand their place in the organization and are confident of their own ability, they still feel somewhat expendable and may suffer from self-doubt. They do not accept criticism easily and will take faultfinding to heart. However, sergeants are typically some of the last people to leave a failing company and may have a history of staying with companies long after the good times have passed.

Since sergeants are “tell it like it is” people, communication with them is open, honest, and candid. For example, sergeants will tell the bad news as soon as possible and don’t appreciate it being sugarcoated.

Sergeants create a sales culture based upon loyalty and obedience. Since sergeants will go to great lengths to defend their team’s honor, it is difficult for outsiders to understand the internal machinations of the sales organization. It is a club that members from other parts of the company are not welcomed to join.

The strategy for building a successful relationship with a sergeant is based upon “straightforward sincerity.” Since sergeants are “tell it like it is” people, Heavy Hitters’ communication with them is open, honest, and candid. For example, sergeants want to know the bad news as soon as possible and don’t appreciate it being sugarcoated.

Sergeants expect a sincere relationship in terms of words and actions. When they confide in their trusted team, it is imperative the team members maintain confidentiality. Since sergeants defend their team’s honor, it is expected they will do the same. As opposed to editing oneself to suit the expressive manager’s ego, building rapport with a sergeant involves supporting the person by honoring the friendship. Not surprisingly, Heavy Hitters’ maxim for working with sergeants is the same motto used by the U.S. Marines: semper fidelis, “always faithful.”

Teflon Managers
Teflon managers are pleasant, agreeable and polite people. However, unlike sergeants, you may never really get to know Teflon managers, even after working with them for years. They avoid disclosing personal information or give just enough to be thought of as friendly. From this standpoint, some people will consider them superficial. Another characteristic of Teflon managers is their ability to stay above the daily fray of politics. Yet while they seem cooperative, they are usually very stubborn when it comes to their personal agenda.

Regardless of the situation, Teflon managers are even keeled and rarely frazzled. They always seem to be in control of their emotions and relate to others mainly in an edited, business demeanor. You will not find these people yelling in the office, and they rarely socialize or develop personal friendships with coworkers. They will share their honest feelings only when there is little personal risk and if sharing this information benefits their business position.

Nothing sticks to Teflon managers. Bad news that would devastate sergeants or expressive managers bounces off them. Teflon managers just keep moving forward and never seem to be depressed or give up. They enjoy prestige and title and act the role accordingly.

Working for Teflon managers creates an interesting dichotomy because of their personal nonattachment, comfort with solitude, idealized self-image, and desire to remain safe from criticism. Heavy Hitters employ a “patient Pollyanna” strategy to dovetail with these Teflon manager characteristics. First and foremost, Heavy Hitters will go to great lengths to ensure they do not make their manager look foolish but, instead, wise and proficient at all times. Therefore, Hitters always exude a cheerful, pleasant disposition to communicate everything is okay, even under the most dire circumstances.

To help keep themselves immune to criticism, Heavy Hitters adopt a “politically correct” demeanor, rarely making cynical statements and repressing any open display of anger or disrespect to others. Patience and temperance are virtues Teflon managers appreciate. Perhaps during their upbringing Teflon managers were taught “If you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all.” Regardless, this becomes the salesperson’s new mantra. A salesperson would definitely not tell long-winded stories about personal problems or detailed accounts of the history of a deal as they would with an expressive manager. Rather, they keep the interactions brief and talk only about the big picture.

Amateur Managers
Amateur managers are the toughest of all the types to work with. While they may make a great first impression, analogous to a great first date, each subsequent date becomes more painful and frustrating.

Amateur managers most likely do not have an extensive day-to-day background in sales, are very new to sales management, or lack the ability to manage a sales force. Since they lack practical experience, their management style suffers from an identity crisis. As a result, plans continually change and the sales organization suffers from a lack of focus. Their shortage of practical sales experience also renders their advice on deals unreliable and their participation in sales calls ineffective.

Amateur managers fear being judged negatively by their superiors and peers, as well as their subordinates. Therefore, they may perceive the company as unfriendly or hostile. Their fears may also play an interesting part in their decision process. Under stress they become worried and indecisive or they propose so many different solutions that nothing ever happens. Or they may create outlandish plans and elaborate schemes that can’t possibly be implemented in the real world. The mood of the sales department is schizophrenic and changes from moment to moment. Sometimes there is a cheerful permissiveness while other times it is run with iron-fisted authority.

Amateur managers may have a misconception of their own strengths and an incorrect perception of how the organization views them. They also have a demonstrated history of broken relationships and a tendency to try to fix business problems by anointing a new “hero of the day.” This person is expected to fix the organization’s problem and receives great initial support. Soon thereafter, the support wanes and amateur managers start to blame the hero for the department’s problems.

The long-term strategy for working with amateur managers is directly opposite from strategies for all of the other management styles. Instead of investing in and building the relationship, you actually search for a way to be released or escape from it. The strategy for liberation from the amateur manager is called “release relationship.”

Several different methods can be used to be released from the relationship. Heavy Hitters could ask for a transfer or reassignment, seek a promotion, quit, or be fired. Each of these is perfectly acceptable. “Being fired is acceptable?” you may be asking yourself. Absolutely. Heavy Hitters know time is short and they do not want to waste their lives making incompetent people money. They want to surround themselves with successful people they respect. They have the confidence to stand up for themselves and what they believe in.

Another more daring way to release the relationship is by “firing” the amateur manager. When a disgruntled sales team bands together, unemotionally documents their grievances over time, and presents them logically to the amateur’s boss, the wheels of justice will start turning.

Micromanagers are the most organized and methodical of all the management types. They have a strong sense of responsibility to their company and they pride themselves on achieving their revenue goals. They tend to be black-and-white, all-or-nothing thinkers who want things done their way. They may have laboriously created methodical processes for every aspect of their job, most likely having used these same processes at previous companies. Their endless stream of formal and informal regulations sometimes distracts salespeople from achieving results.

They may be well known for their temper and are not considered people-oriented. In fact, they dislike human resource issues and are not regarded as great recruiters. They tend to hire people who they know will carry out their instructions to the letter, and even though one of the team members may achieve success, they will criticize that person if it wasn’t done their way. Micromanagers will have a long list of tasks on their white boards and keep records of all top accounts there in plain view.

Heavy Hitters adopt a long-term strategy based upon their concept of the “perfect performance” of an efficient, industrious, and competent salesperson. Working efficiently equals being organized in the mind of a micromanager. Industriousness is akin to a single-minded, business-only attitude toward the job as evidenced by working long hours. Finally, the competent salesperson will complete tasks using the established processes.

To micromanagers, work and play are two entirely different matters. Therefore a sober disposition and attention to daily routines are necessary to function in a micromanager’s world. In addition, the constant flow of information is critical to ensure a smoothly functioning world, and Heavy Hitters will overcommunicate by staying in constant touch.

Overconfident Managers
Overconfident managers are on the opposite end of the humility spectrum from sergeants. They tend to be self-centered and self-absorbed. While charming and gregarious in public, they rarely have deep relationships in private. When they do take an active interest in developing a relationship, it is because they believe it will benefit their cause—having orchestrated strong relationships with their superiors.

Overconfident managers just love to talk about themselves and don’t exhibit a great depth of feeling for others. They may boast of past successes and frequently recount stories about these achievements, regardless of whether someone may have heard them before. Not surprisingly, arrogance makes them susceptible to making judgmental mistakes. They also enjoy being the life of the party and know how to make any party an unforgettable event. They are typically flashier dressers and very concerned with their appearance.

They will receive strong reactions when they participate in sales situations. Some customers will absolutely love them while others will have an equally strong, opposite reaction. Similarly, they will not relate equally with all members of the team. Rather, they will have a few favorites that resemble them.

They are not open to feedback and are known to get quite defensive when criticized. They will get the job done their way and succeed at any cost. Although they are not exemplary planners, their sheer drive and tenacity make them well suited for roles where they have to launch a new product line or a new company.

Overconfident managers build a sales team of fighting gladiators who possess extraordinary will power, mental toughness, animated spirit, and intelligence. To be included in this team, Heavy Hitters adopt the “clever conqueror” long-term strategy.

Since Heavy Hitters regularly sell to people who are better educated and more technically proficient than they are, they know there’s a difference between a smart person and a clever person. A smart person knows how something works, while a clever person knows how to get something done. The clever salesperson is skillfully talented and tactically shrewd in finding a way to win.

To be a conqueror, you must attack your enemies, be comfortable fighting for the cause, and not be afraid of rankling people in the process because the end justifies the means. It also means not exposing any weakness, such as fear, self-doubt, sadness, or embarrassment. As Julius Caesar said, “Veni, vidi, vici” (I came, I saw, I conquered”). Only the attacker can be victorious; at best, the defender will merely survive.

The structure of the sales department will mirror the sales management style of its leaders. Since the sales leadership will naturally imprint themselves on their organization, it is critical to understand what style of sales leader you work for. Do you work for an expressive manager? Is your manager is equal parts mentor and overconfident manager? These are important points to consider when determining why your relationship with your manager isn’t working. Most importantly, Heavy Hitters treat their sales managers exactly like customers—because they are! They create a strategy and carry out a plan to win them over.