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Choosing the Right People to Work With

Yesterday I met with a sales prospect who sells over $50 million dollars a year of a specific product. It goes without saying that he is extremely wealthy.

However, after our meeting was over I concluded that he was the poorest man in the world... The only thing he has is money.

If you understand anything about what I teach in “Are You For Real?!” you know that I came to value being authentic and real in order to achieve the greatest success in sales. It wasn’t until I really did some soul searching to understand myself and how I needed to present myself to customers (and what they deserved from me really) was as the REAL David Stern.

The prospect I met with on the other hand was so not real and forgive my frankness, clueless about anything real except for the holy dollar. However I wanted to get to know him out of fairness.

However, after we had a discussion for over an hour and a half, I decided that I can’t work with such a person. If this were 20 years ago, I may have just taken the opportunity to add a client or a customer, and ignored my own values. However, I’m 20 years wiser and I’ve come to realize a truth that might be painful in the moment, but will make us more at peace in the long run:

Sometimes we have to choose who our customer or clients are, and that means that we turn down a prospective sale or partnership.

Who you associate with says a lot about you. Think about what happens to a star athlete when they screw up in some way. The advertisers run from them, even as it means they lose a key spokesperson. The fear of the negative association is something they don’t want to deal with, so they say, “Sorry, this isn’t what our company is about, and therefore we can’t work with you.”

Salespeople need to likewise choose carefully. It shouldn’t just be about closing a sale. It should be about looking at the long term partnership, and if what you see in the first couple of meetings makes you feel uncomfortable because it might compromise your principles or it just isn’t a good fit, you owe it to yourself and to that prospect to say, “No, thank you.”

The people you associate with in other words are seen by many, and you need to determine if what they see is a positive thing or something that makes them wonder and worry about what you’re doing.

Look instead for people with whom you share values. It’s the softer side of sales, but it matters. What principles do they live by? How do they treat you in a meeting, or treat others who either work for them, or are partners with them in business? If you don’t like what you see, it’s not likely to change, and you should know that at some point in your own business relationship, it’s going to be you on the receiving end of that unwelcome treatment.

On the opposite side, a partnership with a sales prospect that is strong and in step with your values will be so much easier. As a result, you’re likely to keep that customer as well as grow your business with them. That’s success. And success begets more success, because other prospects see it and are more attracted to working with you as well.

You see it a lot on the stock market. When two companies merge and investors think “I don’t get it. This merger doesn’t make sense. They’re nothing alike,” the stock price falls because there isn’t much confidence that the new partnership will do well.

On the other hand, strong partnerships that feature two companies who complement each other and have a long term future are met with great interest, and stock prices for their shares will soar.

In my coaching business, I know that just because a prospect is doing well doesn’t mean that I should be working with them. There’s more to it than that. Over the years, I have come to develop values that should be key in any partnership I form with clients. So yes, I will skip over someone who would rather dictate to me how I should coach even if it means I will lose their business. There are other fish in the sea as the saying goes.

You’ve likely been in the running for a job, and in the process, have not found the company to be all it says it is. You hear from others that their employees are constantly turning over. You felt uncomfortable in the interview. However you needed the job, and might have said yes when it was offered to you. I’m going to take a guess that you didn’t stay there long.

So, take the time to examine your values, your goals and your strengths, both as a salesperson and a real person (and by the way, that person should be one and the same). Let those be your guiding focus to find the right customers and not necessarily the most customers. In this case it is about quality not quantity, and the net result will be success for the long term.