Mike Murphy

This never works when I try it at home, but I was taught to always assume consent and move forward toward the close. In other words, if the customer is nodding her head, assume that moving the sales call to the next step is the right move. The next step might be that all-important and conclusive “yes” that you are seeking.

Now, I find out that when my wife nods her head, she might only be acknowledging my right to exist - I might not be anywhere near closing the sale.

Selling is a complicated trade. There are all kinds of approaches to consider. If you’re old school, you may have come up through the Xerox Sales Training program, or perhaps you are a huge Zig Ziglar fan. Great programs to follow, but they are so yesterday.

Today, there are millions to choose from; in fact, there are 77,800,000 sales training programs in 0.23 seconds according to a lightning fast Google® search. They are ubiquitous. They are everywhere.

It is almost as if sales training programs have been institutionalized in this country. In fact, a great number of them actually are sales institutes. There is the Media Sales Institute, the Mediation Training Institute, the A Fluent Vision Sales Institute, the cleverly named Institute of Sales Training, and the STI International, which I believe is an abbreviation for Sales Training Institute International. There is even the Sales and Service Training Institute at Tomorrow’s Workplace for people who don’t yet have sales jobs.

As you may have surmised, there is a lot of sales training going on. The average professional salesperson today has been exposed to 5.2 sales training programs. The majority of those were attended in the first 13-1/2 months of his or her sales careers.*

But how do most of them react to the training? New salespeople usually look forward to sales training, experienced salespeople might be more apt to simply tolerate it. Regardless, every few years the boss makes every sales person take more sales training.


A sales training program I was actually quite fond of was a social style program which utilizes Myers-Briggs questions and provides you with plot points within four style quadrants. Though everyone possesses some traits of all four styles, one finds during the training that most people exhibit identifiable buying tendencies that can be associated with a dominant social style. The theory goes that if you can figure out the quadrants, the Driver, Expressive, Analytical, and Relater … well, you can sell to just about anybody.

However, even the four-quadrant approach has gotten kind of crazy. There must be about 23 variations. Now, you can even associate personality styles with animals. Yes, people can be pigs, cows, pigeons, or dogs. The theory goes, if you can figure out which animal your customer is similar to, you can appeal to their inner being … and of course, close the sale.


As you can tell, I surely jest today about sales training. The worst I ever had was wonderful. I always learn something new in a sales class, and I’m sure most of you do, as well. However, may I share one simple sales concept that has sometimes served me well? Only sometimes, because sometimes I forget to abide by the concept - we have two ears and one mouth, listen and talk in a two-to-one ratio. Yes, very simple. Listen twice as much as we talk.

Perhaps this is good advice not only to budding salespeople, but also for the more-experienced ones as well. It is at trade shows, home and garden shows, and the like, where I seem to run into the boisterous and excitable rookies, and the extremely talkative, seasoned veterans of the HVAC selling trade. I am sure that a show floor environment brings out the carny in all of us, the peddler hawking his wares. “Come one, come all, buy what I’m selling today, a bargain at any price!”

Let us trust that professional salespeople leave the show floor hyperbole back at the booth when they are sitting across the table from a customer in the confines of a kitchen or a conference room.

*Murphy’s Law:I made up those numbers. If you ever make up numbers, it is always best to use decimals or fractions. This will make you appear much more believable.

Publication date:03/02/2009