Bill Morrison spent more than 20 years in international sales and sales leadership roles with companies, brands and industries as varied as Rolls Royce Aerospace, Gore-Tex and the Scotch Whisky industry. He eventually decided to focus his career on helping companies and individuals grow their sales success through applying the world’s best-selling methodology—the Sandler method. Read on for my interview with Bill about his new book and how it may give you an entrepreneurial edge in your sales.
Kevin: What first sparked the idea to write your book, Bootstrap Selling The Sandler Way Or: How to Own Your Career and Make it Flourish?
Bill: Story telling has been a major part of what I do when I work with sales teams and business leaders. Trying to explain things like the value of questioning, the need to set “rules of engagement” and the importance of understanding the client’s reason to buy, not just your reason to sell are much easier to convey in a real context.
Over the years I built up a large catalogue of case studies and this book is a way to bring them to a larger audience. I was also very aware that most people have a fundamental misunderstanding of what sales is all about. Most still cling to the idea that selling is all about convincing the other side to do something, to reach a point where the needs of the salesperson are met first then the needs of the customer second.
Selling is like being a business owner, it relies on people taking personal responsibility for the outcomes just as though they were the CEO. In sales, we are all entrepreneurs, all good salespeople are bootstrappers.
Could you briefly describe your background?
My whole career has been in complex B2B sales, most of it being international. I have sold chemicals, waterproof fabrics, Scotch whisky, enterprise IT systems and even books. I was the classic salesperson who moved into marketing, then into sales leadership.
I can proudly say that I made just about every mistake in the book during my thirty years.
What makes your book different from other books that cover the topic of selling?
Sales books tend to be theory driven or motivational. There is a place for both, but I wanted to share critical lessons in a way that readers will be able to relate to. I focus just as much on disaster as triumph since we learn so much from mistakes.
Every concept is placed in a realistic sales context and the reader is invited to go through a brief “lessons learned” process at the end of each.
In your book you talk about the Sandler Success Triangle. How will readers benefit from this concept?
Learning new “techniques” will not create the behavioral change needed for sustainable success. The book also talks about the behaviors and attitudes that make success achievable. Get your attitude right and everything else can follow and that means positioning ourselves as people who solve other people’s problems profitably. It is probably 90% pain discovery, 10% solution delivery and that change needs a fresh attitude towards sales.
What are some of the main lessons delivered to readers?
We are in the decision-making business. Selling used to be about communicating a set of features and benefits, but today’s business environment means that we need to move beyond that and take more control of what has become a joint decision making process between the client and ourselves.
We are accountable, it’s no longer enough to simply do the job, we need to own the accountability for creating progression in a sale.
Given that your book states that “Bootstrap Selling” is grounded in the concept that all sales are entrepreneurial in nature, how would you describe an entrepreneur’s mindset?
The three big questions for any entrepreneur are: where are we now, where are we going and how do we get there? Entrepreneurs do not focus on being busy, keeping the calendar full, or doing lots of presentations, but on finding the clients that will take them and their business to the next level.
Bootstrapping salespeople take ownership of that responsibility.
Give us an interesting fun fact about your book or the research you conducted for your book.
At least three people I know are convinced that one of the stories is about them personally since the situation it describes seems to be universal. In fact, the story is based on one of my personal disasters.
Where can people find out more about you and/or your book?
Can sales books really help?
I would say that more than 50% of all sales books that people buy are never read and at least 50% of those that are read leave no impression.
A sales book needs to leave an impact and force you to ask yourself tough questions about your own behavior and attitudes. I hope people will learn something by working through the short exercises in each chapter.
When would you say that your own sales education was completed?
I never stop learning. My biggest source of learning is my own experience and that of my colleagues, but my clients constantly give me great insights.
Is there anything else you’d like to mention to our readers?
Selling should be exciting, but never stressful. If the client has a need that you are well placed to resolve and you can reach a deal that makes commercial sense for you both the sale will happen; if not, then the time wasn’t right.
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