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This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the October 30, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

A New Group for Salespeople

Sellmasters, new concept in sales training, holds its

first Princeton meeting on Monday, November 4, at 6 p.m. Hosted by

Brown Dog Marketing, it meets at DJ Business Services at 475 Wall

Street. Part club, part classroom — with a dash of motivational

speaking thrown in — the group is a venture of John Orvos,

a young tech millionaire.

Orvos began testing SellMasters in Manhattan in July, and starting

signing up his first members earlier this month. He chose Princeton,

where he lives, as his second location.

Before he joined the tech revolution, Orvos was in sales. He graduated

from Penn State, where he majored in marketing, in 1989, and then

went to work for publishing company R.R. Donnelley. There he sold

to major accounts. He says he enjoyed the work, and was good at it.

Yet, by 1995, the song of the tech start-up siren was too beguiling

to ignore, and he joined four friends in forming a new tech company.

Called Image Info Inc., it developed and sold catalog software to

retailers. "They did tech," he say of his partners. "I

did the sales."

The company grew to 80 employees before Orvos and his partners sold

it in 2000 to QRS Inc. for $45 million.

In that same year, Orvos married a children’s counselor, Lisa Orvos,

moved from Manhattan to Princeton, wrote a book, The Four Faces of

Sales, and founded another company, SellCoach. Orvos describes its

first speciality as "training and consulting in all industries."

Clients were big businesses, including Bloomberg, Northwest Mutual,

and R.R. Donnelley. The business-to-business side of his new company

established, Orvos branched out, offering sales training directly

to salespeople.

On the first Friday of the month, he began holding sales seminars

in New York City at a cost of $895 per person, per day. Some 60 percent

of participants are sponsored by their companies, with the rest digging

into their own pockets for the training, which is based on the principles

in the Four Faces book. Orvos says the training he gives uses "an

actionable approach, not tip and tricks."

In the two years since he started SellCoach, he has created 11 affiliates.

Franchisees, who must be sales professionals and who receive three

days of training, now lead SellCoach seminars throughout the northeast,

and in one western and one northwestern location.

Orvos says a number of SellCoach participants asked for on-going training,

and that SellMasters is his answer. This new group meets once a week.

The yearly fee is $595, but, he says, it will be less than that —

$295 — for the first 50 individuals who sign up in the Princeton

area. It is also possible to attend on a week-by-week basis for $25

a meeting.

SellMasters participants E-mail in their sales challenges before each

meeting or pose them as the meeting gets underway. Then, says Orvos,

"the challenges are bundled, and the groups votes on one."

Bundling is easy because a number of people tend to be grappling with

the same issue — perhaps getting through to decision makers, negotiating

terms of a sale, or closing a deal.

SellMasters’ lesson doesn’t end when the meeting does. Each person

chosen to be the focus of a particular meeting will be given specific

tasks to help him succeed, and in future meetings, the group will

check up on his progress. "There’s a motivational element,"

says Orvos, who hopes that participants leave with both the skills

they need to succeed and the confidence to put the skills to work.

In this market, salespeople can use all the skill and confidence they

can get. "The sales atmosphere is tight," says Orvos. Businesspeople

are reluctant to spend money. "Decision making is based on risk,

value, and confidence," he says. A good salesperson can explain

value and give a customer confidence in a product, but, says Orvos,

"even great salespeople are having problems with risk because

of the economy."

The key question for all salespeople now, he says, is "`How do

I motivate my buyer to buy?’" He offers this advice in his book:

"The salesperson that best executes the Four Faces Sales

Process will win sales over the `product focused’ salesperson. Product

focused salespeople are typical and sell by conducting presentations

and product demos, often hiding behind rehearsed pitches. Buyers are

used to seeing this approach from sales people. The Four Faces salesperson

offers a different experience for the buyer, because the focus is

on the sales process rather than the product.

"What do I mean by sales faces? In becoming successful in my own

sales career, I noticed that a particular demeanor was most effective

at different stages of the sale. I studied these successful mannerisms

over time and developed my own technique. As I refined this technique,

I applied a face that represents these behaviors at each stage of

the sale. I call them: The Face of the Sleuth, The Face of the Bull,

The Face of the Doctor, and The Face of the Superhero.

"The first face is like that of a sleuth and is always the first

step of any sales effort. Here, the goal is to uncover leads through

diligent and detailed investigation. The Sleuth investigates and searches

to find new potential customer leads.

"The second face is like that of a bull who charges forward to

contact these leads without intimidating them. The bull’s goal is

to generate the potential customer’s interest and set a meeting for

the doctor face.

"The third face is like that of a doctor who meets with the prospects

to determine their needs and offer a solution. The doctor methodically

questions the prospect to diagnose his needs and to collaborate in

developing his solution.

"The fourth face is like that of a superhero who possesses the

special courage and coolness needed for the last step of the sales

process, to close the sale. In cartoons, we believe in the courage

and confidence of the superhero, who fights to `save the world.’ Similarly,

your company relies upon this superhero salesperson to close the deal."

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