Corrections or additions?
This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the November 27, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Good Salespeople Should Prosper in a Bad Economy
The word on the street is that this is a terrible time
to be a salesperson. The economy is down. Capital spending is down.
Whole industries (think telecom or IT) are on skids. Pennies —
not to mention dollars — are being held in reserve as a bulwark
against an uncertain future.
All of this is just noise, and totally irrelevant to good salespeople,
according to Kevin Shulman, principal in Iselin-based sales
training company Shulman Turrisi (732-767-5351). In fact, says Shulman,
the negative chatter can actually work in favor of the smart salesperson.
He explains how this is so when he speaks on "Why Salespeople
Fail and What to Do about It" on Tuesday, December 3, at 1 p.m.
at a free seminar sponsored by the Trenton Minority Business Incubation
Initiative. Call 609-393-8898 for more information.
Shulman, who grew up in Millburn and in Short Hills, graduated from
the University of Southern California with a degree in psychology
in 1977. He then obtained an advanced degree in industrial psychology
from Wayne State University and taught for a couple of years. "Then,"
he recounts, "I realized I had two choices in life. I could teach
or I could make a living."
Opting for the latter course, he founded Shulman Steel, a company
that sold steel products, mainly to the automotive and construction
industries. "I had grown up in the steel business," he says
of his choice of industry. His father and mother, Al and Florence
Shulman, had owned a similar company in Newark while he was growing
up, and his father joined him in his company.
After a while, however, Shulman became bored with the steel business
and closed his company down. Casting about for his next career move,
he met Dave Sandler of Sandler Sales. "The sparks flew," he
says. In an instant he saw that his background in psychology, teaching,
business development, an entrepreneurial venture, and sales
could all fit together in a new career in sales training. "I had
found a way to teach and to make a living," he says.
In addition to sales training, his company, which is 10 years old,
is involved in sales force evaluation, client development training,
and private entrepreneurial coaching. Much of his work is with
individuals, professional firms, and small to mid-sized companies.
Advice applicable to all includes:
of a down economy heats up, the more most salespeople retreat. Use
others’ fearfulness to your advantage, Shulman urges. "If you
believe the competition is running scared," he says, "you
will realize there is an opportunity for you."
says Shulman skeptically. "For the most part, that problem is
between salespeople’s ears. People who believe it is real are people
who are influenced by it."
But, wait, wait! What about all those reports — sometimes a dozen
in a single day — detailing slowdowns, downsizings, slashed profit
estimates, and bankruptcies? Okay, Shulman admits, everything is not
rosy. Still, he insists, let’s put this into perspective.
"Here’s an example," he says. "Let’s say you know all
the stats show that software buying in New Jersey will be down 20
percent in the next 12 months. In a macro perspective, that means
companies will be buying $800 million rather than $1 billion. But
on a micro level, if you have to sell $2 million or $3 million to
make your $200,000 this year, that means you have to sell one-third
of 1 percent of that instead of one-quarter of 1 percent. The difference
is only slightly larger."
most difficulty, says Shulman, are those who are "stuck in old
ways." He defines "old ways" as allowing prospects to
control the selling situation. Be brave enough to take charge, and
you will be a more efficient salesperson, he says.
says Shulman, salespeople did anything they could to avoid hearing
the word "No," despite knowing on some level that the word
conveys information it is vital for them to have.
He tests his hypothesis in his seminars, asking two questions. The
first is: If you could know at any point that the buyer was not going
to buy when would you want to know? The answer he gets 100 percent
of the time is some variable of "yesterday" or "in the
first five minutes."
Then he asks the second question: Knowing that it is so valuable to
have this information, do you do as much as possible to find out as
soon as possible? Here the answer is a universal no.
The result is a drawn-out process through which the salesperson allows
the prospect to enter into a series of stalling maneuvers, until,
says Shulman, "he is eventually lost in voice mail." For as
much as salespeople hate to hear "no," their prospects often
hate to say the word even more. "We’re brought up hearing it is
not polite to say no," explains Shulman. This being the case, a salesperson
not willing to give his prospects clear permission to turn him down
will waste a lot of time in a courtship pre-destined to go nowhere.
In this economy, as in all economies, says Shulman, salespeople need
to forget about macro trends and concentrate on getting customers
to say "yes" or "no." His most important piece of
advice is simply to "take away the maybe."
You can not let young children on the Internet by themselves.
You must sit down with them," says
of a second grader and a fourth grader, and the founder of NicheUSA,
a Princeton-based software company that takes the mistakes and danger
out of ‘Net surfing (www.nicheusa.com).
Wang’s three-year old company has begun marketing a family of Internet
searching tools called ZoomerOne. The `One’ is in the name, he explains,
because each search tool in the Zoomer family performs just one type
of search. This contrasts with common search engines such as Google
or Yahoo!, which can be used for any search at any level.
Wang has created a ZoomerOne just for the Princeton Public Library
— and for its users. He talks about how to use his gift on Tuesday,
December 3, at 6:30 p.m. at "Extreme Searching: Tips from Pros
in the Trenches," one of the library’s monthly Tech Talks. Internet
Mullowney also speak at the free event. Call 609-924-9529.
Wang says his children, knowing he holds three degrees in computer
science, including a Ph.D. from Boston University, often ask him for
help in using the Internet. Doing so efficiently is not so easy for
young children, he says, pointing out that even a slight misspelling
can thwart a search, or far worse, lead a youngster to a violent or
pornographic site. Searching is not a breeze for adults either. For
one thing, there is a whole "hidden Internet," a vast area
into which most search engines do not go.
Often databases and materials within scholarly journals cannot be
accessed through a query in a search engine. Even materials a search
engine finds are returned in the form of URLs, each of which has to
Anyone who has spent more than a nanosecond searching knows that many
of the sites brought up on a query for, say, "travel bargains
Great Britain" will be a waste of time. In opening the sites’
home pages to see if the information they offer is on point, surfers
are often met with pop-up ads, which are a minor annoyance at best
and often go beyond annoyance to freeze up the computer. All of this
leads to seriously subpar search results and, says Wang, a huge waste
ZoomerOne operates differently from other search engines. Feed it
a query and it goes off, looking only at reliable sites, to retrieve
a folder full of information. Most searches take between 30 and 60
seconds, and Wang says the longest he has seen is two minutes.
The ZoomerOne Wang has created for the Princeton Public Library allows
‘Net searches to feed a query to all of the databases the library
makes available to card holders for access from their homes —
or from any other location where they happen to be. These databases
include Alt-Health Watch, Biography Resource Center, Funk & Wagnalls
Encyclopedia, Image Collections, Infotrac Newspapers, D&B Company
Directory, MagillOnLiterature, Literature Resource Center, Fiction
Catalog, Essay Finder, and more.
Before ZoomerOne, library card holders would have to type in a long
string of digits to access each database, and then, says Wang, would
have to worry about the database timing out if they stepped away from
their computer. Searching five databases would require five log-ins.
ZoomerOne, on the other hand, allows users to enter a search query
just once. Given the query, ZoomerOne is off and running. It searches
each and every one of the databases available for home use and presents
a folder containing pertinent information gathered from all of them.
While the ZoomerOne for the Princeton Public Library is suitable for
searches by patrons of all ages, other ZoomerOnes typically are designed
by age group. There is a ZoomerOne for astronomy searches by students
in the third through the sixth grades, for instance. The company also
is conducting a trial run of a ZoomerOne with the University of Pennsylvania’s
Wang, who worked for Broadvision and for AT&T Bell Labs before founding
NicheUSA, sees uses for ZoomerOne not only in schools at all levels,
but also in research facilities, at newspapers, and in companies of
all kinds. It could be useful, he says, in company intranets, perhaps
by allowing employees to access data held by different departments.
A ZoomerOne search can rest on a desktop, ready to be called up again
and again for updates on queries a surfer makes often.
The company’s original business plan called for signing up individuals
for ZoomerOne subscriptions, but Wang says the thinking now is that
that approach would be too time-consuming. So the company, which has
four employees, is concentrating on signing up organizations. The
company, says Wang, is on the look-out for partners, investors, and
It is now working on a ZoomerOne for Mercer County public schools.
Once in place, it will be one more tool to assure that youngsters
get the most out of an Internet search, and at the same time are safe
from the more pernicious elements of the ‘Net.
Corrections or additions?
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