Effective tips for people in non-traditional sales roles with Chris Spurvey

May 14, 2020
Author: Collin Stewart

Not all who end up in sales envisioned themselves in sales. 

In fact, that’s true for a lot of us. Sales is a great career – full of countless professional opportunities, financial incentives, and potential leadership avenues – but, still, most sales professionals wind up in the job after having focused or trained in something else.

Take entrepreneur, sales leader, and published author Chris Spurvey – he began his fruitful journey in sales almost by accident. While still in college, he and two colleagues started a small web design agency. His partners had the technical expertise, so Chris wound up being tasked with getting clients.

And, according to Chris, it was a steep learning curve particularly because he didn’t identify with a lot of the sales philosophies and templates available in books at the time.

He had to make the job work for who he was.

“I Always embodied the sales role throughout my career. But when I started, I read sales books, and never connected with a lot of the philosophies. So, I made mistakes. I fell hard, learned lots, and failed miserably,” says Spurvey, on a recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.

That’s when I realized I had to sell the way he needed to sell – I couldn’t just follow other books and templates.

The importance of a positive mindset in sales

This “that doesn’t sound like me” sentiment is a situation faced by many people who become successful salespeople. So, having the right mindset about the salesperson you want to be is critical. 

For example, when Spurvey was you a door-to-door vacuum salesman visited his home. And, over the course of a short chat with his parents, that salesman convinced them to buy a $3,000 vacuum – a lot of money for those days. For weeks after, he remembered, his parents argued about how to pay the new purchase off. 

That picture, that memory of sales, stayed with Spurvey for years. And it affected his entry into the sales world because the image he was carrying simply wasn’t how he wanted to conduct his sales process.

“That was how sales was planted in my mind – 10 years later I was beginning in sales for our small company. But, that vacuum sales process doesn’t work for me. I can’t sell that way. And that’s why I failed, because I had that picture in my head. Sales, of course, is not that negative picture. Sales is critical, it brings revenue, and it brings growth,” says Spurvey.

So, we need to reframe that sales picture we have. The picture or mindset we have 100% impacts how we take on this job. We have to look at sales in a more holistic way, a more supportive way.

Re-framing sales

So…how do we reframe the sales job? What should it look like?

According to Spurvey, it’s important to both get personal and start with the premise of why people buy things to answer that critical question.

People buy based on how they feel, and then they justify that feeling logically afterwards. Whether sales is in your title or not, when you meet somebody that is a prospect, they form an opinion pretty quickly.

So, first things first, you have to be genuine and authentic. And, then, you have to understand what drives you as a salesperson. 

“I realized I was motivated to sell when I had a desire to grow my book of business, and I just went out there and did it. To get out there effectively, I formed a vision of my life that was of service, delivering value,” says Spurvey.

Your prospects need help – and that is where you can be of service. So, use that, get on the rooftops and scream that. That is how we support, that is how we help. This is how I got motivated to get out there and do my best.


The Ladder

Now, once you get your mindset right, and decide how to best display your authentic nature while selling, it’s paramount to learn a few tactical tips and tricks to help you close deals. 

What are the raw materials you need to be successful?

Well, you need prospects. If you have no one to talk to, closing deals will be…difficult. But, there are lots of opportunities to grow a business, and most pass us by because we don’t have a framework to determine if we can help someone or not.

To capture those opportunities, to cement those tips and tricks, Spurvey has developed a framework he calls “the Ladder.”

The first rung on the ladder is concerned with the messages, or conversations, you are putting out into the market. 

The acronym Spurvey has developed is FORM, which stands for: family, occupation, recreation, motivation. These are the basis of almost all rapport-building conversations. We bond on topics of family, our jobs, what we do for fun, or what we’re interested in.

The next rung on the ladder, says Spurvey, is explaining what it is you do. For example, when you discuss one of the four aforementioned topics, a person typically responds with “what do you do?”

This is where many salespeople fail. Too many, says Spurvey, answer with their titles: “I’m VP of Business Development at KPMG” or “I lead sales for SAP.” These titles, sadly, don’t mean anything to a potential prospect or connection.

Instead, discuss your job in terms of the benefits you bring: “I help companies fixing their procurement process through software” or “I help train consultants on how to build their book of business.”

From there, says Spurvey, a potential prospect will say: “oh, that’s interesting, how do you do that?” At this point, stresses Spurvey, instead of responding with a well-crafted answer about your job, ask to meet for a coffee so you can chat more. 

“It’s hard to go into the nitty gritty in a public space, or at a networking event. So get that conversation booked, and get into the details and find out if there are problems you can solve. Almost every time, this works. I may be oversimplifying the sales process here, but this applies to sales across the board,” says Spurvey.

But the bottom line here is, no matter what you sell, or where you sell it, what you are driving at is: what is the pain in their life and can I help solve it?

For more on Spurvey’s thoughts on how to equip salespeople with practical tips and tricks – including a lengthy discussion on how to ask for referrals, as well as more on his Ladder framework – check out the rest of his interview on The Predictable Revenue Podcast.