February 10

You Can’t Handle The Truth


The 1992 military court drama film, A Few Good Men, featured Tom Cruise and Jack Nicolson. One of the most memorable lines from the film comes from Nicolson shouting to Cruise, “You can’t handle the truth.”

As I was meeting with some trusted colleagues last week, I was reminded of this scene. We were sharing goals and asking for help from one another in achieving those goals.

The underlying theme in our conversation was: Tell me the truth and keep me accountable.

My colleagues and I recognize that all of us can fall into the trap of coasting and excuses instead of doing what it takes to be successful in life and business.

We talk a good game; however, we aren’t playing a good game.

As sales professionals, can we handle the truth?

For sales managers the truth might be:

  • Admitting you don’t have the best sales team because you aren’t investing enough time in recruiting top talent. The truth is you only recruit when you have an opening. This often leads to settling for what is available in the market at that time. The truth is: you aren’t clear on the competencies needed for success at your company, so you are often “winging the interview” with potential candidates.
  • The truth might be you aren’t spending enough time preparing for your group sales meetings. The sales team gets together, everyone reviews deals and numbers. Since there is no time invested in preparing a GREAT sales meeting, there aren’t any new ideas shared. There aren’t any role plays because effective role plays take time to prepare. The truth is that sales managers often spend more time looking at numbers, than teaching and coaching the skills that can CHANGE THE NUMBERS.
  • You aren’t modeling the behaviors you expect from your sales team. Every sales leader at one time has preached to their sales team the importance of listening more than they speak. Videotape one of your one-on-one coaching sessions. You might discover the truth. If will most likely show the truth: you tell more than you listen or you tell more than you ask. This will lead to no change in the salesperson’s behavior.

For salespeople the truth might look like this:

  • Too much time invested in writing practice proposals for prospects that are never going to buy. The truth is: you are uncomfortable disqualifying opportunities because you don’t have enough opportunities in the sales pipeline. You are looking for anybody, not the right somebody, to avoid this truth of an empty sales pipeline.

This leads me to the next truth.

  • The truth is you’re inconsistent about your business development efforts. Chances are there is no defined time on your calendar for reaching out to prospects or existing clients. Your prospecting strategy is, “I’ll do it when I get around to it or I feel like doing it.”
  • Being very average at selling. Ouch, that’s a hard truth. It’s not because you haven’t been exposed to great training from either your sales manager or an outside sales training firm. It’s not because you don’t have the ability to be great.

It’s because you haven’t practiced the skills you’ve been taught or you don’t read or listen to content that will improve your influence and communication skills.

The truth is: mastery is really hard work and you’re not doing the work necessary to be great.

Can you handle the truth? Find some truth-tellers in your life, people that will hold you accountable. This will help you achieve both your personal and professional goals.

Good Selling!


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