Contributed Column

Marketing 101

Christine Miller

Become a sales cowboy

The Wild West -- such an awesome period in history. Six-gun shooters, lawlessness, fighting off attacks, cowboys saving the day. No formal codes were in place, but pioneers were bound by the unwritten rules of good deeds, fairness, and respect for the land. It made me wonder: Is it time to become a sales cowboy?

Ramon Adams, author of the 1969 book The Cowman and His Code of Ethics wrote, “Back in the days when the cowman and his herds made a new frontier, there was no law on the range. Lack of written law made it necessary for him to frame some of his own, thus developing a rule of behavior that became known as the ‘Code of the West.’”

In sales we often have structure but no formal rules for behavior, or “laws on the range.” Plans, goals, objectives, CRMs (customer relationship management), and metrics all make selling more successful and efficient. But what if we took the best sales practices and combined them with the Code of the West? Could we become even more successful?

After all, aren’t we blazing new frontiers with every new client call while we strive to expand our territory? Should we all strive to be sales cowboys? •

Christine Miller is president of Miller Consulting LLC, which helps small businesses identify, qualify, develop, and close targeted sales leads, and helps organizations find more value in existing relationships. She can be reached at chris@millersalesconsulting.com.

Code of the WestCode of the Sales Cowboy
Remove your guns before sitting at the dining tableLeave your emotions at the door. This is business, not a reality TV show.
Don’t make a threat without expecting dire consequences.Don’t make a threat without expecting dire consequences. It happens.
Never pass anyone on the trail without saying “Howdy.”Be respectful, friends, and gracious to everyone including gatekeepers and receptionists.
Always fill your whiskey glass to the brim.Be careful if you fill your whiskey glass to the brim. Not everyone is Don Draper, and even he hit the wall a few times.
A cowboy doesn’t talk much.Talk less, listen more.
No matter how weary and hungry you are after a long day in the saddle, always tend to your horse’s needs before your own.Yes, your client is your horse. Take care of your client first and foremost and your client will take care of you.
Do not practice ingratitude.Say thank you, all the time, every time.
A cowboy is pleasant even when out of sorts. Complaining is what quitters do, and cowboys aren’t quitters.A good salesperson is pleasant even when out of sorts. Clients don’t care about our complaints, nor should they have to hear about them.
Always be courageous. Cowboys don’t tolerate cowards.Go for the big appointment, presentation, or sale. You don’t fail when trying; you fail when you don’t even try.
A cowboy always helps those in need, including strangers and enemies.Be a good person and good things will come your way. Yes, I believe in Karma.
Give your enemy a fighting chance.Play fair. Cheating is for losers. The win is so much better when it comes legitimately.
Cowboys are modest.If your ego is so big you have trouble fitting your head through the door, you won’t be invited to the table (and you might end up in a painful situation trying to jam your way in).
A cowboy is loyal to his “brand,” to his friends, and those he rides with.Don’t sell something you don’t believe in, and don’t poach from your coworkers; they are your posse.
Honesty is absolute — your word is your bond; a handshake is more binding than a contract.Shake hands and mean it. Make your word stronger and more binding than a contract.
Live by the Golden RuleTreat others as you should be treated: with tolerance, consideration, and compassion.

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