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All About Sales: Conor Kenny

Article by Conor Kenny ©.
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In his new book Sales Tales Business Consultant, Conor Kenny explains what makes great sales people. Here’s a flavour of the book and some of Conor’s tips that you can apply to selling your own book!

It’s a funny thing but, more often than not, people will avoid telling you they’re in sales. They might be ambassadors, representatives, executives or ‘in marketing’. It’s as if ‘sales’ is a slightly tarnished word. It’s not, nor should it ever be seen that way.

Writing a book, marketing it and then making sure it sells, is no different.

The Essential Journey

Selling, great selling, will always follow this simple pattern. Without it, selling is impossible. It’s worth hanging on to this little lesson and always worth referring back when little road blocks appear.

I call this ‘The 5 A’s’. Come see why.

A – The first A is for ‘Acknowledge’. Let’s apply this to your book, paper or Blog. It means, I have to have heard of you, or your book. Without that, nothing will happen and nothing can happen.

In very simple terms, this is where you need to do a little marketing and that includes PR.

A – The second A is for ‘Admire’. This means that I have heard about you, I’ve heard good things about you and they were all good. Before I’m going to do anything as dramatic as research you, Google you or understand you, I need to admire you. This is often, in book terms, where someone recommended you.

A – The third A is for ‘Adopt’. This is where I’ve now heard about you, listened to good things being said and now I’ve decided to move on that. ‘I adopt’ means I go and buy your book or get it somewhere. I’m now your reader.

A – The fourth A is for another ‘Admire’. This is where I’m now a fan, a follower and, more importantly, a buyer. Quite simply, I know you and I admire your work.

A – The fifth and final A is for ‘Advocate’. I’ve read your book, it’s fantastic and I’m now freely recommending it to others “You just have to read her book, it’s great”. This is how word spreads and, funnily enough, how your sales grow.

Of course there is one more letter to consider. It’s the letter ‘R’.

It doesn’t quite fit the easy flow of the 5 ‘A’s’. In fact, it breaks the nice pattern. It’s meant to and there’s a good reason for it which highlights a very big mistake many people make.

Imagine your book is ‘A History of Famous World War 2 Battleships’?

It may well be beautifully written, wonderfully illustrated and packed brim full of superb facts and figures but there’s a problem.

You see, I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in World War 2, the ocean or battleships. It’s just not something that interests me. So, no matter how good it is, I won’t buy.

The ‘R’ is for the ‘Rejecter’ and, whatever you do, you must never waste time talking to people who have no interest in your passion, hard work or subject.

Instead, keep your focus and energy for like-minded people who will quickly move from Admirers to Advocates.

Great sales people are not just great sales people, they’re simply great people who are in sales. Over many years, I’ve learnt by listening, observing and by looking at what people did that had a good impact on me. The list below is not scientific, it’s just my view and my perspective on what makes great sales people, great. These are qualities you need to adopt to maximise your sales:

Humility: Great sales people are humble. They never let their ego get in the way

Trust: You trust them instinctively. They have earned that

See good: They focus on the good, not the weakness. They forgive customers who are difficult

Positive: ‘Cheerful’ and ‘positive’ are among the words that describe the most successful sales people. The opposite isn’t very inviting

Honest: They are honest – always

What’s right: They will only do what’s right for their customer, even when that means saying “No”

Knowledge: They know what they sell and how it benefits their customer

Confident: Confidence is essential in selling and great sales people are only confident because they believe in their proposition

Learn: They have a desire to learn throughout their career

Judge: They don’t. They listen and welcome alternative perspectives

Curious: They have a natural curiosity and an innate ability to question

People: They simply love being around – and with – people

Fast: They are driven by fixing problems – and fixing them quickly too

Brand: They know their brand, its behaviour, culture and personality

Personality: They are who they are and never try to be someone else

Listen: They are good listeners above all else

Promises: They are passionate about delivering what they promised

Value: They like to add value, which usually means effort

Work hard: They work hard and usually longer hours than their contract requires

Shortcuts: They don’t take them

Accessible: Great sales people don’t turn off their phone

Balance: They understand the importance of not working every hour

Fair: They understand a good deal must be a good deal for both parties

Say “No”: They know when to say “No” – when it’s a bad deal for the customer

Winning: They don’t see a good deal as a win – they see it as a draw

Persistent: They don’t quit, even when they’re told to

Standards: They have high standards in every part of their life

Emotions: They rarely let them get in the way

Focus: They keep their eye on the goal, not the journey

Rejection: They don’t allow rejection to interfere with their goal

Energetic: They move fast, not slow

Character: They have charisma, even if they don’t believe it themselves.

Another way to see the qualities of great sales people is to pause for one moment and think about the sales people you’ve met who really impressed you. You’ll find that the characteristics you admire and trust are all within the list above. We don’t often sit back and analyse these traits but they exist, they work and they’re the DNA of really good sales people.

This story, one of many in Sales Tales is a simple example of how great sales happen.

Take it on Trust

Above all else, the key quality of a great sales person is that you trust them. Some years back, I had the great pleasure of working with Ireland’s most iconic brand, Guinness. John Mullins was my daily Guinness business contact. John is Guinness through-and-through.

John loves Guinness and Guinness loves John. It has been a life-long love affair from the age of 16. Although he ‘retired’ many years ago, he still hasn’t left. I travelled with John many times and his innate charisma, authenticity and razor-sharp mind taught me lessons that I still use today. Passion ran through everything John did. It’s infectious and most of all, it builds confidence. For me, in a long career, John stands out as one of the greatest influences on my journey and really understanding how to

A man from Spain wanted to build an Irish pub back home. He came to the brewery at St James’ Gate. John was representing Guinness and I was representing The Irish Pub Company. The man hummed and hawed and price kept derailing his thinking. He was a nice man and didn’t want to offend. Eventually, he came out with it: “But if I build this pub in Spain, with local craftsmen, I will save myself €30,000”.

My heart sank. At last, the truth was coming out, the sale was doomed. Not for John Mullins. Quick as a flash, John looked him in the eye and in a solemn voice said: “That would be the most expensive €30,000 you ever saved”. Our Spanish guest paused with a jaw inclined towards the floor. In broken English, he replied: “Okay, we go ahead”.

A unique combination of charisma, character and authentic confidence, coupled with strong beliefs and doing the right thing, brought a sale back from the dead. Now you can see why Guinness won’t let John go.


Best of luck selling your book!

(c) Conor Kenny

About Sales Tales

For the past 30 years, Conor Kenny has learnt to sell largely by making lots of mistakes and working hard to understand what inspires a reaction and what it is that makes people buy or not.

This book will help you sell more and understand yourself and your customers.

Sales Tales is based on his personal experience and real encounters in pursuit of sales excellence. The purpose of the book is to tell real-life stories, each underpinned with a powerful lesson that helped Conor sell the next time around.

Sometimes, to believe the fire is hot, you need to get burnt. When you do, there is no book better than raw experience. Sales Tales is based on Conor’s occasional mis-step into the fire. It is a book of real stories – sales stories that will help you to be a better sales person and to make more sales. It will guide you in sales, in your career and in life.

Conor Kenny is the Founder and Principal of Conor Kenny & Associates, Ireland’s leading independent training, mentoring, HR, learning and professional development company for the hospitality industry. Sales Tales: True Stories of How Great Sales Happen, his first book, is available from good bookshops and the publisher, Oak Tree Press.