TALKING SALES 202: "The most valuable sales skill"

John Smibert

Suppleness 02 700x400              "Agility and suppleness - keys to success" - a John Dougan interview by John Smibert.

In this discussion with sales detective,  John Dougan , I asked him what would be the one sales skill John Douganthat would provide us with the greatest results - that is, the most valuable selling capability that we could possess?

Without hesitation John said 'suppleness' -  to be able to react and adapt constructively every time in every situation.

John went on to explain why and how suppleness needs to deployed in relation to sales process and methodology.

He also recommended ways in which we ca all develop this capability.

In the full discussion - that can be viewed or read below - John  provides insight for salespeople and sales leaders that I felt was very pertinent. I recommend you view the 4 minute video or read the transcript. I hope you like it.


John Dougan is the Intrepid Sales Detective, a noted writer and blogger on sales effectiveness.

Subscribe to future videos           See previous 'TALKING SALES' videos here


John S: Delighted to have John Dougan with me again - welcome back, John!

John D: Thank you, John!

John S: Hey John, I'm going to get you to surprise me here I think.

John D: Okay. [laughs]

John S: I'm really putting myself out on a limb here. Let me ask a question. If there was one skill and only one that you could focus on, or your people could focus on, what would be that one skill that would drive in your mind the best results?

John D: Wow. That's a great question, John.

John S: Sales skill I'm talking about.

John D: Yes, I was going to say people usually use "That's a great question." as a filler to think of something smart to say. I'm going to say sales 'suppleness'.

John S: 'Sales suppleness'.

John D: Yes. More specifically... I don't want to use the word 'agility', because I don't think that's quite correct. I mean the ability to react how you need to react when you need to react that way. As somebody who's grown up reading and working on multiple sales methodologies for example, I really feel like the suppleness to change or choose what methodology you need to use when you need to use it is as poignant as anything else in selling. I also believe that changes in buyer behaviour and the buying dynamic that we face, and a variety of factors that can change in any sales scenario... I've told you before, John, that every single buyer buys differently every time; sales suppleness is the key to being a successful seller.

Suppleness 03 700x420John S: And you said not agility but suppleness. It sounds like agility is very close to what you're saying though.

John D: Yes, and it is about being agile. But to me being supple is specifically working on key, intrinsic parts of your sales capability to be able to react to that way when you need to react that way.

John S: And probably more so, respond rather than react where you need to, and move, as you say, suppilly through the process.

John D: Absolutely. If you consider it in the sense of a fighter, the suppleness that somebody needs to demonstrate is the idea that they can take action when they need to and react accordingly when they need to. So suppleness for me isn't just about being able to react or respond in a certain way, it's being able to actually control it in a way that you are agile enough to actually change tact if you need to at the time. And I think at the moment the really great salespeople I see work on honing very specific skills that they can use at a time they need to.

John S: I'm not going to let you off the hook just now.

John D: Fair enough.

John S: A lot of guys and girls will sit back and say, "That probably makes a lot of sense. Now, how do I go about improving my suppleness?" How would I develop that skill?

Suppleness 04John D: That's a great question. John, we have spoken about it before, but it is incremental skill development over time, it is the idea of being obsessed with what you need to improve. And what I mean by that is if we take that incremental skill, don't give up on it if you can't perfect it. Really try to hone in on why you can't do something, share that with mentors, peers, your leaders, find out what other people do to be successful in that sense...

John S: And then practice it.

John D: And then practice it every single day as much as you can in real life scenarios. I've told you before, John, consistent practice over time will make you the best you can possibly be in anything in life, not just sales.

John S: That's great advice, and I really thank you very much, John!

John D: Thank you!


If you like John Dougan  you can see more of his interviews here:

  1. Adapting Sales Process to Buyer Behaviour
  2. Choosing the right sales methodology
  3. The social selling evolution
  4. The sales profession
  5. Why is your sales meeting de-motivating?
  6. Research shows sales meetings suck
  7. Coaching for sustainable sales growth
  8. Coaching for behavioural change
  9. Reciprocity: The forgotten sales strategy
  10. Referral Strategy



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Want to touch base? If you have questions please feel free to contact me - email: john.smibert(at), Phone: +61 404857893 or Skype: john.smibert

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