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Take A Bite Out Of Sales Barriers

Sold on certain ideas about selling? That attitude, along with old assumptions, could hurt your returns.

This story appears in the June 1999 issue of Startups. Subscribe »

Did you know if you place a baby shark in a glass cage that's not large enough to accommodate a full-grown shark, the shark will not grow to full size? (Stick with us--there's a reason for imparting this seemingly far-fetched bit of trivia.)

According to sales expert Richard Friedman, president and CEO of Legal Review International LLC in Westport, Connecticut, the same barriers that prohibit the growth of a full-blown Jaws can diminish sales success (now you get it). Specifically, he points to three particular attitudes that are common barriers to achieving maximum sales success:

1. "If I'm at an appointment, I must be making money." Not. You need to figure out whether a follow-up visit is really worth your time, or whether you just like talking about your kids with this particular prospect.

2. "I know this market like the back of my hand." Each prospect is unique, even if they're all attorneys--well, maybe that's a bad example--and you need to do your homework on each individual.

3. "I've got a system that works for me." Not good enough, particularly if you find nine out of 10 prospects hang up on you before you're even 10 seconds into your pitch.

Friedman suggests that to overcome these barriers, you devote 15 percent of your time to personal and professional development, whether that means taking classes, reading books or simply asking your spouse to rate your phone manner.

Julia Miller is a Los Angeles business writer specializing in sales and marketing.