Messages from the Masters
The Hot-Air Factor - How Full of It Are You? by Jeffrey Gitomer

Sometimes salespeople get a bad rap. Sometimes they create it. 

Sales requires self confidence -- but there's a fine line between self confidence and cockiness. A finer line between self-assured and arrogance. And the finest line -- between proud and egotistical.

As a professional salesperson, there's a career of difference between self talk = self performance (the right way) and loose lips sink ships (the ultra-wrong way).

Salespeople are not the most loved group of professionals to begin with. We rank above politicians, tax collectors, and (especially) lawyers, but below dentists and dog catchers. All that a salesperson can hope to do is establish a great reputation, and let that propel him to success.

Since the prospect buys the salesperson first -- reputation is as valuable (and critical) an element as a he or she can have. How is yours?

One bad event, situation, or story can ruin years of hard work. Continuing stories of neglect or over promising breed career destruction. A salesperson's self-delusion (failure to admit the problem, and thinking nothing is wrong) will make the situation worse.

Sales hot-air can occur at any level. Customers, prospects, bosses and co-workers are all potential victims.

"Come on Jeffrey," you say, "Get to the point. Give me some examples of self-destructive talk -- what is sales "hot-air?" Relax helium breath, here tiz. 

7.5 examples of Hot Air -- (even though I'm sure none of these apply to you).

1. BTNA -- Big talk - no action. Too much time talking about the sales you're going to make and not enough time making them.
2. Bragging too soon - Before the deal is signed, sealed, and a check delivered. 
3. Bragging too much -- No one but you wants to hear it. If you really need to hear yourself -- just make a tape of yourself and replay it in your car until you get as sick of it as others.
4. Bragging at the expense of others -- Beat the competition, but don't beat them into the ground. A variation of this is making someone else look like a fool. Bragging about someone you took advantage of or tricked.
5. Using others as scapegoats to get yourself off the hook -- Better known as covering your butt, or the inability to accept responsibility. Blaming others for your failings is obvious to those listening, and makes a fool out of the teller.
6. Exaggerating the facts -- Each year the fish that got away increases in size. Stay within the parameters of what you know to be true -- or less. Understated is always better.
7. Using insincere words -- Honestly, truthfully, quite frankly, and I mean that, are words that alienate.
7.5 Talking past the sale -- Knowing when to shut up and go home. Employing any one of the above elements after a sale has been consummated -- but before you leave will jeopardize the sale. It's known as "buying it back," and it happens often. The rule of thumb in sales is "less is more." 

Hot air has interesting negative side effects...

* It wastes everyone's time.
* It's the most unproductive and negative use of your time possible.
* It makes you look like a fool.
* It lowers your respect factor by 100.
* It gets people talking behind your back.
* It prevents advancement.
* It can get you fired.

Who wants that? No one, but these side effects are linked to people with severe cases of hot air.

How do you know if this is you? How do you know if you're blowing hot air? Well, no one is without some guilt. It's hard not to brag if you just made a big sale, and took it out from under the nose of your biggest competitor.

The rules are simple:

* Don't say anything behind anyone's back you wouldn't say to their face.
* Don't say something you wouldn't want said about you.
* Don't say anything you have to remember (lies must be remembered, or you get tripped up with the truth).
* Don't say anything you couldn't say in front of your mom.

The key is to temper your remarks with humility. 

Your challenge is to always bring out the good side in your words. 

Your challenge is to employ self-discipline in getting past hot-air.  Your challenge is self-rule or self destruct.

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Knock Your Socks Off Selling and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless; Customer Loyalty is Priceless. To order Jeffrey's many books and/or audios and videos, go to  (c) 1999 All Rights Reserved.

Provided courtesy of  Jim Rohn International