The biggest myth in sales is that product sells itself: Madlibs w/ Vernon Niven

I can’t believe we didn’t post this Madlibs from Vernon Niven! Thankfully, it’s sales week on the Funnelholic leading up to our webinar Thursday, September 12 at 10AM PDT with sales and marketing genius Matt Heinz:  The 5 Keys to the Successful Modern Sales Organization. In other words, good timing. First let me say: If you don’t know Vernon, hopefully you will now. His Madlibs were awesome. Vernon is the CEO and founder of NeedTagger, a social selling tool build specifically to help sales people find leads on social. Enjoy these Madlibs..they are great.

  1. The b2b buyer is overwhelmed with information, starved for hard facts and bored with your pitch.
  2. The biggest innovation in sales is the amount of information that’s now available online about a person. There’s no excuse for walking in the door unprepared.
  3. The coolest thing happening in b2b sales is that we’re starting to use visual media like video, infographics and social sharing to connect with buyers. Visual media is a lot more entertaining & engaging than white papers and powerpoint.
  4. My favorite Sales 2.0 technology is HootSuite + Nimble CRM.  Nimble has improved how we engage and listen to our prospects and customers, and HootSuite has extended our reach to a lot more people who need solutions like ours. Of course, we sell social media tech, so…
  5. My favorite sales book is the internet. Seriously, I find “big idea” and “how to” books mostly a waste of time. I mean, I love big ideas, but let’s be honest – we get one truly important book per decade (Dale Carnegie published in 1936). If I really want to learn something new, the internet is (for me) the way to go. Or, I ask people for help (the horror!).
  6. My favorite social media channel is a tie between LinkedIn (+Nimble), which has replaced my rolodex, and Twitter (+ filtering tools), which has eliminated the need to attend as many conferences, to read trade magazines and to subscribe to blogs and newsletters.
  7. Social selling is the wrong way to think about it. It’s just selling. Every gesture we use today has an online equivalent – for example, following someone on Twitter is the same as handing them your business card. After enough of us learn these gestures, the prefix will disappear.
  8. I use Linkedin to get introduced to decision makers, learn from others and share cool stuff with my colleagues – several times a day.
  9. Cold calling is something we generally don’t do. And don’t tell me it’s a mistake: I’m like the Honey Badger on this one. That “it works” is not the point! With all the information available to warm a call up, why on Earth would I choose to interrupt so many people? Besides, I suck at it.
  10. In b2b, the idea of a funnel is still important. You need simple, clear goals to lead people. Trying to motivate a busy sales team to work their leads through a “multi-channel buyer’s journey of inbound content engagement” (or whatever) won’t get you there.
  11. The first thing every sales person should do is (when first hired) ask a happy customer what they like most about your products and your people. It fires you up and teaches you what winning looks like.
  12. Voicemail is for people over 35. I think short video clips (Snapchat, Vine, et al) and short text messages will eventually replace VM.  Want proof? Watch how your teen uses her smartphone.
  13. The biggest mistake sales people make is talking before asking questions. I do it all the time (and worse, I am verbose). I have much to learn, Lord of the Funnel.
  14. The biggest myth in sales is the product that sells itself. Pull markets are bullshit. (am I allowed to write that?)
  15. My most forgettable sales experience was in the late 80s, when I was asked to pitch a $10mm process re-engineering deal to a global chemical company. There were 20 senior executives in the room listening to our 1 hour pitch. My firm positioned me as a “world class expert”, but I didn’t know a thing. Dammit, I just cringed again – so, thanks.
  16. The hardest part of selling is the daily grind.
  17. The next “hot-thing” in sales will be the integration of marketing automation with social CRM platforms. This promises to give us better visibility into what our prospect has recently said, shared or done online and provide us with more insight into recent marketing interactions our company has had with them. Informed, real-time listening like this can really empower a sales professional to help a prospect address their most immediate pain point with more respect, understanding and empathy. A lot of integration work left, but this seems to be where the puck is headed.
  18. In 2015, sales will be the hardest job in the company (still).
  19. My favorite sales saying is “There is an art, it says, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning to throw yourself at the ground and miss.”  - Douglas Adams, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
  20. Over the next couple of years in sales, I can’t wait to see how social media is used more and more as a 24/7 business conference (or public marketplace) – where people who need something can easily find and connect with people who can help them. I already see this happening on Twitter and in LinkedIn groups in some technology industries.
  21. Madlibs with the Funnelholic is the best diversion I’ve had on a Thursday afternoon (in almost a week).

Social SellingVernon Niven is the CEO and founder of NeedTagger, a next-generation customer prospecting & data mining platform for social media. Prior to NeedTagger, Vernon was the President & founder of, Churchill Downs’ $1B online gaming business. Vernon previously created & led successful new technology businesses for Aspect Development, i2 Technologies and Accenture. Mr. Niven is an angel investor and advisor to several startups, including The Ellerdale Product, Flipboard, CollegeFrog and Tumri.

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic and a co-founder of Topo. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

  • vniven

    Craig – thanks for the opportunity to… um… be myself? It was fun. Madlibs is one of my favorite series on the web, so it was a real honor!

    • Craig Rosenberg

      Thanks Vernon — great stuff!

  • christopher carfi

    Fun. Thanks for this Vernon and Craig.