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Monday, August 3, 2015

A Few Moments with Hal Becker – CEO, The Becker Group Inc.

Hal Becker is a nationally known expert on sales, customer service and negotiating. He conducts seminars or consults to more than 140 organizations a year. At the age of 22, he became the #1 salesperson among a national sales force of 11,000, for the Xerox Corporation. Six years later in 1983, he survived terminal cancer only months after launching Direct Opinions, one of America's first customer service telephone survey marketing firms that facilitates more than two million calls per year with offices throughout the U.S.A. and Canada. He is the author of "Can I have 5 Minutes of Your Time?" which is now in its 21st printing and is used by many corporations as their "Sales Bible." He has also authored three other best sellers and has been featured in publications including The Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Nations Business and hundreds of newspapers and radio/TV stations around the world, and is currently syndicated in more than 45 newspapers and magazines.

He will be speaking at PMA’s annual Sales & Marketing Conference on September 29 – 30, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Hal Becker, CEO, The Becker Group, Inc.
Q: How did you begin working in sales and what motivated you to stay in the field? 

A: My first job out of college was at Xerox, and the training was so unbelievably great that I really grabbed onto it and for the first time in my life I felt that I really became a student of sales. After the first year I became the number one salesperson of 11,000 people in their national sales force. Following Xerox, I started a company from the ground up, and sold it in 1990 in order to pursue consulting.  I have been a sales trainer for most of my life, and my first book came out in 1993. It has been a wild ride since then as I continue to present lectures and consult sales organizations across the world.

Q: At the age of 22, you became the #1 salesperson among a national sales force of 11,000 at Xerox. That’s very impressive! What advice do you have for young sales professionals looking to find success in this field?

A: I didn’t do anything crazy, but I got to where I’m at today just by working harder than everybody else and doing it consistently. Essentially I was doing 100 sit-ups while everyone else did 50 and did it consistently. To this day I continue to challenge myself to maintain that same consistency and persistence with my work ethic. 

Q: Where is the coolest country you’ve presented?
A: The world is such an amazing place to travel but wherever I go, everything is 72 and fluorescent because all I see is the hotel and airport. However I’ll never forget landing in Trinidad, and the 30- minute taxi ride to the hotel only taking 11 minutes because the speed limit is however fast you want to go! I also found my visit to Thailand to be enjoyable because the people there are so incredibly friendly and nice to be around. 

Q: Do you believe that successful sales strategies remain the same across various industries or should manufacturing sales professionals be given specific guidance and advice based on their industry? 
A: From a sales standpoint, it’s all the same. You either know how to sell through question-based sales techniques, you have high empathy, integrity, desire and organization, or you don’t! In business to business or business to consumer sales, it is all the same. People buy from people we trust and like.

Q: Can you speak on any trends in the sales and marketing industry that will greatly impact sales management in the next five years or so? 
A: Sales management has gone away. The term I use is puff management, which occurs when all of a sudden a salesperson who has done fairly well is promoted to management without any training, but they have a whole different set of skills. Sales are about the individual, but the management is about the team. Great sales training has gone away, and today they’re great at training product, but not teaching the fundamentals of selling. Nothing has changed about sales, except that technology allows us to get a foot in the door but in the end it still comes down to selling skills.

Q: Can you speak to your involvement in PMA’s Sales & Marketing Conference and what you will be presenting on? 
A: I like to make my talks relevant and fresh, so I usually plan it out closer to the event. However, I intend on speaking about what makes a top salesman, why most salespeople fail, why elevator speeches are irrelevant, and why objections are everything. 

Thank you for speaking with us, Hal! 

For information on PMA’s Sales & Marketing Conference, visit the event homepage or contact Rosemary David (rdavid@pma.org / 216-901-8800). 

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