K.I.S.S. for Sales Practitioners

By Jeff Beals

When I was a nine-year-old in 1978, my family went to an air show produced annually by the U.S. Air Force at Offutt Air Force Base. Countless aircraft were on display, and the Air Force even allowed guests to go inside some of the planes.

But there was one displayed aircraft that was roped off, and a couple intimidating security guards stood by making sure no guests went past the rope line. It was the SR-71 “Blackbird,” which just two years prior (in 1976), had set the world record as the fastest manned aircraft. The SR-71 achieved a speed of 3,530 kilometers per hour (2,193 mph). That meant it could travel from Los Angeles to New York City in little more an hour.

The SR-71 served the U.S. Airforce from 1964 to 1998 and not a single one was lost in combat. Ever since that day forty years ago, I’ve been fascinated by an airplane that could move so fast. I’m also fascinated that human beings had the capability of constructing such a thing in the early 1960s without the aid of computers and other current-day technology.

Despite all the detailed technicalities involved when Lockheed built the SR-71 in Burbank, California during that Cold War era, it was a surprising principle that guided the design engineers – simplicity.

Lockheed’s lead engineer was Clarence “Kelly” Johnson, who preached the importance of simplicity even when designing what would become the world’s fastest aircraft. Johnson once gave his designers a handful of ordinary tools, with the challenge that the aircraft they were designing must be repairable by an average mechanic in the field under combat conditions with only those tools.

Additionally, Johnson developed an acronym that we still use today: K.I.S.S., which stands for “Keep It Simple Stupid.”

Ever since that time, U.S. military branches and countless companies and organizations have used that acronym as a reminder to professionals not to over complicated their work. I sometimes tell myself, “Keep It Simple Stupid” when I find myself making projects unnecessarily complicated.

I’m not sure why so many people are tempted to make things more complicated than necessary. Perhaps it’s some subconscious way for us to justify our professional purposes, our highly-paid jobs and our expensive college educations. Whatever the reason, too many of us fail to break it down and get it done.

Sales practitioners are just as guilty as any group of professionals when it comes to unwarranted complication:

How many of us spend copious amounts of time on excessive prospect research instead of just calling the prospect?

How many of us obsess over the perfect sales pitch with all the audio-visual bells and whistles as opposed to figuring out what prospects truly value and proving how our solution perfectly satisfies that value?

How many sales leaders bury themselves in their offices developing complicated systems as opposed to simply sitting down with their sales reps and coaching them one-on-one?

When you find yourself getting bogged down in needless minutiae for no apparent benefit, it’s time to give yourself a K.I.S.S. moment. Be like the legendary aerospace engineer Kelly Johnson and break things down to their simplest, most fundamental level.

If a commitment to simplicity can contribute to the development of the world’s fastest aircraft, what can it do for your sales practice?

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events this year. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team