I have always admired those who are experts in the chosen profession.

Whether that’s in the business world, entertainment, sport, movies or construction, watching a skilled individual do their job with confidence and proficiency is a thing of beauty. It just flows and they make it look and feel so easy, as if we all could do it – and we probably could, had we put in the hard work and hours of practice to get that accomplished.

In my world of sales management, I am generally on the selling side. Very occasionally I get to be on the other side of the transaction, the person buying the service, and recently I had the good fortune to have been giving a master class on how to sell by someone who was an expert in their profession, salesmanship.

At CompTIA we are exploring some options to develop our sales team and to ensure we are all maintaining our sales discipline and keeping to those good habits.

We got a lead from one of my peers and set up a call to discuss their services. The organization we were speaking with was Habits at Work and we were fortunate to have the CEO Andrew Sykes attend the meeting.

Prior to the call we got an agenda from Andrew, which in itself is not unusual but how often have you not received an agenda for a meeting? Increasingly I am seeing less and less structure to meetings with agendas unfortunately becoming a rare thing.

The agenda gave us a great insight to what we were about to experience. It set out the purpose of the meeting, the benefit to having the meeting, the attendees, all with their names hyperlinked to their LinkedIn profiles.

Andrew had done his research prior to the call and knew his audience. The agenda also broke down the meeting into time slots, identifying what we were going to discuss. Finally, it had next steps, a next meeting date and feedback. The process was very much aligned to my post “A super system for the salesman” .

It was clear this was shaping up to be an interesting call.

When we joined the call, Andrew opened up with confidence and charisma making us feel relaxed and had us buying into him as a person long before we even discussed his company.

Before we moved onto the business element of the call, he asked us to give him feedback after the call. He wanted us to tell him what he did well but also asked us to give him feedback on what he didn’t do so well. It was the first time anyone has ever asked me for that type of feedback after a sales call or any call or meeting for that matter.

It was truly refreshing, and gave us an insight into his thought process. He definitely had a growth mindset. We gave him his feedback on what he did well but we really struggled to find anything he didn’t do so well.

As you can imagine Andrew had us eating out of his hand and the call went extremely well, exactly as he would have imagined it. His next steps were to set up another meeting at his office where we could continue our discussions. We finished the call and as promised, he followed up within the hour with the action items.

A few days later one of my colleagues received a delivery to her office.

It had three books, authored by Andrew, one for each one of us on the call. Inside each book was a hand written note thanking us for our time on the call.

Oh, and the book’s title, “The 11th Habit: Design Your Company Culture to Foster the Habits of High Performance”.

Now, very few of us have written a book on improving performance in the workplace but sending a hand written note after a call or meeting is a great way to build a relationship and should be standard practice. Sadly, like agendas, hand written notes are no longer a regular occurrence but they can be a clever way of  differentiating you from all the competition.

Andrew was a true expert in his field, and it was a pleasure to be sold to in that manner. He was slick, polished and accomplished.

I am not in the field selling as much as I used to be but when I am, I am going to make sure I adhere to all those disciplines and habits that make the experience so much better for everyone.

John McGlinchey - CompTIAJohn McGlinchey

John McGlinchey is the Global Sales Leader, Executive Vice President of  CompTIA