Selling in the Fast Lane – by Bob Rickert

There was a time when the craft of selling was all about getting to the right people, asking the right questions and getting top notch intelligence. If I could get the key information, chances are I had vitally important insights my competitors couldn’t obtain, which provided me a significant competitive advantage. Each interaction gave me leverage my competitor didn’t have. I was soaring. Now, it’s an entirely different selling world.

We now live in a hyper-informed, data-rich and technology-fueled environment. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t learn about a new website, a new application, a “just released” device or enhancement that adds speed and reach to how we communicate. Everything you ever wanted to know is literally at your fingertips! But all of these innovations have speeded up change to a pace that can be self-defeating. The faster and more sophisticated our technology-driven workplace gets, the more we need to integrate these tools into daily sales practices, which will make us successful.

Why does this matter? It matters because with unlimited access to information, everyone can be on equal footing. Hundreds of websites aggregate data on companies; social media offers the ability to find and connect with people that you once would have had a hard time even knowing about.

For example, you may have a savvy competitor who did his due diligence the night before. He knows the college your customer attended and that he was a Phi Kappa Sigma. He knows he has two kids and how old they are. He learned that the customer’s son was the high school starting quarterback and was recruited by the State University.

He learned the customer was recently promoted, has three conference presentations on YouTube espousing his company’s thought leadership, and has two white papers on a highly regarded website. He researched LinkedIn and found five people he knew that are first-level contacts to the customer and, in fact, one of them wrote a recommendation for him. Then he turned his attention to the customer’s website and analyzed their financials, Annual 10-K Report, Executive Presentations and recent press releases. He learned of their strategies to address their profitability slide by lowering operating costs. He knows how they are “spinning” their financial performance to the shareholders. He even learned that John Smith of Oppenheimer asked the CEO about what the expected financial return would be on the $300-million-marketing campaign, for which he knew he had a solution for.

Finally, he was able to compile all of this information into a set of talking points and line of questioning, which shows him to be one of the most informed and engaged salespeople the customer will ever meet. Now he’s one quick phone call away from using this treasure chest of information.  

Customers expect you to know all about their business. Gone are the days when you can say to an executive, “Tell me about your business.” If you did that today, you might even be escorted out of the building. It is now about who is the better analyst, the better technologist, the better communicator, the better networker and the faster aggregator of the data and well-sourced information. If that’s who you become, you’ll compete and win in the fast lane.


Bob Rickert is CEO of PCS Strategies and has over 30 years of experience in counseling leading companies on how to dramatically accelerate profit-centered selling. He has helped executives transform their businesses from product and price-driven organizations, to market leaders focused on delivering hard-dollar profit impact. He brings a unique vantage point from working with CEO’s on strategy, CFO’s on deploying financial disciplines, HR Directors on corporate culture, and Sales Executives on going to market in a differentiated way.

Bob’s clients include industry leaders in financial services, industrial distribution, manufacturing, healthcare, airlines, steel, construction and retail. He’s the author of one of the best sales books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading–Profit Heroes: Breakthrough Strategies for Winning Customers and Building Profits. It’s being republished, but if you can’t wait for the republished version, you can order it here.

You can reach Bob at 847-317-9711 or, and connect with him at, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.


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