Website - Ep9 Olivier Guerin Creating Salesstar Podcast

Ep9. Olivier Guerin. Message to the World: Do Sales Role-Plays

Join Pete Evans as he speaks to Olivier Guerin.

The pair talk about the power of role-plays, listening and sales coaching. Looking back to his experience growing up in a sales role within France, Olivier brings his French experience to the topic of sales coaching and practising for sales teams.


About our Guest

Olivier Guerin is a French Sales Doctor, Blogger, Author and Speaker specialising in sales and marketing. Olivier looks towards diagnosing and treating issues within sales pipelines. Olivier has written 191 different sales articles in his blog and has published a book on sales.

Olivier is the Sales Growth Architect for BRIDGE DEVELOPPEMENT. They are a specialised Sales Development organisation. They assist companies in improving their business performance in the fields of Sales and Sales Management. They do this by using the best and most innovative tools and approaches that can be found. This way of work

About our Host

Pete Evans has over 20 years sales experience with a successful corporate sales career. If you’re involved in B2B selling, cold calling, sales recruitment, sales training, sales coaching, sales transformation or have a desire to grow your business then this podcast is for you.

Pete is currently MD and Practice Partner of SalesStar UK. SalesStar combines sales training with sales coaching to deliver long term results in line with your sales strategy so you can smash your targets and grow top line revenue. SalesStar works with growth minded CEOs and sales leaders who are frustrated with their sales results and are looking for a proven system to grow sales.

Episode Transcript

Oliver Eaton | Pete Evans | Olivier Guerin

Welcome to the Creating SalesStars Podcast. Each week, our host, Pete Evans, will be joined by some of the big and upcoming names within the sales industry. This is brought to you by SalesStar UK.


So welcome to this week’s edition of Creating SalesStar Podcast. This week we’ve got a very special guest, Olivier, who is a fellow objective managing group partner who I’ve known for many years. Olivier classifies himself as the French sales doctor, and he cures sales aches and sales pains for sales leaders who rely on Olivier when it comes to identifying the roots of sales issues like poor pipelines to long sales cycles, high turnovers and some figures that he showed shared with me in an email. One he probably. He published his first book last year. He’s written 191 articles in four years on sales performance on his blog, and he’s worked with more than 3,000 salespeople and managers in the last nine years in France and overseas. Olivier, I know, is very passionate about his role as a sales coach, and his personal vision is to Make Sales Great again. He’s 48 has two children and his beloved wife lives in the South of France, and he knows something about his 1066 ancestors who invaded England. He’s from Normandy, so Thanks for sharing that with us, Olivier. And he says finally, he loves making jokes about brits, but he’s very sad that the UK has left the mainland. So, so welcome, Olivier. Looking forward to talking to today on the Creating SalesStar Podcast.

Hi Pete, I am really delighted that you invited me on the show and especially because I am French and I hope that they will. All the listeners will bear my thick French accent. 

It’s fantastic, Olivier and we love it. If only I have the same command of the French language as you have of English. So my first question, Olivia, is what do you see as some of the current challenges in growing sales for businesses, both in France and globally? 

Can you be more specific?

Yes so, so Olivier. We’re both partners of Objective Management Group. So we do a lot of work with businesses around the mindset of the sales people and the barriers to growing sales. So what challenges do you see businesses have in growing revenue? 

Well, one of was the challenge I am facing. It is, I am repeating, always the same thing about the quality of the conversation that salespeople should have with their clients and prospective clients. It is. It is. So the conversation is, is not always, but so often so weak. There is not enough listening skills and obviously solo questioning skills. And I will always share with you with this thoughts. Digital will force salespeople and humans to specialise in humans. And you see what I mean with that. Perhaps it is that it is so important to have great conversation skills, especially because digital is everywhere. And if salesperson wants to be different from one another, they have to have great command of conversation skills. It is one challenges that I face when I’m training sales. 

So this is really interesting, Olivier, because you talked about mentioned digital and you said about specialising in humans. So do you see a lot of sales? People don’t want to pick the phone up and have a conversation. They would prefer to email a client or email a prospect. 

We believe we have the same issues. You have the same issues as I hear you are the same issues in the UK. I have the same issues abroad. And when you are travelling abroad, you have the same issues, don’t you? 

Yes we do!

Yes, of course. Obviously, it is so easy to send emails to stand. In may stages in may, and it’s so easy, and it’s true that salespeople are afraid of having conversations. It is so frightful to talk to strangers, in fact, and when you call, when you both done everything, it is the main afraid of that. Talking to a stranger, it is so incredible and it is so easy to send an email or may say an impersonal message. It is so easy to send a bottle on the sea. In fact, yeah, I see, and you hope it will bring back something, but obviously it does not make anything back. 

I love that analogy that you use the example of, you know, throwing a bottle into the sea. There’s something deep here as well, Olivier. You know, salespeople may want to have a conversation with the person who’s the buyer, but they may not want to reach out and speak to the decision maker. You know, the person who’s actually signing the cheque, you know, who’s perhaps the finance director. What do you also experience starting from salespeople don’t want to speak to the decision maker on this fear?

Because of course, it’s harder to talk to the decision makers. So for salesperson these people, this will be easier to talk to a person who are not deciding anything who can influence the decision. But we will that won’t sign the check or the other, in fact. So the way they talk to people that are not on the right level and I will share one very specific thing that I hear often in the very big at the very beginning of a sales conversation. When I do role play with salesperson, I, I’m listening to them and I often listen this introduction from salesperson saying, I am so happy to talk with you and I thank you to take the time to talk to me. And obviously, it creates a, you know, a big difference of level. In fact, because the salesperson is thanking the other person to follow his time, and it should be contrary. In fact, you see the mindset that it is behind. 

Yes and no. Carry on. 

Yes and and I often asked the salesperson I am training, give me a synonym of selling, give me a single thing, and I have different answers, but I have rarely the answer I am looking for. And I share with you that for me, selling is helping. And it is very important in terms of mindset. If you have this in mind, you will be able to reach the right person and perhaps you will see you will see cold calling differently because when you want to help people, the people they feel that and they because they feel that it will be a totally different conversation. And perhaps perhaps, you know, the words of Theodore Roosevelt. People don’t hear how much you know, until they feel how much you care. 

And yeah, I’ve always loved that. So you’ve raised quite a few interesting points here. So the first one is about is about role plays. And I wanted to dig into this in more detail. So we get a lot of we see a lot of salespeople pushing back against having to practice and role play. Why do you think it is that salespeople fear practising that? 

In fact, I think the answer, the question they only fear to face their lack of conversation of conversation skills. In fact, they fear to, to see to hear them, they fear to see themselves in a mirror. That is why we are so afraid of role plays. And often, you know, managers are afraid. Also, they don’t. If they don’t, they do not want to role play. We then, because often they are standing still up as a two week old, so that’s why also salespersons do not make any role play because their managers don’t want to. They do not want to either. You see? 

So yeah, Yeah. So this is really interesting, Olivier, because you’re talking about sales managers, coaching salespeople. Yet the sales managers lack the necessary competence in selling skills to coach their salespeople effectively. 

Yeah, very like that. Very, very like this country’s competence in this. It is it is so strange that it is known for everybody that training is a key of success for you. You know this quote of Carl with everybody knows how to build champions, but only champions do what it takes to become one. In fact, everybody knows what everybody. Everybody understands that if you, if you want to perform a music show and you will just play guitar in front of friends, you have to practice. It’s so obvious. It’s obvious in sports, in music, even in theatres, or even when you are trying new recipes, when you are cooking. In fact, everybody understand that you have to experience before, Uh, being in front of the public or during a competition. But in sales, I often I often see that the last training, which was during the last training session with the sales coach. 

Yeah and there’s something really interesting here. So last week on our podcast, I interviewed Jamie Peacock, who was the Great Britain captain for the so the captain for the Great Britain rugby league team to an elite sportsperson. And we discussed this issue of practice and role plays. And Jamie gave us some really interesting insight. He said, you know, when you’re a professional sports player, he said, of course, you’re going to practise because every other week might be appearing on somebody’s TV screen in front of millions of people. He said if salespeople knew that they were going to be appearing on some of these TV screens, they’d start practising more. 


..and I really love that. You know, I can see that it’s making, you know, it’s making you laugh. I mean, we have an expression that we use a lot with our clients, Olivier, and we say the sales person shows up and throws up, which means that they don’t ask questions. They don’t practise, you know, and listen to the French. The French football team has, you know, previously had many years of success, you know, and I’m sure the French Rugby union team was just one of the Six Nations. You know, some of these things didn’t happen by accident. You know, there was a problem there. You know, you obviously experience it’s hugely frustrating when salespeople don’t practice themselves. 

And in fact, I I’m doing this job of sales coach. I started when I was 40, and one of the reason I started to the job as the sales coach is because when I was working as a salesperson in different organisations, I never met a manager who trained me and asked me to train or to do some role play. Never.

It’s really interesting. 

And when I realised that, you know, when you were 40 years old, you made a sort of crisis, it’s everywhere you could be. So my crisis, my internal task was OK, I have a message to bring to every sales person in France and abroad: to start to role and start to train yourself and read articles, read books and try to have better conversations. And of course, this will be more interesting for you. And of course, it will be more interesting for the clients. And you will get more. Success is so, so obvious. Yeah. It is something I would say to myself, OK, it is. So it is so obvious. It’s so simple, but it’s not done, so I have to carry on bringing this message to the world or state. 

No, this is a great conversation. So you mentioned you mentioned the word cold calling. And you’ve also mentioned sort of digital. Do you think there is still a role for cold calling in the world of sales, you know, picking the phone up to potential prospects? 

 Yes, I think it has never. It has never been so easy to cold call. It has never been so easy to prospect. Do you feel it’s never been so easy to process every information in front of you by clicking on Google or on linkedin? It is so easy. I, I always use this image just 20 years or 25 years ago, when you were a young salesman, salesman, Pete, you were driving. What kind of car it was? I don’t know. It was…

My first company car was a Vauxhall. Ok? 

…and you I’m sure that people I know, I’m sure you are driving it totally differently. More modern car, of course. 


…and I suppose that were a few years ago. You have you had no GPS in your car, you have you had no cell phones and perhaps you have to stay in your cabin using a car? Perhaps 

Yeah, Yeah. Is your reminding me of my formative years in sales.

It was difficult to go to prospect at this time. It was very difficult. And it is so easy with all these tools, with Oracle, with pipedrive, where you can train yourself, you can record your calls with Refract, for instance, like tools like Refract. You can. It is so easy to have all this information in front of your LinkedIn. And I will share with you something very interesting. But to answer your question, I think you can call call, of course, on the phone, but you also you can use the video in LinkedIn. You know, when you are connected to somebody on LinkedIn, you can send a video message to go to reach the person. It is so powerful and you know, you you can. You can realise if a salesperson is committed to success or not. When you share this idea with this person of sending a video message and the salesperson will answer. I do not want. I will. I will send a text message that is to say that the person is not committed to us next to is our success in sales, because when the person is ready to share a video, you this really or the person is very committed to his success. 

It is very powerful. Video the video is, is a fun. It is a fantastic. So, Olivier, I want to talk about come back to talk about sales managers, you know, and some of the challenges that they face. And you’ve talked about the sales manager who don’t have the right selling skills to coach the salespeople. What’s interesting is that one of the things that we often see a sales manager who are not prepared to give their salespeople feedback and hold people accountable. What’s your opinion on sales managers giving salespeople feedback about their performance? 

Yes well, it’s obvious that they don’t do any training sessions or role play often, so it’s difficult to give feedback first. Often when sales manager with the salesperson during a real meeting, it’s difficult for them to give them feedback because they want to speak and they not allow the person to talk. I’m sure you already met this type of situation with them Pete. 

Many, many, many, many times. And I think what’s interesting is that when the sales manager just takes complete control of the meeting and doesn’t allow the salesperson. In fact, I believe if I may, I’ll share a story from my early sales career. So I had a sort of sales. Sales director and I worked in a pensions and investment company, and we had a meeting and it was a presentation meeting, so I’d done the discovery meeting and my prospective client was Irish and my reasonable sales director was also Irish. And they were both from Dublin. So we went to the presentation meeting and they agreed that I would be doing the presenting. The presentation meeting lasted three hours and we got back in the car and my regional sales director Vincent said, so how do you think that went? I said I wouldn’t know because in 3 hours I only said two words. He said, what were those? I said, Hello and goodbye. 

It’s awful. 

And he said, he said, can I give you some feedback on your performance? I said, well, how I articulated the words Hello and goodbye. So we had a follow up meeting of Vince and said, I need to come with you. I said, watch my lips. You’re not coming with me. 

I like very much your story. And of course, when they do some feedback to come back on this topic, is it feedback could be. Is this possible when you have great questioning skills? Of course, when you are able to ask the question on the salesperson you are coaching and you think it went. What can you change? What can you do differently the next time? What you think it was, it was. So so what? What what did you state when you said that, how do you and so on and so forth? And if it’s obvious that when the sales manager won’t want to give some feedback, it’s important first to ask questions because it is to, you know, I was in Switzerland yesterday with private bankers and they have the same problems. Even if you are talking lots of millions of the same problems that all sales person on the planet. And I am thinking to that because I will share the three conditions, the three steps to change. And these three steps are where by Carl Jung, who was a psychotherapist. He was a friend of Sigmund Freud, and he was. He was. He was Swiss. And there are three conditions to change. First, the make conscious of the problem if you cannot, if you are not conscious of your problem, you cannot change it. It is the work of sales manager to first raise the consciousness of the salesperson of what’s going on or what’s not going on. So the first step is to raise the level of consciousness of the problem. The second step is to make think differently, and that’s why the salesman can ask some questions like what can you do differently? What can you improve? How can you improve it? This is the second step and the first step to the first step to change it is perseverance. That is to say resilience. Or it is perseverance. Is it correct in english? I’m not sure. 

I have perseverance. 

Yes yes, Yes. It is to try more and once more and do not hesitate to, even after first failure to try more or to change something world and to continue to try until it works. Yes, I really like these three steps and you know, it is quite it is quite a same with a bad habit. I am sure that our listeners have some bad habits for sure. If you want to change a bad habit, you are, you have to be conscious of the problem. 

Yeah, it is. It’s so true. Now what’s interesting? You? you talked about sales managers asking their salespeople questions about what, what went well, what, what, what could be what, what could be improved. What do you see? What advice would you give a, you know, a sales manager who perhaps is telling their salespeople what to do and how they can improve, rather than using great coaching? 

In fact, this is the difference between convincing and persuading. You can convince people by your own reasons when you that you only persuade them with their own reasons and the difference. It is more powerful to persuade people than convincing people because purchasing it is convincing plus acting, doing in fact. And all when I give a title to my sales training, I it is something like be more persuasive because be more persuasive. It is asking great questions, using great listening skills to raise the construction, to elevate the level of consciousness of the clients. In fact, it is the same for managers or for salesperson know it is the same to same, the same issues and the same way to do. 

So. Olivier, you’re obviously you’re a very, very passionate about what you do. You’re very passionate French person. You know, somebody once said to me, we have a client, there’s an operation in France. In fact, I think you did some work for us, but with this client where they said our but you don’t understand selling in France, it’s just completely different. It’s all about it’s all about the relationship and you don’t understand. We we do. We do business over a glass of wine that we’re French, you know, clearly..- So do you not think there are differences, you know, in terms of the way we sell? Do you think it’s the same in France, Spain, Italy, the UK?

In fact, the lots of sales the salesperson and sales manager are even CEOs. In fact, they load them, load them themselves, relying on relationship because in fact, we are clients. They are not looking for good relations if they are looking for trust and respect. It’s totally different. You can be. If a client wants to want to work with you, it is because he is trusting you and trust it. It’s different from a relationship. Yeah, if we ask this question, of course, if you have somebody that you can trust with friendly, of course you will work with pleasure, with this person. But if you do not trust him, even if he’s a person who is friendly. Mm-hmm 

Yeah and this is connected to the findings of objective management group. You know, we’re both partners of objective management group, where, you know, one of the competencies is the need for approval. And the research that has done over the last sort of 32 years demonstrates that where a salesperson needs to be liked by the prospect of customer. They’re much less likely to challenge the customer to be their friend. And if there is no change, you can’t. 

You cannot allow the clients to be conscious of the money the client is sitting on the table while doing the thing he’s doing now, in fact, or no or not changing, in fact, because when one of the main competitors of salesperson is the statue go, of course, and no change. 

No, exactly. And I think you’ve got to. You mentioned the next, especially about leaving, you know, leaving money on the table. Often when salespeople need to be like they, they won’t ask those challenging or courageous or courageous questions. Right? Yeah. So Olivier, I always thought, I’ll finish the podcast and this conversation has been great and we’d love to have you back as a guest on a future show. So, Where can people find more about Olivier and the great work that you’re doing in France? And what’s the best way of people reaching out? 

Well, I’m really I’m publishing a lot on LinkedIn, of course. So you will. I will. You will find me on LinkedIn. Of course, I am publishing a lot in French, obviously. I have one another podcast that I recorded, and I advise you to your listeners, also another very interesting podcast which name is the marketing book podcast? Also very interesting podcast. And on this podcast you can find offers which are interviewed on Facebook. So it is quite interesting, and I was interviewed for interviewing this podcast. But yeah, you can find me. You can find me on LinkedIn. It will be the easier way to find me, but obviously it’s in. It’s in French.

Yeah well, your English, your English is great. And finally, what would be your number one tip for a salesperson? What was the real Nugget that Olivier would like to share with our listeners? I’m sure you have many, but what’s the number one tip that you would share.

Shut your mouth and listen more. 

I love that. So this comes back to the fact that you’ve got two ears and one mouth. Yes and it is just so obvious to repeat that from one session of coaching or one training session is so obvious to repeat that. But it is so important because it is so difficult to listen and listening. It is something to the pleasure of talking. 

Yeah, and it’s much more difficult to listen because you’ve got to really focus and you’ve really got to concentrate on, you know, what the person you’re speaking to is actually saying and after you listen, well, you’re completely exhausted. You should be complete after meeting with a client. You, you try to listen. You are totally exhausted. Difficult yes.

It’s very it’s very difficult.


Thanks for listening. This podcast was brought to you by SalesStar and hosted by Pete Evans. For more information about what we can offer you head to our website at You can also find us on all social media platforms just by searching for SalesStar UK.


Presenter and Producer: Pete Evans
Special Guest: Olivier Guerin
Producer and Intro/Outro Voiceover: Oliver Eaton
Podcast Editor: Alex Mullen

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