Watching the celebrity edition of the Apprentice on television proved to be far more than solely an entertaining experience. Knowing in advance that Gene Simmons, the brains behind the KISS phenomenon and the self-proclaimed god of women, would take episodal charge over the female celebrity group, I could not resist watching. Frankly, I was somewhat surprised at what transpired during the hour. The Donald had no choice but to fire him; Simmons had failed at his task.

This reality show actually provided a healthy dose of business reality, demonstrating many valuable sales lessons that we can all benefit from.

1. Know Your Goal Before You Begin Taking Action.

Gene errantly delegated the initial responsibility of meeting with the client to two team members. If instead, everyone on his team, including himself, were present, he would have benefited from the perspectives of each as they moved towards satisfying their customer and the sales goal that they had in mind. The women who met with the Kodak executives failed to listen carefully and fully grasp the desired intent and goals of their customer.

Simmons, as their leader, never knew what his customer actually wanted as he was too busy constructing a campaign that he thought was important and relevant. He was too busy marketing Kodak that he failed to consider their desired goals and product emphasis, their new ink. In fact, he did not see the importance of meeting with his customer and clearly understanding their perspective and goals.

2. Understand Your Task.
We must listen and pay attention to our customers. They will tell us exactly what they want if we ask them. Ask clarifying questions until you are crystal clear on their goals. Gene neither had a grasp of their true task or even the name of the product. His project was doomed early on.

3. Listen Carefully to Those You Have Teamed With.
Your sales team is a valuable asset. Their thoughts, evaluations and conclusions are important and should be respected with regard to the decision-making process.

4. Keep Focused.
Once you have a clear understanding of your customers needs, adopt a laser-like focus until the job is done. If an activity is not relevant to the desired outcome, it is likely an activity that is hindering your progress. Stay on task.

5. Remember: The Customer is Always Right.
The customer expects us to work on his behalf. If we make assumptions and suppositions based upon our desires, they may not be in-sync with what our customer is expecting of us. Simmons ignored his customer altogether, focusing instead on his own ego and creative ideas. While his marketing was impressive, his strategy and sense of purpose were flawed. He continued acting upon what he wanted for himself, not the desires of his client.

It does not matter if we think we are smarter, better equipped or more experienced than our customer. If we lose sight of their business and what they want, we lose; period. "You cannot hit a target you cannot see". You cannot ask relevant questions if you do not listen. And... you cannot satisfy the needs of your customers if you do not know what they need.

Thanks Gene, these are indeed valuable sales lessons learned.

Author's Bio: 

Daniel Sitter, author of both Learning For Profit and Superior Selling Skills Mastery, has garnered extensive experience in sales, training, marketing and personal development spanning a successful twenty-six sales year career. Experience his blog at