I’ve written before about my beliefs on prospecting and the symbiotic relationship between professional sales and the gold miners of the 1800’s. But, this past week while vacationing with my family in Colorado and Arizona, I was again struck by the similarities between what we do and what those miners of yesteryear did day in and day out. Because aren’t we just panning for gold?
I know your boss thinks you are Superman or Wonder Woman sometime, right? Hey, it comes with the territory. But, in all honesty there are some secret sales skills—some almost superhuman powers each sales pro must posses.
So, you got your first sales job! Congratulations and welcome to the greatest profession on the planet. You are joining a long list of some of the most influential people in the world of business—all who started out in sales.
For most of North America this has been one very cold winter. The so-called Polar Vortex has left much of the country freezing or frozen; roads impassable, businesses closed and left most of us longing for spring.
Even though I live in the south, I travel and have felt the knife-like cut of that north wind and it’s not fun. So, how do we handle that in sales? How do we continue to get out and make calls, service our customers and grow our business?
To be great at prospecting, you must prospect. To lead your team or your industry in referrals, you must ask for referrals. If you’re going to improve at asking for the sale, you have to ask for it. Your sales “muscles” can atrophy from non-use.
For a little more than 10 years I traveled the country as a professional stand-up comic back in the early 90’s. As hard as it may seem to believe, I got fairly good at it and accomplished a lot. I saw it all, too. From headlining sold out shows in 500 seat comedy clubs to doing a one-nighter in a small, Texas town where they misspelled comedy (comdy) on the flashing arrow sign out front.
Those years of experience served me well as a salesperson. I’ve said before, it was the best sales training I ever got.
Here are three keys I learned and hopefully they’ll trigger you to delve deeper and sharpen your skills.
The single biggest fear in this world is speaking in public or making a presentation. I firmly believe that stems from a lack of confidence in one’s material. Nobody wants to look like they don’t know what they’re talking about. The better I got, the more confident I got. While I never had stage fright, as my confidence in my material grew anxiety became anxiousness. I wanted the stage. I wanted to be in that spotlight.
One of the biggest buzz words/phrases to hit professional sales in years is social selling. While many believe they know what it means, I find many to be a bit confused.Instead of defining what social selling is, why don’t we take a moment and see what is is not:
I've got some news for you and this may or may not come as a surprise, but your business will fail not because you’re not good at what you do. More than likely the reason why your business will fail is because you’re not good at sales and marketing.
We can all be better communicators. As sales and business professionals one of the keys to success is our ability to express our thoughts and ideas and to accurately understand those of others. While we seem to excel at getting our point across, many times we struggle to grasp the others persons’.
As Stephen Covey said, “Seek first to understand then to be understood.”
If this is the case, you must improve your listening skills—and yes they are skills. They take practice, commitment and work.
Here are four areas to concentrate and improve upon:
It seems simple, but it’s surprising how many times we simply aren’t focused on the other person when they are talking. Whether we’re thinking of what we’re going to say next or just letting our mind drift—we aren’t present in the moment. Listening is an active activity not a passive one. Focus and really listen to the other party. Hear not just their words but their facial expressions, body language and non-verbal communication. Once you begin to actually, actively focus it will surprise you at how inactive you’ve been in the past.
With all the advances in the professionalism of our profession, sadly today many people still believe sales is something you do to another rather than for another. We’re making strides in leaving that “used-car” persona behind, but there’s still a lot of work to do.
A lot of that work comes in the art of persuasion. Being a professional salesperson requires one to be skilled in the art of persuasion, but many are still confused as to what it actually means.
As Zig Ziglar so aptly noted, persuasion is not getting someone to do or take action on something they don’t want to do, that’s manipulation. In sales, persuasion is simply providing good, solid reasoning to assist someone in making a decision which benefits them. It’s just that simple.
The art of persuasion is built upon four main pillars: self confidence, belief in your product, enthusiasm and a true desire to help the other person.
Self Confidence: An essential element to persuasion is being confident enough in yourself to recommend a solution for your prospect. You must know deep down inside you can help the prospect and have the confidence to take a stance in support of yourself, your product and your company. When you exude that self confidence, your prospects gain confidence in you and are much more likely to give credence to your suggestions and solutions. At the same time, nothing will turn a prospect off like self doubt–and there’s no hiding it. It hangs on you like the scent of a skunk, unable to be covered or concealed.
Whatever sales process you subscribe to a practice the presentation is a crucial part of it. At some point you have to make your presentation; put on the dog-and-pony show and let the prospect see what you’ve been building suspense and value around.
The problem is if you’re presentation skills are poor, you’ve created this huge build up for an even larger let down. You’ve gotten all dressed up and gone nowhere.
What do you do? Here are a few tips to improve your sales presentation
Record it: Yes, audio and video. Get as real a recording as possible—even if you have to get another salesperson or a manager to play along. Have them give you the same objections you’d normally hear. Have them interrupt you, drift off and do all the things a normal prospect would do. Now watch closely. How well do you handle each? Be honest. Get their critique and yours. This is a great way to see what you are really doing and not what you think you’re doing.
Well, I’m happy to announce I’ve become part of the thinkific.com family! My course: The Power of Ten is now available at http://b2-training-development.thinkific.com/. And, during the month of March, I’m offering this entire course for only $17! That’s right, an entire online sales training course for only $17!
You get personalized instruction stepping you through each of the ten habits and are able to progress at your own pace. The plan is to create more courses, so I want to hear from you: what do you need help with? What do you want to learn?
The folks at thinkific.com have made it extremely easy for me to create and publish courses and I am looking forward to adding more in the near future.
Seldom am I able to write a blog post which covers all areas of sales and is essentially a blanket statement. Today is one of those days: sales success requires cooperation with and from other departments within your company. In order to be the best you can be and provide your customers with the best possible service you must work and communicate with others—others who will touch the customer and perhaps deliver on the promises you make.
Being successful in sales means successfully navigating the treacherous waters of office politics, petty jealousies and any number of other issues facing you and your department on a daily basis. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Know How Things Work: It’s important you understand the workflow process. When you place an order or bring on a new customer, who does what? How many people get involved with your sale? How many things have to go right (and could potentially go wrong) during one sales cycle? You must know this. You have to understand how your actions affect others within your own organization. Others will probably have to fulfill your promises—make sure you know what it takes for them to do so.
If you’re a speaker or are called upon to speak at or for your company or organization, you know the stage is the home for Murphy’s Law: If something can go wrong, it will. While I am an extremely positive person, I’ve found it very beneficial to be prepared in case anything goes wrong before or during my presentation.
Let me stress: I don’t expect bad things to happen, I’m just prepared if they do. And if you do any public speaking yourself, you’d do well to have a fall back plan or a backup plan…just in case.
Here are a few tips to help you be prepared:
Have backups slides: I don’t rely on a projector, but I’ve seen many presentations and speeches wrecked because of A/V problems. I’ve watched great, experienced public speakers sweat bullets waiting for an intern to try and get their laptop to connect to the screen. Have backup slides for your audience if this happens. It’s a small expense to avoid the worry if nothing else.