Want to go from good to great? The best sales professionals are like bloodhounds on the trail. They are focused on learning every aspect necessary to excel in the chosen field. They have a command of their emotions, situational awareness, strategy, and business intelligence that comes from having a hyper-focus in their field. These are the sales professionals clients go to for business insights, knowledge and advice even when they are not in the market to buy. The following are some skills and attributes that contribute to their success.
Emotion management is key to high performance. The art of control of your responses to others, and the environment. This includes setbacks, distractions, competitors, and office politics. Having control of your emotions is a powerful tool. The emotional pattern of human behavior is thoughts-beliefs- feelings- actions. We think thoughts, have a feeling about those thoughts, then respond to the feelings we have with action. Hitting the pause button between feelings and actions is the key to emotion management. I recommend Daniel Coleman’s book, “Emotional Intelligence” if you would like to learn more.
A career in sales will take you through a wide range of emotions. These emotions can range from happy, sad, angry, fearful and anxious in a matter of twenty minutes. I don’t know of any other profession as bi-polar as sales. Optimism and perseverance are a shield of deflection when faced with rejection. Focusing on a positive mindset gives you the tenacity to reach for the phone or put your fingers on the keyboard one more time to reach out to an ever-elusive prospect. A great resource for learning more is the book, “Rejection-Proof” written by Jai Jiang.
Bad news for those who believe everyone should get a prize. The ones who are willing to do what others will not; get what others do not. First in, last out in sales is not done to impress the boss. The last mile of any race is the most lonely and the most productive. Adopting a mindset of “whatever it takes” is crucial to becoming a top performer. You are either “all in” or not. If you are reading this far, you have goals and they are 10X greater than other salespeople. If you are interested in massive results, try reading, “The 10x Rule” by Grant Cardone.
The best in any profession spend ample time preparing before they go to work. Rock stars, athletes, actors, politicians, marines, and anyone else who takes their mission seriously. Prepare by using role play, videotaping yourself, writing out your sales plan, encounters, email, and voice mail. Know your audience and why they should care. Plan what you want to happen next. This is the road to advancing the sales process. Practice the week before, the day before, the night before, and in the car on the way to your appointment. If using PPT, know the slides so well you do not need them. Know the flow of your presentation. This kind of preparation makes presentations automatic, allowing the true essence of your personality to shine through. Practice makes permanence.
Who says losing a deal is a bad thing? What did you learn? It would be a bad thing if you learned nothing from experience. Keep score of deals lost and record what went wrong. Track wins and what went right and why. If we do not record what happened in the sales process how we will learn and improve next time? Keep a sales journal and review it weekly to learn from success and failure. Review your sales encounters and look for areas to refine, repeat, refine, repeat. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.
Learn to Earn
Many professions require ongoing learning. Doctors, Lawyers, Nurses and others take a board examination every two years to stay licensed to practice. Many sales professions exceed the average income of these professionals. These sales professionals are high achievers. These lifelong learners refine their skills with latest advances in their field. They understand the rule; You need to continue to learn to earn.
Think strategically. Having a sales strategy goes beyond having a sales process. It is the ability to be forward thinking in the sale. What steps are next and what could go wrong, who needs to be in the room, how can I make it easy to say yes and overcome the status quo? Have a plan thought out through the eyes of your client, it only matters if it matters to them.
Know their business well enough to speak the language. Business acumen is the key to enhancing and establishing credibility. A student of mine recently shared a story of a recent sales meeting. She was sitting across from a CEO while presenting her solution he asked, how will this affect my business units? Deer in headlights! Ouch! I am guessing this student knows the impact her solution has on a business unit today. Today’s buyer expects a sales professional with business acumen, creativity in problem-solving, inside knowledge of their business landscape, and strategic insight to advance their business objectives. Rapport building skills are the price of admission at the table.
The military has a “no man left behind” policy. What if sales adopted this mindset? Team selling is a great way to penetrate a fortress. The collective intelligence of a team is far greater than the sum of its parts. Try tactical team selling, sales huddles and sales strategy meetings to learn from each other what works and what doesn’t. This type of thinking will result in increased sales, enhanced creativity, and a united front to tackle the most challenging sales scenarios. What you focus on — you find.
Planning, practice, learning, mindset, and having a sales strategy are all ways to take your sales career to the next level. Develop a process that includes these elements and include team selling to achieve superior performance. Luck can be found at the intersections of hard work and perseverance.
Be Great and Prosper- Nan