In the early days of my sales career, I recall on the job training. Education consisted of a one day class on the product I was selling. The next day I showed up for work, and the supervisor looked at me and said, quote;"Go Get Em Tiger." end quote. I wasn't sure who them was, where to find them and what to do once I got their attention. There was no sales training to speak of and no fancy technology to guide the way. I followed some of the reps to learn their secrets until they shooed me away. I learned much about how to sell by trial and error. While sales have changed due to technology some basic tenets stand the test of time. The following are some things I wish I had learned in the early days of selling.
Listen Listening is critical in sales. The more you listen, the more you learn. Your value is not in presenting your product to the customer. Your value is in listening, understanding and diagnosing your customer's problems.
Taking it Personal It's difficult not to take rejection personally. It is baked in our DNA to fear being rejected. In the caveman days, if the group rejected you, you were driven out of the cave. Not having shelter meant you became the next meal. To overcome rejection, you must train your mind to focus on the process, not the outcome. The buyer is not rejecting you just the product, timing or need.
Ask Great Questions The one who asks the questions drives the direction of any conversation. Asking questions allows you to uncover wants, needs, urgency, budget and decision makers. Learning the answers to these questions will eliminate over 80% of all objections that occur in sales. The information you learn will enable you to determine the next step in the sales process.
Be Friends First Developing rapport with people has nothing to do with selling. It's the first step is building trust. If people don’t trust you, they will not buy. I learned early if you want to make a sale you need to make a friend first. Have some fun getting to know people. Be other focused and watch your sales soar.
Be Consistent Actions equal outcomes. If you work hard you will get busy; If you get busy and don’t continue to do the things that made you busy, to begin with, you will find you will have no sales within about six weeks, Be consistent and follow a sales process.
Leads, Suspects, Prospects, Needs assessment, Presentation, Close, Followup,-Repeat… The ratio is 10-1 For every ten leads in your sales funnel you will close one deal on average. This ratio is based a 10% conversion rate. This ratio is the average close rate in most industries. Make prospecting a part of your daily selling. Most salespeople avoid prospecting and fill their day with non-revenue producing activities. Actions equal outcomes.
Get organized Showing up and winging it is not a strategy. Plan your days, conversations and next steps in the sales process. Make sure you are making the most of your time by qualifying decision makers, targeting the right buyer audience, and following up with a sales cadence of at least 5–8 times. Most salespeople follow up two times at most. The ones who are willing to follow up 5–8 times make 90% of all sales.
Have a Plan A goal without a plan is a dream. If you want to be successful, have a purpose and a plan to meet the goal. Be intentional and make a date on your calendar. Review your goals and make sure you are on track. Make adjustments to your goals when needed. Make sure you put a date on a deadline to measure your progress. The plan is your GPS in sales.
Focus What you focus on you find. If you are focused on sales, you will find them. If you are focused on funny cat videos on Facebook, you will find those as well. Be intentional and focus on refining your sales process. Look at past sales, what went wrong, what went right and what can you do differently the next time to perfect the process.
Life Long Learner How do you stay engaged for the long haul in sales? Find podcasts, webinars, books, blogs, and videos to increase your sales skills. I have the equivalent of a Ph.D. in sales. Advances in technology have made it easier than ever to increase your selling knowledge and sharpen your skills.
Educate, Don’t Sell When you become great at your career, you become more of an educator and advisor to your clients. Clients may call on you for advice even when they are not in the market to buy. This type of sales leadership is the mark of excellence in the sales profession. Sales excellence occurs when you have built a reputation in your industry.
The foundation of professional trust established by credibility and competence, personal trust through making friends and doing more than you have to, and reliability trust, feeling clients have because you do what you say you will, when you say you will. In other words, you follow through on your word.
These are the things I wish my younger self-had known in the early days.