Selling has always been in my blood, and I became a sales rep for the first time in 1999. Since then, I have learned a “couple” lessons along the way performing several different roles. Sales reps sell products and/or services, and can make a good living. In addition to the standard responsibilities, true sales professionals achieve more success by taking their game to another level and have long, prosperous careers. Which one do you want to be?
Having a complete understanding of sales cycles, and mastering product knowledge is imperative for success. Most companies only focus on product training, because that is what everyone does. While others also give insight on sales processes from first greeting/meeting all the way through closing the sale.
That is where things get scary! Many reps get a false sense of security that this is all they need to know to become successful. In reality, this knowledge only equips them to be “run-of-the-mill” sales reps. The world is full of “status quo lovers”. The following information will give you the potential to become a true sales professional and exceed goals for years to come.
#1 Consult, Don’t Regurgitate
Your job is to sell products and/or services, but people don’t like being sold to. How weird is that? The faster you learn that listening during a customer/prospect interaction is more important than speaking, you will be well ahead of the curve. When you become a consultant providing solutions to their current situation, success will follow shortly. Anyone can regurgitate information and spew it out. Just ask the student who memorized textbooks and got straight A’s, but could not cut it in their chosen profession.
#2 Share, Celebrate and Support
The “relationships” aspect of a sales team is critical to its overall success. You need to give unconditionally, and not be afraid to share ideas and concepts with each other. I always love to share templates for presentations, bulletins that I distribute to customers or various ideas that help improve my territory. If you can make your co-workers lives’ easier, why wouldn’t you? The good karma will come back some day. Celebrate each other’s victories, and don’t you dare get jealous if your colleagues get better results! Put together recovery plans to improve ASAP.
Things don’t always turn out the way that we want them too, so be there to support each other when failure occurs. Keep communication lines open to move past bumps in the road. And last but not least, treat inside sales and support groups with the utmost respect! They are pivotal to the team’s overall success, and are not personal assistants.
#3 Manage Time, Plan and Prioritize
I underestimated the power of being exceptional in this area for a long time, and it affected my results earlier in my career. Planning a schedule as far ahead as a month or more makes things flow better. Putting emphasis on getting out of the office regularly at scheduled times keeps you on track. Paperwork and other less urgent items can be handled before or after prime selling hours. I once worked for a manager who stacked the sales rep’s desks in the warehouse to emphasize that he did not want them in the office for very long in the morning! An extreme action, but he made his point loud and clear.
I always make the disclaimer that priorities over-ride schedules with the following example. If you have a lunch booked with a prospect where the potential is unknown, and your largest customer has a crisis shortly before the appointment, what would you do? You have to understand who your biggest customers are, and the level of service that they need. By the way, do you spend 80% of your time with the 20% of your customers who buy the most? If not, it is time to adjust your schedule and give them the attention they deserve.
#4 Fly Under The Radar, Don’t Be “On It”
Early in my career I had a Sales Manager tell me that one of the best indicators if a rep was doing a good job, is if they rarely heard from the rep’s customers. Be very responsive to your customer’s needs, and take care of them in a timely fashion. If you need help, get it. Never blame others in your organization if they do not respond to you and a customer is left waiting. It is your responsibility to get things taken care of, no excuses!
Keep up to date on everything that your manager requests. It may be weekly call reports, inputting of sales calls and/or opportunities in to a CRM (customer relationship management) program, or general administrative items. Successful sales people always do what is asked of them, even if they don’t like to.
#5 The Path of “Most Resistance” Pays Dividends
Anyone can take the path of least resistance. It is easy to only deal with customers who have great relationships with you and your company, and only sign up prospects that there was little effort involved. But what about handling those difficult customers in your territory, or bringing on prospects where things were more challenging? From those clients, huge growth can occur. In one role I had, the previous sales rep stopped calling on a long-standing account because he was not getting along with the staff. Sales plummeted. From the time I came on board, it only took two years for the account to become the largest in my territory.
Over time, you will acquire “street-smarts” and know when to walk away from business, but more importantly when to move forward when the potential is right before you. Don’t hide behind email or text messaging when problems arise. Face-to-Face is still the best way to communicate, and sometimes you “have to take a punch” to make things right.
#6 Customers And Prospects Are Human Beings Too
It is easy to see through reps whose only agenda is to close sales as quickly as possible, with minimal effort. But the secret is to really get to know customers on a personal level, and make them feel important. It is common knowledge that people like to deal with those they like, know and trust, so take steps to solidify relationships as soon as possible. Get to know special details about customer’s families, their hobbies or even what they take in their coffee. Take notes, keep files and refer back to them before each meeting. I guarantee that they will be impressed with what you remembered, and there is a very good chance that your competitors did not take those lengths to learn about them.
Becoming a true sales professional takes time, and long-term commitment to grow and learn every day. Sales reps tend to be negatively stereotyped, but those that stand out from the crowd, truly care about their customers and can be counted on at a moment’s notice will always be in demand.
Are you in this for just a job, or a long, prosperous career? You make the choice.
– Wondering why a presentation went so poorly?
– Bewildered by the lack of success of phone cold calls?
– Amazed that a sales call was less than well received?
– Frustrated by the difficulty catching up on paperwork at the end the week?
– Have you thought about what time of day you are typically at your best?
– Do you know when you should not be attempting high level activities?
Take some time to think about this as you plan your next week. This is often overlooked as schedules are planned.
– If you are not a morning person, is it reasonable to expect to hit a presentation out of the park at 8 am?
– If your body and mind is starting to wind down after 3 pm, is that a good time to be starting to phone cold call and expect to be energetic and engaging?
– If you tend to feel sluggish right after lunch, should you be scheduling a sales call shortly after you eat?
– If your organization skills need work, should you be putting off cleaning up all of your To Do’s until late Friday?
I can do a presentation at 8 am because I am a morning person, but I try to avoid them later in the day. Certain people are much more effective well in to the afternoon. Cold call when you are at your best for maximum results.
Lunch affects people differently, so plan your afternoon calls accordingly. I am guessing few people look forward to cleaning up their To Do’s late in the day Friday. Put systems in place to keep up during the week, so you don’t end your week on a bad note!
– When are you at your best?
– Are you working to your body and mind’s strengths?
– Is it time to make adjustments to your schedule?
Eve reached out to me a few weeks ago interested in guest posting on leadership. I was more than happy to oblige. Check out her incredible take on health and productivity!
The modern world is increasingly doing studies on the link between health and productivity. That is hardly a new concept. The phrase “A sound mind in a sound body” is quite old. In general, we all know that if you are sick, in pain, or under the weather, you will not be at your most productive. But what seems to not sink in is the idea that if you really want to excel at sales or in leadership, you really need to be working towards optimal health, not merely avoiding sickness.
Instead of talking in generalities, let’s take one person as an example. Let’s talk about actor, producer, and businessman Will Smith. He has made Fortune’s “40 Under 40” list. He is the first actor to have eight movies in a row bring in more than $100 million. He came from nothing and is now worth millions. He is viewed by many as an inspiration and role model for minorities. His list of personal accomplishments is quite long.
Focus on Will Smith
Will Smith has said “The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be out-worked, period. You might be more talented than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me, you might be all of those things you got it on me in nine categories. But if we get on the treadmill together, there’s two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die. It’s really that simple, right? You’re not going to out-work me. It’s such a simple, basic concept. The guy who is willing to hustle the most is going to be the guy who just gets that loose ball. The majority of people who aren’t getting the places they want or aren’t achieving the things that they want in this business is strictly based on hustle. It’s strictly based on being out-worked; it’s strictly based on missing crucial opportunities. I say all the time if you stay ready, you ain’t gotta get ready.”
More than an actor
As indicated above, everyone likely realizes that Will Smith is not just an actor but he is a leader in many ways: A producer, founder of I’m more than one company, community leader and so on. If you have ever seen him work the crowd at a red carpet event, you should realize he is also a consummate salesman. That is part of why his movies make so much money. So when he talks about hustle, he doesn’t just mean “work hard.” He also means you need to sell yourself. Constantly.
What may not be obvious is that in order to have the attitude he has, the first thing he needs is the physical stamina necessary to run you into the ground or die trying. If you have seen him in “I am Legend”, a movie filmed in his late thirties, you have seen with your own eyes the kind of phenomenal fitness he has. Similarly, he trained for months to put on the muscle necessary to portray legendary boxer Muhammad Ali. People who are not super healthy don’t do things like that. They simply can’t.
Health and fitness
So if you want to be a great sales person or leader, you first need to be the best that you can be. And that starts with being as healthy and fit as possible so you have the physical energy and mental focus to out-work others, to recognize opportunity when it presents itself and quickly take action, and to be as presentable and attractive as possible. The reality is that both sales and leadership are about influencing other people. Someone who is healthy and fit is far more personable than someone who is not.
Think about this: Shaking hands is a basic symbol of both friendliness and deal-making. People have to touch you to shake your hand. No one wants that if you are ill. Even if you are in good health generally but know there is room for improvement it can be a good idea to take a medical test to highlight where best to prioritize, be it diet or fitness levels. A routine lab test can highlight any problems or deficiencies you may have meaning you can take measures to address these under the advice of a medical professional.
So get cracking. Watch what you eat. Take your vitamins. Hit the gym. Get on that treadmill. Make sure you are healthy enough to be the last one to get off it when you are up against the competition. In other words: Every day.
If you are interested in having Eve guest post on your blog or website she can be emailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Eben Pagan is one of my true inspirations from the internet marketing space. I could listen to him speak all day!
A couple of years ago he launched a program called “Wake Up Productive”, and some short videos are posted on YouTube. I absolutely love the message in this series, and I have included his video on “Focus” for your viewing pleasure today.
It is only a little over 3 minutes long if you skip the promotion of the series at the beginning and end.
If you would like to see the series of videos, click this link to the “Wake Up Productive” channel on YouTube.
Have a great day!