As I travel around the country, I often get asked what makes a great sales person. People want to know what the secret is to being successful in sales. Some of them tell me that they think it is much more difficult to sell today than it has ever been. Others tell me about customers who won’t let them make appointments; who won’t answer their phone; who want to keep them at arm’s length because the last thing they want is “to be sold to.” Some of the sales people, I meet want to tell me stories about Millennials and what you have to do to sell to them. Others, want to talk about lobbies with no receptionists, just a cold hard phone, so that even if they visit the prospect they are no better off than if they had just stayed at the office and tried to call in.
Over the years I have heard every excuse in the world as to why sales people can’t sell, and although there is some truth in all of them, there is really nothing new. It has always been hard to sell. Years ago if it wasn’t the Millennials (and I really wish we would stop blaming them for everything!) it was the old guys who were on the take. When I joined the sales force many years ago, the stories were about bribes, hookers and junkets to Vegas. Sales guys and yes, they were always “guys”, complained that if they did not go to the wild side, they would not be successful. Those were the good old days, when salesmen were drunks and women, well women weren’t in sales.
Look, there will always be obstacles to being, a great salesperson, always reasons for not doing a great job, but that’s all they are, excuses. I’m sure that when the first sales guy sold that first wheel, he complained about his customers not being smart enough to see what they could do with it. That was then and this is now, and nothing really changes…if you don’t want it to.
But, here’s the thing, there are always those sales people who find a way. The Ricky Roma’s out there who are always creative enough to make their forecasts, and take home the gold Cadillac. The guy who is out quietly making the sales, while his compatriots are hanging around the water cooler complaining about the lousy leads, or the lousy products and or services they are selling. Unfortunately, there are more of those complainers than the winners. So, for the sake of or trying to help those who just cannot buy their way to a sale, here are five things that every great salesperson needs to do.
- You have to believe in your product. You have to think it is the greatest product on the market today and it is your mission to make sure that everyone has it.
- You have to be engaging and that means, being able to engage your customer in a meaningful conversation, a dialog, not a monologue, where the target customer does most of the of the talking and you do most of the listening and learning.
- You have to bring value, along with your product or service. When your customer sees you walk into her office she has to think, “Good this guy is going to teach me something, he is going to bring me value.”
- You have to be compassionate, you have to be more concerned about your customer’s needs and challenges than your own. You are not there to make a sale, you are there to solve your customer’s problem.
- You have to be creative. The more creative you are, the more successful you will be. You always have to be looking to find a way. Whether, that be finding a way to get an appointment, finding a way to solve your customers problem, or finding a way to close the deal. You have to be creative. It’s much easier to find reasons why you can’t make a sale, than ways that you can.
And one more in the spirit of always under promising and over delivering.
- You have to do just that, under promise and over deliver, which is another way of delighting your customer. You want to do everything you can, to make sure that your customers are thrilled with your service, your product, and most importantly you. You are the face of your company to your customer, and it is your duty, and responsibility, to represent your company in the best light possible.
Most people choose a career in sales because they love the freedom, they love to meet and deal with people, and they love the creative challenges that it requires. They have a passion for helping people, for finding ways to solve their problems. But once you lose that; if you find yourself complaining more about what you do…rather than enjoying it, then it’s time to go do something else. It’s only common sense.