We live during a fascinating time in history and are part of an interesting generation.
The so-called Baby Boomers are approaching and engaging in retirement, while generation “X” is left behind to support their retirement. There is one major difference between these two generations. Generation “X” doesn’t embrace the same work ethic as their predecessors and while this attitude is reflected in many things, it has a significant impact on the profession of selling. This current generation of salespeople seem content to “fly by the seat of their pants”; but if they are going to be successful, they will need to embrace the work ethic of prior generations.
As a baby boomer salesperson, let me share a few of my thoughts:
- Selling is one of the hardest jobs one can undertake. If you feel selling isn’t hard work, you probably aren’t as successful as you could be.
- Salespeople don’t think through the sales process as they should. If you don’t know the who, what, where, when, why and how of the sales opportunity, you are missing the boat.
- Salespeople tend to do whatever seems easy and natural. To be better than average, you need to put some intelligent thought into the sales process. Sales don’t just happen.
- A sales plan is always a good idea. Instead of “winging it”, put together a thoughtful plan detailing the activities you believe will be necessary to close the sales and then follow your plan.
- Practice selling by implementing new and different techniques until you have mastered them. Once mastered, the techniques will become part of you.
- Study sales principles and skills on a regular basis; you can’t learn too much. Most salespeople don’t engage in enough sales education and training. You don’t need a four-year degree to become a salesperson, but you need to study four years to be a good one.
- Become a problem solver, not just an order taker. It takes an inquisitive mind to discover problems, uncover the pain and provide a solution. People want solutions to their problems, not information about what you sell.
- Own the opportunity. Think to yourself, “What would I do if this were my company or if I were in their shoes?” Become the other person, but with your experience and perspective.
- An amazing 84% of people who buy something say “NO” before they say yes. Be persistent and consistent in applying the principles and skills of your sales plan.
- Believe in yourself. A self-confident attitude is a powerful sales tool. Confidence comes from knowledge and preparation. You can’t “fake it,” or “wing it.” Prepare yourself for the success you believe you can achieve.
When I embarked on my college studies, my father gave me some excellent advice. He told me it was not what I would learn in college that would prepare me for a career. Rather, it was the process of learning and the ability to think through problems and formulate solutions that would prepare me for any career. In selling, you will never soar if you are content to “fly by the seat of your pants.”