Below are seven areas where salespeople need to be aware of saboteurs, which can obstruct or even destroy their ability to reach their true potential when it comes to success in their sales careers.
APATHY: I don’t believe salespeople begin their careers with an attitude of indifference or lack of caring. I don’t believe most apathetic salespeople even consider themselves dispassionate towards their career. With time, they have become numb due the constant barrage of “no’s” and their apathy has become a self-imposed medication to dull the pain. These people live in the world of sales, but ironically are not a major part of it. They go through the motions, lacking the emotion that once powered their success. Without daily personal evaluations, apathy will become the norm and rob the salesperson of success, self-worth, desire and motivation. These salespeople are like Zombies, living, but absent of all the joy, excitement, pleasure and wealth experienced in the world of selling.
CONSISTENCY: Most everything in life performs better applying the principle of consistency. Stopping, starting, slowing and accelerating all consume energy and greatly impact efficiency. Salespeople who constantly start and stop their efforts will never accomplish as much as the salesperson who sets a course and continues without interruption. Too many salespeople allow interruptions to interfere with their sales efforts. Many of these distractions have little or no importance and yet, they impact bottom line sales results. Salespeople need to get themselves in motion and keep the selling machine moving forward, without interruption, to maximize their performance. Create the habit of maintaining a consistent effort in order to enjoy consistent results.
MAYBE: This is simple to explain and hard for salespeople to comprehend. Plain and simple, maybe is another word for “no.” People use the word maybe to let you down easy. They know salespeople are fed a constant diet of “no’s”, so they want to change it up a bit by saying maybe. It does not mean possibly or in the future. It doesn’t mean they might, or that it will be conditional. When a prospect uses the word maybe, they are really saying, “I like you and I don’t want to hurt your feelings and heaven only knows that you are constantly getting your feelings hurt by those insensitive people who tell you no, so with respect to you, your family and all those that are impacted by you, I’m going to take the more gentle and humane approach and tell you ‘maybe’. The answer is absolutely no, but because I respect you I’m telling you ‘maybe’.”
FOLLOW-UP: Following up is the easiest of all the steps of the sales process, yet it is the most abused sales activity. Following up with a prospect frequently becomes forgotten and neglected. As salespeople focus on finding more prospects, they neglect to plan and schedule the necessary constant contact with existing prospects. The typical buyer requires, on average, five to seven interactions with a salesperson before they feel comfortable enough to consider buying from them. The hard work and time commitment of selling is discovering prospective buyers and then scheduling a time to uncover their needs while presenting your product or service as a solution to those needs. Maintaining contact with them while providing additional value to your offering requires the least amount of time and effort, yet is vital to the success of the sale. Always plan timely follow-up with each prospect. An interested buyer is a terrible thing to waste.
KNOWLEDGE: A salesperson can never have too much knowledge. Most salespeople don’t know enough about their products and services and need to spend more time learning. Buyers want to deal with educated and knowledgeable salespeople who understand precisely how their products can solve the needs and wants of the buyer. Another major area that is critical to sales success is customer knowledge. If a salesperson is to truly serve a customer or prospect, they need to know all they possibly can about them, their company, and how that company makes a profit.
SKILLS: No profession has as many unskilled practitioners as selling. Doctors go to medical school, attorneys attend law school, an accountant studies finance, businessmen study business, but most salespeople do what they do without having received a formal education like other professionals. There are very few colleges or universities that offer degreed programs in selling. However, there are many avenues for salespeople to learn the skills necessary to perform their profession at the highest level of competence. Salespeople, get educated! You may think you know it all, but until you have received a formal education, you won’t know it all. Sales training is a seven billion dollar per year industry. There are plenty of opportunities, take advantage of all the learning you can.
LISTENING: Every salesperson knows they should listen more and talk less, but they continue to talk more and listen less. Listening has become a forgotten art. Telling isn’t selling, and will never be the answer to more sales. Ask probing questions to understand the true needs, wants and desires of the buyer. Listen to their answers and understand what is necessary to solve their problems. Never lead a presentation by telling a prospect about your products or services. The buyer only cares about one thing, solving their problems. Ask questions, listen intently and then present your product as a solution to their needs. Spend the majority of your sales time listening for understanding, clarifying what you hear and then presenting solutions to very specific needs.