Do you “sell to live” or “live to sell”? I have been training sales people for over 16 years and have found a common trait in the highest performers: they “live to sell”. They love prospecting for new business opportunities. They love being in the role of “closer”. Their sales quota is a benchmark that they regularly exceed because just hitting quota makes them “average”. They don’t hide from the fact that they sell by putting words like “account manager” or “territory manager” on their business cards. They have turned the buyer-seller relationship into a game-A game with rules that they create!
All games have rules. Here are the rules to which the upper echelon of sales people are committed:
- You have to be a hunter to survive. Hunting means spending 60% of your month finding new prospects. By the way, most sales people fail because they approach selling like farming; they plant seeds they hope and pray will grow into their existing customer base.
- You cannot manage time. You can and must identify and execute behaviors that enable you to master it. Winning sales people know that the phrase “time is money” is a misnomer. They know they can always make more money, but they cannot recover time that has been squandered. They identify income-producing activities and focus on them in a laser-like fashion during their “pay-time” hours.
- You must use a consistent process to close business. I teach the Sandler Selling System and believe that it is the best, but if you don’t choose to use my system… use another. High performing sales people never “wing it” or rely totally on the strength of their personality. They adhere to a process that strongly qualifies or disqualifies prospects, makes proposals that reflect an understanding of the prospect’s needs and skillfully close the prospect in the shortest amount of time. This process results in a yes or no, never a “think it over”.
The players in the sales game must have certain characteristics and attributes in order to win.High performing sales people have a winning attitude that comes from within. Each day they strengthen it by working on their self-worth. They don’t rely on being externally motivated, rather they commit to a strong body, mind and spirit connection that gives them confidence. They set both professional and personal goals and work on three business goals to improve their performance and two personal goals to reinforce their belief system…each and every day. They continuously learn and implement new behaviors whereas their lower-performing counterparts wait for their “new” belief system to kick in before they take action on any new behavior.
The sales game is played in a very competitive arena and highest producing sales persons relish matching their talent not only with others, but also with prospects. They are dogged about learning new techniques and skills and are fearless in their practice in order to gain any advantage they can. A final attribute among these “winners” is the way they handle their ego. They leave it in the car before a sales call is made. They don’t access the “traditional” overbearing ego, common to the “stereotypical” sales person, to impress their prospects because they understand that a healthy ego means gaining their respect and trust.
Penalties are assessed in the sales game when sales people break the rules. The rules are clear. A penalty is assessed when a sales person becomes a “professional visitor”. There must be a reason to make sales calls or visit customers. Stopping by to socialize is a waste of time for both the sales person and customer or prospect. By the way, if sales people continuously visit prospects with no agenda, they are labeled stalkers! Another penalty is assessed when a sales person uses “lowest price” to close business. It is physically impossible to offer the “lowest price” as another who desperately wants the business will “give the farm away” to capture it. The end result of the low price game is a shrinking bottom line. A final penalty is assessed when a sales person relies solely on features and benefits to close business. Competitors will use the same features and benefits as you and you will all begin to sound alike. If none of you offers any compelling point of differentiation, it will always boil down to who is the least expensive among competitors.
The sales game, like any game, must have a clear way to win. The sales game is won when sales people act professionally and treat selling as a profession, not as way to get their social needs met. I hope you are committed to winning the sales game.