As sales professionals and self-employed business owners we’re in the position to experience the advantages that come from a virtually unlimited financial opportunity. And when I say “unlimited,” I mean based on what we’re willing to do to build that financial opportunity.
(Related: What Makes a Hero?)
Most people don’t fail in sales because they don’t do enough, and most people don’t fail in sells because they don’t do the right thing. Most people fail in sales because they don’t do enough of the right things, enough of the time in order to give success an opportunity to occur.
Where We Come From
In the early nineteenth century there were traveling peddlers who went from town to town hocking their wares. As the country turned into a manufacturing economy at the beginning of the 20th century business machines, appliances and cars were produced as a result of the demand these peddlers, turned salesman, created. Companies like Coca-Cola, Eastman Kodak and National Cash Register became brand names as a result of these salespeople bringing products to the masses.
As markets were created by these unsung heroes of the industrial revolution selling became more of a science as a result of books by great men like Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friend and Influence People,” W. Clement Stone’s “The Success System That Never Fails” and Og Mandino “The Greatest Salesman In The World.” This is not to say there weren’t other recognizable or influential individuals, these are just the ones that became known for promoting their selling philosophy as a result of their success during and on the heels of the industrial revolution.
The ability for salespeople to effectively point out marginal differences between the Electrolux and Hoover vacuum cleaners, Ford and Chevy cars, to sway customers from one brand to another created the need for companies to invest in training of entire sales teams, from local to national brands.
Often, like National Cash Register, IBM and others, completing these company sales trainings became a brand amongst themselves, having graduated this class and having this on your resume often guaranteed your next best job.
Problems We Create
Most sales people sell the way they buy, that is they assume others buy the same way they do, that the same things are important to others that is important to them in making a buying decision, which of course is not always true; in fact it is rarely the case.
And managers often train the way they sell, meaning they train what they do, not understanding how this limits them to reproducing salespeople like them, which in and of itself limits their potential by ruling out those who don’t sell like them.
Making 2020 Different
In learning to become professional salespeople and increase our businesses there are a couple of things we must start with.
1. Get Rid of Excuses
When the Spanish explorer Cortez landed at Veracruz, the first thing he did was burn his ships.
Then he told his men: “You can either fight or die.”
Burning his ships removed a third alternative: giving up and returning to Spain.
Sometimes it takes more creativity to get rid of the excuses we put in the way of our success than it does to just succeed.
When a new salesperson first goes in the field, about to go into an appointment, do they think “will they like my company?”, “will they want my product?”, “will my price be competitive?”, or do they think:
- “Will I succeed?”
- “Will I make money doing this?”
- “Can I do this?”
- “Will I make it?”
Which way do you think new salespeople think?
Sometimes the biggest excuse we must overcome is our own experience we bring to the table. Our experience creates our perceptions. It’s our job to understand others experience so we can relate with them. This is often clouded by our own prejudice based on our own experience that created our frame of reference.
Sometimes new salespeople feel they are their past rather than they are creating their future.
So, their past, when not successful, becomes their excuse for their present.
Which way do you think?
2. Have Something at Stake
A frozen-fish processor had trouble selling a new line of frozen fish because they tasted “flat.”
The company tried to keep the fish fresh, including holding them in tanks until just before processing-but to no avail.
Then someone suggested: “Put a predator in there with them. That should keep them fresh.”
This idea worked like a charm. The fish kept moving and retained their vitality.
Organizations that are successful are constantly hiring new salespeople; they are looking for the “predator” for their sales tank.
They want to keep the team fresh and they do this with new salespeople who don’t know the leads suck yet, or that the service is not always great, or the price is not always competitive, or any of the other “excuses” non-producers tell all new people to compensate for their not being successful.
That bodes the question, why those salespeople are still around, well that’s another topic.
Ask yourself, as a salesperson who wants to be that top producer, who wants to give your family a successful 2020….
What will you have at stake in 2020?
What will you stop doing in 2020?
What will you start doing in 2020?
What do you have at stake?
— Read Retirement Planning Made Simple, on ThinkAdvisor.
Lloyd Lofton started with John Hancock in 1977. He is the author of “The Sidewalk Executive” and “Leads to Results,” the founder of Power Behind the Sales, and managing partner of 7 Figure Sales Tools, a sales and leadership coaching and training company.