Sales Wisdom I’ve Discovered in my Career
Throughout my time in sales, I’ve researched numerous complex theories, process descriptions, tactics, and strategies. In addition to these, I have also come across a number of quips from sales gurus who try to encapsulate sales success in a simple phrase that can be easily understood, even by a 5th grader.
For example, Zig Ziglar was famous for saying, “Either you’re green and growing or you’re ripe and rotten.”
Not only is this a nice example of an analogy, but it’s a message to all salespeople, young and old, that you need to be learning new stuff all the time. Otherwise, you’ve reached the end of your useful life.
Throughout my training sessions, speaking engagements, and lectures, I’ve peppered my talks with my own version of these sales success tips based on my own experiences. In my book, Selling is an Away Game, they are referred to as “Lance-isms.” Here are a few you can use to put you on the path to your own sales success.
Sales Success Key: Be Your Own Architect. The World is Your Oyster.
This is one I actually heard from my father. I still use it in my sessions to impart upon salespeople that they have the freedom, power, and responsibility to visualize and create their own outcomes. They simply must do the work necessary to reach those outcomes. But as we teach in our sales leadership programs, people will work willingly in a world they help create. And they will work tirelessly to reach a goal they set. So, we coach and encourage salespeople to set meaningful and relevant goals that support the world they envision. In doing so, they find the motivation to propel themselves forward as opposed to having the sales manager hold their hands, constantly micromanage their activities, and sometimes even give them a push.
So, to sales leaders I say coach your people to be independent. Give them the responsibility to act.
And to salespeople striving for sales success, I say be your own architect. The world is your oyster.
Sales Success Key: Don’t Confuse Activity with Results
Back when I ran several training franchises in Ohio, I had a new sales rep who spent a lot of time developing a territory about 70 miles north of our office location. He cultivated some good leads, made some good contacts and we held a few training events in the area. But the trip there and back cost him over two hours every day. That was over two hours every day that he wasn’t in front of a prospect. That was over two hours every day that he wasn’t selling. That activity may have been necessary to get him up to the area, but it wasn’t getting him the results that he wanted, more sales.
I see this all the time. Sales reps getting caught up in performing busy maintenance work, like updating the CRM - important functions to be sure. But these aren’t selling activities. These are maintenance activities. Remember, don’t confuse activity with results. Use activity to build habits and skills. Then use those habits and skills to get the results you want. If you aren’t getting results, build up some different habits and skills. But focus on getting the results you want. If you do that, you’ll have an easier time of identifying and performing the necessary activities.
Sales Success Key: Stop Spraying and Praying
I was once in the presence of a gifted sales rep who was producing mediocre results. The guy was able to read people quickly and easily. The challenge was in his selling method. He would sit across from the prospect, rifle through a list of features, and watch the prospect for a reaction. When he got a reaction, he would focus on the feature that got him the reaction.
The problem here is that you aren’t interacting with your prospect. You aren’t performing any type of diagnostic conversation. You aren’t helping them to identify and acknowledge their challenges. You’re simply poking them with a variety of sticks, looking for that one, magic stick that will make them jump.
And then you’ll keep poking them with that magic stick hoping for a sale.
Add to the fact that not every sales rep has the skill or temperament to read people that well. They are simply praying that something they sprayed will stick.
Look, to produce consistent results and achieve sales success, you must be like a scientist or an engineer and adhere to a reproducible and repeatable process. Showing up at a prospect’s door, spraying out a bunch of product features, and praying that something will stick is not a recipe for reproducible results. Be investigative in your approach. Diagnose your prospect’s challenges. Design solutions that solve their challenges or create opportunities for them. And above all else, stick to your sales process.
Remember, If you have to pray for a result, your activity isn’t producing it.
For additional Lance-isms and ideas on achieving sales success, pick up a copy of Selling is an Away Game, available online at Amazon, fine bookstores and many Hudson News locations.