Selling: The truth about
By Douglas Smith
currently lists more than 13,000 books that teach people how to be
successful in selling. Most of these books are very good, while
others are misleading. Unfortunately, some authors and “sales
experts” continue to perpetuate age-old myths about selling that
need to be dispelled. Three of these biggest myths are:
Anyone can be successful in selling if they work hard enough:
Hard work helps, but it alone
will not make you a successful salesperson. There are salespeople
out there who work 60-hour weeks and stay busy as bees and they
still struggle to find a prospect or make a sale. Selling is a
talent. It is the right mix of ability, skills and approach that
defines a successful salesperson. If you are struggling in sales,
working harder or longer hours may not make any difference in your
Successful salespeople are born that way:
No one is born knowing how to sell.
Selling is an acquired skill that is discovered, developed and honed
over time. It’s a fact that some people come to sell easier than
others, but it’s not because they are fitted with some “sales gene”
at birth. Those who are successful in sales have simply married
their natural abilities of discipline and drive along with a comfort
for interacting with other people to a profession that compensates
them well for these talents.
Success in selling is all about attitude:
There are thousands of starving
salespeople who have positive outlooks and pumped up attitudes.
Success isn’t just about attitude, it is about aptitude.
Attitude will get you up and to work every day, but it won’t get you
customers to work with. Success comes from so much more than
having a good attitude. You can only get by so long on a whistle
and a smile.
And now … the
truth: So if success in
selling isn’t about just working harder, having a great attitude or
being born a winner, what is it about? Why do some salespeople rise
to the top while others sink to the bottom or bob somewhere
in-between? The truth is this: Success isn’t simple. It takes many
things to be highly successful in the profession of selling.
Success is like a formula or a recipe. It’s a bit complex. If
success were easy, everyone would be successful.
Here are common
characteristics of successful salespeople. Spend a day or a week
with a top performing salesperson and you’ll see these traits and
characteristics evident. If you’re not as successful as you want to
be, work on incorporating these traits:
performers are in this for the long run.
Unlike other salespeople
who are trying the job on for size or using their sales position as
a job gap until they find something else they like better, top
performers are committed to their career in sales until retirement.
This long-term focus and obligation means they will invest more in
their jobs every day than others are willing to invest. That’s why
they succeed at the level that they do; they are in it for life.
performers take risks. They
are willing to try new things, experiment, change old habits, and go
after big targets of business. Although top performers fail at
these endeavors as much as anyone else, they succeed more because
they are continually taking risks and trying new things. A
risk-taking mindset means you will create opportunities others will
performers invest in themselves.
Top performers are okay
with spending some of their own money for things. They purchase
gifts for their clients and business partners. They buy books and
training CDs to learn new things. They pay to attend seminars and
subscribe to industry magazines and Internet services. Some top
performers invest as much as five to 10 percent of their incomes
every year on tools and resources to help them grow as sales
professionals. When you see this as your business, you look
at investing in it differently.
performers align with top clients.
It is hard, if not
impossible, to become a success if you don’t work with successful
people. That’s why top performers are picky about the customers,
clients and partners they choose. Many salespeople are content to
work with just about anybody that will talk to them. They saddle
themselves with lesser caliber, low quality prospects. In the
business of selling, your clients and partners say a lot about who
you are. Successful salespeople get that.
performers are stingy with their time.
Your time is worth money
– a lot of money. Top performing salespeople are particular about
what they do with their time and invest the bulk of it in activities
and clients that have the highest payoff. They delegate. They stay
busy. They get stuff done. Many average performers will never
reach the level of success they want because of their inability to
manage their time properly. They spend too much time with marginal
opportunities, too much time doing administrative tasks, and too
much time hanging around the office waiting for the phone to ring.
performers know their stuff.
Because they take the time to learn
new things, read industry periodicals, stay current on market
changes and share news with others, top-performing salespeople build
a knowledge base that allows them to sell from a level of expertise
few others have. Clients recognize the value of knowledge, and
gravitate to working with well-informed salespeople because they
trust them to help them find the right solutions to their needs.
performers like to sell.
While many salespeople
shy away from various sales activities, top performers actually
enjoy selling. They enjoy the client conversations, delivering
presentations and meeting new prospects. They don’t like sitting in
meetings or spending a lot of time on conference calls. They do not
enjoy hanging around the office talking about sports, movies or
somebody’s problems. Frankly, they’d rather be out meeting people,
making contacts and writing sales.
performers are “can-do” people.
Some salespeople are
making excuses instead of making sales. They have all sorts of
reasons why something can’t be done. “I can’t sell that product
because the price is too high,” they say. “I can’t get to work on
time because of the traffic,” or “I can’t make more sales calls
because I have emails to read.” This is how can’t do people
work. Top performers, by contrast, are can-do people. It is
reflected in their initiative, their approach to problem solving and
their openness to new ideas. They look for ways to make things
happen, not excuses why things aren’t happening. This allows them
to change, grow, adapt and out-perform the competition and their
peers month after month and year after year.
Think back to
when you first got into sales. Did you plan to be mediocre? Was it
your goal to have “average” accomplishments or maybe just get by?
No. You got into sales for one reason: to be successful. Follow
in the path of those top performers who have shown you the way to
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