Are you curious?

Curiosity is quite possibly the number one trait one must possess to be successful at selling. We have recently interviewed approximately 200 people who applied for an inside sales position with our company and have so far only hired one. We are truly disappointed in the candidates. All seem to believe selling is a telling business.

On the phone or in person the candidates talk and talk about their qualifications in glowing terms. Few, if any, ask thoughtful questions. Sometimes we even ask them to sell us something, most tell us about the item, but few ask what we intend to do with it.

Salespeople must be curious. This is a necessary trait for success in sales. How can you help a prospect become a customer if you don’t understand their needs and expectations? In our training, we emphasize asking open-ended questions that can’t be answered with a single word or sentence. We believe when trying to help someone purchase your products and services you need to ask thoughtful and insightful questions. If you don’t know exactly what a prospect wants or needs, ask! Ask more than one way to ensure you fully understand. Your questions should reveal your prospect’s story.

Only after you fully understand their situation can you help them paint a visual mental picture of your solution benefiting them. You’ll have a much better chance of winning business if your prospects visualize themselves using your solution, and like what they see. Questions help you paint the picture. Questions come from curiosity. Curiosity comes from truly caring about your customers and what they are trying to do. Selling is tough.

Selling when you aren’t curious is nearly impossible.

To be successful in sales be curious and paint mental word pictures. You’ll close more business.

Selling is not telling, so stop telling!
Be curious, ask questions. Win more business!

Successful Salespeople are Different

If you think it’s expensive to hire a successful sales person,
try hiring a mediocre one.

Successful Salesperson

 

 

 

Here are some ways successful salespeople are different from mediocre ones.

 

 

 

 

  • Successful salespeople ask questions.
    Mediocre salespeople make statements.
  • Successful salespeople are naturally curious and care about customers and prospects.
    Mediocre salespeople are myopic and self-centered.
  • Successful salespeople are persistent.
    Mediocre salespeople are easily discouraged.
  • Successful salespeople understand and fulfill needs.
    Mediocre salespeople assume what customers need.
  • Successful salespeople read, study and constantly learn about selling.
    Mediocre salespeople know it all.
  • Successful salespeople have a strategy.
    Mediocre salespeople wing it.
  • Successful salespeople have a system for tracking prospects like SalesTalk.
    Mediocre salespeople don’t.
  • Successful salespeople are open to feedback.
    Mediocre salespeople are defensive.
  • Successful salespeople are humble.
    Mediocre salespeople have big egos.
  • Successful salespeople have a strategy.
    Mediocre salespeople wing it.
  • Successful salespeople acknowledge and learn from mistakes.
    Mediocre salespeople blame others.
  • Successful salespeople apologize when they are wrong.
    Mediocre salespeople are never wrong.
  • Successful salespeople find customers for the products and services their company currently has.
    Mediocre salespeople complain about what their company lacks.
  • Successful salespeople are seldom satisfied.
    Mediocre salespeople rest on their laurels.
  • Successful salespeople set proper priorities and invest their time wisely.
    Mediocre salespeople watch the clock.
  • Successful salespeople spend company money as if it were their own.
    Mediocre salespeople spend their company’s money in ways they wouldn’t spend their own.
  • Successful salespeople make their numbers and are consistently over quota.
    Mediocre salespeople blame market conditions or the economy for coming up short.
  • Successful salespeople actively listen.
    Mediocre salespeople are easily distracted.
  • Successful salespeople have an ownership mentality.
    Mediocre salespeople see selling as a job, not a career.
  • Successful salespeople enjoy what they do.
    Mediocre salespeople don’t.

 

We hope you enjoyed our list. Please let us know if you think of one we missed. We’d love to hear from you.

Learning! Is it a gift, a skill, or a choice?

Anyone who has ever served as a teacher knows teachers learn as much, if not more than their students. The idea of discovery has always been at the heart of the learning experience. Great teachers are concerned with sharing what has been learned and discovered rather than positioning themselves as authoritarian figures who believe they are smarter than their pupils.

Winston Churchill may have said it best, “I’m always eager to learn, although I don’t always enjoy being taught.” Henry Ford said, “Anyone who stops learning is old; anyone who keeps learning stays young.” Brian Herbert, the elder son of science fiction writer Frank Herbert of the Dune Trilogy series said, “The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice.” Magic happens in our classes when an attendee offers the group a gem worthy of repeating as well as incorporating in their daily lives. We believe learning is a community event. The more participation, the better.

Many people take learning for granted. They don’t appreciate the opportunities provided to grow and better themselves. An objection we often hear from managers is, “My people are experienced, they don’t need training.” This is shocking because experienced people still learn, grow, improve and share their knowledge with others. Learning is not just for new people. Would you feel comfortable seeing a doctor who has learned nothing new in the past ten years?

Ask what you’d like to tell.

Once a student shared, “Ask what you’d like to tell.” Six words that encapsulate the whole idea of selling and asking questions! Our instructors stress the value of asking questions in all our programs. Sales people must ask questions to move the process forward. They ask questions to understand the prospect’s needs. Ask questions  to  clarify ambiguities.

We once had a 42-year-old instructor leading a class that included a 68-year-old student. A quick calculation revealed that the student had been selling for the instructor’s entire life! A younger student asked the older student, “You’ve been selling longer than our instructor has been alive. Why are you attending a training course for sales?” The very experienced student replied, “I never stop learning; if I do I might as well be dead and I’m too young to die.” If only we all had this attitude!

The fun thing about teaching is that on the good days, you learn as much as you teach. When instructors create an environment where people share, everyone learns, everyone grows. That’s what we call Experiential Learning. The capacity to learn is a gift. Channeling that capacity is a skill. Doing it is a choice. Choose to attend one of our classes and experience how experiential learning will help you.

What words of wisdom have you created or learned? We’d love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts.

In the words of Mahatma Gandhi:

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow; Learn as if you were to live forever.”

Buyers are evolving. Has your sales process?

Sales TalkDespite what experts sometimes say, cold-calling or prospecting, is not dead. Despite the changes brought about by advancing technology, social media, and the Internet, generating new business still requires a pro-active approach. Technology and social media should be used in addition to prospecting, not in place of it.

Consider these three key components when prospecting:

  1. Set appointments with yourself.

    If you wait for a convenient time, you’ll never find it. Make an appointment to prospect, just like a sales call or a doctor appointment. Hold yourself accountable, make sure you keep the appointment!

  2. Leave Voice Mails

    Think of voice mails as advertisements. Studies show people engage with you after the fifth call; most salespeople give up after the third. Stay with it; if you set out to chop down a tree it will take more than two or three swings. Prospecting is similar. If you hit a tree once and leave it alone, it will heal. If you call a prospect once or twice and leave them alone, they will forget you.

  3. Stay Focused and Organized.

    It is critical to track your steps. If you found a gold mine and left to go get tools, you’d surely keep careful records of where the mine was found. Whatever type of CRM system you use, make certain you don’t lose track of what you are doing as well as how and when you need to follow up!

Sales Concepts prides itself on providing training that is process-driven, not event-driven. To that end, we’ve partnered with SalesTalk! SalesTalk provides cloud-based platforms that can be used alone or elegantly complement your current CRM system. SalesTalk helps salespeople automate the prospecting process and simplify the information they gather and use.

They also offer Lead Intelligence, Virtual Playbooks, Automated Sales Tasks and much more. Using Sales Concepts and SalesTalk helps your team increase sales to new customers and sell more to existing ones. Visit GetSalesTalk, call or email me to learn more.

Are You Selling Like It’s 1999?

Back in the day, salesmen (Yes, that’s not politically correct; that’s the point. Stay with us.) would pack their wares on the back of a burro (donkey or cart, etc.) and go see their prospects. If it wasn’t on the burro’s back, it couldn’t get sold. Pretty inefficient for sure!

In today’s digital age, such an environment seems more like a Saturday morning cartoon from the 1970’s than anything we can relate to in 2016. Yet, some sales professionals (Doesn’t that sound better?) are still pursuing their fortune very much like they did in the dark ages, uninformed and unenlightened. Information has always been the source of power and success.

Someone once said, “It’s better to have a little information ahead of time than to have all of it afterward.” There used to be a good excuse for not being informed; there really was no efficient means of doing so. Even with the Internet, many hours have been wasted ineffectively searching for information.

With the advent of the Internet, and specifically Social Media, there is no excuse for not being well informed, ahead of time. Every single principle of connectivity in sales is made better by the use of the Internet and social media as a valuable selling tool for the individual. We are not talking about corporate use; we are talking about individual sales professionals maximizing their effectiveness on behalf of their customers and not having to wait on someone else to handle it for them. Even today, too many salespeople still view the Internet as the home of Facebook or games and fail to take advantage of its full potential as a selling and prospecting tool.

One of the most perplexing and enduring questions continuously haunting sales professionals is; how do I stay in touch with customers without being a pest?

Most business professionals today would agree that any sales professional not fully embracing the Internet and Social Media risks being uninformed or becoming obsolete. The trouble is that most sales professionals believe they are using the majority of the Internet, when in reality they are using only a tiny fraction of what is available. How do you know if you are using all that is available to you? How do you know if you are using it as effectively and efficiently as possible? It’s difficult to know what you don’t know. Why not have pertinent information find you?

Attend Selling In The Digital Age to ensure you are making the most out of all the Internet and Social Media have to offer.Back in the day, salesmen (Yes, that’s not politically correct; that’s the point. Stay with me.) would pack their wares on the back of a burro (donkey or cart, etc.) and go see their prospects. If it wasn’t on the burro’s back, it couldn’t get sold. Pretty inefficient for sure!

In today’s digital age, such an environment seems more like a Saturday morning cartoon from the 1970’s than anything we can relate to in 2016. Yet, some sales professionals (Doesn’t that sound better?) are still pursuing their fortune very much like they did in the dark ages, uninformed and unenlightened. Information has always been the source of power and success.

Potato Chips
Someone once said, “It’s better to have a little information ahead of time than to have all of it afterward.” There used to be a good excuse for not being informed; there really was no efficient means of doing so. Even with the Internet, many hours have been wasted ineffectively searching for information.

With the advent of the Internet, and specifically Social Media, there is no excuse for not being fully informed, ahead of time. Every single principle of connectivity in sales is made better by the use of the Internet and social media as a valuable selling tool for the individual. We are not talking about corporate use; we are talking about individual sales professionals maximizing their effectiveness on behalf of their customers and not having to wait on someone else to handle it for them. Even today, too many salespeople still view the Internet as the home of Facebook or games and fail to take advantage of its full potential as a selling tool.

One of the most perplexing and enduring questions continuously haunting sales professionals is; how do I stay in touch with customers without being a pest?

Most business professionals today would agree that any sales professional not fully embracing the Internet and Social Media risks being uninformed or becoming obsolete. The trouble is that most sales professionals believe they are using the majority of the Internet, when in reality they are using only a tiny fraction of what is available. How do you know if you are using all that is available to you? How do you know if you are using it as effectively and efficiently as possible? It’s difficult to know what you don’t know. Why not have pertinent information find you?

Attend Selling In The Digital Age to ensure you are making the most out of all the Internet and Social Media have to offer.

The Power of Potato Chips!

potato-chipsThe other day a coworker was talking about his lunch. He is counting calories and successfully losing weight. He was complaining about how you could not eat just one potato chip and said to me, “Never underestimate the power of potato chips!” As soon as I heard that phrase I knew it related to prospecting.

We all know you can’t eat just one potato chip. They are so good! Most of us have been guilty of eating chips and not even thinking about the number that have been consumed. You just keep popping them in your mouth. Rarely does a person say, “I am only going to eat one chip.” Imagine if you stopped at just one chip. You wouldn’t even notice that chip on the scale. Your clothes would not be tighter. You would not feel bloated from the salt. One chip would not change your day or your weight much at all. Not true for a whole bag of chips. Unfortunately, you would notice it on the scale and in your clothes!

So, what does this have to do with Prospecting? Simple – one is not enough! You cannot make just one call to prospects and expect that to change their day or your forecast! Rarely do prospects call you back after the first call. Unfortunately, most sales people make one call, maybe two to a prospect, then assume there is no interest and move on. Even more shocking, we hear from attendees in our Prospecting classes that when prospecting, many don’t leave messages!

At Sales Concepts we liken prospecting to a lumberjack. Picture a tree. Would a tree ever fall if a lumberjack hit the tree haphazardly with an axe on the trunk? Can you imagine a lumberjack just swinging the axe and hitting the tree wherever on the trunk? The tree would never fall. BUT… if you hit the tree consistently in the same place over and over, the tree WILL fall. Prospecting must be approached in this manner. You must be consistently persistent. You cannot make just one call. People are busy, they won’t usually return your calls.

Statistics show that 48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect after the first call. 25% of sales people make a second attempt and never try again. 12% of sales people make more than three attempts. This is the elite group of sales people that win the business of new prospects and rise to the top of their sales organization.

Statistics also show that less than 2% of sales are made on the first contact, yet 48% of sales people never reach out again. Less than 3% of sales are made on the second contact. Roughly 5% of sales are made on the third contact, and fewer than 10% of sales are made on the fourth contact. A shocking 80% of sales are made between the fifth to twelfth contacts to a prospect! If you keep reaching out to your prospects, you are bound to surpass your competition and increase your odds of closing new business!

So, act like a lumberjack who eats potato chips. Be consistently persistent. Treat prospecting like potato chips. Don’t stop at just one!