There really are no “secrets” to success at sales. Instead there is a core group of “best practices” which, when followed closely, results in success. Many sales professionals sometimes fail to follow the right path but instead follow shortcuts to achieving financial rewards.
There are many sales persons, however, who do not merely seek success but aspire to be super salesmen. For this special group I offer my Nine Commandments for Sales Greatness.
Don’t Leave Home without Your Passion. Wake up each morning excited about selling. There are several motivating factors that inspire people to have a passion for sales: the challenge, pride in doing a good job, being recognized in a group of top sales professionals, and of course, the salary/commission. However, ultimately you simply must enjoy the process of selling a product or service. Being a salesman is my passion and it has to be yours as well if you want to have a successful sales career.
Be a Cheerleader For Your Product/Service. You have to believe in what you’re selling. My clients see my enthusiasm and know that I truly believe in the service I’m providing. As a salesman, you must believe in your product, otherwise clients will “see through you” and not buy. If you don’t believe your company’s product/service is beneficial to consumers, you should consider moving to a company or industry that has a product in which you do believe. Essentially, if you don’t believe in apples, then sell oranges.
Make it About the Customer. There is nothing more important than taking care of your customers. It can take years to build trust with a customer, but only seconds to break it. It is nearly impossible to overcome a negative impression. So do everything possible to make your customers consider working with you as being one of the best decisions they ever made.
Plan for a Crisis (and everything else). All salespeople must have a formal plan that outlines target audiences, goals, strategies and measurement techniques. In today’s more volatile market environment, you have to be more nimble, able to continually adapt your plan to meet new opportunities and obstacles. You also need to plan for contingencies; a disaster preparedness plan is essential. Look beyond next month’s or next year’s income and determine the best route to long-term success during both “good and bad” market conditions.
Look Beyond Your Own Backyard. Too many salespeople don’t look beyond their backyards — their designated market. Once you have conquered your town, move on to the next town, then the entire county and — when you’re ready — the next state. Look for niche opportunities, such as seniors, immigrants, teachers, military personnel. Take advantage of social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Answer Your Phone, Be There. Selling isn’t a 9 to 5 job but is an all encompassing job where you must be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. High accessibility is the key component of business relationships. Being available to clients in the evening and on weekends shows your utmost commitment. Demonstrate your accessibility by providing your e-mail address or “after hours” cell number so that a customer can contact you with a question and know that she will receive a prompt response.
Market Yourself Creatively. “Word of mouth” simply isn’t enough. The sales profession is too competitive to think that you can make it without promoting yourself. Establish a personal marketing program, one that sets you apart from your competitors. You must let the world know that you exist and that you are different and better than the competition. When the market gets a little sluggish, don’t stop marketing. That’s what a lot of your competitors do; somehow believing that reducing their visibility is a good idea. It isn’t.
Be Positive…or Else. Believe me, there’s no seat at the table for complainers. No one enjoys the company of crybabies. When salespeople whine about high interest rates, commissions, pricing policies or an array of other issues, they are merely rationalizing their shortcomings rather than finding solutions. A positive attitude-about your company and its products, customers, vendors and fellow employees-is critical for success.
Take a risk, be bold. You’ve got to be courageous and take a stand. This may involve creating a special campaign, offering a service that no one else has, cutting ties with non-productive referral partners, reducing your fees or taking some other action that salespeople usually are not willing to do. Look ahead to what you feel will help establish yourself as a “winner” among your customers and prospects, and then take the necessary steps to get there.
Your actions may not have an immediate payoff, but remember that the goal is to be successful after others have left the market. The most successful business people-such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet-have excelled by being willing to take risks.
So, here is the magic list of secrets: Be passionate about sales, believe in your product, take care of customers, plan ahead, be available, expand your presence, be a creative marketer, have a positive outlook and take risks.
There is a Tenth Commandment — Always Be Closing.