Sales is a profession. Let me repeat that statement. Sales is a profession. Unfortunately, it’s a profession that most people fall into or default to as a last resort. As a result, sales leaders waste a lot of time trying fit round pegs into square holes.
So what does it take to be successful in sales? We know that the internet has changed the game of sales. The prospect is more educated. Many are researching you and your company before they engage in a formal dialogue. Others simply meet with you to validate a decision they have already made. There are more competitors than ever. Is it tougher to sell today?
Let me offer a resounding no! It’s easier than ever. How many of you are old enough to remember selling without a GPS system? You had the steering wheel in one hand and a Rand McNally in the other trying to find the prospects office. (Is there really any reason for someone to show up late today….?) Anyone remember cold calling from the yellow pages because the internet did not exist? It was the equivalent of throwing darts at a dart board blindfolded. There wasn’t a website or LinkedIn profile to preview before a phone call or meeting.
While technology has changed the game of sales, there are timeless principles that work and have always worked to be successful in sales.
#1: Work. Well-known actor, Denzel Washington, shares that his Dad often said these words to young Denzel. “Do the work so you can do the work.” There are books written about the four hour work weeks. Others are touting work life balance. Still others write about achieving financial independence. All of those things can be achieved—after you do the work!
#2: Preparation and organization. Even back in the yellow page days of prospecting, the best salespeople had a script and a planned approach to their cold call. Fast forward to the information age and you will still see that the best salespeople are prepared. When asking their best clients for referrals and introductions, they have a one-sheet referral page prepared that helps clients recognize referable opportunities. When prospecting, the prepared salesperson has developed a customized value proposition by industry, position, trigger events and trends, not just a generic ‘here’s what we do’ elevator pitch.
#3: Relationships. Contrary to many current publications, relationship selling is not dead. Prospects and customers don’t want a professional visitor showing up to shoot the breeze. (We now have air conditioning…)
However, they also don’t just want a technical expert with absolutely no personality or heart running the meeting either. The best salespeople build relationships and bring high value to the meeting. Value is added by being a shortcut and a problem finder. Value is added by doing something very simple: doing what they said they would do!
Change is the one thing we can be certain of. However, some things don’t change. Do the work, be prepared and build relationships. Do you have what it takes to be in sales?