Monthly Archives: November 2012

Practice makes a Sales Champion

You have seen it.

A golfer standing over a putt on the 18th hole to win the championship…and he drops the putt center of the cup.

Well that “championship” was not won on that day it was won in the past on the practice greens after thousands of similar putts both missed and made. It was won during the lessons learned in past tournaments that saw other players raising their arms to the roar of the crowd while being recognized as that days champion.

In sales we will not find ourselves defined as champions if we don’t put the practice in that builds a champion.

There simply are very few cases of success by luck and in those few cases the odds are that it will only be fleeting success if practice and preparation was not involved.

I give you three scenarios: College football, C.P.R, and a stage actor to further look at the importance of practice in the form of preparation.

In football the coaching staff formulates a game plan they feel gives their players the best opportunity to experience success. The team has practiced long through spring and summer workouts on the fundamentals and the playbook. However when it is game time on Saturday it is basically in the hands of the players. Sure there is play calling and adjustments made by coaches but in the end execution on the field is left up to the players. At seasons end when conference championships have been won, bowl invitations have been awarded, and a national champion has been declared you will not find one championship caliber team that took a shortcut. The most defining moment of the season was never a moment at all, it was all the preparation.

C.P.R. (Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation) is life saving.  CPR in itself is a simple 3 step process. However a person needs to be trained to effectively administer CPR.  Certification is good for 2 years and then it requires going back to be re-certified.  They go back to be re-certified because they need to practice. When the all important time comes that person needs the skills necessary to act in an emergency, follow standard protocols, and use proper technique for administering CPR. If I find myself in need of CPR I want to be in the hands of someone that took the time to receive and continues to receive proper training. Making a sale is not a matter of life and death but when results matter your customers want to be in good hands.

An actor finds themselves only seconds away from the final curtain call. The audience is in their seats and the auditorium lights have been dimmed with the exception of the stage. Though most of us have not been in a big Broadway production we all know the feeling of anxiety that often accompanies performance. Rather an actor has the leading role with pages of script or a small supporting role with only one line they still want to nail it. In acting it is hours of reviewing the script and rehearsals that lead to stellar performances. No actor of any worth steps out on the stage without preparation that is ten fold what the audience sees.

As a salesperson you will find yourself on the field, stage, or in that moment. Practice and preparation makes you better and allows successful results to become second nature.

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Do your customers like you?

“People buy from people they like”. It is a statement some swear by and others dismiss as a myth. 

I do not see a downside in your customers liking you more than the sales person you are competing against. Likeability is a trait well worth developing. Who are the sales people you admire the most? I bet among those that first came to mind are salespeople not only successful in business but also in life.

Friendly, genuine, authentic, and interesting people seem to surface to the top. People including your potential customers tend to naturally gravitate to people they are most like, or those they wish they were more like. Your clients prefer to spend time with who they sense they share common values and interest with.

The businesses and customers you sell to all demand value. The competitive margins you need to meet continue to narrow.  Plan on “closing the sell?” you better provide the best solution or the best value. When you demonstrate you are the one that best understands your customer you are well ahead of your competition. However in a case that all things are equal I’ll dispute “nice guys finish last”.

Before you engage your next potential client it is worth asking yourself how likeable are you?

Do you have enough geek in your sales step?

I can’t sell and I can’t manage sales today like I did yesterday.

Sales professionals have to produce results and our sales superstars of yesterday may or may not be our superstars of tomorrow. Technology is often left out the conversation when we discuss the differences between our top sales performers and the remainder of our sales team.

Today’s clients expect and demand performance from whomever they do business with. Technology and innovation contribute to improved analysis, organization, productivity, delivery, and overall customer experience. We often want to separate sales and technology by calling one an art and the other a science. Reality is the two are commingled as effective sales provide both an efficient process and solves a problem or fulfils a customer’s need.

We leverage technology in all areas of our business and the sales team must be an extension of our business to be viewed as a “resource”.

Technology includes hardware, software, systems, CRM’s, computers and smart devices. Innovations in technology allow automation, analysis, expediency, and delivery options that improve productivity in sales.

Business moves fast and we can’t afford not to keep pace. Experience, knowledge, ideas and creative approaches in selling will always be in high demand but that alone will not get us there in the future.

Sure salespeople still need to identify a need, offer a solution, get the order, deliver on time and follow up to assure they met the client’s expectations.

It’s imperative as sales people we continue to embrace advancements in technology. Sales growth drives our companies forward and our companies will drive our economy. When we match our talents with technological innovations we will gain sustained, predictable and efficient results that we can all prosper from.