Sales 13 Deadly Sins

Deadly

Whether you are new to Sales, or have been selling for 30 years, a true Sales professional must always guard against these 13 deadly sins:

  1. Winging it.  Don’t be too confident that just because you know your product inside-out, and may be working for a market leader, that the buyer will simply sign on the dotted line.  Plan, focus, and prepare for each sales interaction.
  2. Judging a book by its cover.  Never assume that you know the buyer before you’ve met her.  Sure, you may have sold 100 buyers like her in the past but no two buyers are “just” like another.  Take the time to learn what’s different.
  3. Careless.  No one likes a careless person. It takes several forms from sloppy hand writing, to inappropriate dress, to bent presentations…just plain old messy.  If you don’t care, why should your buyer? Be neat. Be presentable. How you present your whole self shows the buyer your respect for yourself and for him.
  4. Being late. Don’t be late…ever.  Traffic isn’t an excuse.  Sure there’s a late plane, train, or bus.  The unexpected accident you get caught up in.  But normal traffic is not a reason to be late.  Plan accordingly.  If you’re on time, you’re late.
  5. Being uninformed. Shallow?  Ugh. People don’t want to interact with a sales person who brings nothing else to the table other than the product they’re selling. Take the time to be aware of your surroundings and world happenings.
  6. Relying too heavily on your company’s brand.  Don’t assume because you’re the biggest you’ll get the business. No doubt some companies spend huge resources on building their brand. You can either leverage it and get the sale, or assume it, appear arrogant, and lose the sale.  Earn the buyers trust…you + your brand.
  7. Not identifying all the contributors to a buying decision. Your contact may not have all the power. Too often I have seen mountains of effort placed in developing one relationship only to find there were others providing input to the buying decision I had not met, or invested in.  Know those who will be a part of the buying decision.
  8. Unadaptable, inflexible.  Don’t let your presentation, or agenda, become an anchor. Years ago my boss and I traveled together to do a presentation to a big prospective partner.  Within the first 5 minutes the buyer changed directions. Much to my boss’s surprise I ditched the presentation, adapted, and won the business due to my ability to flex with my buyer’s changing needs. Have one, but don’t become married to your agenda.
  9. Stretching the truth. Just don’t do it. Don’t lie, embellish, exaggerate.  Making promises you, your company, or your product can’t keep is a sure way to kill both your personal brand and your company’s.
  10. Competition bashing. Never badmouth your competition…even if the buyer tells you they said something bad about you. Defend it but end it.  When working for Paychex, the founder, Tom Golisano, provided a stern warning for any sales person caught badmouthing its competition. He believed if someone had to sink to that level to win the business the company probably didn’t deserve to win it in the first place.  Take the high road…always, win with respect.
  11. Knowing it all. Don’t be a know-it-all. Buyers don’t expect you to be omniscient. A little humility goes a long way in earning trust and respect.
  12. Knowing little or nothing. Invest your time to learn what it is you need to know about your company, product, and industry.  Your company can’t, nor should, do it all.  You’re responsible for your knowledge, and accountable for your results. 
  13. Talking too much.  You can learn a lot more about your buyer by asking great questions and sitting back and listening to them answer.  We demonstrate respect, caring, and professionalism by listening.  Remember, two ears and one mouth for a reason.

Let me know if you have a deadly sin to add to the list.

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Why Empathy is Important for Sales Leaders

Empathy

Sales is tough.  Rewarding but tough.  Not every one is cut out for a career in Sales.  It’s the ultimate “what have you done for me lately” profession.  This year’s top performer is next year’s runner-up.  Being a salesperson requires high energy, discipline, tenacity and focus.  Great sales people possess the ability to visualize their success.  They can see themselves on the stage receiving The President’s Award, or cashing that big bonus check.  They’re high achievers, hard workers, and by and large, emotionally charged people.  Great sales leader have many similarities. But the really great leaders have more empathy than your average sales leaders.

Empathy allows you to connect.  It makes you human.  Empathy allows you to feel, or perhaps more pointedly, allows you to understand how the someone else feels.  Having empathy is different from having sympathy.  Many people feel they are the same.  They’re not.  They’re wildly different.  Sympathy is about compassion, “feeling sorry for”, whereas empathy is being able to relate to another person.

Great sales leaders can relate, or empathize, with how challenging it is to find good prospects.  They can empathize with how exhausting making 100 dials a day can be.  If it were sympathy, I’d be saying “I’m sorry you have to make those 100 calls today…I sympathize for you.”  But that’s not the case.  The goal of a great sales leader is to have their team know, that they know, what it’s like to walk in their shoes.  The team wants to know the leader has “been there, done that.”  Great sales leaders are able to demonstrate empathy without effort because they can simply relate.  They’ve carried the bag, they’ve suffered the rejections, they’ve ended their day emotionally and physically exhausted without a sale in hand.  They’ve lived it.

Great leaders are not scared or intimidated to show empathy.  They don’t see it as a weakness to say “I went an entire week once not selling a thing”.  They’re not excusing low or poor performance by providing sympathy.  In fact, instead, what they are saying is I’ve had some moments like that myself and here’s how I pulled myself up and turned the corner.

We’re emotional beings.  Period.  We want to know we connect.  We’re pack animals.  Knowing we’re understood is critical.  Top performers, no matter what the profession, just want to be understood.  They don’t want sympathy and they don’t want anyone to “cut them slack”.  They want encouragement.  Not cheerleading.  There’s a difference.  Encouragement provides direction, a path.  Cheerleading provides nothing but a temporary high.

If you want to supercharge your leadership focus on developing your own personal level of empathy.  How do you relate to others?  What do you say to people who are struggling?  If you can improve your empathy skills you can improve your results, and the results of those around you.  Now you’ve created two wins.  Now you have momentum that will carry you and your team forward, and that’s what it’s all about.

 

4 Keys To a Better S.A.L.E.

Improve

No matter if you’re new to sales or a seasoned sales executive, brushing up on your selling skills is as important as changing the oil in your car regularly.  Leave the oil too long without changing it and your engine gunks up, gas mileage deteriorates, and in time your engine will fail.  Knowledge is to the sales person what oil is to an engine.  When you stop feeding your mind new knowledge your performance deteriorates and failure is around the corner.  But with so many things to think about, so many calls to make, numbers to hit, you don’t know what to focus on first.  So here’s a tip that will keep it simple…just remember SALE.

The “S” in Sale stands for structure.  Every sales person needs structure.  Some people are naturally disciplined and have strong internal structure while others require help to remain focused and disciplined.  Only you can be honest enough with yourself to know where you fall on the structure spectrum.  Structure includes when you make your calls, how your desk is set up, and whether your car is cleaned.  Structure speaks to your ability to organize.  Stronger organization equals higher efficiency which yields better results.

The “A” in Sale stands for attitude.  John Maxwell, the famous inspirational author, wrote “your attitude determines your altitude.”  Having a positive attitude is essential to success in life and critical to your success in Sales.  Have you ever met a sales person who seemed like they were on their last leg?  No more gas in their tank?  How did that make you feel?  Excited to buy?  Confident in purchasing their product…from them?  No.  No one wants to work with someone with a poor attitude.  No one buys from someone who lacks confidence in themselves, their product, or their company.  If you’re honest enough to recognize you have a confidence gap – read.  Thousands of books and books-on-tape are out their that can help.  Take action.  Don’t let another day go by with a bad attitude.

The “L” in Sale stands for learning.  If you’re not a continuous learning become one…and fast.  Albert Einstein said, “You have to learn the rules of the game.  And then you have to play better than everyone else.”  The rules of the game are always changing in Sales.  Your customer is evolving.  The internet and its ability to provide mountains of information will continue to change the game for years to come.  Better educated customers and prospects force a sales person to constantly up their game.  If you think the sales skills that won you awards 10 years ago, 5 years ago, or even last year will work in 2016 you’re wrong.  News flash!  If your buyer hasn’t already changed, they are in the process of changing.  Read.  As much as you can from as many sources as you can.  Commit to bringing one or two points from what you read that day into your sales conversations, then watch how your customer engagements change before your eyes.

The “E” in Sale stands for energy.  And lots of it.  Sales is physically and mentally demanding.  Some days are more draining that others.  Break up your day.  No matter how good you are you simply can’t sit and make 50 sales calls in a row without stopping.  While that may be physically possible, your energy levels will diminish and your customer will sense it.  Stay hydrated.  Drink 4 – 5 glasses of water throughout the day, or bottles if more convenient.  Stop for lunch.  If you don’t have the time for lunch keep an energy and protein bar handy.  You don’t want low energy levels to come across as poor attitude.  And make sure you get a work-out in daily.  Whether you start, or end, your day running, spinning, swimming or CrossFit, simply make sure to get some exercise in.  It will help keep your mind fresh, your energy up, and your endurance strong.

Happy Selling!

Stop Closing and Start Opening

open door

Searching Amazon I found nearly 6,000 books written on “closing the sale”.  Hundreds of tips, techniques and in some cases – shhhh – secrets, about how to be a better closer.  The fact is that sales professionals should spend less time perfecting their closing skills and more time on their opening skills.

Most sales fall into 3 buckets:  sold, not sold, and pending sale.  That means about a third of the deals you’re working on will close regardless of what you do, a third will say no regardless of what you do or say, and the final third is really the only bucket you can influence.  How you influence, and how effective your ability is to influence others, rests solely on how well you build trust and rapport.  And when does that happen?  In the first stages of a sales encounter with a prospect, and over multiple encounters with your existing customers.

If you shift the time you spend on trying to become a better closer, and focus that time and energy on learning more about your customer, and prospect, your sales results will improve.  Not only do people still buy from other people but they buy from those they trust and respect.  Have you ever bought something from a sales rep you didn’t trust?  What was the last thing you bought from someone you didn’t respect?  My guess is you answered both of these questions with a resounding “never” response.  Let’s face it, the act of buying is an emotional process regardless if it’s B2B or B2C.  There is just as much personal risk in a B2B buying decision as there is in B2C and perhaps even more so since the buyers job could be on the line if they make a poor purchasing decision.

Invest your time getting to know your prospect and your customers.  What drives them?  How do they define success?  What risks keep them up at night?  Which aspects of their business are they keening focused on changing?  What areas are they worried about that they don’t fully understand?  How will their decision to buy or not buy from you affect them personally?  If your solution saves their business money they could be viewed a hero, but if the solution doesn’t deliver as advertised it could cost them dearly.

Tune in.  Listen to what your customer is telling you.  Be both observant and open-minded.  And forget looking for that magic pill that guarantees better close rates.  Really…if that were possible would we need 6,000 different books and authors offering to tell us how?  Remember, Sales is all about people.  And people buy from people.  Invest genuinely in developing relationships with people and watch as your results improve.