Sales can be broken down to 3 steps: planning, execution and tenacity.
“If you fail to plan – you plan to fail.“ Zig Ziglar
Before you start, do the numbers and write out your plan of attack. Make sure the business plan has the costs covered; there is nothing worse than making a sale that you lose money on. Take a look at the competition – why would you buy your own product instead of the other guy’s? If you would buy something other than what you are selling and you know it, odds are your prospects will feel the same. That does not mean you have to have every feature that the competition has – hardly anyone ever uses all the features of any particular product – but the value proposition has to be there. For the money they spend, and everyone is being pretty careful with their cash these days, they need to know they will get enough benefits from the purchase to make it worthwhile.
Plan on who you will be selling to, what the message will be that you will communicate to them to get their interest, how you intend to get the message in front of them and how you will follow up with them. What steps will you use? How often you will follow up? What objections do you anticipate them having, and how will you isolate the objection, overcome it and close on it?
Have a plan B in case things go badly and have a plan C in case things go better than expected.
“A journey of One Thousand Miles begins with a single step.” Chairman Mao
You cannot plan forever. You have to get going. The first call of the day is the hardest of the day. The best part about sales though is, if you are good at it, it’s actually a nice way to spend the day. You are helping people solve problems, make more money, hire more people, grow their companies, improve their life and, with a little luck, you can make a nice living out of it. Now, if you’re not good at it, yikes! Rough days are ahead. BUT, good news – you can get better at it! It is a learn-able skill and, with luck, your company respects sales training and planning enough to help you find the resources that are out there. If you are on your own, there are still a lot of things you can do. Look up Zig Ziglar for starters. And if you never get good at sales, at least you gave it a shot. If you try very hard at sales and fail, something else will turn up. Just the way the Universe seems to work.
“Are we there yet?” Chairman Mao’s much lesser known Cousin Ralph
A Journey of One Thousand Miles does not end at Mile 584. That’s why they call it a Journey of One Thousand Miles. Ralph wanted to quit at Mile 584, Mao was ready to go the distance which is why, even though Ralph dressed better and was much funnier, Mao went down in history.
Seriously though, if you work harder than the other guys, you will win a lot more of the time, as long as you
- do it intelligently and work on the plan
- make continuous improvements to the product and the sales process
- pay attention to the customers
- listen to the prospects who say no as much as you listen to the people who say yes
- follow up more than you think is necessary
- work on your sales skills
- read about sales
- talk to the most successful people you can find
- keep negative people away from you
- eat well
- try not to pay attention to things you cannot control (except for fires and floodwaters in near proximity)
- and pay complete attention to the things you CAN control.
Learn how to focus like a laser and work like a ditch digger. Make sure you are having some fun; if you are not having fun talking to your customers, sell something else. Don’t be afraid to make changes when you have to. Just because it worked for x years does not mean you want to keep with something if its time has passed.
The best part? When you get really good at it, you will be able to retire young – but you won’t want to. You can take nice vacations and actually look forward to getting back to work.
Now, quit reading and go sell something!