Advice for New Salespeople

I received a Direct Message on my Twitter account the other day asking for advice for new salespeople. Now I can be pretty concise but geez, advice for new salespeople in 140 characters is way beyond me.

Since communicating in more than those 140 characters is why I started this blog in the first place I figured I’d answer here. So here we go!

My first and best advice is once you’ve earned the right to ask for the order always, always, always ask for the order. It is amazing to me the huge percentage of sales presentations that end without the salespeople asking for the order. It’s a fact that professional salespeople tend to get what they ask for and they always ask for the order.

My next best advice is never ask for the order if you have not earned the right. Screwing up a sales presentation and being unprepared to represent yourself and your product makes you look like a hack. Asking for the order anyway is what gives salespeople the poor reputation that we often have.

Now the tough part. How do you earn the right to ask for the order? That question alone could fill up several blog posts.  Maybe I’ll write again on this topic, but for for now let’s see how I do with this one.

Earning the right to ask for the order involves preparing for the call. Call preparation is where the majority of salespeople fall short. When you’re not prepared for the call you fail to make a good first impression, you fail to ask the type of questions to generate interest on the part of your prospect and you make such a generic sales presentation that you often miss the mark completely.

If you’re going to succeed in sales then you need to prepare for success. Preparing begins by learning as much as possible about your prospect before you make the initial call. There is more information available to you today than ever before; a simple Google search can provide you with enough basic information to know at least a little something before you introduce yourself. If your first question to your customer is “So, what business are you in?” you can be certain you have failed in what is known as pre-approach.

Next, do a little strategizing to determine what information you’ll need from your customer to help them see the value in your product or service. Determine the questions you’ll use to uncover that information. This step of the sales process, the information gathering part, is called many things by various sales training types but whatever you call it, this is the part where most salespeople lose the deal. They simply don’t have enough information about their prospect to know what they would buy and more importantly, why they would buy it.  Do not “wing” this part of the sales process, it is where business is won and lost.

Next, learn everything you possibly can about your products and the products offered by your competition. You’ll never present all of it to a prospect but knowing it allows you to piece together a presentation that “fits” with what your prospect told you during your information gathering step. If you do this well it will look like your product was made for that particular customer. If you’ve found the right prospect and selected the right product not only will it look like it, it will actually be true.

Once you’ve asked the right questions, hopefully better questions than any unprepared salesperson could ever ask, and once you’ve professionally presented your product (the right product for that particular customer) then and only then have you earned the right to ask for the order.

If you’ve earned the right and don’t ask for the order, for any reason, then you’ll likely struggle in sales as long as that’s your chosen profession. The most successful salespeople are fearless about asking for the order once they have earned the right.

If you’re going to succeed in sales you had best find your own fearless and use it everyday!

I could go on and on with advice for new and experienced salespeople alike but let me close like this:

Sales is an honorable profession if YOU make it one. There are plenty of things you can’t control about sales but you can always control yourself. You can decide how professional you will be, you can decide how honest you will be and you can decide if you’re only in it for the money or if money is just part of it.

Sales is either one of the easiest lower paying jobs in the world or one of the most challenging highest paid professions in the world. You get to decide which one it will be for yourself each and everyday!

What Do You Mean, Urgent?

ur·gent 

Function: adjective 

1 a : calling for immediate attention : PRESSING <urgent appeals> b : conveying a sense of urgency

2 : urging insistently : IMPORTUNATE

– ur·gent·ly adverb

Well, there is the definition from Webster’s.  I think I like the first one, but the second one isn’t too bad either.

I guess it really doesn’t really matter which one we prefer as long as we have one of these definitions that we can embrace as our own. 

Now when I say embrace I mean EMBRACE!  Really latch on to it and live the meaning of urgent, live it through our words and actions every single day.  I remember attending a Dale Carnegie™ Sales Conference about 18 years ago when one of the presenters was asked about his opinion on the most serious threat facing professional salespeople at the time.  I think his answer applies more today than it did at the time: a lack of urgency. 

He believes, and I agree, that salespeople who go about their business as though a deal could wait another day are doomed to a career filled with limited successes and missed opportunities. 

Some salespeople lack a sense of urgency, urgency regarding following up on a request for information, urgency to return a phone call, urgency to make that one additional sales call a day and urgency to do the things they know would make a difference. These are the woulda, coulda, shoulda salespeople. They lament the poor business climate which the salespeople with a sense of urgency attack, maximizing the market and reaping the rewards.

Which one are you?  Do you have that sense of urgency?  Or, do you “leave a little business for tomorrow?”  If you’re a woulda, coulda, shoulda, you better hope your competition is too!  As of August 1st, there are barely 100 sales days left in 2013. You best get a move on. 

Now, go help a customer reach their goals and sell something, it’s urgent!