I almost never go more than a few days without receiving a tweet or message asking for tips on starting out in sales. It’s an easy question to answer.
It’s easy because unlike so many areas of life, sales, or more accurately, professional selling, has clearly defined right and wrong ways of going about it. If you go about it the right way, you succeed. If you go about it the wrong way, you don’t. Period!
Before I begin I should remind you of my definition of success. You can appear to succeed by lying and cheating but real success must be earned honestly. If you cheated and lied your way to the top then you might be wealthy but you’re not a success. You’re most certainly not a professional salesperson.
Okay, here’s how the best salespeople sell…
They have a defined, repeatable selling process. They always know where in the process they are and what is required to move to the next step of the process. I prefer a sales process that is designed to mirror the emotional buying process that humans go through. Dale Carnegie’s sales process is designed to do just that. I teach a proprietary sales process that is built on many of the same principles.
I tell salespeople all the time that there are two ways to sell, by process or by accident. If you’re not using a process then how will you know what “worked” and what didn’t? How will you determine if you’re making progress with the customer? How will you know why they purchased from you and why they didn’t?
If you can’t state, with great specificity, why you lost the last five prospects who didn’t buy from you then you’re likely not using a process. If you can’t state, with even greater specificity, why you’re last five customers purchased from you then you’re likely selling by accident.
You’re odds of long-term sales success go way, way up if you use a well defined sales process.
Despite what you may have heard, the best salespeople do not always ask for the order. They only ask for the order after they have earned the right to do so. They earn that right by determining if and how their product or service will help their prospect achieve their desired goals and objectives. Once they have earned the right then they indeed always ask for the order.
Keep in mind that we are talking about professional salespeople so even when they haven’t earned the right to ask for the order they still ask for something. They ask for something that will move the sales process forward; maybe it’s a product demonstration, perhaps an introduction to someone else within the account, maybe it’s a referral. But it is always something.
If you’re wasting your time and your customer’s time by not moving the sales process forward then you’re likely just a professional visitor, not a professional salesperson. Professional salespeople use their time exceedingly well and are always respectful of the time their customers invest with them.
In Part Two later this week we’ll look at some of the specific skills that the best salespeople are always working on to improve.