Habits of Sales Professionals

The best salespeople go well beyond creating satisfied customers to build loyal customers. They don’t merely hunt for transactions they look for ways to help their customers achieve their goals. They make a habit out of asking more questions than less successful salespeople. They know that without a complete understanding of their customer’s situation they may miss the opportunity to help. 

 

Time is one of a salesperson’s most valuable assets. But using it to maximum advantage is often a salesperson’s greatest challenge. Salespeople tend to be outgoing, talkative people for whom details are almost a form of torture. 

 

The most effective sales professionals make a detailed plan which includes a flexible work schedule that maximizes their selling time. The plan most often includes office time, planned at the beginning and end of the week, and at the beginning and end of the day. If you don’t have to be in the office then you should be Face-to-Face with a customer. 

 

Sometimes you must be in the office, but it is not the place to spend your prime time hours. Do “office stuff” as bookends to your selling day – either early or late. Make a habit of using your time more effectively and you’ll be making success a habit as well.

 

The top salespeople know that the little things make them stand out from the crowd. Writing personal notes to customers to thank them for their time, or to follow-up an appointment are good examples. They don’t need to be lengthy or complex, in fact they shouldn’t be. Just make them sincere and you will set yourself apart from the throngs of less professional salespeople.  

 

Along the same lines, leave a brief note on the back of your business card when you happen to miss your customer or they are unavailable. It’s so simple, but hardly anyone does it. And it means that your card has a better chance of being noticed among the many left behind by the throng.  It is a great habit to get into and it can make a huge difference in your results.


Sales is a people business, and creativity counts. When you develop the habit of allowing your personality to come through you automatically stand out from the crowd. If you’re truly a professional then that’s a good thing, a very good thing. 

Control What You Can

This is likely to be one of the shortest posts I’ve ever written. That’s because it’s about controlling the things in your life that you have control over. Complete control. 

 

There aren’t many of those things. Here are the ones that come to mind.

 

You have complete and total control over your level of professionalism. It doesn’t matter what your colleagues are doing, it doesn’t matter what your clients or customers are doing. It makes no difference what industry you’re in or what position you hold in your organization. Whether you’re in the mail room or the executive office YOU decide the level of professionalism that you will exhibit at ALL times. 

 

We do not get to choose our family but we most certainly get to choose our friends. You have complete control over the people outside of your family that you allow into your life. Since you are basically the compilation of the five people you spend the most time with it is imperative that you choose your friends well. 

 

If you choose to hang around negative people you will be a negative person. If you choose to spend large amounts of your time with people who lack integrity then you will lack integrity. If you believe you can consistently swim against the current of the environment you place yourself in then you are fooling yourself. Control who you allow into your life or the people in your life will control you. 

 

No matter where you live, no matter how you live, and no matter the circumstances and obstacles that have been placed before you, your attitude is and always will be your choice. You have complete and total control over your attitude every waking moment.

 

Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor. In his fantastic book “Man’s Search for Meaning” he describes the choice of attitude as the last of the human freedoms. His point is this; all other freedoms are perishable, they can be taken from you. The only freedom that can never be taken from you is the choice of a positive attitude. 

 

You may disagree with that but think about it…is your situation really worse than being imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp? If Viktor Frankl could control his attitude in that environment then I, and you, can certainly control ours, regardless of how difficult it may be. 

 

There are plenty of other things you have some control over but the key word there is “some.” There isn’t much you have complete control over but if success is your objective then you must control the things you can. 


And yes, I now acknowledge that this post wasn’t that short after all. 


Are You a Proud Sales Professional?

The most successful salespeople are proud to be in sales. They know that any profit making business requires sales to survive. Everything in business may not begin with sales but it certainly ends without them. Every advancement a company makes is made from the revenue delivered by the sales team. Every person employed by the company is paid from the profits produced by the sales team.

 

The most successful salespeople also know that they do not succeed alone. The best salespeople work well with other departments in their company, particularly the customer service department. They use the knowledge and experience of other salespeople to compliment their own. They do all this with the goal of providing the customer with the best possible buying experience.

 

The most successful salespeople are not only proud to be in sales, they are proud to sell their products and services. They make the effort required to build a realistic value proposition for the customer. They relentlessly defend that value proposition against the weaker value propositions of their competitors. Their goal is not merely to sell more, it is to help more.

 

They help their customers understand their needs. They help their customers acquire the products they need to achieve their goals and objectives. They help make certain that their customers receive every bit of the value they expected to receive when they made the decision to purchase. 

 

Professional salespeople guard their integrity as if it were gold because they know that it is in fact golden. They will not misrepresent themselves or their products and they will not, will not, will not lie to a customer or a prospect. 

 

Professional salespeople are indeed proud to be in sales. They arm themselves with the skills and knowledge required to be the best, day after day and month after month. They believe in continuous improvement and they know that improvement begins with them. 

 

Does that sound like you? If not then don’t be disappointed with yourself. Each one of the characteristics of a professional salesperson is within your reach. You must decide to possess them and then get to work to make them a part of your own DNA. 


You can do that, the only question that remains is, will you?

It’s About Time

I remember a former colleague telling me about a performance review she once had. She was working as an assistant manager at a nationally known restaurant chain. It was kind of an upscale chain and as an assistant manager you would have been pretty well paid.

 

The day of her performance review arrived and she anticipated receiving high marks because she was in fact an excellent assistant manager. Almost.

 

As she expected her review went well; her manager pointed out several key areas where she outperformed expectations. She was equally as great with the staff as she was with customers. She understood the business and executed against the company objectives extremely well. Her manager offered abundant praise for her skills, abilities, and overall performance. 

 

Then, right in front of her and with great fanfare he tore her review into small pieces and tossed it in the trash. She sat there in shock for a moment before asking what he was doing. He replied that he threw it away because it didn’t really matter, it didn’t matter because there was one major flaw that made her skills and abilities far less valuable to the organization.

 

She had a problem, apparently a major problem, with punctuality. She was always running late, sometimes a few minutes and sometimes longer, sometimes much longer. 

 

He told her that all the skills and ability in the world didn’t matter if she couldn’t be counted on to be at work to use them. As an assistant manager she was setting a terrible example for the people she was supposed to be leading. 

 

The legendary former coach of the Minnesota Vikings, Bud Grant, has always said that a player’s greatness was not only determined by what he did on the field, it was also determined by how often he was on the field. He makes the point that for a professional athlete durability is every bit as important as ability. 

 

No matter what profession you happen to be in you must know that skills don’t matter as much if your organization can’t count on you to be there when they need you. 

 

Punctuality matters. Your ability to be on time affects people’s perception of you as a professional. Calling from your cell phone to say “you’re running late” is not a substitute for being on time. 

 

Research shows that most people are terminated from jobs because of some sort of attitude problem. Chronic tardiness is not a time management problem, it isn’t a traffic problem, it isn’t a lack of sleep problem. It IS an attitude problem. Chronic tardiness projects either a “just don’t care” attitude or a “the rules don’t apply to me” attitude but either way it’s an attitude that you don’t want to be known for. 

 

If you can be a few minutes late everyday then you can also be a few minutes early everyday. 


You just have to decide that it’s about time to be more professional.

How to Sell More of Anything

Next week in Baltimore I’ll present a “How to Sell” class to a group of professionals. Not sales professionals, in fact, these professionals may very well have a certain disdain at even the thought of selling. 

As I prepared for the presentation I knew instinctively that a traditional sales training session was out of the question. No sales process or technique would be of interest or value to this group. While “selling” is important to their profession it is not something they are comfortable with and not something they do on a daily basis.

That got me to thinking about the essence of selling and what it really takes to sell effectively. The answer that popped into my head was trust and relationships.

People buy from people they like and trust. People don’t buy from companies or machines. Yes, we sometimes buy stuff online and through vending machines but usually even then someone, a person, has previously convinced us that it would be a good purchase.

The presentation morphed into a “Building Trusting Relationships” session and it quickly occurred to me that this isn’t just a great topic for non-traditional salespeople, it’s a valuable topic for all sales professionals. 

Salespeople, at least less successful salespeople, tend to focus all their energies on “telling” their prospect about the product. They spend far too little time on building the type of relationship that will help the prospect trust them as a person and as a result the prospect remains suspect about most everything the salesperson says.

The most successful salespeople don’t focus on themselves or their product, they focus on their customer and their customer’s wants and needs. They start that process by learning about their customer’s goals and objectives and it is from those conversations that a real relationship blooms.  

The most successful salespeople treat people with courtesy, politeness, and kindness. They listen to what others have to say before expressing their own thoughts. Successful salespeople do not insult, disparage or knock another person’s ideas. Even if that other person is a competitive salesperson. Especially if that other person is a competitive salesperson! 

The most successful salespeople have long ago thrown out the Golden Rule and replaced it with the Platinum Rule: Treat others as they wish to be treated.

The most successful salespeople don’t play the blame game. They accept responsibility for their actions and they honor their commitments. They share credit for their success knowing full well that no salesperson can succeed long-term without a lot of support from others in their organization.

The most successful salespeople avoid wasting time and are consistent planners. They are genuinely interested in other people and believe they can learn from anyone. They smile often and always, always, always maintain control of their attitude. Simply put, they are the type of person we all enjoy being around. 

Now, for those of you who have never sold a thing or are in a position that requires a non-traditional sales approach, just remove the word “sales” from every sentence above. What you’ll discover is that the way to sell more of anything is to be a successful person. 

Once you have developed the skill of building trusting relationships, sincere relationships, well then you can sell most anything to most anyone. 

You see, great salespeople are also great people.

The Lost Art of Punctuality

I’m apparently old. I know this because I can remember when being on time mattered. Punctuality was considered proper and showed manners. When you showed up on time it sent a message that you were considerate of other people’s time. It showed a certain level of professionalism and organizational skills that could help differentiate people.

I attended a Catholic Military High School. One of the very first lessons you learned was to be on time. When you weren’t on time bad things happened. Very bad things. I can count on one hand the number of times I saw the same person be late twice in four years. I never saw the same person be late three times. Never!

It makes me think that being on time is still possible if it’s important enough to you. In high school it was important to me because I didn’t like to bleed. There were absolutely no excuses accepted for being late. Punishment was swift and severe. You quickly learned the value of controlling your schedule and always leaving early enough to ensure that no matter what, you would be on time. You might get some place way early but that was very much preferred over being a second late.

You learned the importance of time management and effective planning. You learned just how bad procrastination can affect your chances at success. You learned that it really is possible to always be on time if you really really want to be on time. It’s just a question of priorities.

Today it seems as if punctuality matters less. Heck, if we’re running a little late we can just call from our cell and tell the person we are meeting with that our time is more important than theirs. I know we wouldn’t actually say that but don’t kid yourself, whether you say it of not, they may well be thinking it.

Being “fashionably” late has become socially acceptably and society is worse off for it. Business is worse off for it and you are worse off for it. 

Live for one week as if being on time was of major importance and you’ll be on time. I’m not talking about just work stuff, I’m talking about family and social events too. People who are chronically late are chronically late for everything. 

You can separate yourself from your professional competition by always being on time and you can show respect for family and friends by never making them wait on you.  

If you need to be somewhere in 60 minutes then give yourself 70. Not only will your punctuality improve, your stress levels from “just making it there” will go way down.

Punctuality is a choice, I encourage you to make it your choice today.

I Love You Man!

20121025-200606.jpg

I’m pretty sure I don’t like this topic already but it is an important one so let’s talk about it. Let’s just sum it up like this: Getting hammered at company and industry events just ain’t what it used to be. Drinking to excess is becoming less socially acceptable by the minute. Professionally speaking almost nothing ruins more careers.

Here are some ideas to keep the fun coming while reducing the chances of “I love you, Man” moments… and generally minimizing the chance of becoming company or industry folklore for years to come.

If you have an entertainment situation where you’d prefer not to avoid alcohol altogether, consider…slowing your pace of drinking, alternating your drink with seltzer, club soda or water throughout the event, or eating more food throughout the event and consuming drinks or beer with less alcohol.

Alcohol quick facts…

generally… one 12-ounce beer = one 5-ounce glass of wine = 1.5 ounces of liquor (80 proof)

wine usually has an alcohol content of 12 – 16%

beer in most cases, has an alcohol content of 3.2 – 7%

as little as 1 – 2 drinks in one hour can impair an individual’s ability to drive and think clearly (depending on weight and alcohol content)

only time can sober up someone

So go ahead, enjoy yourself, just make sure you can still enjoy yourself tomorrow!