You Can Be Better At Sales!
Most salespeople have one thing in common: the desire to “do better.” Of course, “doing better” means different things to different people. For some salespeople, it means closing more sales. For others, it means closing bigger sales. And there are salespeople for whom it means working less hard or simply working less.
What does it mean for you?
Regardless of your definition, here are five strategies to help you “do better.”
Focus less on the tactical aspects of your business and concentrate on the strategic aspects. For example, stop thinking about how to make more persuasive presentations or how to do a better job of handling a particular objection. Instead, focus on how to avoid putting yourself in situations where “more persuasive” presentations or more effective objection-handling skills are needed.
You should be more concerned about why you need to make a more persuasive presentation than about how to make one. Similarly, why a prospect voices an objection is more important than how to handle it.
Rather than waste time and energy devising ways to better deal with stalls, objections, or any other roadblocks or uncomfortable, unproductive situations you experience, examine the processes you employ and the decisions you make that bring about those situations.
Focus on Outcomes
Start with the undesirable outcomes, and working backward, identify step-by-step what took place that led up to those outcomes. If, for example, you’ve been struggling to get prospects to make decisions at the conclusion of your presentations (which precipitated your perceived need to enhance your presentation skills), identify at what point in the development process it is that you discuss the prospect’s process and requirements for making a buying decision and what information you uncover during that discussion.
Start with the undesirable outcomes, and [work] backward…
Do you discover the prospect’s timing for making the decision? Do you determine exactly what the prospect needs to see, hear, and experience in order to make a decision? Do you know if there are any behind-the-scene decision makers that have to be updated before a decision can be made?
Perhaps being “more persuasive” (during what you hope is the closing phase of a sale) is merely a matter of being more thorough during the development phase of the process.
Once you’ve identified all the elements that could contribute to the undesirable outcomes, devise a way to thoroughly deal with those elements during your development process prior to the point where the outcomes typically occur. The earlier you uncover a potential roadblock, the sooner you can deal with it. And, if the roadblock proves to be unnavigable, you can abandon the (not-so-opportune) “opportunity” and invest your efforts elsewhere…in more viable endeavors.
As you examine your business development process, you will likely discover a handful of areas I which you can “do better.” So, where do you start? Rather than attempt to address all areas at once, or start with the hardest or the easiest, select the element that will have the greatest overall impact on the outcome you seek.
Suppose, for instance, that the development process typically progresses smoothly right up to the ultimate presentation. And then, all too frequently, you end up engaged in eleventh-hour negotiations over price—the only issue standing in the way of closing the sale. In that scenario, the strategic “do better” area to focus on would be how to do a more thorough job of identifying, clarifying, and resolving price issues prior to developing and delivering presentations.
Alternatively, suppose you’re fairly adept at booking appointments with prospects. But during the initial meetings, you find it difficult to keep the conversations focused on topics relevant to the needs that your product or service addresses. Consequently, after much conversational meandering about half of the meetings—and any potential opportunities they may have represented—come to any end. In that scenario, the strategic “do better” area to work on would be how to establish mutually-agreed-to agendas for meetings at the time they are scheduled—which may also require you to work on how to more narrowly define the reasons or booking appointments in the first place.
Embrace (and accept the reality of) Change
It should be clear from the previous examples that you cannot expect to “do better”—move beyond your current circumstances and achieve new goals—unless you’re willing to change your ways of thinking and acting. Simply put, growth will not occur without change.
Change, however, is a double-edged sword. As you change and grow, some of the people around you will applaud your new successes. They will support your efforts. A few, however—those who see you overcoming or avoiding the problems they’re still facing, and for whom change is too scary or perceived to require too much work—will be critical of your new behaviors. They’ll attempt to convince you that your new accomplishments are only temporary…and encourage you to return to your previous strategies and actions. These salespeople are charter members of the “Misery Loves Company” club…and they’ll do their best to recruit you as a new member. Don’t let them.
Simply put, growth will not occur without change.
Gratefully accept the encouragement of your supporters…and swiftly dismiss the “encouragement” of your detractors.
Design and Document
Once you’ve identified the “do better” areas to address, write a short description of the “better” outcomes you seek and the new behavior/activities required to accomplish each. The act of writing out your goals and actions helps you crystalize your thoughts, which in turn plants the seeds from which the intended outcomes grow.
So, can you “do better”?
If you are willing to:
- Change your thinking—from “How can I fix this problem?” to “How can I prevent this problem from occurring in the first place?”
- Identify the undesirable outcomes you wish to change…and decide which are the most important.
- Invest the time to develop step-by-step plans to accomplish those important outcomes.
- Change your behavior, even if doing so is initially uncomfortable.