(By Bob McCurdy) I came across an article recently titled, “How to succeed in marketing? Acquire more knowledge.” The same could be said about how to succeed in sales. According to the author, “Not enough people in the ad industry know what they need to know.” So, his ultimate advice is to “know more than the next person.” In other words, acquire more knowledge. Get smarter. “Over the next ten years you will not find a single company, agency or recruiter who will say they want more people who know less. So know more.” But knowing more doesn’t happen by accident.
Too many of us think once we’ve graduated from college, continued and focused study is no longer necessary. Actually it is just the opposite. In college we were “amateurs,” paying someone to educate us. In the business world we are “professionals,” being paid to guide and educate our clients. But “knowing more” alone is not the end game. If it was, engineers would be sales mavens. Sales success requires so much more than simply “knowing more.” It begins by embracing the reality that while sales fundamentals might only take a few months to learn, they require a lifetime to master.
The best salespeople:
– Have a specialized antenna that seeks out new ideas and approaches rather than rejecting the unfamiliar and untried, a “What if” and “Why not” attitude.
– Understand that stories resonate more deeply than facts and figures.
– Are sponges and freely borrow from all with whom they interact.
– Understand that selling is essentially a transference of a belief from one person to another, a transfer of confidence; the prospect’s confidence in the salesperson and product’s ability to fulfill their needs.
– Recognize that changing people’s minds is generally an exercise in futility. They relentlessly expose a prospect to enough information/insights that enables them to change their own mind.
– Have mastered the ability to identify and then magnify the importance of key information as they nurture a prospect to close.
– Appreciate the similarities between a good sales call and a good speech. Be on time, be bright, be prepared, be brief, and be gone.
– Have mastered the fine art of listening. When practicing this level of attention, they provide clients with a gift few receive throughout their day.
– Understand that the difference between “helping” and “selling” is only two letters. The customer’s success must always be the primary concern, never a commission check.
– View themselves as educators who always strive to “up serve” their customers, not only “up sell” them.
– Never using two words when one will do. They understand there is great power in the spoken word if you don’t hitch too many together.
– Answer questions as asked. If the prospect wants to know more detail, they’ll ask a follow-up question.
– Practice, drill, and rehearse. The best salespeople understand they are sales athletes and prepare like one, both physically and mentally.
– Appreciate the fact that they are a “brand,” always seeking to establish themselves as a helpful expert remembered during those “trigger times” that precede any buying decision.
– Reflect daily, understanding that only the mediocre are always at their best.
– Study homo sapiens. They understand that sales is the practice of psychology without a license. The more deeply they understand the human race, the more successful they’ll become.
– Recognize that the true added-value they bring to their company is the difference in revenue they generate vs. a competitor with the same resources.
– Take responsibility. They revel in the fact that they are their company’s true competitive advantage.
– Approach each day as if it were their first.
– Recognize that advantage comes not from the spectacular but from the persistent seeking of the mundane edge.
– Understand that success is largely about hanging on when others have let go.
– Have absolute and total belief that what they’re selling is worth more than what they’re asking. They know their profession, product, and its benefits, inside out.
As Paul Harvey once said, “Who’d want to retire from a vocation that is more fun than any avocation could be. I am a salesman until the day they nail the lid on that box.” What a great honor and responsibility it is to work with local advertisers, day in and day out, assisting them to achieve their dreams. Go make a positive difference in their lives.
Bob McCurdy is Vice President of Sales for the Beasley Media Group and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.