Whether you’re new or old to the sales game there are 3 factors that are going to define your performance. Previously, we broke down the fundamental building blocks of the discipline, but now we’re going to focus on the operational factors.
What’s Your Secret?
This is a common question that average performers ask star performers. If you’ve been asked this question, then it’s a sign that you’re good. If you’re asking this question then you definitely need to work on getting better.
The secret is that there is no secret. The correct answer to the above question is: “I know what I’m doing and you don’t know what you’re doing.”
The real question you should be asking is: “Do I know what I’m doing?”
The difference between you and the star is that the star has a method for creating success.
Whether they know it or not, they have developed a repeatable and dynamic way of creating sales success in any environment. They’re competent, and whether they succeed or fail they’re not caught by surprise. They build their success and are accountable for their failure.
So, even when a star shines dimly, they’re still a star and upper management knows it. When a non-star performer fails to shine, they’re seen as a black hole, sucking up time and resource.
Harsh, but true.
Creating Your Sales Methodology
There are 3 factors that comprise a sales methodology:
1. Subject Matter Expertise:
The brightest stars know everything about their industry. If they don’t yet, then they at least know how to talk about it like they do.
Questions: Do you have subject matter expertise in your industry? Do you know everything there is to know about what you’re selling, about your competition and how your clients are using your product?
If the answer is no, then you need to start educating yourself.
You begin by talking to the subject matter experts in your company and picking their brains…this may entail asking stupid questions. Find out whom the thought leaders in your industry are, read the right blogs, the right books, listen to the right podcasts, watch the right YouTube videos.
Consume it all until you’re a walking encyclopedia on your subject matter.
2. Sales Philosophy:
This is all about understanding how to think about selling as a discipline and sales as a job itself…really, it’s about the business logic of it all.
Having a strong sense of sales philosophy means knowing what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Namely: To make money for yourself and the company while taking ownership over everything that process entails.
It might be shocking to consider, but a lot of the average performers in sales don’t really understand what they’re being judged by or why they’re being judged by it!!
So on one hand, they don’t get that they’re being judged by their competency and their monthly numbers. Furthermore, they don’t realize that their monthly numbers are critical to the company’s financial projections!!
On the other hand, this affects the way they approach their daily routine, the way they understand their sales pipeline, how they identify opportunities, make projections…the way they approach the telling, the selling, the initiation and the negotiation…it can all be explained by a poor sense of sales philosophy.
It can be infuriating for a manager to realize. But, very often many of the poor performing–and seemingly talented–sales people on your team are doing poorly because they don’t have a basic understanding of sales philosophy.
Questions: Do you understand what the job is all about? Are you wasting time on things that you aren’t judged by? Are you taking ownership over your responsibilities?
3. Sales Technique:
If you’ve developed some industry knowledge and you understand how to think about sales, then you’re ready for the next step.
Sales technique involves learn-able skills that allow you to create repeatable process for making sales.
Question: Do you make use of any particular sales technique?
In a later post I will direct you to resources better suited for communicating these notions, but for now we will cover some of the very basics…involving, but not limited to the following:
A. Understanding Call/Conversation Flow:
If you’re working over the phone or in person, then you need to have an understanding of how to talk about your product and how the overall conversation should go with a lead under average circumstances.
You must be able to initiate conversation with a well developed elevator pitch and value proposition.
C. Objection Handling
You must be prepared to deal with negative statements made against your product or refusals to buy it.
D. Needs Assessment:
You must understand how to discover what your leads “pains” are, in order to present your product as the solution.
E. Open and Closed Questioning:
You must understand how different types of questions can help you take control of the conversation and steer it in the correct direction.
F. Lead Qualification:
You must understand how to determine whether a lead is a fit for your product or not.
G. Opportunity Identification:
You must understand how to determine when the legitimate potential of a financial transaction exists, and when (forecast) it will happen.
H. Deal Making:
You must understand the limitations of your negotiating ability, when a deal is a bad one, and how to bring negotiation to a close.
These 8 elements of sales technique each involve a skill that falls into the sales matrix reviewed previously. Some relate to the telling, some to the selling, some lay in the initiating, while other in the negotiating.
This was lesson 3 and it was a big one.
Like chess or poker, it may take minutes to learn and a lifetime to master. Don’t be discouraged though, the road to mastery may be a long one, but it’s a road you’ll pave in gold along the way, if you work at it.
In my next post on sales I’ll review some resources that will help you improve your grasp of sales philosophy and technique.