If you truly want to master sales you have to approach it no differently than a master craftsman. The article below was posted on the Hubspot site: and I think it does a great job of making the point.
What do great artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo have in common? They were masters. The works they created became legendary pieces, central to the culture, politics, and religions of millions of people around the world.
Now stop and think about sales. Is it an art?
You might not think so, but I assure you — it is. And like any art form, one of the best formulas for success is to model the greatest masters.
Anyone who has heard me speak knows how deeply I believe in this simple concept: Find successful people and learn from their experiences and actions. Here’s how to model every aspect of your sales team after the people and organizations that have been there before you.
Recruiting Like the Masters
A great recruiting program requires a significant investment of time and effort to ensure that salespeople are working with the best resources available.
Consider the United States Military Academy, also known as West Point, and the United States Navy’s SEAL teams. Each year, West Point considers over 15,000 potential cadets to fill just 1,200 openings, and the SEALS require an impressive performance record from potential candidates before they even consider entry into the program.
Both programs turn out exceptional performers each year. Much of their success can be correlated with the way they utilize their resources.
The SEAL program weeds out participants through institutional rigor, and has about an 80% dropout rate once BUD/S training begins with the vast majority of candidates ringing the bell and placing their helmet on the deck declaring, “No more.” What’s left is the best of the best.
West Point invests significant efforts to identify cadets that are most likely to succeed early on before investing additional time and resources into each candidate. As such, they are very proud of their 83% graduation rate. Both programs take very different approaches to recruiting and both have proven to be highly successful. Clearly there is more than one route to achieving excellence.
Learning Like the Masters
Experience is the most valuable tool in a salesperson’s arsenal. It becomes even more valuable when you can learn from the experience of others. There are three elements to mastery of sales experience that every salesperson needs to understand:
1) Tie your real-world experience to concepts you learn in formal sessions.
Top producers should be applying and honing their skills in the real world while at the same time continuing their sales education through attending conferences, watching webinars, reading sales materials and networking with industry experts.
2) Don’t hide in the crowd.
One thing you’ll never find at West Point is a large class size. The largest class holds just 18 students and there’s a very good reason for that. West Point wants their candidates to step up and show what they’re made of without the safety of cover — no hiding allowed. Show what you can do and how well you can learn and apply sales principles.
3) Be competitive.
I don’t just mean as a salesperson. Be competitive in life. I’ve completed 15 Ironman triathlons in eight countries spanning five continents over the last 10 years. There is a direct correlation between living an active, healthy lifestyle and finding success as a salesperson.
The Responsibility of a Master
You can’t be a good salesperson without being a good leader. Salespeople who show the ability and willingness to lead will be presented with more and more opportunities to receive greater responsibility. Every company should have a set of systems in place that offer opportunities to their salespeople to take on more responsibility.
Every company I’ve ever led was guided by a strategic system of responsibility. When you provide opportunities for employees to take on responsibility, you quickly discover who your top performers are. The only way to become a top performer is to seek out opportunities for responsibility. Think of your greatest role model and consider the traits that you admire in that person. I guarantee all of those traits relate to leadership and responsibility.
Becoming a Master
Practice makes perfect. If you want to be as good as the greats, you’ll have to do your very best to become one. Find a mentor, role model or successful historical figure that you admire, and begin to dissect their success. Emulate their actions and bring relevance to your position through supplemental learning sessions, continued education and constant improvement as a salesperson and individual. When you have a healthy, active lifestyle that compliments your career path, you’ll know you’ve found the right systems to help you become a sales master.
For most people just about everything you’ve ever been taught about sales or selling is wrong. Things like “Always be closing” or “Close early and often” or “Every “No” is one step closer to a “Yes”” have been taken so far out of context it’s no wonder the average person has a bad impression of sales people.
Too many people trying to sell their products or services don’t listen and think that sales is all about overcoming objections and closing. Well, that’s only if you are doing it the wrong way.
I know I’ve talked about this before but this is vitally important if you want to make more sales without creating pressure or stress for both you and your prospect so I am going to talk about it again.
Stop using old-school battlefield styles sales tactics and start helping your prospects buy when they are ready to buy. In other words; “Get out of the way and let them buy“. The old adage; people love to buy but hate to be sold is true so why fight it. Help them buy.
Ask yourself what problems your clients are trying to solve. How can you help them make the best decision for them? Even if it means they don’t buy now or maybe not ever. What’s best for them?
If you are going make a presentation don’t make it all about you. Believe it or not nobody cares how great you or you company are. What they care about is will what you have solve their problem?
How well do you know you prospect’s or client’s challenges? Can you describe their pain, you know, the problems that have them worried or keep them up at night, better than they can? When you can they will know you understand and that you are the expert.
If you can’t then you need to do your homework and start asking your prospects and clients what their greatest fears and worries are. Then determine if what you have to offer solves the problem. If it doesn’t what do you need to change so that it does? If it does what do you need to change about how you present it so that they know it’s what they need?
How can you help them figure it out? The simplest way is by asking questions and caring what the answer is. You show you care when you listen and ask probing questions to really understand their situation. You prove you’re just a salesperson and that you only care about the sale when you pounce on the first problem they mention and start selling and overcoming objections like it’s an Olympic wrestling match.
If you, or your company, is doing marketing the right way then you should only be working with prospects that are a 7 or better (1 to 10 scale) in terms of being ready to make a purchase. If you determine someone is a 6 or lower they should be put back into your marketing process to maintain top of mind awareness until they raise their hand again indicating they might be ready to move forward.
If you are cold calling you will need to do a proper analysis to determine if they have a need that they want to solve now or not. If they do you move forward if not you move on but you put them into a nurturing process so they come back to you when they’re ready.
You will find that when you align your sales process with your prospects needs instead of trying to get them to align with your sales process you will make more sales in less time with less pressure or stress for both you and your clients.
Share with me what changes you are going to make of questions you have about how you would implement this in your sales situation.
I was talking with a good friend of mine last night and we had a good laugh at how new salespeople do when they first start compared to a month or so down the line. What we were laughing about is that with very little information they are able to go out and start making sales but in no time at all they learn a lot more about their industry and their own product and their sales drop like a rock and they don’t understand why.
What they don’t realize, because it happens gradually, is that as they get asked questions they don’t know the answer too they learn the answer and then since one person asked everyone must want to know so they add it to their presentation. When they started they didn’t know enough to talk much so they had to ask questions. They could only talk about what they were taught so they naturally talked less and listened more. Now that they have learned so much in the last month they are doing all the talking and they are no longer making as many sales.
How does this apply to your situation? If you’re struggling with signing up new clients take a long hard look at your process. Who’s doing all the talking? How many questions are you asking? Are you assuming you know their needs as soon as they mention a problem other clients have had? If you do make that assumption do you jump into presentation mode?
Simple solution: Go back to the basics and properly qualify. Don’t tackle surface issues. Instead ask questions about the issues they bring up so you really know what the underlying cause of the problem is and what it’s costing them to continue like this. Then, if you are going to start presenting keep what you have to say limited to the problems you uncovered. When you do that you will find you’re signing up clients again and it’s because you didn’t confuse them with a bunch of information they didn’t need and since you were laser focused on their needs they will know you care about them and that you can help them.
So, Stop Selling And Make More Sales. 😉
If you have questions about this or you want to share how you’ve experienced this very same thing leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you.