Top Seller Skills

Twelve Things Every Sales Super Star Knows

By Tim Connor, Sales Trainer and Author, “Soft Sell”

There are only three ways to sell more. Do more right. Do less wrong. Or, do both. Every successful software sales person knows that there are many skills and attitudes that contribute to their success, but there are twelve critical attributes that the sales super stars have integrated into their overall sales strategy. The following are in no particular order, but if you want long-term consistent success you will embrace and incorporate each of them into your routine sales attitudes and behaviors.

1. Make a sale; you’ll make a living. Sell a relationship and you can make a fortune.
Poor sales people focus on just closing the sale. Successful sales people focus on closing the sale and the relationship. Which is your approach?

For many sales people, the close of the sale typically comes at the end of the sales presentation. It represents for many, the final act in the sales process. It is unfortunate that these poorly informed or trained sales people lack adequate understanding of the role of selling in today’s competitive world.

Selling is not about only closing the current prospect on a particular product or service that solves one of their pressing problems, needs or desires. It is about building a trusting relationship and partnership with them, by becoming a resource, and helping them solve their on-going problems, or satisfying their continuing and evolving needs and desires. Super stars know that the lifetime value of a client is far more than the value of one sale or transaction. They take a long view of the relationship. It is not just about this sale but future sales, referrals and customer trust and loyalty.

2. People buy when they are ready to buy not when you need to sell.
One of the critical concepts that sales super stars know is that their role is to help people buy and that just because they may be behind in their sales quota is not a reason why a prospect should buy from them now.

You don’t change people’s buying habits or circumstances. What you can do is accurately discover them and then attempt to create a sense of urgency. A lot of buying is done due to momentum. It is important to discover those ‘real’ reasons or circumstances as to why a prospect would buy now, later, not at all or never. Once they have discovered the real issues the sales super stars tailor their appeal to those specific needs, desires and buying circumstances.

3. When you sell price you rent the business. When you sell value you own it.
Most poorly trained sales people tend to lower the price when they receive price resistance. Any price, no matter how low, will always seem high to a prospect or customer if their perceived value is low. The key to effectively handling price resistance is to understand this simple, yet profound, concept.

Prospects and customers say they want low price, but what they really want is low cost. What is the difference?

Price is what customers pay for your product or service now. Cost is what the customer pays by buying late, not at all or wrong. It is their overall cost over an extended period of time.

In most cases we get what we pay for. Buy cheap and you get less value or higher cost. Buy expensive and you get higher value or lower cost over time. This is not always true but tends to be true most of the time.

The sales super stars sell value and don’t defend price. In the long run, it is much easier to justify high price if the value is there, than poor quality and constant product/service problems.

4. Your prospect will tell you what you need to tell them to sell them.
Accurate and timely information is the key to success in selling. One of the biggest mistakes poor sales people make is that they give information before they get information. In other words they talk too much. If you practice this approach, you are going to make one or all of the following mistakes. 1) You will give too much information (more than is necessary to make the sale). 2) You will give the wrong information (based on the prospect’s needs, wants, desires or problems). 3) You will give information that could sabotage your success either in the short or long term.

The sales super stars understand that their job is not to sell their software or services but to help the prospect become comfortable with buying their products or services and giving themselves permission to buy now. Information is power and successful sales people are masters at uncovering needs, problems, prejudices, concerns and desires in a timely and truthful way.

5. If two people want to do business together they won’t let the details get in the way. If two people don’t want to do business together they will let any detail will get in the way.
Some people actually know that when they are making a commitment to you to buy they have no intention of following through. Why? Maybe they are just subtly telling you that they are not really a prospect for you. Maybe they have an inflated view of their authority or power within their own organization. And maybe, they just lie a lot. Who knows?

If two people want to do business together they won’t let any details get in the way. If a prospect doesn’t want to do business with you he/she will let even the slightest detail get in the way. We are talking here about intent. Sales super stars know how to identify the prospect’s real intent or purpose. They are not easily misled and tend to probe deeper when they feel they are not getting the real truth from the prospect or customer.

6. They need to work as hard to keep the business as they did to get it in the first place.
Many sales people make lots of promises or benefit statements while trying to sell a new prospect. Most people like to buy, but resist being sold to. A key concept to keep in mind while selling is that the close of the sale is not the end of the sales process, but the beginning of the sales relationship.

The purpose of the sales process is to discover how you can help a customer or prospect with a need, problem, desire or challenge, and then position your product or service in such a way that the customer discovers in his mind the value necessary in order to justify a purchase. Once the sale has been closed and the prospect accepts your promises, commitments or features as ones that will benefit him, he or she now moves into a sort of limbo mode. They wait patiently to see if you meant all of that sales stuff or were just trying to get another deal. They observe and monitor your behaviors, actions, follow through and communication consistency. Most don’t do this consciously but nonetheless they are doing it.

After-sales service is the key to keeping sales closed and keeping customers satisfied and buying again. It can often be a subtle test to see if you can really deliver.

One of the keys is to promise a lot and deliver more. In other words, exceed customer expectations – wow them with service. Poor sales people continuously promise a lot and deliver less, or promise a little and deliver next to nothing.

Sales super stars know that to ensure repeat business, customer loyalty, positive references and qualified referrals their after sales service must be one of their strengths.

7. To sell more every year, they get better every year.
Over the years, one common denominator I have observed in sales super stars is their willingness to invest in the continued improvement of their skills, attitudes and philosophy.

Life is an interesting relationship between paying the price and winning the prize. Between self-investment and rewards. Between investing time in personal development and your ultimate success, it is never too late to begin an aggressive on-going self-development program. There are hundreds of books to read, audio CD’s to listen to and seminars to attend. Sales stars don’t wait for their organization to invest in them and their future value. They take full responsibility for the quality of their life and learning. They are pro-active in seeking out learning opportunities. They use professional coaches, have mentors and belong to mastermind groups. They are constantly taking advantage of networking opportunities looking for all types of people who can help them improve. They create strategic alliance relationships that are mutually beneficial.

  1. They manage their time and territory effectively.
    Each of us gets 24 hours to do with what we will. Some sales people wish they had more while others wish time would pass a lot quicker. Some sales people act like they have an unlimited time bank available to them and that their prospects or clients will see them whenever the sales person would like. The sales super stars understand the importance of using every available selling minute to its full advantage.

    Before you can improve your use of time to sell you need to get a handle on how you are spending your time and how you are abusing it. Most of us tend to waste the time we do in the same old ways, day after day, year after year. For one week carry a stopwatch and start it when in the presence of a prospect or customer to sell only and then stop it when you leave. After the sales visit don’t reset the clock but keep a running accumulative total of time spent selling in one week. You can do this with every sales activity for example; how much time you spend on the telephone prospecting for new business, travel time, doing paperwork, in meetings, how much time you spend doing research or solving client problems.

    With this simple exercise you will get a fairly accurate picture of where you need time and territory management improvement. Yon can’t change or fix what you don’t know is wrong. So before you launch into some sophisticated time management program remember, you cannot manage time. It passes with or without you.

    9. The close of the sale begins when the prospect agrees to see them.
    People don’t like to make decisions. The main reason is they don’t want to make a poor or wrong decision. Traditional sales closing methods ask people to make a decision. For example do you want it in green or red? (Alternative choice) Do you want to use your pen or mine? (Action close) Can we write up an order now? (Direct close) Each of these closing techniques, even though they do work, has two fundamental problems.

  1. They ask the prospect to make a decision
  2. The average salesperson is uncomfortable using them

Few sales people have a ‘closing strategy’, a process that they follow with each and every real sales opportunity. They tend to ask a few questions, jump into the presentation too soon, try and overcome a couple of the prospect’s sales objections and then prematurely go for the close – usually unsuccessfully. The sales super star knows the outcome long before they get to the end of this routine process and they do it by ensuring that they have a well qualified prospect, they know the prospect’s dominant buying motives, they have identified all of their potential objections before they are even expressed, they have carefully observed the various buying signals from the prospect and they have given an effective and interactive presentation.

They know long before they ask their closing question what the answer will be. How? By being effective at people reading skills, by asking intelligent, effective and appropriate, probing, qualifying questions, by being good listeners and by asking a variety of trial closing questions throughout the sales process. They don’t try and force a fit. They discover the prospects sense of urgency or they create it.

They are in the prospect’s presence to sell not educate. They are there to do business. From their opening remark to their final closing statement their attitude is I am here to sell. This does not mean that they are applying pressure or hard selling. It means they are serious about helping the prospect solve their problems or take advantage of opportunities.

10. They never give up control of the sales process.
A common mistake poor sales people make is that they lose control of the sales process at some point. There are many ways they accomplish this and here are just a few for your consideration:

They quote price before they have had a chance to build value.

They don’t ask enough questions early in the sales process. They just ramble on.

They send out literature when asked, without first qualifying the prospect’s agenda or reasons for requesting it.

They send people to their website without first getting some basic qualifying information and having a follow-up strategy after the prospect has perused their site.

They don’t get advance deposits on services or products.

They leave ‘will calls’ when calling a prospect.

Control of the sales process is one of the key strategies of the sales super star. They understand that control is not manipulation, but is in the ultimate best interests of the prospect or client. When the sales person controls the sales process he/she is never broadsided with a lost sale he/she thought was in the bag.

11. They never project their buying prejudices into the sales process.
The objection that you will tend to have the most difficulty answering successfully is that objection that is the most consistent with your own value system. If you are a price buyer and your prospect objects to price you will tend to accept their objection. If you are the type of buyer who tends to think decisions over before making a purchase and your prospect says to you, “We need to think this over.” Again, you will tend to go along with their objection as rational or making perfect sense (because that is the way you buy).

This simple act of accepting sales objections that resonate with you because you can relate to them is nothing more than projecting your personal attitudes, opinions, judgments or biases into the sales process. When you project your personal beliefs into the sales process you are assuming that everyone who buys, buys the way you like to buy and often for the same reasons. You are also tending to assume that when they don’t buy for a reason that is similar to one of yours that it makes perfect sense to you.

The sales super star leaves their personal biases, prejudices and opinions at home.

12. They never lose their passion.
Passion is the great equalizer. It can make up for a lack of experience and knowledge. I am not suggesting that you not develop your knowledge or experience – only that until you do, others will interpret your passion as a strong belief in yourself, your mission and your purpose.

Passion is different from enthusiasm. The old outworn cliché says, “Act enthusiastic and you will become enthusiastic.” I have never subscribed to this philosophy. The reason is that if enthusiasm is an act, which you use when things are going well, how do you behave when your life is falling apart? Are you just as enthusiastic about failure, more problems than you deserve and any number of disappointments, frustrations and adversities?

Passion is not an act. It is a way of believing. It is woven into your cellular structure just as much as your DNA. Passion – real passion for who you are, what you are selling, who you are becoming and what you believe in. It shouts to the world: “I am here to stay, I am here to make a difference, I will leave my mark in this world. It may take me my entire life, but I will not give up until my purpose and destiny are realized.”

Are you in love with where you are, where you are going, who you are becoming and what you are selling? Or, are you living like more than 85% of the population with the attitude, “Same Stuff, Different Day”? If you have lost or are losing your passion for your career do whatever is necessary to get it back.

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15 Characteristics of Great Leadership

By Michael A. Aun, CSP, CPAE, Speaker Hall of Fame 

Whether you’re heading up a multi-tier company or a department of just a handful of people, these principles apply to every aspect of what you do everyday. Great leaders set goals; they’re decision makers; they love to fail; they aren’t concerned with what others think about them; they set standards and values and they don’t veer; they’re honest; they expect a lot from their people; they show their people what to do and how to do it; they’re great listeners; they learn to love others; they take responsibility; they’re change oriented; they’re flexible; they have a sense of humor; and, above all, they’re committed.

Leadership goes beyond just ‘management…’ Here is a look at some of the common characteristics that seem to underlie the common successes of great leaders.

In the early eighties, while traveling in Europe with my wife, we found ourselves right in the middle of the conflict between the United States and Libya. We had just entered what used to be West Germany, when a suspected Libyan terrorist blew up a pub, killing several Americans. Several days later, just as we were arriving in France, the United States responded by strategically bombing Libya.

While in France, I listened as 80% of the European world criticized then President Reagan for the retaliation. It occurred to me that the price of Mr. Reagan’s leadership must have truly been loneliness.

As we flew on to England, the criticism had grown, this time aimed at Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. According to the Gallup poll taken that day, 65% of her own people leveled some of the harshest criticism on her administration for allowing the American bombers to fly from England’s shores.

The French, who refused our request for help, were praised for their so-called restraint. Mrs. Thatcher, that gutsy lady who made a gutsy decision, was, instead rebuffed by her own people.

In both cases, responsible leaders made courageous decisions in what they perceived were the best interest of their people. Neither won the popularity contest, yet both, given the opportunity to decide again, would probably make the same decision today.

Some Common Misconceptions about Leadership
There are two major misconceptions in America today concerning leadership. The first is that many people confuse leadership with management. They are not the same. Leadership is deeply rooted philosophy. Management is the appropriation of certain skills to complete the tasks one faces.

The second misconception is that people are born with the skills necessary to succeed in life. They aren’t necessarily born with any skills. Skills are developed and learned. Leadership is all about developing those skills to their maximum level of efficiency in an organization. Management is about the organization, administration and supervision of those skills.

As a student who has researched habits of prominent leaders, I have concluded that great leaders have a number of things in common. Whether by design or accident, it matters not. Whether you are in sales or management or both, one of the most important characteristics for you to possess are good leadership skills.

We depend so heavily on the success of the fraternal system. When the elected leaders in our councils and lodges fail, that failure permeates its way down to the members of those councils or lodges.

It is imperative for us to elect and select good leaders to take on the mantle of responsibility in our local fraternal circles. However, many of these folks are selected by default rather than design. As the fraternal benefits counselor assigned to these councils or lodges, you can help by developing their leadership skills and supporting them in the process.

Be careful not to cross the line; stay out of the politics of the local organization. That’s not your role. Your role is to bring in new members and to help them with their insurance needs.

I’ve learned two incontrovertible facts about leadership in my nearly three and one-half decades in business and on the platform:

  • The price of leadership is loneliness
  • You can’t be concerned with what other people think about you
  • Successful leaders, either great or ruthless, have a number of identifiable characteristics.

Here are just a few.

  1. Great Leaders Gaze into Life’s Crystal Ball
    There’s a line in the bible I like: “If the eye be single, the body is full of light; if the eye be evil, the body is full of darkness.” What that says to me is if you know where you are going and are focused, half the battle is won. The most direct and shortest distance between you and your goal is a straight line. Leaders focus on the end result they seek.

    They have a vision for the future that is founded on a sound set of personal goals and business principles. They know where they’re headed in life. More often than not, that direction is clearly marked in a written format that includes several key ingredients.

    First, they know how they want to feel after the game is over.They have the capacity to imagine themselves in ‘victory lane.’

    Second, their objective is quite specifically defined. If they wish to lose weight, for example, they know specifically how much they want to knock off. If they wish wealth, they know exactly what it is that they desire to have.

    Third, they place deadlines on themselves. In short, they make a contract with themselves and they abide by cutoff dates.

    Fourth, they clearly define the obstacles that stand in the way of the goal. Knowing what to overcome is half the battle.

    Fifth, they hop in and just do it. They adjust from failure and do it again until they reach their objective – not by trial and error, but rather by trial and success.

    2. Great Leaders Are Decisive
    Carnegie said, “If you’re right 51% of the time you’re going to be a winner.” The biggest problem facing today’s leaders is to get them to make decisions. The old expression ‘ready, fire…aim’ might best describe the leadership philosophy among today’s current success stories in leadership. They make decisions and then live with the consequences. They’re risk takers, boardroom riverboat gamblers who are determined to get the most from their company and their product. They are well aware of the fact that ‘indecision’ is, in fact, ‘decision.’

    They don’t want critical decisions being left to fate, time, circumstances or default. They want the right to decide, even if they fail.

    3. Great Leaders Love to Fail
    They understand that failure is the process by which we succeed. They know that a certain number of failures must accompany every success. The baseball hitter that’s hitting .333 is failing two out of every three times he travels to the plate. He earns over a million bucks a year. Yet the guy who’s hitting .250 only earns a fraction of that. The difference between them is only one more hit in every twenty times at bat! As management guru Tom Peters puts it, “People have got to learn to fail faster in order to keep up in the changing business world.”

    4. Great Leaders Aren’t Concerned about What Others Think about Them
    If leadership boiled down to someone taking a poll and deciding on what the majority thought at the very instant in time, then Mr. Gallup would be our President. Successful leaders don’t make decisions based on what’s going to make them popular. They analyze the situation and decide what’s in the best interest of the majority concerned. Many times, that decision is very lonely.

    5. Great Leaders Subscribe to a Set of Standards, Values and Disciplines on which They Will Not Veer
    One of the truly great hallmarks of Ronald Reagan’s Presidency is the fact that, like him or not, you never have to question where he stood on an issue. He never once vacillated on the issue of abortion. You know right where he stood on taxation.

    The lone wrinkle in the armor was his indiscretion in trying to bargain with the Iranians. Even that ‘high risk’ venture could have landed on its feet, as did the bombing of Libya, had all the pieces of the puzzle come together. He was within an inch of being a hero. This kind of hero/zero relationship is constructed on foundation that is based solidly on a set of standards, values and disciplines.

    Conversely values and discipline are not the only factors in success in life. If they were, only the football teams with the highest ethical standards and conduct would succeed. When asked whether discipline and character were keys to winning football games, the great coach and philosopher Bobby Bowden once said, “If they were, Army and Navy would be playing for the national championship every year.”

    Values and discipline isn’t only thing, but they are a major piece in the puzzle.

    6. Great Leaders Are Honest
    There used to be a time when the word ‘honest’ was considered sort of corny. Fairness and justice were never the issue – only profit. Today’s great leaders have found it ‘profitable’ to be ‘honest.’

    When some ‘crazy’ sabotaged Tylenol, Johnson & Johnson didn’t say, “It’s not our fault.” Instead, they faced the issue head up, and this stands today as one of the great corporate leadership decisions of our time. Because they respected the rights of their customers so much that they were willing to take a short-term $100 million-plus loss for the benefit of staying atop the world’s corporate leadership. It was, in fact, the right thing to do for all the right reasons, and Johnson & Johnson has rebounded nicely, proving again why it’s in fact one of the great corporations in the world today.

    The company I represent, Knights of Columbus Insurance has made a conscious decision over the years not to sell Universal Life or Variable Life. This is a direct reflection of the values that are part and parcel to the company leadership and its clientele. The merits or detriment of the decision notwithstanding, it is a clear reflection of the philosophy of the organization.

    Today, the Knights of Columbus is one of six institutions in North America that have a AAA Rating by Standard & Poors, an A++ rating by A. M. Best and the Insurance Marketplace Standards Association (IMSA) rating, largely because the organization never ventured down that path. That is being true to your values.

    7. Great Leaders Expect a Lot from Their People
    If you expect a lot you’ll get a lot. Expect little, and you may get even less. And then, you must ‘inspect’ what you ‘expect.’ Coach Vince Lombardi had a tremendous capacity to get more out of his players than any coach in his time. Ditto for Johnny Wooden, legendary Wizard of Westwood, who led UCLA to so many NCAA championships. Both these men knew how to get their people to be team players – a critical part of the formula or expecting more.

    Conversely, coaches like former Maryland mentor Lefty Driesell have been criticized for not getting enough, for never being able to win ‘the big one.’ One ACC coach remarked about Lefty’s Maryland teams, “Never has so little been done with so much!”

    8. Great Leaders Show What to Do and How to Get It Done
    They never expect their people to do something that they themselves would not do. If one’s philosophy is sound, then there’s never a question about the decision. That is best reflected in the attitude and actions of the leader.

    9. Great Leaders Listen
    When your people are crying out to be heard, they do so with huge billboards and almost literally flash certain signals to you, both directly and indirectly.

    They cry out, ‘love me.’ Show them some affection. They scream out ‘notice me.’ Learn to pay attention. They say, “Please, recognize me.” Reward them for a job well done. Admonish them when their behavior warrants correction. Great leaders understand and accommodate the needs of their people

    10. Great Leaders Learn to Love Others
    Coach Lou Holtz once remarked, “When you need love the most is when you get it the least.”

    Great leaders sense the need to build others up, many times even at their own expense. They can fire you and make you feel good about the process. The reason is, they always deal with the performance and never the performer. Love the person, regardless of the person’s behavior. If they behavior is unsuitable, then speak to that, but never the performer.

    My grandfather, Eli Mack, SR., was a great mentor in my life. A mentor loves you enough to tell you what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. He told me as a child to “Listen to the criticism of others, but don’t support them. There is no such thing as constructive criticism. Most criticism is destructive because, more often than not, the person doing the criticizing is criticizing the performer and not the performance.” You must always separate the two. It’s okay to hate the performance, but not the performer.

    I was standing in a bank recently behind a young mother. She had her little son Henry with her. How did I know his name was Henry? She called him down 15 times… “Henry, get in line; Henry, straighten up; Henry, you better behave or I’m going to give you to that man (pointing to me).” Frankly, I didn’t want him, but I would have taken him after her next comment. “Henry, if you don’t straighten up, you’re going to end up in jail one day.” It broke my heart to hear that mother say that. ‘Garbage in – garbage out.’ The late great John Savage, one of the champions in the insurance industry, used to say, “You don’t strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.” Always build others up; never tear them down.

    11. Great Leaders Accept Responsibility
    They keenly seek the role of leadership because it carries with it the awesome burden of responsibility. They are not drawn to power nor do they shrink from it. They see it as an incidental by-product of the leadership role. They always hold themselves accountable and never blame outside factors like interest rate or the stock market. They understand that if you fail in school, it’s not the teachers who fail you; they just deliver the bad news. If you fall behind in the marketplace, it’s not the market that failed you; it’s simply reflecting your latest performance rating.

    12. Great Leaders Are in a Constant State of Change
    The great Italian philosopher, Yogi Berra, once said, “The trouble with the future is it ain’t what it used to be!” Great leaders are in a constant state of innovation that forces them to look at old problems with new solutions. They view ‘state-of-the-art’ as state-of-necessity. They spend thousands of dollars on training and working with their people. They adopt the philosophy that ‘you can’t have rabbit stew until you catch the rabbit.’ You can’t dispense information that you haven’t got. How would you like to be operated on by a surgeon that hasn’t been to school in ten years?

    13. Great Leaders Are Amazingly Flexible
    When the stock market has fluctuated over the years, those adjustments brought the best out of many of yesterday’s great performers. Fate dealt them a severe blow. Many lost a fortune on a Monday, but began to rebuild on a Tuesday. They possess flexibility and resiliency. They bend but never break. They give, but never completely.

    14. Great Leaders Have a Charming Sense of Humor
    They laugh at their failures and take their successes in stride. They take the light things seriously and the serious things lightly. They constantly have fun, finding the genuine humor in the tragedy of the situation. They laugh at their shortcomings and accept them as part of the hand God dealt them. They possess an enthusiasm for life that transcends any problems they face.

    Great leaders also expect measurable results in a reasonable period of time. A good question to ask: “How long is it reasonable for your child to spend in first grade?” The reasonable answer is one year, so expect reasonable results, but measure often.

    Great leaders cut their losses early. There’s a German expression, which roughly translated means: “Your first loss is your least loss.” Very few people are late bloomers.

    15. Great Leaders Are Committed
    Quite simply, they persist in their cause with reckless abandon. First, they believe in what they are doing. Second, the word ‘quit’ simply doesn’t exist in their vocabulary. Third, they have powerfully strong convictions about their cause, and see their cause as a part of a bigger picture. Fourth, they are self-disciplined beyond understanding. Fifth, they are uncomplicated and hang tough through good and bad. Sixth, they understand sacrifice. Seventh, they enjoy the process of work. Eighth, they have morals that they won’t compromise. Ninth they subscribe to the theory, ‘if it is to be, it’s up to me.’ Tenth, they know that the buck stops with them.

 

Sales Strategies of Six Figure Income Salespeople

By Tim Connor, Author and Trainer

Successful selling is a process of building positive and long-term relationships based on trust, confidence and belief in the salesperson and his or her product or service. The old paradigm of selling is rapidly finding its way to the scrap pile. If you have not yet developed new attitudes and selling skills with this new paradigm as your template you will soon find yourself on the outside looking in.

It is unfortunate today that many salespeople are still following the “old standard” of planning their calls on their clients and prospects. Rather than rehash these trite and outdated approaches, I would like to share the philosophies and attitudes with you that are being used by the successful salespeople of today and will be used by the superstars of tomorrow.

One. Who are you? What are your opinions, prejudices, judgments, attitudes, values and beliefs, philosophies and old baggage that may be sabotaging your sales success? Do you know who you really are? Do you know who you take into your sales calls? Are you sending a non-verbal message that is consistent with your verbal behavior? How would your prospects and clients describe your behavior and attitudes?

A thorough honest self-appraisal and subsequent modification of incorrect attitudes and behavior is critical for autonomy and success in selling in the new business climate.

Two. What is your basic fundamental purpose and mission in selling? Is it to make money? Serve your clients? Grow your company? Contribute to society? Provide for your families current and future needs? Have fun? Enjoy the opportunity to determine your own career and financial destiny? What aspect of selling do you really feel passionate about? Would you change careers for more praise, recognition, challenge, responsibility, money or opportunity? Your reasons, more than your goals for staying in this demanding, challenging and rewarding career will determine your peace, balance and fulfillment as you walk the highway into your future sales career.

Three. What type of people do you like to be around? How do you like to spend your career time? What else is important to you in your life besides your career? How do you like to spend your personal time? What are your needs for career and personal stimulation and feelings of worth-whileness? Are they being satisfied in your current selling position or circumstances?

Selling today is about building successful, positive on-going relationships. All types of relationships. Your overall success will be greatly impacted by your willingness and ability to establish and maintain positive relationships.

Four. How much time are you devoting to your personal and spiritual growth? Do you regularly read good books, listen to great audiotapes, attend seminars and network with people who can help you? Do you take time to recharge your battery with vacations, weekend adventures? Do you take time to relax? Do you get adequate rest and proper nutrition? A successful selling career requires lots of stamina, energy and passion. You can’t have these if you abuse your mind and body.

Five. Solving your prospects or clients problems is no longer an effective sales strategy. The successful salespeople in today’s marketplace and the marketplace of tomorrow will be creative problem creators. Effective salespeople will be ruthless in their pursuit of uncovering or creating an awareness of client problems that they weren’t even aware they had. They will think far ahead of their clients not just along with them.

If you want to guarantee your success in the coming years it will only take one approach. Find out what is preventing your prospects from getting a good night sleep. Determine what is keeping them up at night worrying and you won’t have to worry about customer loyalty, reducing prices or over aggressive competition. Even poor salespeople can solve a clients problem with the right product, service, feature or approach. It will take creative, forward looking and imaginative thinking to excel as the new world order emerges in the next millennium.

Six. People buy from people they trust, not people they like. The key to building trust is simple. Promise allots and delivers more. Do what you say you will do and then some. Honor your commitments, communicate with integrity and be a resource for your client not just a salesperson selling a product or service. I am a trainer, a speaker and a consultant but I don’t actively sell myself as any of these. I do however sell myself as a client resource. What can you offer your client other than your products or services? You can provide a continuous flow of ideas. You can be an idea gold-mine. But in order to be able to provide this level of information, you must first take a great deal of new information into your consciousness with regularity. Information about the marketplace, your clients businesses, human behavior, and a wide variety of current events that impact your business and the business of your clients and prospects.

I am not talking here about devouring the local newspaper or evening news. Constant reminders of what is wrong in the world or your home town isn’t going to help you one bit in your selling or your ability to maintain a positive attitude or consciousness. I am referring here to subscribing to publications that feed your mind positive and worthwhile information that helps you keep in touch with how you can improve your selling behavior or the changing circumstances or trends in your target or niche industries.

Peak performance salespeople study their clients business, their industry, their competition and are walking encyclopedias of information on their own products and services. Anything less, and you are fair game for anyone and everyone to take your business away from you.

Seven. Successful salespeople don’t sell price. They sell value. Price will always seem high if value is perceived as low. When you focus on price either because of poor product knowledge, poor client knowledge or poor sales skills, you will always lose in the long run. Clients don’t want cheap. They want the best value for their dollar. If you are focusing on price you will never make it big in this dynamic profession. However, if you always sell value you will never have to worry about losing business to price competition. Oh yes, on the short term you might lose a sale here or there. But If you are in this business for the long haul for both your company and your client, sooner or later your prospects or clients will come back to you and the value they need and desire.

Poor salespeople believe that prospects buy for price alone or as their major motivator. I don’t have space to try and convince you otherwise. I am not going to even try. I’ll let you learn this one in the marketplace.

Eight. Effective prospecting is the most important sales skill you will ever need to master. It is more important than good closing techniques, good sales presentations or the ability to answer client resistance. The best salespeople are at their best when they are getting information. If I have heard it once I have heard it a million times, plan your sales presentation. Bull. When you plan your sales presentation you are making a basic assumption that everyone that buys from you, is going to buy for the same reason. If you have been selling for more than thirty days you know that this just isn’t true. I can remember in my first sales position over twenty five years ago in the insurance industry that I was told to memorize my presentation, answers to objections and closes. Then go out and deliver the company story. I was fired in six months because I found out that no one was interested in my companies story. The prospects wanted me to learn their story. The job of professional selling to discover prospect/client wants, needs, desires, opinions, opinions, problems, prejudices, attitudes and/or judgments.

The most important element of the sales process for successful salespeople is not the giving of information, but the getting of information. They don’t plan their sales presentations but have a presentation strategy. If you have been selling your product or service for over three months, you should know what to say and when without planning it. The pro’s never go into a sales situation however, without planning their questions, the information they are going to get. Remember, your prospect will tell you what you need to tell them to sell them. But you have to ask. And please don’t forget, the information you don’t get soon enough will cost you sales or sales relationships later.

Nine. An effective sales presentation is not a presentation but a conversation. A two-way conversation, not a one way conversation. Many salespeople have been trained to deliver their sales message. This message is often a programmed discussion of the various features and benefits of their product or service. This approach to selling has never been used by the real pros. It is not an effective way to represent the product or service in the most professional manner and it is certainly not in the best interests of the prospect or the goal of making selling a new client relationship. Successful salespeople are more concerned about getting a client than making a sale.

Every prospect buys for their reasons, not those of the salesperson or the company. When you deliver your standard approach or presentation you are assuming that each prospect buys for the same reasons, at the same time and in the same way in the buying cycle. This just isn’t true. Nor does it make good sense to sell this way. The successful salesperson customizes each sales conversation to the buying style, needs, interests, desires, problems of each buyer. They don’t try to shove their buying reasons or features down the throat of the customer.

Ten. Sales resistance from the client or prospect gives you valuable insight into their thinking. Successful salespeople don’t try to maneuver around this resistance but get it into the open as soon as possible. Price is a good example. A confident salesperson who knows the value of their products and services doesn’t run and hide from price objections. They bring up early in the sales process, the value of working with a quality supplier. They are not afraid of their product or service inadequacies. They know that the other aspects of their organization, personal service or value added approach more than makes up for what they don’t have or can’t provide. No product or service is ever perfect for every prospect in every potential situation. Sooner or later every prospect must go without something. The approach of successful salespeople is to insure that the prospect understands that what they are getting more than makes up for what they are missing as well as how it will satisfy their needs, desires, problems or opportunities.

The myth is that you should be able to sell everyone sooner or later. I wish this were true. It would make selling so much easier. But the reality is, that not everyone in the marketplace is a good prospect for you, now or in the future. They may be a prospect, but not the best one for the time, energy and resources you have available at the present time. Timing is critical in successful selling. But given the tremendous amount of potential new business in the world today, I believe it is suicide to take the time, energy, corporate resources to try and turn poor prospects into customers or clients. As an aside, if you are able so sell a poor prospect for whatever reason, you will often find they cause you the most stress, distress and age generally not worth it. Some companies have a strategy that in order to sell successfully in a particular market or to a certain prospect, that you must take business that is not profitable, does not fit your customer mix or long term objectives. I have never subscribed to this philosophy. The key to successful selling is your ability to always be in front of the most qualified prospects or clients not just any prospects or clients.

Eleven. Closing the sale is not a matter of trick closes or manipulation. It is not using fear, guilt or hard sell tactics. Closing the sale on a well qualified prospect is the natural conclusion to everything you have done in the sales process that is correct and effective. You can make people buy things they don’t need, but you can’t make people buy things they don’t want. Poor salespeople try to turn poor prospects into customers or clients. Good salespeople identify good prospects early in the process and help them get what they want. They accomplish this with good listening skills, allot of client or prospect understanding and a willingness to be flexible and compromise. The key to successful closing is effective prospecting.

Twelve. After sales service is the glue that keeps clients loyal, buying more and willing to give you referrals and positive references. The best salespeople work as hard to keep their clients as they did to get them. The understand that clients will always have new choices for the services or products that they sell. To keep their clients satisfied they constantly conduct client reality checks. They are always checking client perceptions and attitudes. Poor salespeople, take the money and run.

One lesson that the best salespeople have learned is that it is always easier and less costly to do more business with a present client than it is to keep finding new clients. They put just as much of their time, energy and resources into keeping clients and building client relationships as they do looking for new clients. I am sure if you have been selling for a number of years, you have probably taken issue with some of my points in this article. That’s good. I hope I have triggered some thinking on your part. Old school salespeople, those that are unwilling to adapt or change their approaches or strategies, are stuck in outdated perceptions and realities.

All I ask you to do is reexamine your selling philosophies in light of current market and consumer trends. I am confident that some of you need to re-focus some of your attitudes and approaches if you are going to excel in the sales profession in the years ahead.