Introduction to Sales
'Success is the ability to move from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm'.
I was born with what people call 'the gift of the gab'. I had to be the class clown and centre of attention, and my goal at school was to make people laugh. I knew I had a great day when I had everyone in stitches. I was over the moon when my parents returned from parents' evening and my dad had that expression plastered all over his face. My reports consistently said, 'He has lots of potential, but just doesn't use it. He's a very likeable and popular boy though and really makes people laugh all day long'. To me, that was the best report you could get; how naive I was! My parents' friends always used to say to me, 'You'll be a great salesman, as you've got an answer for everything and can talk the talk'.
My first boss in software sales taught me one of the most important lessons in sales that I have never forgotten - you have two ears and one mouth, use them accordingly. This is backed up by an Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who created a principle known as the Pareto's law - the 80/20 rule. It's a rule that can be applied to many scenarios, such as in retail, where they say 80% of your profit comes from 20% of your products. When applied to sales, if you are on the phone to a prospect, you should be speaking 20% and listening 80%. People love to talk, it's human nature, so let them. If people talk, they are comfortable; if they're comfortable, they like you; and if they like you, they are more likely to buy from you. Remember, we do not sell to anyone, we simply help them buy.
I had plenty of sales jobs growing up as a kid, from working in a call centre selling utilities, selling double glazing over the phone to selling newspaper subscriptions door to door. Looking back, I consider these roles part of my career in sales. It's from these positions that I was able to grow a real backbone and deal with the daily rejection that you learn is the nature of the beast as a salesman. It's not until you have heard these wonderful sentences of English -
'If you call me again I will come round to your house and kill your dog!'
'Can I have your home number?'
'No', I replied, 'I don't want people calling me at home'.
'Neither do I, so p*** off and go to hell!' -
that you start to learn not to take things too seriously to heart. It's all part of the fun game of sales and you need to become quicker and smarter to play the game to win.
This is not like any normal sales book you have read, or are likely to read again. I am telling you the way it is, not discussing the theory, which is like listening to your grandma's story for the 82nd time, about how she used to go to tea dances as a teenager.
I will give you real-life examples of both my and my clients' sales experiences, and the things that I have seen and learned over the last 16 years as a sales trainer. I will be discussing some of the best sales professionals I have had the good fortune to be in close contact, and the salespeople that you get apologising to you over the phone when you reply to their initial statement, 'It's not a good time'.
Many people often ask me, 'What are the key things you need to be a successful salesperson?' There are so many factors required to become super successful in selling, which I will explain in detail in this book, ranging from your tone, your questioning skills, your ability to listen, closing techniques and the list goes on.
Having interviewed many of the top 100 salespeople in the world (in my view) on my podcast, Confessions of a Serial Seller, I have been able to identify some traits amongst these legends. Coupled with analysing the top 1% of the 36,000 sales professionals I have been fortunate to work with, here are just a few of those traits explained in the following text.
Do Not Listen to Respond, Listen to Learn
Like I mentioned with Pareto's law, it should be 80% of them speaking and 20% of you listening. Most salespeople listen when it's their turn to speak. The most successful salespeople listen to learn. They take in everything that is being shared with them, because they understand that the prospect is far more important than they are. They understand that if they are speaking, they are not learning. They have seen that by allowing the prospect to speak and open up, not only do they share so much about themselves, but they provide information that will be beneficial to be used for proposing a solution.
In addition to this, as the prospect is speaking, they are often sharing things that were unplanned and on the surface not relevant to what you are there to discuss. However, when you are fully tuned in, you start to listen to what is not being shared, and I call this your opportunity antenna, which I will elaborate on in detail, later on in the book.
Asking Intelligent Questions
The vast majority of salespeople that I have been fortunate to work with ask really bad questions. And this is normally a bad habit that they have picked up over time. You are often unaware of the difficulties related with bad habits while doing them, as you are running on autopilot. It is not often that we sit back and reflect on what we are actually asking, to see if these questions can be improved.
Every one of us has personal issues going on outside of work, some more serious than others. But if you bring these into work, it will have a negative impact on your performance and your personal problems will worsen, as you'll then create work problems as well. Some people like to look at a problem and moan about it. Others like to view it as a challenge and take pleasure coming up with a solution.
Which Person Are You?
There are some people who really like being negative, all the time, and they are cleverly called 'negative people'. You will always find negative people talking and moaning to other negative people, about how unfair everything is or how many problems there are at work. And you can guarantee they'll be moaning about the successful people and how easy they have things in their favour. As the saying goes, 'You become who you associate yourself with', so if you hang around with negative or lazy people all day long, your chances of achieving success decrease drastically, as they'll drain out all your positive energy. I call these people 'mood hoovers'. The great Jim Rohn said, 'You are the average of the five people you hang around with'; so, who do you hang around with on a regular basis? Are they serving you or draining you?
What I have found is A's will always hang around with other A's, whereas B's hang around with C's, to make them feel better about themselves.
I have a great friend who is very intelligent, very talented at what he does, yet at the age of 36 years, he has never progressed at work. It baffled me, as he seems driven, he's clearly good at what he does, he's well qualified and he wants to earn a good living, yet never seemed to make it. It was then clear to me that the friends he has grown up with all his life can be labelled as 'bums'. Some were unemployed and not looking for work, most of them took drugs, and none of them had any goals or real aspirations. Unfortunately, regularly hanging around with them clearly held him back, as it's all he sees and knows. Don't get me wrong, to break away from your lifelong friends is not an easy task, but is leaving a partner who physically abuses you an easy task? It depends what you want out of life and what your priorities are.
Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, was interviewed many years ago. The interviewer said to him, 'You have tried to make this light bulb ten thousand times and failed, how can you possibly carry on?' Edison laughed at the interviewer and said, 'You are both naive and ignorant, I have learned ten thousand ways of how it should not be done'. A fine example of how any situation can be viewed very differently.
I heard a story where a relatively new shoe manufacturer brought out some trainers that were unique in the market. The company tried to penetrate the UK market and failed miserably. It sent two of their sales teams to Africa, to test the market's appetite. After a few days, the first salesperson called the boss and said, 'This is the biggest waste of time ever, I may as well come home immediately'. The boss was really surprised to hear that and asked, 'What makes you say that?' The salesperson replied, 'because no one here wears any shoes'.
A couple of days later, the boss asked the second salesperson while answering his call, 'Tell me, how are you finding things?' The excited salesperson says, 'It's incredible, you are going to have to send me out a lot more samples'. The boss was totally taken aback by this response. He says, 'Really, how come?' The salesperson says, 'It's amazing, no one here wears any shoes'.
Which Salesperson Would You Have Been?
One of the wonderful things about sales is that there's no such thing as failure, it's all feedback. We...