Monday, October 25, 2010

21 Attributes of Extraordinarily Effective Salespeople (Attributes 1-7)

I had an interesting conversation recently with a business owner I’ve known for 25 years or so who has been a long-time follower of MSI. He told me it seemed the direction of many of my monthly topics had turned to sales, and he didn’t feel they applied to him because he doesn’t have a sales team. He is in a business with a physical location that serves consumers in the general population. Most people who do business with him find him through special offers by direct mail or word-of-mouth. I was surprised he felt the way he did.

We’re all in the sales game whether we know it or not. If we understand this fact, we can execute our sales activities that much better. Marketing involves attracting, converting, and retaining clients. The conversion portion of this process is where the sale happens. So whether we have dedicated salespeople who bear that title doesn’t determine whether we have salespeople in our businesses. We all do. How well they handle this function will determine whether we consistently grow and succeed.

Over the decades I’ve been a salesman and worked with clients’ salespeople, I’ve identified 21 attributes that are consistently prominent among those who are successful. They hold true with the person standing at a counter in the front lobby, the employee stocking shelves, cashiers, and other personnel just as much as they do with full-time inside or outside salespeople.

Today I’ll share the first seven of the 21 attributes with you. As you receive all 21 over the next couple of weeks, take time to review them and examine your own situation. Where are you strong? Where do you have room to improve? After I’ve shared all 21 attributes, I’ll share a method for making them part of how you and your staff do business.

Here are the first seven of the 21 attributes.

Extraordinarily effective salespeople:

1. Ask questions
No one likes to buy from a pre-programmed know-it-all sales presentation machine.

2. Listen
After you’ve asked meaningful questions, process the responses with sincerity.

3. Focus on the needs of the client
If anything comes ahead of the client’s need, your insincerity will shine through and your career as a salesperson will be short-lived.

4. Know when to stop talking
When you realize there isn’t a match between what you have to offer and what the client needs, or when the client has made a purchasing decision, be heads-up enough to realize it and simply stop talking.

5. Walk away from unproductive deals
If there is no foreseeable positive outcome (regardless of what that means in a given situation), be wise enough to walk away.

6. Only think in terms of mutual benefit
If the deal is good for you, but bad for the client, be ethical enough to correct the situation. If the deal is good for the client, but bad for you, be wise enough to correct the situation.

7. Help decision-makers look like heroes
If the fit is right, don’t let the decision-maker miss out on the opportunity to look good. If the fit is wrong, don’t let the decision-maker misstep and look bad. Help decision-makers look like heroes and you’ll always have insider advocates.

I’ll share the next seven attributes with you next week.

Here’s to your extraordinary sales success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fake It 'Til You Make It

I was sharing this story with a client recently and wanted to share it with you as well.

A number of years ago I was teaching a workshop on networking. In the course of the conversation, the principle of perception was addressed. We talked about being an expert and never appearing desperate no matter one's circumstance. No one wants to do business with a newbie or someone who isn't successful.

One of the workshop participants raised his hand and asked, "So are you saying we should fake it 'til we make it?" I went on to share my thoughts on this point by proposing we're all 'faking it' to some extent since none of us ever really 'arrive,' and that once someone feels he or she has arrived, a decline begins.

The participant agreed with my stand, but went on to state there is a point of 'arrival' when one is considered an expert and money is no longer a primary driver in one's business pursuits. I acknowledged his input, pointing out this perception needs to reside in the minds of the audience and proceeded with the discussion. He wanted more. He wanted me to identify the point of 'arrival' he had proposed. In the course of his quest for an answer he blurted out in a most confrontational manner, "So have you made it, or are you just faking it?"

I replied, "You really can't tell?"

"No," came his response.

To that I only had one thing left to say: "Exactly."

The workshop proceeded.

I'm not suggesting we operate as impostors in our businesses. Being genuine is key to success. I am, however, submitting that no one ever 'made it' by focusing on his or her flaws, pointing them out to an audience of prospects, or apologizing constantly for shortcomings.

Focus on your strengths. Become a real authority on whatever it is you do. Then speak and act with purpose and conviction. If you do this, are you faking it, or have you made it? I suppose that question is still up for discussion.

Bryan Waldon Pope

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