If you watch the start line of the Olympic 100m final, you can probably tell who is going to win before the starter fires his pistol. There is an air of confidence about the soon-to-be-champion that sets him or her apart from the competition. If this is true for the worlds’ best, just think how big this difference would be with the average athlete.
Of course, physical ability plays a part in athletics, but what really sets the best apart from the rest is their mindset, their mentality and beliefs about themselves and their ability to compete. To be a successful salesperson takes a similar winning mindset, a set of values that drive you ever forward in search of that next deal and beliefs that keep you moving in the right direction.
In fact, to be successful in sales takes the same commitment and dedication as it does to win an Olympic medal or win a Nobel prize. There are common traits in all successful individuals, and here is my core list on what makes someone stand out from the crowd.
A CLEAR DECISION
Mohammed Ali is well known for his phrase “I am the greatest!”, but did you know that he used to say this well before defeating Sonny Liston to win the world heavyweight boxing championship? Ali had made up his mind and committed to becoming the best boxer the world had ever seen, and it was this decision that was the first step towards his achievements.
The greatest salespeople in any company are those that are committed to becoming the best. They have decided that they will be the best and will do whatever it takes to make that happen. If you can imagine the effort and intensity that Ali put into his training, then you will recognise this focus in these individuals. There is a hunger inside of them and, like Rocky, they have the eye of the tiger.
If you want to be the best, you need to decide to be the best, and you must be prepared to do whatever it takes to get there.
A STRONG WHY
“He who has a strong enough why can bear almost any how!”
– Friedrich Nietzsche
To be a huge success, you are going to have to overcome obstacles and, from time to time, these are going to be a serious challenge. Many people would look at these insurmountable hurdles and give up. Successful people however realise that what is on the other side of the hurdle is far more worthwhile than the effort it will take to get there.
If you have a big enough reason why, you will do whatever it takes to be successful. Why are you a salesperson? By the end of this book you will have a deep understanding of values and how they motivate, but ask yourself now, why have you chosen sales as a career?
Is it because you want ultimate control over your finances? Do you want to be able to provide for your family and those around you? Are you the kind of person that needs to be around people every day? Do you want to know that you are making a difference by helping people solve their problems?
When times get tough (and they will!) you need to remember WHY you have chosen this career. Re-associate to this and you will find your motivation never wanes.
Sales targets are set by the business for the business. If you work for someone else then your revenue targets are set in order to help the business reach its financial projections. If you work for yourself, perhaps you have set sales targets that realistically fit in with your business plan. Whatever the case, your sales goals will always be realistic, but will they be enough to give you what you want?
Driven sales people always know their numbers and how much commission they are going to earn. They can also tell you exactly how they plan to spend that commission when it comes in. The top in the field have good taste and high standards, and this is part of what drives them every single day.
What do you want to be able to buy? A house? A car? A holiday? What are you working towards? Make it something bigger than you have ever expected for yourself. Raise your standards and you will love the energy you find to make things happen.
Set yourself clear goals, not just for how you plan to spend your commission, but also for your development too. Sales is a great vehicle that helps you get somewhere, but you need to know where you are going. Want to move into management? Want to set up your own business? Stay focused and keep your goals with you at all times.
It’s not nice when someone puts the phone down on you, or tells you to get out of their office, or swears at you, or suggests that you put your samples into places samples shouldn’t go! We have all met people like that, and the chances are, you have probably done something similar to people who have tried to sell to you too.
Great sales people don’t take things like that personally. They find a way to justify the other person’s actions. Perhaps it was a bad day, their cat had just been run over, someone had bought decaf coffee instead of the real thing, or they were in the bathroom when the toilet paper ran out! It doesn’t matter what the situation was for the other person, a great sales person always remains in control of their next actions.
You need to have resilience. Put the phone down, laugh it off, and then dial again immediately. Get right back on that horse. If you get kicked out of someone’s office, go straight to their competitor and tell them what happened and that you want the opportunity to “repay their kindness”. Whatever happens, don’t let it knock you from your path.
“The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.”
– Chinese Proverb
A no is not always a no. Sales people realise that persistence is the key to unlocking some of the most valuable opportunities that are out there. However, rather than just take the same action over and over, great sales people combine persistence with creativity to think of other ways to get the same result.
A good friend of mine found his biggest client in a takeaway food restaurant. In fact, this client was the biggest client in the world for the entire business, and he found him by buying a chicken burger. How? Well, he was clear on what he wanted, which was to work with a particular business, and he repeatedly approached the business trying to find out who was in charge and to arrange a meeting. However, he was stonewalled every time.
One day, after getting another no, he decides to get something to eat at the restaurant next door, and asks the guy behind the bar whether he knows the owner of the business. The guy replies no and then takes my friends order. Then he asks my friend why he is looking for him. My friend responds with a small summary of what he did, and the guy behind the counter starts arguing with him. “You can’t do that, that’s impossible!”. My friend just wants to eat his food, but keeps talking with the guy and the conversation gets progressively more and more intense.
Eventually, the guy behind the counter tells my friend to finish his food and then follow him (apparently the chicken shop attendant was a big guy so he didn’t say no!). They walk out of the shop, into the business next door, and out towards the back of the offices. My friend gets excited, thinking he is about to be introduced to someone in the business. The man opens the door to the office, walks behind the desk, and then introduces himself as the owner of the business. The rest is, as they say, history.
Figure out who you want to sell to, and then don’t give up until you have the meeting with that person. Do whatever it takes to get yourself in front of that prospect and then do an incredible job when you get there.
I have been in the personal development seminar world for years and have seen so many different ways that these ideas can be used. However, I don’t think there is any occupation on earth that requires you to put these lessons into practice as often as sales does.
Sales is a career which is constantly testing your mindset, requires you to be a masterful communicator, understand people better than they understand themselves, be a motivator, help people overcome their fears and concerns and break through to new results. In fact, having trained life coaches and motivational speakers, the job description of a salesperson is not so different.
You need to get as much self-improvement and personal development information into your daily routine as possible. The more you can learn in these areas, the more successful you will be, I can assure you.
Below are a few of my personal recommendations if you have not read them already:
- Think And Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
- How To Win Friends And Influence People – Dale Carnegie
- The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey
- Personal Power – Anthony Robbins
- Who Moved My Cheese – Spencer Johnson
- The Secret – Rhonda Byrne
- Go Givers Sell More – Bob Burg & John David Mann
- Influence – Robert Cialdini
- The Master Key To Riches – Napoleon Hill
- Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway – Susan Jeffers
These books have all had a significant impact on my life, so I suggest you get a few of these, but then continue to read and explore your own path of learning.
Don’t have much time to read? Get these as audio books instead and listen to them in your car, on the train, in the gym, whenever you have some time in between meetings. Think of what you listen to as feeding your brain. Do you want to listen to music, which has no nutritional value, or would you rather feed your mind and imagination with new ideas and techniques that will help you become an even more powerful salesperson and communicator?
I have to mention TED before the end of this section. TED is a non-profit devoted to ideas worth spreading in the areas of Technology, Entertainment and Design. They bring together some of the most incredible, inspirational and innovating speakers on the planet for their conferences and then share these talks on their website. They also have an app for your phone, so you can download videos and talks and listen to them as you are going through your daily routine. The ideas in some of these videos are truly incredible and come directly from leaders in business and science. Make sure you visit TED.com today and download their app too.