Sales Tips for the Optimal Salesperson

This page is dedicated to helping you become the best salesperson you can be. These one minute sales tips will help make you more effective and earn more money. Each Tip is a single actionable nugget designed to move you toward effortless high performance … In short to become the Optimal Salesperson.

Don’t Snorkel Scuba Dive

Uncovering the prospect’s compelling reason to buy requires conversations that go deeper than “What do you need” or “What do you want”. My observation is that many salespeople in the discovery phase of the sales cycle act like snorkelers. They stay near the surface of the conversation. They are satisfied with answers like “we’d like to increase throughput by 15%”; or “we are not happy with our current supplier”. Like snorkelers in the lake, they are afraid to go deeper lest they “run out of air” so to speak. The Optimal Salesperson knows that the true compelling reason to buy lies several layers below the surface. So, like SCUBA divers, they head into deeper waters in order “to get to the bottom” of why exactly the prospect wants what they want and what the ramifications of not getting it are. They are not afraid of “running out of air” (i.e. getting stuck) because they brought plenty of air (read selling skills and product knowledge) with them. They are not satisfied with knowing that the goal is for throughput to increase by 15%. They want to know why 15% and not 20% or 12%. What happens if they don’t achieve 15%? How does failure to achieve that 15% affect the production manager who is buying the product or service. They want to know why the prospect is not happy with their current supplier. Is it delivery time, technical knowledge, or responsiveness? Does it have something to do with the product? Or, is it the salesperson they are unhappy with? So the main point here is to go deeper. Ask another question. Ask why. In other words, act like a SCUBA diver not a snorkeler on a sales call.

OSP sidebar Hiring salespeople2 pic 300x300

Give Yourself a Raise

Everyone could use more money. If you are in sales, you can give yourself a raise. Here are some ways you can do it:
• If you make 10% more sales calls every day, on average assuming the same market conditions and constant sales ability you will make 10% more money on average.
• Change who you call on. Calling on larger accounts or higher in the organization. You can’t abandon the people you are currently calling on but mix in a larger account once in a while and eventually your income will rise. Once you see there is no more effort to close a big one than a little one you will find your client base consisting of all big ones.
• Start applying a fundamental principle or sales technique that somehow have gotten away from you over the years. In other words, recommit to the basics and your income will rise.
The basic message here is that your income is mostly within your control. Do a little more and do it a little better and you can count on having more money to count.

OSP sidebar Hiring salespeople2 pic 300x300

Change a Belief

Changing a belief is a hard thing to do. After all you didn’t decide to have the belief you have, you came to it gradually through training, education, parental programming, societal norms, etc. I have written many times about the dramatic effects that changing a self-limiting belief can have on your sales career. Here is some practical advice on how to actually go about changing a belief that is getting in your way. All you have to do is pretend you have the empowering belief instead of the self-limiting one. For example, if you believe that you can’t get to the CEO on a sales call and you have to go through purchasing to get an order, then all you have to do to begin the process of changing that belief is to pretend to have the opposite belief. That belief might be that “my product solves a problem only the president can appreciate”. Or maybe the empowering belief is “people like me should be talking to the president”. Once you adopt the mindset (even if only temporarily) that you should be talking to the president, then say to yourself “if I had this belief what would I do” or “what would I say” or, “How would I act”. Then go and do that while trying to maintain the proper belief or mindset. I Grant that you will be outside your comfort zone, but doing the same things over and over will not get you a different result. And if you do bypass purchasing and get in front of the president, you will have a new experience, you will learn something new (probably that it wasn’t as scary as you thought), and you will have something to build on. At first you will most likely fail. But didn’t you fail the first time you made a sales call? Didn’t it get better as time went on and you got more experience? Didn’t the same thing happen when you were learning to walk? You probably fell at least 100 times before you could successfully walk across the room without help. That didn’t stop you from learning to walk. So why are you afraid to fail now? Pretend to have the empowering belief, then ask yourself “what would I do if I had that belief”, then go do that.

OSP sidebar Hiring salespeople2 pic 300x300

Act as if

Changing a self-limiting belief to a belief that is empowering is sometimes a long process. An easy first step is to act as if you had the empowering belief even before you have it. It involves a little play acting but the effects can be literally life changing. If you believe that people will not reject you ask yourself what would I say or do if I believed that they would not reject me … then do that and act as if you had the more empowering belief that they would not reject you out of hand. If you believe that they will not tell you how much they want to spend ask yourself “what would I say and how would I say it if I believed that they would actually tell me”. Then do or say that.
The hard part is knowing what the empowering belief is. It is usually the opposite of what you believe. If you are not sure then find a successful person in your field and ask them what their belief is. Or just imagine what they might say or do and then say or do that. At first it will not work as well for you as it does for them. But adopting their belief and changing how you approach a tough selling situation will get you different results and begin the process of changing your self-limiting belief.

OSP sidebar Hiring salespeople2 pic 300x300

Take fewer people on sales calls

You set up a meeting with a high level prospect which took weeks to make happen. She is a decision maker with a problem in a company which is your ideal prospect. If you are like the typical salesperson (remember 76% of salespeople are ineffective) You will take the following actions:
• Invite your boss or a technical person to come with you
• Prepare 20 PowerPoint slides to impress the prospect with
• Check out the prospects website and linkedin profile

If you are the optimal salesperson you will do the following:
• Do some research on the prospect and her problem
• Talk to your tech team and/or boss to bone up on questions you should ask
• Go on the call prepared and alone
The optimal salesperson realizes that in a preliminary meeting the primary objective is to establish a relationship, uncover the essence of the problem and the pain that the prospect is experiencing, see how much money they are willing to commit to the project and then give a summary of how your people would approach the problem or have approached similar problems in the past. The final step would be to move the project forward by setting up follow-on meetings before you leave the first meeting. The optimal salesperson further realizes that the prospect is more likely to open up with only two in the meeting and bringing the boss to an initial meeting devalues the boss and will cause the salesperson to lose control of the meeting. As a general rule take as few people to a sales call as you can get away with. The meetings will be easier to control and have a better outcome.

OSP sidebar Hiring salespeople2 pic 300x300

What got you here won’t get you there

You work hard. You don’t waste time. You have good sales skills you hit your number this year after 3 years of falling short. But, you need to get to the next level to hit your financial goals. So what can you do? Your sales need to increase by 40%. Can you find another 20 hours in the work week? The answer is probably not! Can you increase your closing percentage by 4o percent? Again the answer is probably not. So it is obvious that what got you here may not get you where you want to go. So what can you do?

The answer is that you need to do something different. Call on bigger accounts. Spend more time working on getting introductions to senior executives. Change your belief in what you can accomplish? In short, you must make some major change because just doing more of the same is not an option. The very first step is to raise your expectation and belief about what is possible. As Napoleon Hill said a generation or 2 ago “whatever the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve”.

OSP sidebar Hiring salespeople2 pic 300x300

Get Unstuck

The first rule of holes is that if you are in one stop digging. Similarly, the first rule of ruts is if you are in one do something different. Do anything different. Not just a little different … a lot different. Double the amount of calls you try to make in a day. Radically change your schedule for a week. Wake up earlier … work later … skip lunch …change how you describe your product …change the order in which you ask the questions … review your notes from your last sales training class (you may have to dust them off first) … ask some of the questions you were taught to ask but have stopped asking for some reason …ask a question you have never asked before … change the level at which you call in a company …change the way you start a prospecting call …ask someone you have never asked for a referral.
What you will find is that different stuff starts to happen. You have to react differently. You find yourself in a different place. You will find that your energy level changes and your results will change. You won’t be beating your head against the same walls and in most cases you will have better results, be earning more money and the rut will become a distant memory.

OSP sidebar Hiring salespeople2 pic 300x300

Dont Be trapped By the Low Expectations of Others

People tend to live up to (or down to) the expectations of people that they respect and who they want to earn approval from. Sometimes you can get trapped in a situation where you are the best salesperson on a weak sales team. Management thinks highly of you and you win salesperson of the month awards regularly. But their expectation of you may be too low. What if you worked on another team where you consistently came in the middle of the pack, but management’s expectation of you was much higher and to you it seemed out of reach? How would you react? If you have a winner’s mentality, then you will work harder seek help, or do whatever it took to reach or achieve what is expected of you. So the lesson here is not to be trapped by the low expectation of others. Whatever you are achieving now, expect to do more. Expect to earn more. Expect to do it in less time. Expect more and you will achieve more.

OSP sidebar Hiring salespeople2 pic 300x300

Analyze your sales activity

For those of you who track your sales activity (an admittedly small group), now is a great time to analyze the activity you collected last year to determine if your current level activity will get you to the undoubtedly higher goals that you have set this year. Is your closing rate high enough? Are you scheduling enough appointments? At the current rate of uncovering qualified opportunities will you be able to write enough business to meet the goal if your current close rate holds? Is your average sales high enough? You should have enough data to answer all of these questions (if you don’t that is a whole other issue and you should start collecting the data).
If the analysis shows that you will not be able to hit the goals for this year at the current activity level, you will have to make some changes. Here are some possible remedies:
• Make more calls and talk to more people
• Qualify harder to eliminate quoting deals you know you have a low probability of winning.
• Stop calling on smaller clients to increase your average sales and increase the time you have to work with more profitable prospects.
• Improve your sales skills by reading a book, getting a coach or taking a course.
• Do all of the above.

OSP sidebar Hiring salespeople2 pic 300x300

Don’t Convince…Align

When people have their heels dug in it is very difficult to move them. Pressuring prospects and trying to overcome objections is the hard way to get your product sold. The best approach is to determine what problem or pain the prospect has and then align your product or service with that. In other words, show the prospect that your service will help them achieve their goals. This approach requires that you focus on the prospect and his or her problem for the majority of the sales call rather than spending your time explaining your product or service and what benefits it has. The only supposed “benefits” the prospect cares about are the ones that help him achieve his goal. If you have something that you think might be a benefit to the prospect, first ask some questions to determine if they have a problem or a desire that the product might address. If they do, then proceed to explain the benefit. If not, then move on to the next question. This will save you a lot of aggravation and let the prospect feel that she is in control of the process … never a bad thing.

OSP sidebar Hiring salespeople2 pic 300x300