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.

Listen to your Self-talk

Listening to your self-talk is way more important to listening to yourself talk. Everyone knows that listening is an important skill in sales. But have you ever listened to what you say to yourself? You say things like “I can’t ask that question because it might upset the prospect”. Or you might hear yourself say “our prices are high. I better sharpen my pencil”; or, “this is a big deal. I better not ask any tough questions. I don’t want to rock the boat”. Sometimes these are only faint ideas in the back of your head so you have to listen very carefully. More importantly, it pays to ask yourself questions at the end of each call. This is called debriefing yourself. Ask ‘why did I say that” or “why didn’t I say that”. There are many other questions (just think of what your sales manager might ask and you will come up with plenty). Asking those questions will force you to come up with a reason. The reason you give yourself is almost always a self-limiting belief. The first step to overcoming a self-limiting belief is understanding what they are. So listen carefully to your self-talk. It helps you grow as a salesperson and it is more productive than listening to yourself talk.

OSP sidebar Hiring salespeople2 pic 300x300

Don’t forget the Fundamentals

Complacency happens when you think you have “finally gotten it”. You relax. You stop paying attention to what got you there. And that is when the fundamentals of being the Optimal Salesperson which you worked so hard on go out the window. Next thing you know you are trying to work your way out of a slump and wondering how you got there. Everyone has been there and it is so easy to avoid. Just pay constant (read that as daily) attention to the fundamentals of selling. Sure, week by week you can add a little something here and there. Work on a belief system that is getting in your way for a month. Practice a new questioning technique for a week. It never hurts to continually hone your skills. But don’t ignore the basics. Mastery of anything comes from constant repetition of the basics. It’s true that pro golfers can do things with the ball mere mortals can only dream of. But that doesn’t mean they can forget about taking the proper stance over the ball, grip firmly and follow through appropriately. Musicians make their instruments “sing” but they still need to pay attention to how to play the basic notes. To become a true master, you have to continually work on the fundamentals. And make sure that you execute them every time. the only way to do that is to critically review each sales call against your sales process and evaluate whether you could have done better on some parts of the call. It doesn’t have to take long, 5 minutes at the end of a call is all it takes.

OSP sidebar Hiring salespeople2 pic 300x300

Growth lies just outside your comfort zone

Getting outside your comfort zone is scary. Inside your comfort zone you feel confident, knowledgeable and above all safe. But outside your comfort zone who knows what will happen! “They could reject me if I push too hard”. “They could get mad at me if I call too often”. “I could blow the whole deal with that question”. If you have ever had any of these thoughts or similar ones, then you know that you have bumped up against the walls of your comfort zone. The most common reaction is to retreat well within the confines of the very safe comfort zone. But growth demands that we break through those walls. The interesting thing is that whatever we are afraid of happening when we go to the other side of the comfort zone … usually never happens. What is even more astounding is that life outside of your comfort zone can be much easier. If I am afraid to ask tough questions for fear of what will happen, I most probably will end up working harder with less qualified prospects with far less results. Once I get comfortable with asking better questions, they seem far less risky. Therefore, I ask them regularly and get better and richer information. I disqualify many prospects quicker and increase my chances of success with the ones I do pursue. I therefore spend less time making more money. Who doesn’t love that? But it all starts with asking what seems to be a tough question and breaking out of your comfort zone. Once you realize that life is easier outside the walls of your current comfort zone, you will have the motivation to take the risk and ask those questions or do other sales-related things that scare you today.

OSP sidebar Hiring salespeople2 pic 300x300

Where to find value

The value of your product or service varies from customer to customer. Some like the variety you provide. Some buy because of the convenience. And some people become customers for reasons you and your marketing consultant didn’t foresee in your market planning sessions. The fact is that value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, or in this case, the prospect or customer. So when you are trying to sell value instead of being the low price, don’t look inward at the product or service you are providing. Look outward at the prospect. Your service will only have value if it solves a pain that the prospect cares enough about to spend money to fix. The fact that you have 30 years’ experience in the business may mean nothing to the prospect if she is looking for new, fresh ideas that have not been tried before.

OSP sidebar Hiring salespeople2 pic 300x300

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