Reading time ( words)
It’s a fact: You have to get the basics right. Look, there is nothing wrong with using sales tools and techniques. There is nothing wrong with using that exciting customer relationship management (CRM) package. There is nothing wrong with trying a new approach to selling. No, not at all.
All of these things are good and sometimes even great. But they should never be used as a substitute for the plain old “meat and potatoes” of basic selling. It all still boils down to finding someone who needs your kind of product and convincing him to buy yours. That is all it gets down to.
You can talk all you want about the fact that new technology is making it harder for salespeople to get appointments. You can lament how potential customers don’t want to talk to you anymore, and how your competitors from California to Maine to China all have unfair advantages over you. You can keep complaining about how your rivals all have better technology, better service, and better prices, and selling is just so much harder today. Yeah, talk about all of these things all you want, but I can tell you right now that these are really only excuses and that selling is really no more difficult today than it was 20 years ago, or 60 years ago, for that matter.
In fact, a case can be made that things are easier today. The good ol’ days weren’t really that good, if you think about it. Life was a lot harder without computers, smartphones, and the ability to take a jet airliner around the country!
But for salespeople in 2015 or 1940, sales always boils down to you, the salesperson. It is your job as a salesperson to find a way, just as great salespeople always have done, and always will do.
Ask yourself this: When you get together at your favorite watering hole with your fellow salespeople, do you all hold one big pity party dancing in tune to the beat of a myriad of excuses for why your numbers are down? Do you and your colleagues find yourself saying things like this?
- You just can’t get anyone on the phone anymore.
- All the business has gone to China.
- All the customers care about is price.
- If you are not at the top end of technology, you can’t sell.
- Unless you are from Texas, you can’t sell to Texans. Or New England…fill in the blanks.
- If we had that new CRM tool, we could really start doing some selling.
- There is no face-to-face selling anymore; everyone buys online.
In my role as a sales consultant, I hear these comments all the time. I heard them 20 years ago when we started this company, and I hear them today, as recently as one hour ago, in fact.
Look, there will always be reasons why you can’t sell. That’s just the way it goes, but our job as salespeople is to find a way. I cannot give you a simple, black-and-white answer for exactly what you should be doing in all sales situations. All I can do is talk about the basics of sales, which simply means getting someone to buy something from you in any way possible.
With some people, it works well to simply meet with them and offer them a great product at a good price. With others, it means a little more wining and dining, and with others it will be a very long, hard row, but it these are truly worth it. If you truly want them as a customer, you will find a way.
And it’s finding a way that, in the end, separates a great salesperson from a good one. In the end it is all about creativity. And even creativity takes a lot of hard work because you are not just born creative. You have to work at it. Ideas don’t just pop into your head; they are put there when you are a student of your craft. Yes, successful selling is a craft.
You should be doing everything you can to get better at your craft, everything from reading sales books to going to seminars to watching videos to studying the sales techniques of other sales professionals. Study car salesmen, funeral directors, and the guy selling knives at the state fair. You should be reading biographies of famous successful salespeople, like Zig Ziglar, Ross Perot, and Tony Robbins. To be a truly successful salesperson, you have to be a full-time student of the art of selling. You should get up every day, look in the mirror and ask yourself: How am I going to be a better salesperson today?
And please skip the pity parties; they do nothing except make you feel better about your failures. You may remember that great movie “Glengarry, Glen Ross.” All of the salespeople would go across the street to the Chinese restaurant and hold a pity party because Mitch and Murray wouldn’t let them have the good leads.
But remember Al Pacino’s character Ricky Roma? He was as cool as a cucumber, driving around in that grand-prize Cadillac. He was making the sales, and he was doing it with all the coolness that only Al Pacino can display. While the others talked about the impossibility of selling land in Florida, Ricky was doing it with no complaints. While his fellow salespeople were wallowing in their failure, he stayed a bit above it all. He used the same leads to sell the same products under the same conditions as those other guys, but he made it work in his own creative way.
We all know people like Ricky, don’t we? Those are the ones who make it work, no matter the conditions. They always find a way. So, in the end, it’s up to you. You can continue to list all of the reasons why you are not making your numbers, or you can get creative, passionate, even get creatively passionate about sales and dedicate your career to becoming the Ricky Roma of your company. It’s only common sense.