Every day, as a sales professional, each of us enters a competitive marketplace to face a variety of challenges to our success. These challenges come in many forms and the thoughts that go through our mind before we enter the marketplace DEFINE our actions and behaviors. Too often, salespeople enter the day’s activities in much the same way that many people enter the workforce; they just show up! The actions in which they involve themselves each day are not a direct result of conscious thought, but rather repetitious activity. They mindlessly go through the motions of making calls, leaving messages, visiting accounts, taking orders, and filling out reports. When the dust all settles from the day, the results are very similar to yesterday, the day before, and the day before that. As Earl Nightingale stated in his award-winning audio The Strangest Secret, “the enemy to success is conformity.” In other words, we simply conform to the natural tendency to simply show up and do our jobs. The first thing it takes to get out of this RUT is to think!!
In a 4-hour leadership session that I delivered recently, one of the attendees asked me a question: “What is it, Gerry that you believe that you sell?” After pondering the question for a moment (thought) I answered that when I am speaking from the stage, I am really selling new ways of looking at things or new ways of thought! Before anyone can or will take different ACTION towards something, they must first think about it in a different way. Otherwise, there would be no motivation for the change in behavior or action! Think about it for a moment. Every bit of information that enters your head comes with it the seeds of new thought and possibly newly directed behavior or action. When you read something that is new to you, you think about that topic differently. When you view a documentary that provides a considerable amount of new information or data about a topic that interests you, your mind goes into a thought process that could potentially make you take action that you previously had not. (At the time of this publication, ex-Vice President of the US, Al Gore has just received the Nobel Peace Prize for his documentary on global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth” which has led millions of people to think about their actions and thus behave differently based upon new thought!)
So, as a sales professional, what is it that you think about each day? Pre-call preparation is an area that an overwhelming amount of salespeople could improve in. Do you want to know the easiest place to get started preparing better for every sales call? It’s in your thoughts. Those of you that have spent any time in my training know that ONE QUESTION can begin this process. That question? “What is the PURPOSE of this call?” By simply starting with that question, it will force you to think about what it is that you wish to accomplish on the sales call that you are about to make. Stephen Covey says that we need to “begin with the end in mind.”
Now, you need to go beyond the typical answer of the sales force: “We want to sell this guy something.” That is the reward for achieving the result that you seek. THINK! THINK! What is it that you need to accomplish? What is it that you need to get the customer thinking about? What is it that needs to occur for the circumstances (no decision to buy) to change in your favor (a decision to buy.) Below, I have listed a few thoughts that you may want to take into consideration before making your next round of sales calls. Turn off the TV (TIVO your favorites) for one week and spend your time with your thoughts. Instead of simply showing up for next week’s sales calls and “spraying and praying,” try giving some thought to the ideas below in advance so that when you open your mouth, every sound brings you closer to your desired outcome. Remember: Talking too much usually follows thinking too little.
Some thoughts to drive new actions, new behaviors, and hopefully new results:
“What is the purpose of this call?”
“What might this prospect/customer be thinking about me/my product today?”
“What are my prospect/customer’s highest value needs or most wanted outcomes?”
“What previous experience has this prospect/customer had with us in the past?”
“Where/who do they buy from now?”
“What is the benefit of ownership my product that they desire most?”
“How much time does this person have to meet with me?”
“Who else is courting this prospect/customer today?”
“How long has it been since my last visit and what have I done since to add-value?”
“What did we talk about last visit and did I take appropriate action on it?”
“What can I bring to the table that the prospect/customer will value?”
“How can I position myself as a resource versus a vendor?”
“How can I communicate my expertise without bragging?”
“How can I get the customer to want to know more about my product/service?”
“How can I create a need where there may not be a perception of one?”
“What do I need to get this prospect/customer talking about?”
“What do I need to know that they haven’t shared with the competition?”
“How can I avoid talking about price until I establish value?”
“How can I position myself as an EXPERT?”
“What stories can I share to communicate value?”
“What names can I drop to add credibility?”
“What does the customer value ahead of price?”
“How does the competition approach the customer and how can I differ?”
“How can I OPEN the conversation in a more impactful way?”
“How am I prepared to address the most common of prospect/customer concerns?”
“What will I say if they DRAG me to price early?”
“What 10 questions do I seek answers to and how do I best ask those questions?”
“How can I ask for the business once I have earned the right to do so?”
“Have I practiced the time condensed visit just in case we run out of time?”
“What information do I need to get from the customer to build a better case of value?”
“What OPTIONS have I prepared for the customer by which to say yes?”
“Have I made it easy to do business with me?”
“Am I thinking from my point of view or the prospect/customer’s point of view?”
Can you imagine having the answers to at least half of these questions before you made each of your sales calls next week? Can you imagine the change in the level of confidence that you would bring to the market? Can you imagine the change in your level of credibility? Better yet, can you imagine the stronger you will be and the better experience that your prospect/customer will have because of it? All this takes initially is thought! Turn off the TV and turn on your brain! Start developing a HABIT of running scenarios and thoughts through your head before showing up? Start THINKING like a customer and you will start increasing your effectiveness in the conversations with them. Dialogues will start becoming more meaningful and less about price. They will begin asking advice of you because they will start becoming more aware of the fact that they are in the presence of a professional.
Always remember that a man is not rewarded for having brains, he is rewarded for USING them. Understand and remember that thoughts lead to action! Thinks better, act better, produce better, and earn better!
Or………you could make more cold calls!