Good grief! Can we all agree that this has been a mess of a year? I could list some of the craziness we have seen the past several months, but what's the use. You lived it! I lived it! I am tired of talking about it. So, let me change the subject...
I have spent the past 25 years in the sales profession. I thought I had seen it all. Clearly, there is always more to see and learn, albeit, sometimes the hard way. Salespeople across the country, in most categories, have felt the pain of lockdowns, phase re openings(and closings) and the constant struggle to earn the time of our clients. While the struggle is definitely real, experience has shown that it is possible to sell successfully in a downturn, or uh, pandemic. Here are five tips for more success in sales-
1. Control Your Activity...In a world where it seems we have less control over more things, it is more important than ever to control the things we can control. Salespeople have control over their activity. Successful salespeople understand that it takes a certain number of contacts to secure a certain number of appointments that ultimately gives them more opportunities to ask for the business. Also, understanding the reality of sales supports that more people will say "no" than "yes", making it vital to drive activity.
Robust economic times allow salespeople to "get by" with marginal activity and remain reasonably successful. However, a downturn in the economy, and certainly in a pandemic, a lack of activity is a sure fire path to dwindling commission checks. Controlling your activity drives your likelihood of success!
2. Focus on Your Preparation and Your Presentation...Again, a record stock market and surging economy allows for sellers to be average in both these categories. Today, one must be prepared daily. Clients do not have time for salespeople who are still "winging it". There are too many people and too many things pulling at their time. You must be prepared, and you MUST present yourself professionally. How you present yourself matters! How you present your product or service matters too!
3. Focus Your Clients on the Future...Abraham Lincoln said "The best way to predict the future is to create it". It is easy to spend too much time with a client talking about the difficulties of the present. Work to steer the conversation to the future. Spend more time talking about what can and will be and less on the current things that seem out of our control. The path to doing business leads through hope and desire to make things better. In talking more about the results the clients needs in the future, the more likely you get the opportunity to help now.
4. Take Responsibility for Your Own Mental Health...There is absolutely nothing more important to each person than taking responsibility for their own mental health. Without debate we are living in challenging times. While our country has experienced this before, none of us have lived through a worldwide pandemic. It will beat you down and steal your joy. Therefore, it is critical that you do everything possible, every single day, to create positive energy in your life. Strong mental health is what allows you to deliver for all the people in your life that defend on you. I am talking about your family, your friends, your coworkers...and yes, your clients. Find those things that restore you! Find those things that fill you up! The only way you can take care of everyone else is if you take care of yourself!
5. Let Your Gratitude Shine...Gratitude is the thing that helps us focus on what we have instead of what we do not. In sales, gratitude(or lack thereof) is one of the things that separates good relationships from great ones. Too many salespeople(and people in general) are self consumed. They only focus on their own needs. They rarely say "Thank You"! Salespeople who show appreciation to their clients do more business...Period! In strong economic times, it is encouraged to let your clients know you appreciate them. In a freakin' worldwide pandemic, there is nothing more important. Be grateful! Let people know you are thankful for their business. Focus on the business you have the opportunity to grow and stop dwelling on what you lost. Gratitude is the ingredient that makes everything else possible.
In closing, sales is hard and even harder to do it in a pandemic. However, it is important to know that their are salespeople across the country thriving. Experience has shown that those sellers with the deepest relationships always weather difficult times the best. If you have those relationships, take advantage of the opportunity that adversity presents. If you are early in your career and struggling to create depth in your relationships, the five tips above can be the foundation to build your business. Author Karen Lamb said it best, "A year from now you will be glad you started today".
I'm rooting for you all! Keep charging! Swagger On ya'll!
Written by Derron Steenbergen, President of the Swagger Institute.
The Swagger Institute is a business consulting company specializing in sales and leadership training, motivational speaking, customer service training and organizational development.