If you spend enough time talking to people who are not sales professionals about the profession, then you've heard that a great sales person is born and not made. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The people who know little about sales have the stereotypical image of a car salesman stuck in their heads—and that's a limited view into the trade.
Sales is a methodical and engaging profession that takes years to perfect. It can be the most lucrative job available, if it's done properly. Every successful sales professional starts off their career knowing little about the selling process. It is a skill that is developed over time and through hard work.
Whether you are considering a career in sales, or you are currently in sales and want to understand how to make more revenue, you should know that anyone with the right kind of mindset can be a successful sales professional.
Can You See a Compromise in Every Situation?
The first thing a good sales professional learns is that everybody wants something. The reason that there are two sides to every argument is because no argument ever begins with the notion of compromise. If compromise was an initial part of the process, then there would be no argument at all. There would only be negotiation.
The problem with compromise is that, in order for it to exist, each side has to give up something with a perceived value. People who are stubborn are not interested in giving up anything when they get into an argument. The trick is to get a stubborn person to give something up without realizing they have done so. The other side of that is to make it appear as though you have made a sacrifice, when you have not.
Sales is all about compromise. There is an emotional element to sales and several other states of mind go through to close a deal, but the biggest hurdle is the compromise. No sales agreement is ever reached without compromise. Either the customer agrees to give up their money in return for your offering, or you agree to accept the amount the customer has offered to pay. But it is a compromise.
After you have been involved in sales long enough, you will start to see compromise in every situation. Your strength as a sales associate is that you can make it appear that you are sacrificing something when, in reality, you are not. For example, a customer may say that they are not going to buy that car from you unless you throw in the upgraded sound system package for free. The minimal charge on the sound system upgrade is something that you have been given the authority to waive by your manager in order to close deals. You waive the fee and create a happy, paying customer. But your compromise actually required little to no sacrifice on your part.
The idea of compromising without actually having to sacrifice anything is what both sides of the negotiation are looking to do. The customer is trying to get something out of you for free, and you are trying to close the most lucrative sale possible. But an experienced sales professional always knows how to make a compromise appear to swing to the favor of the customer, regardless of the reality.
As you train as a sales expert, you'll learn to position your compromises. Sometimes you may have to sacrifice $10 to make $100. But as you gain more experience in the art of compromise, you'll learn to skillfully make your customer happy by appearing to sacrifice something, when you have actually sacrificed little.
Understanding the Customer’s Point of View
Another reason that some arguments seem to go on forever is because neither side is able to see the other’s point of view. In the mind of a sales professional, there are always two sides to every story. Don't remain stuck on your own point of view. Instead, a successful sales expert works hard to understand the customer’s side of the discussion as well.
Listen to what a customer has to say and pick out the key words and phrases that indicate the customer’s true position in the negotiation. When you can verbalize that position back to your customer in an accurate and understanding manner, then that diminishes your customer’s anger and brings the negotiation down to a level where it can be maintained and guided to a closed sale. On the other hand, misinterpreting a customer’s point of view can cause you to lose the deal.
Sales professionals learn how to listen closely to what a customer is saying and then accurately determine the customer’s point of view. You can more easily sell a product or service to a client that you understand.
Success Is the Only Goal
If there is one stereotype that does apply to sales professionals, it is the undying drive to succeed. But the experienced sales expert knows that greed for more income is not a true desire to succeed. Greed will only take you so far, and being motivated only by greed will actually cause your career to go into a tailspin.
The desire to succeed is driven by an understanding that taking care of your customer, Also by becoming a more accomplished sales professional. Focusing on these two parts will lead to the financial goals you have set for yourself.
Too many failed sales associates set daily, weekly, or monthly revenue goals for themselves and focus solely on achieving those numbers. The real focus should be on establishing good habits that allow you to exceed in all of your financial goals.
For example, focus more on enhancing your product knowledge and learning how to sell your product to customers more effectively, as opposed to hoping that you find the next sale before the end of the day. If you work on your fundamentals and take the steps to become a complete sales associate, then you will find success.
The fundamentals for a sales professional are:
- Maintaining an updated knowledge base on all the products and services you sell.
- Studying customer responses to sales pitches and working on ways to overcome popular objections.
- Constantly improving and working on the elevator pitch.
- Developing new ways to find customer leads.
- Creating methods to present information on your offering in ways that clients can appreciate and understand.
There are numerous processes that go into each of these fundamentals, but the mind of a great sales professional hungers for more information on each of these.
The late, great sales guru Zig Ziglar once said that “Some of us learn from other people’s mistakes, and the rest of us have to be other people.” A sales professional looks at a situation and sees opportunity where others do not. The mind of a sales expert searches until it either finds opportunity, or can dismiss the situation with confidence.
Sometimes finding an opportunity means expanding your horizons and widening your focus. It can be something as simple as a bartender getting a drink order for a popular brand of beer during a busy night and then, after serving the initial customer, the bartender shouts out "who else wants one of these beers?" Instead of just focusing on the one customer, the bartender looked out at the entire bar and saw hundreds of opportunities to make more sales and more tips. The bartender did not wait for opportunity to walk up to the bar and place an order. That bartender went out and grabbed an opportunity.
Opportunity can also be right in front of you. For example, you have been selling new computers to a customer with locations all over the country for years. Every time your customer opens a new location, they order new computer hardware for the main office to add support personnel for those locations. Well, what about those locations? Have you ever asked where those locations buy their hardware from? How about a on-site service contract that covers every location in the country? Have you ever asked about consolidating all of the computer hardware, service, and software needs for that entire company under a single contract with your company, or are you only focused on the headquarters?
It can take time for a sales professional to see potential in difficult situations. You need to learn to think laterally, identify connections, and ask probing questions.
Train Your Mind to Succeed
If you want to enjoy a fulfilling and lucrative career as a sales expert, you need to train your mind to seek out opportunity. The more you cultivate this ability, the further along the path of a successful sales professional you'll have traveled.