3 Reason’s Everybody Should Work in Sales

I recently read a fascinating article by Chris Myers on Forbes titled “Three Reasons Why Sales People make the Best CEO’s.”  Coming from an actual CEO it had a lot of legitimacy, and I found that it was a really interesting read.  Reading this article inspired me to come up with a very similar post. The argument I am going to make is why I think every professional should be in sales at least once. If you would like to read the article by Chris Myers you can find it here.

Sales has this certain stigma attached to it, that it can’t seem to shake. Sales wasn’t my first choice.  The only reason I ended up in sales is because at the time I didn’t have a lot of professional experience or skills and that was the only thing I could get an interview for. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed sales, and I was even more surprised that I was somewhat good at it.  When I thought of sales I thought of that ever intimidating telephone and getting yelled at all day.  Spoiler alert that isn’t a reality.  Sure sales is hard, but it is also super rewarding.  I for one am thankful that I was backed into sales, I think everybody would be better off if they gave sales a shot.

First and foremost, it teaches you how to deal with failure. This was a huge learning curve for me.  I hadn’t experienced a ton of failure before I got into sales, and therefore I was terrible at handling failure.  Here’s another spoiler alert, in sales you will fail, and fail a lot. At first, I didn’t handle these failures very well.  Being in sales has forced me to not be afraid of failing anymore.  If I fail, so be it, I will learn what I can from the experience and then move on to the next opportunity.

Second, it’s the quickest way to see your hard work pay off. People say they want to see their hard work pay off, well in sales that principle is true.  The idea of getting paid on commission is something that terrified me at first, but I soon learned to love that concept.  In sales, the highest earners are always the hardest workers.  Sure I will give you some people have more of a natural knack for sales than others, but overall, the hardest workers will see the highest paydays. Another great thing to add on to this idea is how immediate the fruits of our labor will pay off. In a traditional workplace, you have certain time benchmarks that it is considered proper to ask for a raise.  I guarantee you that these time periods aren’t near as short as the ones you can create for yourself in sales. You want a raise? Good, prospect for an extra couple of hours this week.  In sales, you have this wonderful opportunity to be proactive and create your own luck.

Third, you will get to learn how to create relationships.  The fun part of sales is that every day you will be creating new relationships, or cementing current ones. I can’t  even begin to go into all the numbers of interesting people with interesting backgrounds I have been able to meet and learn from as a byproduct of this fact. You will also actually become better about relating to people in general. You will learn to listen to people to understand their concerns.  You will learn to read people’s voice and body language.  Skills that will go on to benefit you even in your personal life.

Some people are reluctant to jump into a sales position, I was even reluctant at first.  I am a strong believer that everybody should at least give it a try once in your life.  Even if it doesn’t work out for you, you will undoubtedly become a better person from the experiences you had and the skills you attained.  Thanks for reading.

Reach Prospects Through LinkedIn

I try to categorize all my blog posts into one on the categories on my website. I try to limit the professional things I write about into one of the categories I would consider my strengths.  I will be categorizing this article under “marketing”, but I could have just as easily categorized it under “social media management.”  What I am going to talk about is how to use Linkedin, to make your first call a warm call.

I am a huge fan of eliminating the complete cold call if at all possible.  Now there are times in sales that this just isn’t a possibility.  You will have to eventually pick up the phone and make some cold calls. However, I like to do as much research and prep work on a prospect when possible. This is when Linkedin can be such an important tool.  I’m going to go through a couple strategies we tried in the past that worked out well for us.

First is to ask for an “introduction.”  Surely you have prospects that are connected to a current client.  When I was in the financial industry, I found that this was almost inevitable.  Don’t be afraid to reach out to your current client to ask for an introduction to a prospect.  We did this all the time, especially with some of our longer tenured clients. Type up an email like “Hello ____ I noticed you are close acquaintances with ______.  I really think he/she could benefit from our services.  Would you mind sending them a brief message saying who I am and what I offer? If you feel comfortable with it, this is a template.”

Sometimes they would say no, they didn’t feel comfortable doing that, but we never lost a client because of this.  On the other hand, we were able to win a couple of the new opportunities we were able to create through this opportunity.  Having an introduction by someone they trust, gives you immediate legitimacy on your first call, and makes the call less cold. This was the ultimate no-lose situation for us.

The other strategy we employed sometimes was getting multiple referrals at once.  We would send a message to a client and say something like “I have a list of a couple people that you happen to work with.  I was wondering if I sent you the list, would you be able to tell me who might be able to benefit from our services.”

This was easy because there was next to no work for our customer to do.  They would just spot check the list and send back an email saying “Most of these would probably be a good fit.  I don’t think ___ or ____ would be ideal because….” You can then call these prospects and lay down some jones effect.  Letting the prospect know you work with their colleague and they thought you might be a good fit for our services.

As I mentioned, Linkedin is a powerful tool in turning a cold call into a warm call.  It can be even more effective when you are correctly using your network to your advantage. Thanks for reading.

Some Keys to a Successful Sales Proposal

You have finally made it. After days, weeks, months, maybe even years, you have gotten through to that tough prospect. You have asked about their kids, talked about their favorite sports teams, and have laughed at their bad jokes. Now comes a stressful, time-consuming but exciting stage- The proposal. Sales proposals are an integral part of any sales process.  Here are a few things you might want to keep in mind when building yours.

  1. If your industry allows for it, give them multiple options. Personally, I liked to give three options, this way the client could have some peace of mind knowing they were involved in the decision, but it wasn’t so many options to overwhelm them. I felt like giving them multiple options was always a great way to keep them from shopping around with different companies.
  2. Pay attention to the prospect’s objectives.  Early on, I looked at a sales proposal as a way to advertise all the value I could bring to the prospect. This was slightly misguided. While it is always important to demonstrate value, you shouldn’t be looking to list of the same number of positive attributes you have to each prospect. Focus on what is important to the prospect. Highlight those concerns in your sales proposal. Demonstrate to this prospect how you would address their key problems.  This is something I always liked to address on the first page. 
  3. Keep it somewhat brief. I have seen sales proposals that lasted over 10 pages. Our prospects are busy people, they don’t have time for that. Keep your proposals short and easy, while addressing everything that they need.  The about us, about me, and customer testimonials have their place, but please keep it brief. Don’t waste to much space on trying to create legitimacy as opposed to the information the prospect really cares about. 
  4. Create future action. If you read my first sales proposals, you would see that they ended with the “if you have any questions, feel free to give me a call.”  This was a terrible way to close the sale.   Prospects almost never reached back out to me.  I found I had much better luck sending the proposal telling them I would be in touch to discuss documents. I might say something like “I will give you a call Thursday at 10:00 AM to go over any concerns or questions you might have, in the meantime please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.”  I found this strategy was so much more effective in closing the deal. People would either talk to me on the date and time I outlined, or they would call me back or email a different time to talk.

Effective proposals are a must if you want to stand out from your competition. It will also help you close more business, and win more sales. If you don’t create a good proposal, it runs the risk of ending up in the trash can right after it is read. Thanks for reading.

Customer Service Doesn’t End After the Sale

In my recent blog posts, I have talked quite a bit about my many shortcomings I had especially at first as I first entered sales. Today I thought I would switch it up a bit, and actually mention something that came somewhat natural to me.  For my many downfalls, I did possess professionally, one of my positive attributes was that clients are usually happy with me throughout the process. I like to go out of my way to make sure the customer’s needs are always met, before and after the sale goes through.

In my first marketing job, I led my office in retention very early on. I was actually nationally ranked in this category. For somebody that was still learning a lot about sales and taking my lumps in other areas, this was a little suspicious. Our company tracked retention and even gave out bonuses based on our retention stats, so I was delighted that I was able to find success in this. Before no time, people that were with the company a lot longer than me, people that were rockstar salesmen, were asking to pick my brain over this positive attribute. These inquiries made me actually analyze why I was good at this. These are a couple of the explanations I could come up with.

First of all, my personal sales style isn’t super pushy. I don’t fill up an initial order form to more than customer wants and needs, just to pump up my commission. This means that people will reorder sooner, and in a greater quantity knowing that I am looking out for their best interest. I had multiple customers express some sincere appreciation over the fact that I wasn’t always looking to shove product down their throat they didn’t need. In future orders, if I suggested an additional product, the customer was far more likely to believe me, and trust my advice.

Secondly, I went the extra mile after the initial sale. This was probably the most important key to my high retention rates. If possible I would visit them personally the day after the order arrived, at the very least I would give them a call. I told them that my purpose for the second visit was to make sure everything came in correctly. Most of the time it did and I scored major points. More importantly, if there was an error, I could do everything in my power to try to right the wrong.

Back to the normal results though, when things came out correctly. These visits were always a great way to cement a relationship. The customers are in a good mood, and the conversations were usually tremendously pleasant. This was also a great time to ask them if there was anything that the customer may have forgot to order, or would like to order more of. I can’t tell you how many times this visit would conclude in another hefty order and a big time sale.

I came to the conclusion that the first time you sell a product or a service to somebody, they only give you a shot at a very small portion of the possible business. Can you blame them? Of course not. We should consider ourselves lucky that they are giving us a shot to earn their business. We should look at this sampling as a trial run, and if we do everything right during and after the sale, you will put yourself in a great position to create a long-lasting customer.

I hope you were able to take away something from this post. Most importantly, take care of your customers. Do the right thing, treat them right, and good things will happen. Most importantly I hope you always remember that our work as salesmen isn’t over after the order form has been turned in. Thanks for reading.

How to Handle Sales Rejection (Part 2)

As promised, I will continue our journey throughout the dark world of rejection. I already dedicated one blog post to some of the ways I dealt with rejection when it comes to sales. As I outlined in my previous post, rejection is inevitable. It would be naive to think you will have a perfect close rate, but I also think it is critical to have a good strategy to help you rebound when you fail. I talked already gave you three of my go-to strategies, now let’s dive into a couple more.

Keep the bigger picture in mind. Sales is a grind, sales is tough. If you take it day by day, you might get frustrated, and let your small goals damage your attitude about your job. I have been there before, when I get too focused on the day to day, I forget about the big picture goals, and it makes getting out of the slumps even harder.

Be respectful, and don’t lose touch. When a client rejects you, it is rarely a finality.  Keep this in mind, make sure to stay respectful throughout the entirety of the process. If all else fails, don’t be afraid to say “well keep my information, and let me know if anything changes.”  I also liked to ask if it was ok if checked in, in the future. People usually have a tiny bit of guilt, and as long as you are respectful, and pick a point far enough in the future, prospects are usually inclined to say yes to the request. This combination makes the rejection not as rough and even leaves a window open for a future sale.

Learn, but don’t overanalyze.  I always will encourage you to learn from every situation. I had a mentor that taught me to have a student’s mentality.  What this means is to always be willing to learn new things from situations, no matter what position you are in or what amount of success you have attained.  Keeping this in mind, be careful not to overanalyze these situations. After you have learned something; move on. If you don’t and dwell on the failures, you might find that your attitude will be influenced negatively, and it might be hard to bring it back up.

So this closes out our second article about the topic of dealing with sales rejection.  I am not sure if I will be writing another or not, but these are some of the things I liked to try to keep in mind. Thanks for reading.

How to Handle Sales Rejection (Part 1)

 

I have dedicated several blog posts to marketing techniques.  I have talked about ways to advertise and engage with your audience. This is the fun part of marketing. The reality is, it is also the easy part of marketing. No matter how much content you create, or how seamless your website is, you will eventually have to pick up the phone and start making calls.

There is a reason why a good salesman makes so much money. Sales are hard, it is emotionally draining, and it takes a certain breed to be able to handle that. To face the fear of picking up the phone, dialing a number, and introducing yourself to a stranger, is something that would give most people a crazy amount of anxiety. The reality is, it has to be done. Another reality is, that you will find a lot of failure in sales. There has never been a salesman that made every sale they attempted. You will get rejection, and probably a lot of it.

What I am going to talk about today is something that is a very popular question in the search bar. “How do I deal with sales rejection?” I know that I have googled this before, multiple times. I am pretty confident that it is a question many salesmen deal with. Seeing as this blog post is something that has been addressed a ton on the world wide web, you will probably find answers much better than mine.  As I was creating the outline for this blog post, I quickly realized that this will take more than one blog post to address this subject. I am not sure exactly how many articles I will write on this topic, but I can promise you there will be multiple blogs. These are just some of the things I kept in mind when I was going through slumps.

1.  Don’t take it personally. There are literally hundreds of things that can cause a sale to fall thru. Even things that are out of our control. Maybe that person simply couldn’t have afforded your product or service. Maybe they have had a past bad experience within your industry, and there is no converting them. Maybe their current distributor is a family member. The list goes on and on, but I think you get the point. There are plenty of things that a sale might not go through, and when it happens, don’t take it personally. If you do it will make the rejection hurt so much more, and it will raise your anxiety before your next cold call.  

2.  Get into a routine. This worked for me personally, but I am also a routine-oriented person. If cold-calling is just a part of your responsibilities, try to do it at the same time every day. I personally found that it got me in the zone quicker. I just seemed to be able to get into the correct mentality right off the bat. If I was going to dedicate 3 hours to cold calling I would make sure to start right at 9:30 every day. Again, I am routine oriented, but I would suggest anybody having a hard time making the calls to create a routine, and stick to it. It will seem natural in no time.

3.  Know your sales ratio.  No matter who you are working for, they don’t expect you to have a 100% close rate. They will more than likely have windows, sales targets, etc. I liked to find what percentage my close rate was. Then if I got a “no” I knew that it was that much closer to a “yes”. If I have a ten percent close rate, I know that each rejection makes the next close 10% more likely. Of, course the math I just went through isn’t perfect, but it is important to keep perspective.

These are just a few of things I kept in mind to help me deal with the roller coaster that is sales. Look out for my future blog posts for more of my strategies. Thanks for reading.