What is the most difficult aspect of selling?
- Accurately analyzing the growth potential of customers
- Creating an effective territory plan
- Developing an appropriate prospecting message
- Formulating meaningful qualifying questions
- Preparing responses for the inevitable stalls and objections
- Developing an effective plan to meet sales goals
While all of these represent a challenge of one sort or another, the most difficult aspect of selling isn’t included in the list.
After you analyze your market, develop a territory plan, develop and rehearse your prospecting pitch, formulate your qualifying questions, prepare responses to anticipated questions, and set some ambitious goals…you must take action.
And that’s where so many salespeople falter. They fail to take action—to implement their plans in a timely fashion. Some never get their plans off the ground.
The most likely reason is procrastination. Not the overt “I’ll do it tomorrow” type of procrastination, but procrastination in the guise of “fine-tuning” activities—tweaking the plan to get it “just right.” Double-checking territory figures. Rewriting scripts and questions. Recalculating numbers. The more tweaking they do, the more time they buy for themselves before they have to face the real-world challenges the plans address.
Not all “fine-tuning” activities are driven by procrastination. Some people have a need for perfection. They’re not ready to take action until everything is perfect…every contingency has been identified…every twist and turn predicted and appropriate actions planned. They put off implementation until everything is perfect. But it never is. So, the planning continues and the “doing” never begins.
Another reason salespeople put off implementing their selling plans is that planning and preparation are intellectual—“safe”—activities. The results of their efforts are predictable…and they have complete control over the process. But once the planning and preparation is complete and they have to engage and interact with prospects, they no longer have complete control. The process now encompasses an emotional component—the potential for rejection. They put themselves in vulnerable positions where they have to deal with frustration, disappointment, and short-term failures. The process is no longer “safe.”
Selling success is the result of knowing what to do…and doing what you know. It requires action. It doesn’t require having a “perfect” plan, asking “perfect” questions, or giving “perfect” answers. Most often, “good enough” is, in fact, good enough. Putting yourself “in the line of fire” is what counts. Sometimes, things will go as planned; sometimes they won’t. But, as long as you’re in action, you’re in a position to make corrections when needed…and to succeed.
Five Things Salespeople Must Have
While there are several factors that contribute to success in the sales arena, there are five things you must have in order to maximize your potential and the results you achieve.
You must have a system—a process for identifying, qualifying, and developing selling opportunities. Pursuing anyone who expresses a casual interest in your product or service is a poor investment of your time and energy. Even pursuing only those who have a real interest but not the wherewithal to buy it, or the ability to make a decision to buy it, is a poor investment of resources. In order to obtain the greatest return on that investment, you must be able to systematically qualify opportunities quickly using appropriate measurable criteria.
You must have skill—to implement your system. And, the most valuable skill is the ability to communicate: to get your point across—succinctly and meaningfully—using language appropriate to the situation; to ask meaningful questions that keep the conversation focused on topics essential to qualify the opportunity; and, to listen…really listen to not only understand the content of what the other person is saying, but the intent of their words, as well.
You must have belief—in yourself, in your company, and in your product or service. Because you can do no more than what you believe you can do, you must believe in your ability to tackle the job at hand and succeed to whatever level your skill and tenacity will take you. You must believe in your company’s intention to treat its customers fairly and fulfill its obligations to them. And, you must believe in the ability of your product or service to deliver to the customer the results promised.
You must have the desire to improve—even if you are at the top of your game. There’s a saying in the aviation world—A good pilot is always learning. The same concept is true in the sales world—A good salesperson is always learning…to be more efficient and effective: identifying, qualifying, and developing opportunities; representing his or her company; and serving customers.
You must have a 100% commitment—to doing the very best job you can, and to providing the best possible service to your customers, your colleagues, and others who depend on you. Your personal value is not measured by the size of your paycheck, but rather by the quality of service you provide to others. When you are committed to providing the best service you can…all the people you touch benefit.
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