Have you ever wondered why some people are just more successful than others? Have you ever seen someone who can go from one field to another, yet achieve tremendous success. One of the common factors seen in most successful people is their ability to sell. Not just to sell products, mind you, but also to sell themselves and their ideas wherever they go. Because they have the ability to do this, they easily find themselves in positions that other people are left aspiring to one day achieve.
Acquiring and developing selling skills is one of the most important investments a person can ever make. Selling is a life skill that, once developed, can help an individual attain their goals, reach their aspirations, and achieve success. Acquiring selling skills is learnable.
No one person started out as a professional. At one point, all sales professionals started at the bottom as rookies. If you’re a professional who really wants to excel in your field, regardless of what it is, then keep on reading. My goal is to give you a jump-start and to show you what it looks like to be a sales superstar.
FACTOR 1: RECEIVE FORMAL SALES TRAINING
Getting a focused education and the proper training is a key success factor that sales superstars do right every single time. Why is it important for an individual to receive the “formal” knowledge in addition to the “street” experience?
Well, the answer to that comes down to something called the Confidence-Competence Cycle. The theory behind the Confidence-Competence Cycle states that the more you educate yourself about a focused topic and gain real-world experience, the more your confidence and competence will increase.
Really, all of this boils down to your learning cycle. There’s certainly nothing worse than ignorance. Whether you’re a start-up small business owner, brand-new to the field, or someone who has spent a few years as a business professional, neglecting to receive formal training is really a rookie move.
A sales expert thrives because they understand that in order to sharpen their skills, it is imperative that they invest in an ongoing education and that they read books in focused subjects as a part of their continual personal development. Sales superstars always stay focused on sharpening their skills.
FACTOR 2: DEVELOP YOURSELF AS AN EXPERT IN YOUR FIELD
Professionals don’t just act as if they’re experts—they are experts. Customers will quickly sense if you’re comfortable in your field or are a beginner. So, to become an expert, you have to become excellent at what you do; but in order to be excellent, you have to practice.
It is essential that you master the fundamentals of whatever it is that you’re doing. That way it becomes second nature to you, and you can be totally confident when you’re engaging with your clients and prospects. To become an expert, you need to discover your passion. It’s exponentially easier to become an expert when you’re passionate about:
- What you’re doing
- The company that you’re working for
- The products and services that your company offers.
When these stars align, you’ve found your passion, and you can use that passion as fuel towards becoming an expert in your field. Educate yourself on the value that your company has to offer to your clients, as well as the possible problems that you may have to solve for your clients.
At my information technology company IT Tech Pros, Inc., we’re in the field of technology; however, at the end of the day we really hope to give our clients a peaceful state of mind. Because of these services that IT Tech Pros provides, we’ve been able to earn our client’s confidence and trust. With our expertise, our valued clients don’t have to worry about anything when it comes to the field of technology.
Sales superstars are on top of their industry; they’re always looking ahead and monitoring trends. They aren’t just looking at immediate goals for their company, either— they’re mastering the short and long-term goals for their clients. Furthermore, sales superstars know about their competitors. They know the competing products and services that are out there, how they’re sold, whom they’re sold to, and what the potential gaps that they can identify and potentially fill.
FACTOR 3: KNOW THE SALES PROCESS
To become a sales superstar, it’s imperative that you dedicate a great deal of your time and energy to studying the sales process. Here are four major areas of the sales process:
Understanding and learning the sales process. If you go out of order at any point in time in the sales process, you’ve killed the sale and lost your opportunity. Take this analogy for example: the sales process is like courting someone new; you wouldn’t want to propose marriage on the first date. Get to know your prospects first, build rapport with them, and understand their needs, before you sell them anything.
Make effective and persuasive presentations. The most important factor in determining how much and how quickly you sell is based upon how effective your presentation is. This determines whether or not your customer will buy from you, how quickly they’ll buy, how they’ll negotiate, and how likely he or she will be to recommend you to friends and colleagues. If your presentation isn’t on point, that’s inevitably going to take away from your ability to make your sale.
Overcome objections. There are many different types of objections, the most common are:
- I need to think about it…
- I need to talk about it with my partner/spouse...
- It’s too expensive…
Rather than think of the possible negative outcomes, think of the advantages. Oftentimes, beginners will meet with their prospects unprepared, not learn how to overcome common objections, and eliminate any sense of urgency from their closing pitch. Learn to instill confidence and determination in all of your presentations. Unfortunately, if you fail to overcome these oppositions, you will not make the sale.
Closing your sale. Sales superstars plan their closes in advance. They are excellent at bringing their sales conversation to a close. The key is to practice your close! Learning how to close a sale is a skill that you can master once you are confident that you’ve got the other 4 major areas in sales down.
FACTOR 4: BECOME AN EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATOR
I recently watched a Season of Food Network Star. On this show, it’s quite obvious that some of the contestants stand out as great performers while others are clearly great chefs. In my observations, the contestants who produced average food but effectively communicated their passion, point of view, and concepts practically outshined the chefs that produced extraordinary food.
Even if you have the best-selling products out in the market, you won’t experience success if you’re unable to convey your ideas to your audience. We want to provide excellent service. Even with a mediocre product, it is possible to find success if you’re able to effectively communicate and win your audience over.
Sales superstars are competent communicators, both verbally and in writing. If you need help becoming a more effective communicator, here are tips to get you moving in the right directions:
Enroll in a public speaking course. Almost every community college in the country offers a basic public speaking course or join Toastmasters. Seek out a course in your community and you’ll be building your verbal communication skills in no time.
Practice writing by starting a blog. Make it a habit to write 1-2 blog posts a month until you feel that you’ve really honed your writing skills. Overtime, it will become easier, and you will be able to craft written sales letters to your prospects.
Look in to technical assistance/training programs for small business owners. These programs are available locally, and they can help you to create your 30-and-60-second elevator pitches. I recommend looking at workshops through SCORE, a support organization for entrepreneurs and small business owners nationwide. You can find more information on their course offerings at www.SCORE.org.
Request feedback. Receiving thorough feedback on how you’re communicating is critical. It will help you fine-tune your message until you’re 100% on point every time you’re delivering it. The more often you practice communicating, the more confident you’ll become.
FACTOR 5: HAVE A CEO MENTALITY
If you’re a sales associate or business development professional who works for a large corporation, your level of investment into your company will dictate the level of success that you reach. Even when I worked for a large corporation, I ran my position as if it was my own individual business. Every day, I wrote down my revenue goals. I made sure that all of my activities were in line and that they supported these goals.
As a result, I was able to deliver great service. I was able to set a standard where all of the customers that I interacted with knew that they were going to receive excellent service. Your time is valuable, so focus on scheduling your activities to give you the highest rate of impact in exchange for your time.
The best way for a sales professional or small business owner to find out what they’re spending their on a daily basis is to start taking notice on what your focusing on. Throughout the day/week, keep track of what you’re doing on paper. Periodically, try asking yourself, “What activity am I spending my time on?” “Is this activity really helping me meet my sales objectives, or is this activity just a waste of my time?” Jotting your activities down and looking at a comprehensive overview of your week can be extremely insightful. You may realize that you’re wasting 90% of your time avoiding high-impact, revenue generating activities.
When people create to-do lists, they often brag about having 50-60 things to do on their calendar. In reality, a vast majority of those tasks are usually time wasters with little or no real value attached. Steve Jobs put this concept beautifully when he said that he only worked on about 3 high-impact activities on any given day. For each activity, he would ask himself, “Is this activity going to make me the most money for today?”
As for me, I ask myself this question often, “Is what I am putting my focus on right now, creating the highest level of impact for my business?” When you look at what you do on a daily basis from that perspective, you can’t help but be directed to perform the most impact activities on any given day.
Unsuccessful sales people always look for things to do other than selling. They make excuses to justify why they need to focus on non-essential and non-sales activities. This type of thinking is the number one contributing factor to a business’s failure. A sales superstar will have their day mapped out, determined to invest their time in what they believe will be most beneficial to them and their company.
FACTOR 6: BECOME AN EXPERT LISTENER
If you’ve never heard of the 80/20 Rule, it should be of your best interest to learn and apply this concept. This notion states that 20% of your efforts account for 80% of your results. The 80/20 Rule is one of the most useful principles to have in your arsenal when it comes to a wide variety of tasks, including interacting with clients as well as potential ones so that you may perform your selling and operational activities on a daily basis.
With this rule, I encourage that you really listen and understand your clients within your sales process. When talking to a client or a potential client, they should do 80% of the talking. You should spend the remaining 20% of the time asking focused questions and providing your expert analysis or feedback to your clients.
There are dual benefits to focusing on listening. First, allowing your client to do the majority of the talking will make them feel irrevocably involved. On top of that, spending most of your time listening will allow you to formulate solutions tailored to their unique lifestyle and preferences.
Note that sales superstars also observe, take notes, and create possible solutions for their clients before they ask. When beginners talk to clients, they often tend to ramble, selling relentlessly from the very beginning of their pitch. While engaging in rapid conversation may seem valuable, in actuality they are killing the opportunity before they even gave themselves a real chance. Experts listen more and talk less.
When you listen to your clients effectively, it helps you identify client needs in a concise and effective manner. Sales Superstars prepare and plan ahead of time. They put together a client questionnaire, a needs analysis, a worksheet or some other mechanism that allows them to ask their prospective clients the key, high-impact questions to help figure out what’s most important to the client.
Selling is a science as well as an art. Sales superstars have a learnable set of skills that allow them to establish a higher level of rapport. They achieve trust by working with their client towards a common goal, but that simply wouldn’t be possible if they hadn’t listened and identified the needs of their clients. Always remember the 80/20 rule when meeting with your clients.
FACTOR 7: BE MOTIVATED AND EMBODY SUCCESS
When you’re successful, you develop your own inner drive, and you are able to become self-motivated towards excellence. If you want to be physically fit, you engage in exercise every day. If you want to improve your mental fitness, you engage in certain mental exercises each day as well.
Here’s the secret; the reason why most people never achieve the “expert” status is because they simply never commit to becoming an expert in their field. Your attitude determines your altitude more than your aptitude. You have to master the points that are identified in this article; they’ll help get you to the point where you’re performing at your best all day, everyday.
Excellence isn’t an accident. You have to make the conscious decision that you’re going to become excellent in your field. If you want to get better in selling and achieve sales superstar status, you have to commit to continuing your education.
Constantly reflect on your strengths and weaknesses and ask yourself, “What one skill could I develop or improve that would make the most increase in my knowledge, skill set, and income? Develop a plan, and achieve that goal. Write down your plan, commit to it, and take steps toward achieving it every single day. You’ll find that the more work you put into achieving your goals, the more you’ll be motivated to continue working.
For sales superstars, this is true not only for individual goals, but for all of the successes that they achieve. To embody success, you also need to associate yourself with like-minded, successful people. Zig Ziglar had the saying, “You can’t fly with the eagles if you continue to scratch with the turkeys.” To be a sales expert, you need to be in a network of other experts.
Those who embody success also believe in themselves. Do your best to have a positive mental attitude and a sense of control over your self-talk. This will not only help you to improve yourself from a knowledge standpoint, but it will also help you when it comes to your mind, heart, soul and body.
About Kathy David:
Kathy David is an award-winning business owner, and is the President & CEO of IT TechPros, Inc. Since 2006, IT TechPros has delivered complete managed I.T., cybersecurity. and I.T. consulting services around a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, utilities, transportation, educational, legal, commercial construction, financial institutions, along with a variety of other industries.
Kathy David is a contributing writer for Huffington Post and she writes about business, entrepreneurship, technology, and leadership.