I have been selling since I was ten years old – selling newspaper subscriptions door-to-door to expand my paper route. Since then I have sold all kinds of products and services and I have sold in twenty-eight countries. I have carried a bag, driven hundreds of thousands of miles, and flown millions. I have slept in beds so hard they made the floor feel soft. I have stayed in hotels with parties in the hallways, hookers in the lobby and ice-cold showers.
I have also traveled first class and stayed in the best hotels in the world – sometimes selling has perks!
I have cold-called chief executives of public companies and have had days when I have made one hundred and forty telephone cold calls. I have pitched secretaries, Senior VPs, Retail buyers at Wal-Mart and Mom & Pop corner shops!
I have sold millions of Pounds of products and services.
In other words, I have sold and know selling. Most sales trainers are trainers not salespeople – even some of the most famous have never actually sold for a living. Does it matter? Well, yes and no! In order to help someone get marginally better in selling all you need to do is to repeat the same sales techniques that have been repeated year after year. Trainers are great at presenting! If however, you want to help someone get out of a serious sales slump or to dramatically increase sales performance then it does make a difference.
Understanding what is going on in the head of a salesperson is key to making that special difference.
What is the biggest sales success secret?
The biggest sales secret is not a technique or a trick it is the understanding that there sometimes exists an invisible wall that holds some salespeople back from reaching quotas or from being their very best. It is fear.
Fear? Fear of failure, fear of success or fear of embarrassment is what holds salespeople back! The why is complicated and could be one of a million issues buried deep in the mind. The reason for the fear is not as important as understanding that it is fear that is holding us back and then how to get past the fear.
Sales skills can be taught but that is not the problem in most cases – the problem is fear. Fears are not rational and so skills training is not the answer. The answer is to help the salesperson get past the fear and onto selling again.
If the salesperson you employ cannot or will not do what is needed to reach the goals set then all the training or harassment in the world will not make a difference.
What is needed? Mentoring and support are required and perhaps even some real hand holding until the fear is eliminated. This fear is no different then the fear of flying or the fear of public speaking and the answer is a supportive, encouraging action-based program will move the salesperson past the problem. More pressure will rarely help!
If you are self-employed then get some mentoring from a real professional salesperson that can hold your hand until you eliminate the fear. Realise that the fear, like the fear of flying, is not rational and it is holding you back. Don’t worry why the fear started just understand that it is not based on any real threat and that with practice the fear will disappear.
At one time in my sales career I traveled 43 weeks a year. Every week a flight to another city. At one point a developed a fear of take-offs and landings. I did not know why but one day is fear arrived – there had been no problems on any flights – just a fear. I realised this didn’t make sense and just practiced relaxing until I became so relaxed that ow I usually sleep during take offs and landings.
A similar thing happened with sales calls. When I switched from selling products to selling my own services I had a great deal of apprehension when presenting which evolved into a kind of fear. The fear kept me from making the calls that would grow my business. I did everything I could to avoid sales calls putting energy into marketing so that people would call me instead. Once I realised that this was actually an irrational fear (the same as the flight take-offs) I was able to quickly face it and move on.
If your sales team is not performing then look at the environment to be certain it is supportive (supportive does not mean easy).
When you understand the base issues with poor sales performance then you can manage the issues and build quality – either in your team or yourself.