Anyone who has ever been in sales can tell you that it can be a tough grind. Customers today are sharper than ever before and really want to test anyone who is trying to promote a product or service.
My intro to selling
I started in sales via direct sales in 1975. I was recruited to sell and recruit people into a “soap” company. I failed miserably. Only a few relatives and friends would buy anything from me or showed any interest. So I lasted less than a year and washed out of the soap business.
Then about a year later, I heard about another direct sales company that was promoting weight loss and nutritional products. Since I had been in physical culture at that time for 14 years, worked out and was always watching my weight this seemed to be a slam dunk and it was. I did very well with this company despite the fact that my skill set was about the same. What was the difference?
The Business Got into me
The biggest difference was that the business got into me. I was genuinely excited about this opportunity and my excitement lead to generating sales.
When you like what you do, it is no longer work, it is fun. When you turn on the passion, you turn on sales. You can get into business or sales, but nothing will really happen until the business gets into you.
The Phoenix Arises…..
We have all heard of the mythical story of the Phoenix Bird right? In real life it can happen to a degree. Over the years, I have witnessed some incredible success stories of people who started with very humble beginning and then took off like a rocket. It happened to me as well.
Since 1993, I have turned primarily to phone sales aka telesales aka telemarketing. It is the easiest way to reach a lot of people and without running around in a car. And if you find the right company you can make some good money.
Since 2001, I have had some ups and downs going from doing very well to doing extremely poorly. What made the difference? Three factors:
1)Some of the companies I worked for left a lot to be desired.
2) The products of some companies didn’t really excite me.
3) Inside of me I had a deep, burning desire to succeed and was convinced that nothing would hold me back.
Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s I enjoyed significant notoriety as a powerlifter starting in abscurity barely placing in competitions to winning National titles and qualifying for the world championships. I started in powerlifting with no special advantages and many disadvantages. Everyone told me I would never succeed. I put it into my head that I wanted to succeed and I did.
Another factor is that I went to work. I trained for sales as hard as I used to train for those powerlifting contests. In my powerlifting days, I trained 4-5 days a week, every week, for years. In sales, I studied sales training everyday for at least 1 hour a day, studied the company I worked for, learned their products and mastered them. I still do this today. A favorite phrase that I heard over 40 years ago is, “When you are green you grow, when you are ripe you are rotten.” Keep learning. Keep growing. So I still study today, everyday. All professionals do.
Can you imagine a doctor who says, “I don’t need to study anymore. I went to medical school. I’ll figure it out.” Or a lawyer who says, “I finished studying. No more for me.” How quickly would you find another doctor or lawyer?
In October, 2014 I started in a new position with a company called Performance Marketing. When I walked in the door, I saw an immediate match. Great people, beautiful office and to me, great products that I could sink my teeth into. I was immediately promoted to Team Leader. In my first month, I generated over $60,000 in sales. In my second and third months, sales went over $100,000 establishing a company record.
I am not telling you this to impress you but rather to impress upon you that the first rule of being successful in selling is to be excited about the company, the products and the industry you are in. If you are not excited, it will come across in your voice and demeanor and will cost you sales.
I also learned that it is a misconception that a good sales person can sell anything to anybody. No! Con artists do that. A good salesperson uncovers the prospects needs and sells them the right product to meet their needs. He/she matches the product/service to the customers needs and wants.
The good Lord gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason and we should use them in the right order. When I first started, I used to jaber, jaber, jaber overwhelming the prospect with all the reasons why I felt my product or service was the greatest thing in the world. When I finally learned to SHUT UP and listen to the prospect, and I mean really listen not just wait for them to finish so I could talk, I started making sales again.
Maintain an Assumptive Attitude
Selling anything can be frustrating especially in this economy. It is oh so easy to fall down and get frustrated. We hear all the reasons why the customer does not want our products or services:
I like what I am using
I can get it cheaper
Can’t afford it
I have to ask my spouse
Call me back in 6 months
If you have been in sales for even a short time, you have heard all of these and more. This used to beat me down. Not anymore. I learned to go Into every call by saying, “This is going to be a great call.” And even if the call did not end up in a sale, I would say to myself or sometimes out loud (if the company permitted it) GREAT! And most of these so called objections are really just smoke screens.
Now what is so great about missing a sale? My attitude was intact even if I lost the sale and I was ready for the next. The absolute worst thing to do is make a call when you are beat down and frustrated.
Stand Up and walk around while on the phone. Emotion is created by motion!
The first sign of a failing salesperson is the one who crouches in their chair, all slumped over. They are too relaxed. The sign of a winner is one who stands up during the call or better yet, uses a wireless headset. Emotion is created by motion. By moving around and even making hand gestures while walking you engage your physiology and this creates energy which comes across in your voice. End result. You will make a lot more sales
When is the best time to make a sale?
Based on what I just wrote above, this one is easy. The best time to make a sale is right after you have made one. Your energy level is high. Adrenalin is pumping. You are excited. But what do many people do (and I used to do this a lot before I became educated) they walk around the room and get stroked by their friends bragging about the sale they just made and if they are a smoker, they go outside and smoke. Then when they come back, the excitement has settled down quite a bit, they are relaxed, the energy is gone. Bad move.
Affirmations, NLP and Alpha Waves
I touched on affirmations above. They work but only if you believe in them. Aside from taking an assumptive attitude right before the call, I begin affirmations on my way to the office. I say things like.
I’m going to have a great day today
This is going to be my best day ever
While some people may laugh at this, I can tell you it works. But you can’t just mumble the words out loud or in your head. Combine them with emotion and feeling and you will see some results.
Another technique I had been reacquainted with is using NLP-Neuro Linguistic Programming developed by John Grinder and Richard Bandler and popularized by Anthony Robbins. NLP is simply a way to change your behavior and it’s like supercharged affirmations. I use swish patterns to energize me and overcome weaknesses and scramble patterns to eliminate any negative things that may have happened to me and I do these everyday.
Finally, Alpha Waves is getting yourself into a relaxed state, into a twilight sort of condition where you are almost asleep but still awake. This allows you to program your subconscious at the deepest level and effects rapid change. The best time to use alpha waves is first thing in the morning when you wake up and last thing at night before you go to sleep. A 3rd time is after or during lunch.
This article is targeted at phone sales but can be used by any sales person or anyone wanting to improve in any area of endeavor.
Put a mirror on your desk
This evokes laughter from some people, even good salespeople. They will say, “Hey Tony D, what’s the mirror for? You on an ego trip? No the mirror is a reminder to keep smiling and that your attitude and personality are a direct reflection of the expression on your face. If you frown, you will sound like frowning person. If you smile into the mirror, you come across as such. By the way, always keep a smile when you talking to someone.
Speaking of the mirror, practice your script in front of a mirror. Recite your affirmations in front of mirror. It’s hard to explain why this works so well, there is a tie in between actually seeing yourself and hearing the words versus just reading them silently.(CAUTION) Let the people you live with know what you are doing lest they throw a blanket over you and have you hauled off to the luny farm. Practice in your car on your way to work or your way to see the prospect. It works!
In the old days, we used to practice our scripts in front of mirror and read it into a cassette player. Today we have web cams. Another great way to master your presentations.
Never use HAYT on the phone
A common mistake that almost every phone sales person does is open by saying,
“Hello, MR/MRS Jones, How Are You Today?”
That stands for HAYT and is a terrible way to start off. Instant identification that you are a sales person trying to solicit them. You are battling a uphill battle from there on.
The company I work for now uses a vicidial which has a 4 second delay from when the prospect says hello to when you get the call. While everyone else was frustrated over this, I came up with a strategy that worked very well, I simply open by saying,
“Yes, can you hear me ok?”
Then I go into my presentation without saying the time worn,
“HOW ARE YOU TODAY?”
Mentally Rehearse and Warm Up before you talk to a actual prospect
If you ever been in a sport, what do you do before you play? You warmup right? You need to so the same thing in sales, whether it is telesales or face to face sales, rehearse your presentation just before you start. It gets you warmed up and going, sets the right mood. Rehearse rebuttals and pretend you have a very difficult, nasty client. Then when you get face to face or on the phone with a real prospect, you will be warmed up and ready.
These are a few of the things that turned my career around for me. I will only add one more thing in closing and that is be proud of your profession and your company. Like what you do. Don’t put it down when you are away from the bosses office. If you don’t like what you do, find another vocation because this one is NOT FOR YOU!