Many people who sell are reluctant to admit that their profession is a profession. The old, unfortunate image of the salesperson as a mere charmer, someone whose only skill is knowing how to talk, still commands a good deal of credence even among sales professionals themselves. Think of the phrases that come to mind when you think of selling. A good salesperson is born, not made. Selling is 90 per cent luck. A real salesperson can sell ice to Eskimos. Underlying all these adages is the view that it’s personality not understanding; temperament, not training, not skill, that make top sales representatives what they are. For many people in the sales field it is the old gift of the gab to which we attribute all the success.
Even if this view was accurate in former days (which is doubtful), it has no bearing on the world of constant change. Selling no less than teaching or medicine or law is a professional calling, and those who prosper in it are those with a handle on their own professional methods. They’re the people who have developed a conscious, planned system of selling steps that are visible, logical and repeatable. The person who makes our Strategic Selling process work never sees success in terms of magic or charisma or luck. No one who makes it big in the complex sales of the coming century will be able to rely on that old mythology. Tomorrow’s top salespeople will succeed because they think, act and most importantly consider themselves to be professionals.
One of the things these professionals will have in common is a special brand of persistence. We’re not talking about the timeworn that keeps knocking on the door until it opens kind of persistence. That’s certainly important as you can see from a recent survey done by a national association of sales executives: It concluded that 80 per cent of the new sales are made by 10 per cent of the sales representatives and that they close those sales only after making five or more calls on the client. But our research shows that another kind of persistence is equally important: the kind that top people show in working on their own selling methods.
If you want to predict the next sales representative of the year, the next star regional manager, the next no. 1 national account executive find out which salespeople are analysing their own methodology which ones are constantly reassessing sales strategy and tactics and which ones are looking for reliable, repeatable methods to improve their competitive edge. An attention to inner process as well as to external change is fundamental to today’s (and tomorrow’s) sales leaders.
In addition to getting to grips with their sales processes and understanding why process is important all strategies, professionals share one other profile characteristic: They’re never satisfied. This fact helps to explain why the sales representative and managers who are most excited by our programmes, the ones who are most eager to introduce our strategies into their own companies’ methodologies are those who are already doing well. And it helps to explain why the firms that these commission leaders work for are also already leading their industries in sales volume.
For the paradoxical but very good reason that it’s the best who always want to do better. In any selling organization it’s that top 10 per cent of individuals with persistence and dedication to their own selling skills who ultimately bring the biggest dividends to the company. So making it possible for that 10 per cent to reassess and refine their already good work patterns simply makes economic sense.
What do these people learn in our workshops and programmes and how will you learn the Strategic Selling process from this article?
Strategic Selling was not derived from a business professor’s optimising purchase ability model but from our experiences as lifetime sales professionals out in the field. In this way we are very nearly unique. Sales training programmes typically start with a squeaky-clean programme and can be applied in most situations. Clients can vouch during good times and bad, during recessions and booms. But it works because it’s practically not just theoretically sound. The reason that so many national sales managers send their sales forces to our programmes is that we help them fix the nuts and bolts of real situations.