You’ve done your sales forecast. You know what you need to achieve this year The million dollar question is this: What do you need to do to get there? If it were as easy as setting goals, most of us would have hit them by now! It’s helpful to look at what we personally need to bring to the table to be successful in sales and where we may be falling short. Several studies have sought to identify the qualities or traits successful salespeople share. You can probably guess most of them:
Assertive ~ Flexible ~ Committed ~ Focused ~ Competent ~ Goal-oriented ~ Competitive ~ Likeable ~ Confident ~ Passionate, etc. Read more here.
While most of us have these characteristics in varying degrees, taking the time to recognize and develop those areas that are going to be critical in helping you achieve your goals can mean the difference between a “so-so” year and a “no kidding!” year. Here are my Top Picks for qualities to develop and strengthen. See if you agree:
Why these three in particular? Because persistence with busy hard-to-reach decision-makers, creativity in differentiating your solution from your competitors and having true empathy for your prospect’s needs and circumstances are essential for facing the most critical sales challenges of 2014, including:
- Connecting with—and getting in front of—busy decision-makers.
- Differentiating your solution from a growing number of “me too” competitors.
- Helping buyers cross the bridge from “I know what you do” to “I need what you have.”
Here are some simple things you can do to further develop these qualities to help you achieve your goals in the coming year:
News flash: It’s not going to get any easier to reach busy decision-makers in the coming year. And your manager is probably unlikely to tell you to “take your time” to produce results, right? So lets be honest, how many attempts to get a hold of a prospect do you really make before moving on to the next lead? Ten? Five? Two?
A widely quoted study at Notre Dame University found that 44 percent of all salespeople quit after the first call. 94 percent of all salespeople quit after making four calls or less. But here’s the thing: this same study found that 60 percent of all sales are made after the fourth call! However you do the math, that is a lot of money being left on the table for a more persistent competitor to snap up.
How can you develop the quality of persistence? Push yourself out of your comfort zone by, say 50%. If you typically give up after 4 attempts, move the bar to 6. Make a game of it. Read my friend Andrea Waltz’s book Go For No! and start racking up those “no’s” so you can get on to those profitable “yeses!”
Competition is only getting stiffer. Coming in with a similar solution presented in a similar manner is a losing strategy. It’s essential to be creative to ensure your message stands out and is remembered when buying decisions are made. Yet many smart, savvy sellers leave their creativity just outside the prospect’s door. Why? Because we’ve been taught and conditioned to do the same sales process for decades: open-ended questions (often before prospects are ready to open up), repetitive agendas, long, boring powerpoints or step-by-step demos.
If you’re still using techniques and presentation skills from the 90’s, look around: the world has changed dramatically—and that includes the way your buyer receives information and make decisions. You need to get creative and not just think outside of the box but GET out of the box! What does that mean? Click here for ideas to get you started.
We all know buying decisions are heavily influenced by emotion. Empathy, the ability toidentify with or vicariously experience the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another, is critical in order to gain a prospect’s trust and deliver a solution that meets their needs. Yet we have less time to develop the rapport that makes empathy easier to achieve.
Speed up your ability to understand a client’s needs and target your solution by employing a famous acting technique used by actors like Daniel Day Lewis and Meryl Streep: The “Magic If.”
The Magic IF helps you to use to step into the shoes of your customer by asking yourself the question: “What if?” Taking the time to do this exercise helps you to discover how your prospect feels. And ultimately, the more we feel, as opposed to know, what it’s like to walk in our customer’s shoes, the easier it is to establish rapport and develop targeted solutions. To read more about applying the Magic IF in sales, click here.
So along with those New Year’s resolutions to lose a few pounds or work out at the gym, pick out a few qualities that you’re going to work on to make this year your most successful sales year yet!
photo credit: QuotesEverlasting via photopin cc