In the same way that we believe we can’t teach an old dog new tricks, we want to believe that people can’t change. Do we really have the ability to change ourselves? We are creatures of habit who gravitate to familiarity and comfort, which tends to make us repeat our reactions to common life situations, especially social situations. But what if you want to change? Are you doomed forever to repeat your behavior? Can you ever escape the prison of your habits?
What can be attributed to nature; and what can be a product of nurture? Sales managers usually believe their star sellers have these four traits naturally: They are persistent, goal-oriented, organized and smart.
For managers who feel the only way to get what they want is to find a gifted individual -- and then pay a lot to get him or her -- rest assured, practically everyone can change, as long as both the manager and seller contribute to the effort.
Let’s take each trait one at a time, beginning with the most important characteristic of all:
Persistence is only a great trait if it consistently leads to success. Persistently failing isn’t an admired quality. Sometimes sellers see themselves as being persistent, but all they’re really doing is hitting their head against the wall. They’re selling only one way all the time, and it’s not getting them anywhere.
They only have one next-step strategy: Submitting a proposal after the first meeting. In this classic “always be closing” behavior, as a follow up, the seller automatically attempts to close the sale. They’re not making the effort to look for new clients, but consistently spend time on supposed opportunities that have gone far beyond a normal sales cycle.
We all know that repeating behaviors that consistently produce the same results while expecting new results each time is the definition of insanity.
So why do so many salespeople follow this path? Consider how most people learn how to sell. After they’re hired, they spend most of their time with the salespeople who are at the bottom 80 percent of the team, because there are more of them and they are always around. The top 20 percent of the sales team is busy in client meetings.
Even if new hires get a chance to observe the top 20 percent, they’re not necessarily appreciating that a long-term, top 20 percent professional may do things today that work from years of prospecting, trying new things and learning how to adjust correctly to different selling situations. The “rookies” and underperformers should try to learn what the top 20 percent of the team did when they were new -- not what they are doing now.
We can help introduce the correct approach with the right training. Sales training that creates an arsenal of next-step strategies teaches sellers how to be persistent in reaching their overall goals. At the same time, they will realize when they’re wasting their time or not using the right approach. Our training includes more than a dozen next-step strategies, all of which advance the sale while shortening the sales cycle. They help get a salesperson to the biggest possible deal, past a roadblock to a decision maker, get stalled sales back on track, increase the amount of information, all while improving the seller’s relationship and credibility to their prospects.
Guess what happens when salespeople learn 12 moves apart from the “I’ll come back with a proposal”move? They stay the course longer and make more sales. They change their stripes and become persistent and, more importantly, effective.
In Part Two, we’ll focus on how to cultivate a goal-oriented sales team.
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