This week's Real Life Leadership column - Tough times can allow you to show your worth in sales - is online.
The question in this week's column emerged in conversation with Meridith Elliot Powell. I asked her to respond to the question, and here's her full response.
Absolutely you can be successful as a salesperson and selling when credit is tight and everyone is holding on to cash.
Success in sales in this economy is all about getting
back to the basics . I think right now is one of the most exciting times to be
During tough economic times customers really need you and your job is to help them understand why. In sales, when you take the time to understand what you do, why you are doing it, and how to do it, then you uncover the value you
bring to the table and how, through sales, you can truly help people. It is
important to learn early that sales is not about "talking people
into" buying your product or service. It is about first understanding your
customers' need and then helping them understand how you can add value.
Success in selling is simple, but it is not easy, like everything else in life long-term success takes consistency and work. Ever wonder why successful sales people have such a passion for what they do, why
they are always so motivated and excited? Here's their secret, they have a
personal sales strategy. One that is unique to them and their sales style.
They've invested the time to first sit down and answer the right questions and
prioritize the right actions that provide them with a systematic approach to
the sales process. This focus and consistency minimizes stress and produces
results explaining their motivation and enthusiasm.
To be successful in sales you need a strategy. You need to invest the time to uncover the answers to questions like: what differentiates you and why specifically should someone buy from you; what value and benefit does your product or service
offer to a customer; how do you communicate both of these concepts clearly and quickly so customers understand this early on in the sales process ; how do you find and connect with potential customers; what goes into a good sales call; how to really listen; how to develop follow-up plans and a healthy sales pipeline; and the list goes on.Now, while this all sounds like a lot , investing time in building a personal sales strategy actually gives you more time to sell.
Taking this approach, gives you a systematic way to consistently prioritize the right actions that keep you productive in sales rather than busy. It also gives you a sense of purpose, which will build your self- confidence and help tap into your motivation and enthusiasm.
Developing your personal sales strategy takes an initial investment of time, and the reward is more than worth the effort.
Meridith is directing her comments to my question. However, if you were to broaden this perspective to encompass all that we do in business, her strategic approach makes sense. Here are my take-a-ways.
1. Our customers need us now more than ever to help them work through the challenges that they are having.
2. To be successful we need a strategy. This strategic way of thinking goes beyond simply having some goals. Our strategies are how our goals will be met.
3. We need consistency, commitment, and hard work, as well as persistence, resilience and a no quit attitude.
I heard Meridith speak recently on relationship network stategies. I've been working with network theory for over a decade, and I found out that what I knew was way too abstract and impractical. I learned some new approaches to developing my networks that I've beginning to apply.
If for all these reasons, I'm excited about Meridith being one of our workshop leaders for our 2009 Lessons in Leadership conference. If you are anywhere close by Asheville, N.C. on January 20, sign up for this afternoon/evening event. It will be worth the trip. I'm absolutely certain.
You can download a PDF copy of my column here. Thanks.