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5 Winning Ways of Gold Medal Salespeople

The other day, I caught some media coverage of the upcoming Olympics in Rio. As I watched Olympians preparing for their events, it struck me that high performance athletes have a lot in common with high performance salespeople. Both drive themselves relentlessly to win rewards and recognition through competitive performance in their individual fields. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that gold medalists, whether in sales or in the Olympics, consistently use 5 winning ways to maximize their performance.

Winning Way #1 – Preparing Yourself

Winning Way #1 Build skills to prepareGold medal athletes spend years practicing and preparing for their events. Gold medal salespeople do the same. They prepare themselves with deep knowledge of what they are selling and, equally importantly, who they are selling. They practice their skills to prepare for every sales interaction; they watch selling videos, participate in LinkedIn sales groups, network personally, constantly read sales books and articles on selling…ongoing actions that prepare them to sell competitively.

 

Winning Way #2 – Knowing the Field

High performance athletes have to know their field. They study their event and their competition to learn all they can about what to expect on event day and, as a result, how to win. Salespeople striving to be gold medalists also have to know their field. They work to find answers for market knowledge questions like:
Winning Way #2 Checklist for knowledge

 

Winning Way #3 – Believing in Yourself

Winnning Way #3 Believe in yourself: salesperson wearing crown, blowing her own horn.Athletes and salespeople striving for gold start with a strong belief in themselves.

They have a healthy level of confidence in their skills and abilities. They have learned to use mind control to conquer doubts and fears when they arise during competition. Gold medalists focus instead on believing that their preparation, knowledge and skill will ensure a win.

 

Winning Way #4 – Exceeding Personal Expectations

Winning Way #4 Go for goalsGold medal athletes and salespeople are never satisfied with their performance. They set aggressive performance goals for themselves. They work constantly to meet their goals…and then, to better them. Achieving a “personal best” always means resetting it; then working hard to overachieve the new goal.

This constant striving to improve results in ever better performance for both gold medal athletes and salespeople. It produces endless positive outcomes: increased reward – gold medals or higher earnings – personal satisfaction and recognition, and building their Olympic or sales careers.

 

Winning Way #5 – Going for it All

Winning Way #5 Never QuitWinning gold, at the Olympics or in sales, means going for it all and doing all that needs to be done to win.

No obstacles stand in the way of athletes or salespeople going for gold. They either plow through the obstacles – regardless of personal sacrifices, injuries or disappointments – or work to find a way around them. They’re determined and resilient, as Brazilian soccer player Marta Vieira da Silva explains in her LinkedIn Pulse post. When loss or defeat does occur, the high performance athlete and salesperson get right back in the game and continue to compete!

 

So how are you using these winning ways to sell more?

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We’ve been talking about just how personal selling can become and reminding ourselves how unique our customers are. We’ve talked about customer needs and demands … and our need to connect and communicate with our customers on their terms.

Smiling sales rep on phone

We’ll wrap up customer focus with 5 action steps that show you’re committed to and focused on your customer. Add all 5 to your sales skills toolkit and you’re sure to sell more.

5 ACTION STEPS

  1. The best way to start is to jump in and just do it! What’s “it”? It’s whatever the customer needs, demands or wants at any given time.
  2. Next, do it right. What’s right? It’s reacting with the correct action for the customer situation you’re in…and every situation will be different. We need to be alert to pick up on customer clues and flexible enough to react to them.
  3. Then, do it quickly. How quickly? Once again, your reaction matches your customer’s demand for speed…and it will vary from customer to customer.
  4. Do it better. Go beyond what your customer expects and you’ll be way ahead of your competition.
  5. Finally, do it every time. It’s always easy to do it once. Being focused on your customer means doing it consistently…and that means doing it again and again and again.

So it all comes down to this:

This wraps up our customer focus blogs of the last few weeks. During that time, we’ve discussed 4 key components of a positive customer focus:

So how are you putting customer focus to work in your selling activity?

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Last time, we talked about making our customers feel important to stay customer focused. That’s key to selling more, but not always enough. We also need to respond to customers’ needs and demands.

Crossword puzzle with customer needs.

Customers’ needs?

Our task is to identify the individual needs of each customer and not to make assumptions ahead of time. We know customers have both personal needs and needs that relate to what we’re selling. We know needs will vary from one customer to another.

Identifying needs becomes part of our discovery process. We uncover needs by getting our customers to supply us with information. The quality of the information improves dramatically based on our ability to engage our customers,  question them effectively and [infopopup:listenactively].

Identifying customer needs is just part of responding positively to our customers. We need to respond to their demands as well.

Customer demands?

The Internet with its volume of information and competitive data means our customers come to us with more information and knowledge about the products and services they’re looking for. And they’re using this knowledge to their advantage when negotiating and making the decision to buy.

So how does all this relate to selling more?

It means we need a whole new level of customer focus if we want to sell more. The more focused we are on really getting to know our customers and becoming their trusted advisers, the better we can meet their needs and demands.

The result js simple. When we develop this whole new level of customer focus, our customers will look to us – and not our competitors – for what they need.

Next time, we’ll look at how we combine our customer focused approach with the right customer focused actions to sell more.

Until then,

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Happy Customer wearing a crown.

Finding common areas of interest is one way we discussed to keep our selling approach customer focused. Another is making our customers feel important.

Like all of us, our customers want to feel important. Making them feel important means showing them what they say and do is important to us.

We know how to do this…

Doing all this shows our customers they can trust us and what we’re selling…and building trust is key.

People are Important

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our customers need still more from us. They want:

So, creating customer focus in our selling approach by making our customers feel important comes down to:

And the take away from doing all this?

We automatically get – and keep – more customers, increasing our ability to sell more.

Our next look at selling  more with customer focus  deals with customer demands and expectations in a world of rapid change.

Until then,

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Have you noticed that selling needs to be a whole lot more customer focused these days? The personal side of selling and customer focus are so important now that my next series of blogs is all about ways we can improve our “customer focus”.

Smiling woman with 2 thumbs up.

Sure, products and features are important, but they need to be combined with a strong customer focus to get you a winning formula for results. Today it really is all about your customer!

So where do we start with customer focus?

Well, we all know each of our customers is unique, that customers’ needs and expectations vary widely. Because of this uniqueness, each customer presents a different selling challenge for us. To meet the challenge, our goal should be to personalize our product approach and message to each customer. To do this, we’ll need to get to know our customers as people first so we can relate to them easily and quickly.

How do we do this?

Looking for common areas of interest is a great start to connecting with your customers on a more personal level:

Customer and sales woman getting to know each other.

  • How do they spend their free time?
  • What about family?
  • Where do they vacation?
  • What do they do for fun?
  • What do they read?

Answers to these questions and others give valuable clues for keeping your selling interactions focused on your customer first before moving to products and features.

Next time, more ways you can keep your selling interactions customer focused.

Until then,

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Sell Alphabet: Salesperson enjoying interacting with customer

I like to use a Sell Alphabet to keep my focus on people in every selling situation.

The Sell Alphabet I use is based on the 7 letters in “people”. It highlights my core beliefs about selling and selling people.

Capital Letter P

comes first because selling people first is the key. Selling people first, integrated with your sales process, drives performance and results…every time.

Capital Letter E

ngage your prospects and customers on their terms. They’ve usually done their own research by the time they get to you. Use that to engage them through questioning so you can start where they are. Once you’ve discovered what they’ve learned and what they’re after, you can:

Capital Letter O

pportunity. Selling people first is your opportunity to get to know your customers as individuals so you can further build positive relationships with them. When you know and understand your customers as individuals, you will gain  their trust. Once they trust you, they become much more willing to make a positive buying decision.

Capital Letter P

ersonal sales skills. The more highly developed yours are, the greater your selling success. Work to improve them every day. With solid personal sales skills, you avoid becoming just a “data miner” focused only on numbers. Keeping the personal touch brings you results…and makes all your selling activity even more rewarding.

Capital Letter L

earning. Every day is a learning day in selling. Make learning one of your top priorities. What to learn?

As you learn more and more about selling, your market and your customers, you’ll be able to refine and improve your personal sales process.

Capital Letter E

xpertise, the natural outcome of Learning, begins with mastery of your personal selling skills. Applying them with a customer focused strategy and sales process leads to your personal sales success, helping you produce more sales…faster.

So that’s my Sell Alphabet for selling The Word People.

What Sell Alphabet are you using?

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For me, selling is all about selling people.

Harvey Mackay has been a huge influence on my approach to selling because he’s a master of 2 concepts:

We sales people know that, no matter what process and software we’re using, we are the key to getting the sales task accomplished.

The best part?

We’re selling our products and services to people…and it’s people who make  the buying decisions.

So …

Here are my 3 favorite tips to do just that. They’re quick reminders on sharpening our personal selling game.

TIP #1: People buy from people, especially people who make themselves “easy to buy from”.

Couple talking to salesman

 

 

TIP #2: People want to do business with people who understand them and what they want.

Saleswoman listening to customer

This next tip says it all…

TIP #3: People want to do business with people they like, respect and trust.

Trust

 

Next time, I’ll talk about the big payoff from putting these 3 people tips into action.

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For more, read Harvey Mackay’s The MacKay MBA of Selling in the Real World.


Salesman puzzled by no sales

So, I got data and I got social…how come I got no sales? How can I get better sales results?

Those are questions I get asked almost every day when I’m talking with sales people. They’re frustrated because they have so many tools available but aren’t seeing results from them.

It’s no secret there’s a huge emphasis today on using data in the selling process.  Google “data in sales process” and you’ll get over 162,000,000 entries!

While working on a client assignment recently, I discovered 101 software products alone that manage data and sales activity. Yikes … and I’m sure that’s only some of what’s available. In addition to data and sales activity management tools, there’s the whole world of social: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest. …

Now I’m not putting any of these down: they are useful, practical tools and all have their place.

If we’re not careful, however, we can easily get disrupted, distracted and buried in data – lost in all the noise and buzz.
With too much attention on data and process, we risk becoming data brokers, administrators and connectivity experts instead of salespeople.

We end up neglecting our real objectiveproducing sales results and selling more.

To produce results and sell more, we need to remind ourselves that:

So how do we sell and manage data at the same time?

Down the road, I’m going to talk more about how we keep a strong personal sales focus and sell more … while not getting overwhelmed with data and process.

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Customer shaking hands with sales person. Selling is simple.

Selling ain’t rocket science. Selling is simple, real simple.

In all my reading and research, I’m constantly amazed at how complex we’ve made selling. It appears to me we have clouded what selling really is, overwhelming it with technology…even if the technology is useful and practical.

The danger in so much technology is that we become data miners, process managers and social media gurus, forgetting we are sales people and sales leaders. We minimize what really produces results: interactions with people who make buying decisions.

So here’s my Selling is Simple checklist to get back to what selling really is:

  1. Qualify the needs of your potential buyer.
  2. Present your solution for those needs.
  3. Close the deal…or gain a commitment so you can close it later.
  4. Build an ongoing relationship for future deals.
  5. Repeat.

… and that’s all there is to it. Rocket science? I don’t think so.

So what do you think?

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Christmas wreath with green, silver and red glass ornaments.

It’s the holiday season. It’s the time of year when we look forward to celebrating the season and connecting with family, friends and all those who are important to us. Strangely, we seem to pack all this connecting activity into a 3 or 4 week period…then, put it all away until the same time next year.

As I skimmed through the endless emails in my inbox, I got to thinking that too often our business and supplier relationships seem to follow the same pattern. We flood our networks with emails, special offers, warm wishes, seasonal jokes or heart warming stories in December…then abruptly stop when the new year begins.

Why?

What if we changed our way of thinking and operating to embrace a “full year concept” of reaching out, connecting and relationship building in both our personal and business networks?

Delighted customer reading personal message on laptop. I don’t mean using LinkedIn updates, Facebook posts or any other social media automated connection tools.

I mean real live, personal, individualized reaching out…writing a personal note or email, making a phone call, forwarding an interesting article to someone who could use it, commenting on events in the contact’s business or personal life…some kind of personalized, one-on-one reach out.

Strikes me the tangible and intangible benefits to adopting this full year concept are gifts that keep on giving. Ongoing personalized activity with those in our networks creates more meaningful connections, and builds mutual satisfaction and enjoyment. Even better, it creates trust, the key to relationship building…and selling success.

When we interact with our networks on a full year, personal basis, we really get in sync with them: their needs, their likes, their dislikes, their issues and challenges. Knowing all this means we’ll be able to identify and  react to opportunities when they arise.

So the tangible benefit to us is the reward of expanded opportunities and increased sales. The intangible benefit is earning personal relationships that are both trusting and long-lasting…and isn’t that our primary objective as sales professionals?

Until the next time, all the best for an enjoyable and happy holiday season,

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Nutcracker soldier.