What makes great sales people great? The common misconceptions about salespeople can be tough to get over because they are so ingrained in our culture. It helps to see what successful salespeople actually look like. Most of the great salespeople aren’t all that slick on the surface, but they are great at discovering and solving problems. What makes them different?
I think there are 11 traits that make a successful salesperson here a 7 from my book.
Beliefs, Traits, and Habits of the Best Salespeople:
Desire. The desire to be successful is the number one feature of excellent salespeople. Folks with a strong drive to succeed usually have built upon a history of success.
They may have been good at sports, or bringing up a family.
They know what it means to care deeply about the goal and really go for it.
Desire leads them to find out everything they can about their product and their competitor’s product. In fact, their knowledge is one of their strongest assets.
Motivated salespeople will compete against themselves, not others. They strive to beat their own last target, cultivate additional clients, and achieve business.
2. Self Belief. Effective business people have a very strong self-belief. When they experience rejection, they understand that it is situational. A single loss does little or damage to their core self-esteem.
Instead of getting down on themselves, people with high self-esteem draw on all their knowledge and past mistakes to correct their course and move on.
Anyone in sales can achieve strong self-belief by developing a passion about their product or service. If you can turn your passion for your business into a core belief, you can sell your product to anyone. That is a sales mindset guarantee.
3. Persistence. Persistent folks do not give up easily, if ever. They see problems not as dead ends, but surmountable obstacles. How many rejections can you weather?
Numbers coming out of the Dartnell Corp. in the United States show that a sale in today’s market often goes through only after the tenth “No.” You read that right. The tenth “No.” We are up against a tough economic environment, and unless we are persistent and believe in what we sell, we will give up after about the third time someone tells us “No.”
Learn when to back off and not overplay the persistence card, but do not ever roll over and give up. In this brave new world where the power is increasingly in the hands of the buyer, we have to create marketing and sales strategies to overcome our reluctance to try one more time.
4. Purpose. Many great salespeople find greater purpose in their work than simply completing the job at hand. They might want to help their clients, fellow workers, and teammates build a great business environment to work in, or they may find value in training others by passing on their knowledge to employees.
Motivations can be as basic as feeding the family, affording that extra vacation, or getting the kids through college.
To folks invested in these kinds of outcomes, money and success are by-products of the efforts they make.
This is an important distinction, for finding meaning in your work will keep you balanced in your business. Work cannot be your sole purpose.
We hear too many stories about business people burning out by dedicating themselves solely to their businesses, day in and day out. In the long run, this approach provides diminishing returns. Remember why you are working so hard.
5. Goal Orientation. The best salespeople are people who set real, attainable goals, weekly, monthly, and annually. They measure everything they do, and believe strongly in revisiting and setting new goals all the time, not just once a year
A goal might be as simple as beating the business turnover from last year, or building some training and sales goals in the company for the next six months. Many people I work with struggle with goal setting. I advocate aligning your goals with the problems you are trying to solve.
6. Accountability. Great salespeople do not participate in what we call “the chicken run.” The “chicken run” happens when the salesperson disappears from the buyer’s sight as soon as the deal is sealed.
Successful salespeople never seal the deal and then fail to follow up with service.
If the product does not work, they are not too “chicken” to go back and make it right. If things do not work out well for the client, they know they need to jump back in there and help the client realize his or her expectations.
These folks always work it out and fix the problems that come up.
7. Willingness to Learn. Strong salespeople seek help and guidance from people they admire and trust.
They may work with a coach, confide in a colleague, or consult a manager. They need someone they can feel comfortable with so they can talk through their fears and doubts.
Take The Sales Mindset Challenge here and discover how you rate with your sales mindset you might be surprised. Its a simple list of questions that rate your beliefs and traits. Have fun.
P. S. Are You Utilizing The Most Profitable, Up-To-Date AND Proven Sales Lessons To Grow Your Business Right Now, In Today’s Market?
Changing your Sales Mindset coming soon.
The Best Salesman I Ever Met … Wasn’t a Salesman. Do you think you know what a successful salesperson looks like? Are you picturing an expensive suit, a flashy smile, and a smooth, practiced pitch? That’s what we imagine when we think of sales, but the truth is that some of the best salespeople aren’t like this at all. In fact, the best salesman I ever met wasn’t intending to be a salesman at all; he was a mountain climber!
Before I tell you about this reluctant, yet remarkable, salesman, let’s look at another ordinary guy who turned out to have great success in sales. His name? Mike Brunel.
My first job did not look at all like a sales job, but it was. I was a roustabout, or shearing hand, in a shearing gang. It was good job for a New Zealand teenager. I learned loads from the shearers—huge, uncompromising men with incredible mental stamina and fortitude.
A professional shearer can shear a sheep in under two minutes, removing the fleece in one piece. My job was to quickly pick up the fleece, throw it over a table like a blanket, and inspect it for maggots. When I heard the shearer yell “maggots!” it was my responsibility to remove the critters. I am still trying to forget the squirmy sensation of maggots running up my arm. I don’t recommend it.
The shearing job was all about speed, as shearers back then were paid $35 per hundred sheep shorn. Speed was crucial: shearing a flock took two minutes per sheep, completed in one-hour stints, eight hours a day, four to five days a week. They made hundreds of dollars a day, yet any interruption cost money and time.
Therefore, the shearer needed me to be an integral part of his team. I needed to be listening, working with the others, understanding their motivations and quirks, knowing when to back off, and recognizing when to invite conversation. Right there, on the sheep farm, I used the same skills as any successful salesperson.
We are all in the business of sales.
From my experience as a teenager, I learned that people interact with people they like. People buy people. Learning these skills is not difficult. The basics: know your goals, listen well, understand your audience, and expand the relationship with that audience.
The word “sales” is often thought of as a dirty word. Successful business owners rush to assure me that they are “not in sales.” They are, though. Salespeople should not be ashamed of their role. Sales skills are something everyone can, and must, learn to be effective in any industry.
Since my roustabout days, I have accumulated a lifetime of learning about sales. For over thirty years, I have made money selling services including sales training, marketing, and sales promotion. I built a business from nothing into a multimillion-dollar international consultancy with sales in excess of $300 million, serving over 400 clients annually.
The bottom line: I know sales. I can help you generate more sales for your organization by teaching you how to approach your client the right way, and how to ask for—and get—their commitment.
Small Changes, Big Results
Out-of-the-box thinking about sales served me well when I started out selling media. Media is an unusual thing to sell. Not only is airtime an intangible product, it is also a time-limited commodity. If you don’t sell that 6:00 am commercial slot on your New York station, it is gone forever. Selling seats on airplanes is the closest analogy. If that seat beside you is not sold once an airplane takes flight, it will never be sold. The same principle applies to media, especially radio and television. “Here today, gone tomorrow” was a real problem for radio stations. We used to ask radio advertising executives, “What unsold airtime have you got and what can we do to package that up and sell it?”
Media companies sell out, on average, only about 70% of their airtime. We solved that problem by building a seminar-selling program that presold 30% of radio airtime. We would say to the media people, “We’ll show your sales team how to presell 30% of your inventory. We will help you build a database and then invite all the advertisers from the database to a seminar where we present the benefits of buying the media. After that, we make them an offer: they can buy a twelve-month advertising contract at an exceptionally good price, but they have to make the decision on the spot because you only have 30% allocated.” The first media company that we used this technique with was one of our partners. We sold a million dollars in six weeks.
If I could learn how to build a global company from a little place called New Zealand, anyone can do it. Eventually we had offices in Atlanta, Toronto, Sydney, and the United Kingdom. New Zealand is a very small country, but we actually changed the way that media sales companies sold their inventory worldwide. No one else was doing it this way before us.
I harbor a deep passion for this business, and I struggle when I come up against businesspeople who reject the word sales. They freak out. They say, “Oh my, God, I’m not a salesperson.” I reply, “Yes you are. Let me show you how.”
To The Top of the World
You may suspect I just got lucky. Maybe only a certain type of person can expect this kind of good fortune.
Remember that mountain climber I mentioned earlier, though? His name was Rob Hall, and he was an athlete, not a businessperson. Yet, he made one of the most memorable—and successful—sales pitches I ever heard.
Picture the scene. It was a blistering hot summer’s day in 1990 and two men were pacing up and down in a small conference room, one dressed in a suit and the other one in full climbing gear.
We were nervous, frightened, and excited. Just a few feet away sat several key executives from one of the biggest multi-national companies—Unilever—waiting to make a decision: would they sponsor Rob Hall in his quest to conquer Mount Everest? These guys were holding Rob’s future in their hands. Rob was one of our country’s finest mountaineers; he wanted to be the first New Zealander since Edmund Hillary to reach the top of Mount Everest.
To make that happen, Rob needed money. He required at least $300,000 before he could take a single step. Even though asking for funding didn’t come naturally to this outdoorsman, there he sat, ready to make his pitch.
Rob’s unique idea was take an expedition—three climbers including the son of Edmund Hillary, his son Peter, and another great climber named Gary Hall—to the top of Mount Everest. They also wanted to take one hundred children with them to help clean up the base camp. The base camp looked like a litterbin; climbers dump trashcans and rubbish there when they stop to rest before heading to the peak.
Rob approached my media company with an intriguing idea. He wanted to broadcast live back to our network of radio stations on his way to the top of Mount Everest. He would report back via satellite phone, which at the time were quite innovative.
That is why we were sitting in that conference room and Rob was in his rain pants, with ropes around his shoulder and his ice ax in one hand. I had asked him to do something different to make his case and he rolled with it. We knew we only had one shot.
Rob’s presentation was infectious. As Rob walked into the boardroom—six foot five, sporting a giant beard—all the executives from Unilever opened their eyes a little wider. I spoke first, while they sat and wondered what this mountain man was going to say. I talked about the commercial support an event like this would offer an advertiser like Unilever. I remember shaking, I was so nervous, but I had to present the concept: we would invite Unilever’s Coldwater Surf washing powder brand to sponsor the climb to the mountaintop. One hundred schoolchildren would come along to rejuvenate the base of the mountain. The cleanup hook was a strong match for the brand. We wanted to call it the Coldwater Surf Everest Challenge.
I introduced the idea, and then Rob got up. He nailed it.
He told them why he wanted to take these men to the mountain, why he wanted to be the first New Zealander to climb Mount Everest since Edmund Hillary, and why he needed sponsorship money. He described how he would climb the mountain and how he would teach the children the importance of looking after the environment. As his presentation warmed up, the body language in the room shifted; the executives were enjoying the show. Finally, Rob picked up his ice axe and banged it on the table—not too loudly, though I think they got a bit of a start.
“See this ice axe?” he asked. “I’m going to take that to the top of Mount Everest and when I come back, you can have it. You can put it in the boardroom.”
A couple of things about this presentation resonated. First, Rob’s appearance was unique. Second, his enthusiasm and knowledge were crystal clear. He shared a wealth of information and enthusiastically expressed his passion for the plan. He was great at selling because even though he was a reluctant salesman, his commitment to the project shone through.
Rob got the deal. His commitment paid off handsomely, and didn’t end with the sponsorship. Afterward, he built a strong relationship with that company, which opened up other opportunities. He asked himself, “Why should this client choose to invest over a quarter million dollars in sponsorship money for a mountain climber?” and he answered the question convincingly.
There was no sleazy sales team. It was just Rob being real and it was a huge success.
What did Unilever really buy from Rob Hall and me? More than advertising, they bought an experience. The top of Mount Everest is a very, very unfriendly place, but it is human nature to go to those places. Rob wanted to take every radio listener into the wilderness with him. What Unilever bought was that unique intrigue. Ultimately, they bought it because they liked Rob and they wanted to add some value to the world.
Hitting the Trail
What can we learn about selling from Rob’s story? He wasn’t a salesperson at heart, but he could motivate a buyer on the basis of his knowledge. Even though Rob was reluctant to be in the sales arena, he totally committed to the process. Many people aren’t willing to make that kind of promise because they’re turned off or intimidated by selling. Mastering selling requires only what Rob Hall had—expert knowledge of his product and a strong belief in it.
Although Rob’s story has a sad ending—he died saving a client during another Mount Everest climb—he died doing what he loved. To this day, I remember his passion, his commitment, and his ability to make things happen.
If a mountain man like Rob can do it, you can do it. This book is all about mastering the selling journey and understanding the buying journey. Let’s get on the path to success.
If you like that story, there are heaps more in my book with real live examples and tips you can use in your business.
Or why don’t you download a FREE chapter of my book right now!
Just a the bottom of this page download the rest of the story about Rob and other adventures.
If you want to overcome your fear of selling then email your details and we can set up a FREE session to answer some of your questions around sales.
In the meantime, good selling.
Have a great week…
Keep an eye out for my Changing your Sales Mindset- 7 Day Challenge.
Simply sign up at the bottom of the page and receive a FREE invite, plus a FREE chapter of my book.
Selling the Zara Way.
Selling the Zara way. Over the last 12 months there has been a lot of talk about Amazon and its threat to retailers and business owners here in New Zealand and in Australia.
This follows the possibility that it may establish a direct presence in both countries following a clamp down on tax free overseas internet shopping
I believe that the death of bricks and mortar is exaggerated. The problem, I wager, is that marketers have become (or perhaps have always been) shopkeepers.
One of the richest men in the world, Amancio Ortega, is worth around $80 billion. An article in the Renegade Millionaire System newsletter talks about what made him so wealthy … and, guess what? He is a retailer!
Here are a few extracts from that article.
Dropping out of school at about 13 years old, Ortega got a job making shirts and other clothing items. Over several years he turned that role into a profit sharing cooperative with a workforce of 600 people over a ten year period. He then opened his first retail store.
Today he owns 2,100 Zara stores in 88 countries and his approach is revolutionary. He makes what he sells; more than one billion pieces a year – fast fashion clothes not made to last, bought for immediate gratification (often a night out) then on to the next thing.
Speed to market
Ortega’s stores carry little inventory and he ships newly created fashion every week so customers always have something new to get excited about. By creating a production cycle that is much faster than the industry norm, everything in store is trendy.
This supports full price selling because once an item is gone you can’t get it again and it costs significantly less than some of the designer brands that Zara is positioned alongside.
Modest Billionaire next door
The article continues to say that Ortega is famous for striving not to be famous. He avoids being photographed and agrees to very few interviews.
Commuting to work every day he dresses down; usually not wearing a tie nor clothes made by his own firm. He continues his modest approach by eating in the company cafeteria with his employees so he can stay hands-on with every aspect of the business.
This inspirational success story shows a company that has a hands-on owner, great systems, and an approach that is so different from others.
Selling a product like Zara is more about the need to have a mindset that is different from other retailers.
Different ways to approach the selling process is critical to the ongoing success of any business.
Startup? Set for growth? Talk to Mike about how he can help you grow your business fast.
Call him for a FREE 15 minute consultation call on +64 21 434 791
Negotiation is a form of Selling True or False?
We all know that Negotiation is a form of selling, and our ultimate goal is that everybody wins. Impossible, right? Maybe not. In my book Selling is Not Optional- How to Master the most important skill in business and life I devote a whole chapter to negotiation.
In the chapter I stress the goal of mutual success for both the buyer and seller. Often, we think negotiations can only succeed one way: we present the product, say all the right things, and get the client really excited about buying. Then we ask for the business and they jump across the desk and hug us, saying, “You saved my life.” Right?
It simply doesn’t happen that way.
What’s your fear?
Often, salespeople don’t even ask for the business for fear of rejection. They are afraid to hear, “No, not at the moment,” or, “I want to negotiate.”
As we have seen from other chapters in the book , mindset makes a difference; you have to be open to the next step. Often, after someone does decide to purchase, they still want to parry a little. People feel it is a bit of a game.
We are all in the game of negotiation. I left the house this morning negotiating with my wife about a couple of things. We negotiate with our partners and our fellow workers, and I can tell you as a parent of teenagers, we negotiate with our children.
Salespeople should avoid cultivating a closed mindset around bargaining. Negotiations are just a form of communication. Consider how negotiations can get you closer to finding a mutually beneficial solution.
A Beautiful Mindset.
Think of the John Nash story, told in the movie A Beautiful Mind. Nash, an American mathematician, proved that when you cooperate, everybody wins, and wins bigger. Game theory demonstrates that cooperation can increase each player’s ultimate reward. Having a collaborative mindset is actually the key to successful negotiation.
Here are some takeaways from my book on the subject of negotiation. (link)
- Plan your negotiation approach. Have a checklist. Don’t forget your agreement.
- There are often only a few standard areas of concerns for your clients.
- Keep your sense of humour.
For additional tips on selling your product or service go to mikebrunel.com. Look forward to seeing you soon.
Harnessing the power of Testimonials
At least once a month at my place, on a Friday night, my family will have to make a major decision: ‘What takeaways are we going to have tonight’?
A third world problem right?
An old ritual from days gone by.
I am sure the Friday takeaway ritual came from my own family when all of us would pile down to the fish and chip shop, and get to choose between a sausage, hot dog and fish with a few chips thrown in, then wait in the car eating them, while Mum and Dad nipped off to the pub for a quick drink.
In our family now we might want to try something different and go out to a café or restaurant.
When that happens the question always comes up ‘what’s new in town’ or ‘, what was the name of that place that my mate Dave was talking about last week’?
Following this, we’ll call or text Dave to ask him what the restaurant was called because we know he’s pretty reliable when it comes to good food!
Why we need assurance – Power of Testimonials
What people say about you is 10 times more powerful and believable than what you say about yourself.
Deep down you know that Dave would not recommend that restaurant unless he enjoyed it. He is telling you from his own experience and that is very, very powerful.
You have your own interests at heart
It’s a lot harder to sell something to someone because naturally you have your own interests at heart.
What your clients may want is another way to make a decision. This is why an opinion from a third-party could be very influential, just like Dave influenced my decision on a restaurant.
The point is that getting someone to recommend you helps a lot. If it does not work out you can always blame Dave- no just kidding!
Create and use testimonials
There are a few tips I’ve come across in my time about receiving great testimonials, but one stands out as pretty crucial; be specific.
The more specific you are about the outcome you want, the more targeted your endorsement will be.
Let me give you an example. If you ask a client for a testimonial ask this way.
‘Hi John, can you describe the one or two most important benefits you’ve gotten the most from working with us… please explain specifically what you’ve gained from the experience:
The second one I often ask is: ‘Describe in Detail What Part of Your Experience with us made you the happiest?’
This question taps into the emotional side of the experience, and that is where you will understand what drove your clients to use you in the first place.
In summary, be specific, and don’t forget to ask for their thoughts around the emotional experience..
Have a great week, see you soon.
Ps. Keep an eye out for our brand new CHANGING YOUR SALES MINDSET – 7 Day Challenge coming soon.