“How Do You Know You’ve Been Successful?”

Sitting with a group of senior managers of a new prospective client I was asked how I knew I had been successful in training a sales team. I acknowledged it was an interesting question and asked what type of answer the manager was looking for. She told me to quantify what number out of a group of 12 salespeople had to apply and have success from what I’d shared with them.

ducks odd one out“1” I said. “Only 1! Why so low?”

“Because if 1 person can listen, hear and apply something from a day’s worth of knowledge, skills, tools, disciplines and techniques I share with them, then so can the other 11. I cannot make them do it though, they have to want to do it; to be motivated to work on applying it and improving. Whilst I will have a short-term effect (as do all external trainers, speakers, etc…) long lasting benefit only comes from within the individual wanting to do it and be more successful. The only other way is for those 11 to be managed to change”, (which again needs repeated, even continuous attention … and even then it may or may not work).

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How Dress Down Day Worked For Me

dress codesI had been working on breaking into a major competition account and had visited them a number of times when they introduced ‘dress down Fridays’.  This involved the usual formal attire of business suits and ties making way for smart casual shirts, blouses and suits being replaced by slacks and jackets.

 

As noticeable as this was, there was another immediate impact in that the people, all of which were graduates through to senior executives, acted in a decidedly more casual manner.  From typically being very business-like and structured, Fridays quickly became a day where you were hard pushed to get a decision on whether someone wanted full fat or semi-skimmed milk in their coffee, let alone a decision to invest in a new piece of capital equipment or to change a working method or supplier.  People simply left their business brains at home with their formal attire!  So the conclusion could be drawn that a Friday was a bad day to visit them and talk business. In fact, my colleagues and boss told me so.  For me however Friday visits to this prospect became a regular habit.

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Whatever It Takes To Succeed!

I’m a competitive person.  I love winning and so I suppose a career in selling is something that befits my D.N.A.
Don’t get me wrong though, I can take losing so long as I lose to someone better than me rather than as a result of me not doing things to the best of my ability and when I lose to someone better it spurs me in to improve myself and raise my game.
So when it came to selling I would do (and still do) a whole host of things to make me that bit better, in the knowledge that those ‘bit betters’ would make a considerable difference (which I have found to be true).  Whilst some of these things may seem trivial at first look I thought I’d share them with you:

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“The Company That Does Not Obsolete Its Own Products Runs The Risk of Becoming Extinct Itself”

A client of mine was telling me how his customers are always trying to commoditise what he does.  Whilst his company spends time, money and effort developing solutions to their problems and they start to do repeat business, he told me their customers would eventually begrudge paying their price and invariably some would find someone who professed to offer the same for less.

 

gamblingWhilst everyone knows that where something professes to be the same and costs less, it is invariably found to be inferior because it has a lower value.  Unfortunately for him that doesn’t stop his customers being willing to ignore that to the point and every now and then some of them will move away to save a little money.

 

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There’s No Such Thing As Real Value … It’s All Perceived

There’s no such thing as real value … it’s all perceived.  It’s true … and I’ll prove it with an example.

Story Version A:

houseA man and his wife decide to sell their family home in Liverpool that they’ve lived in for the last 70 years.  The woman was born there and when her parents grew older she loved it so much that she convinced her husband that they should take it over.  They had spent many happy years there and had accumulated (as well do) lots of things, a number of which were stored in the attic.

Whilst they were cleaning it out they discovered a couple of old acoustic guitars, covered in dust and in need of a bit of t.l.c.  She remembered her brother playing with them with his friends and the fun they had with the guitars.  In particular, she recalled one that occasionally one of the boys wouldn’t have his own guitar and so one of them would forever be playing one of her brother’s 2 guitars.  Whilst there had been lots of talk about starting a band the woman’s brother lost interest and the guitars got resigned to a cupboard and eventually to the attic.

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Snow Shovels

snow shovelOne day there was heavy snowfall in an area and a man realises his drive will be blocked and inaccessible for his car.  He remembers seeing snow shovels being sold at a store local to him and when he gets there he finds everybody in the neighbourhood must’ve had the same idea and they’ve sold out.

He gets back in his car goes down the road to a smaller store who have this page in stock he grabs one, goes inside to purchase it and is asked for $20 by the store owner.  “What?” says the man.  “I’ve come from the store down the road and there they sell these for $15!  You’re charging too much for them!”

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Do You See An Opportunity For What It Really Is?

seeingSuccess in selling often comes down to how observant you are as an individual.  Do you see what is in front of you or rather what you think is in front of you?  Let me explain why this is important.

 

Over the years I’ve worked with salespeople across all industries many believe that the key to success is a good source of incoming leads.  These should be ‘easier’ prospects as they already have a need (otherwise why would they be in touch?) and it is just a case of convincing them that our version of what is available is better than the competition’s and they will buy.  In my experience this isn’t necessarily the case and the majority of leads don’t convert in many industries as the prospects’ understanding of our products and services isn’t always right, they expect us to be able to do things we can’t, and so on …  In the case of an incoming lead many salespeople deal with the prospect expecting them to buy at the end of the contact (call / meeting / email) and so don’t necessarily see what is in front of them.

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