Sales is a profession, let me repeat, sales is a profession.
Why do so many companies treat it as a hobby? Most people spend more time improving or trying to get better at their hobby than their career as a professional salesperson. Let me give you just one example:
If you like to play golf and want to lower your score, do you take lessons? If you do, how often do you go to the range to practice hitting balls? Do you watch the Golf Channel and do you subscribe to any golf magazines? Do you buy the latest technology when it comes to new golf clubs, or teaching aids to improve your swing?
Now answer this question:
What have you done to improve your competence as a professional salesperson?
If you are reading this and you are self-employed, and you are the owner, salesperson, customer service director and/or all things that might relate to the customer, what are you doing to improve your game? If you are the sales manager or vice president of sales reading this, what are you doing for your team to improve their sales talent and provide them with the right tools for them to grow and develop proper selling habits?
What I am about to tell you is so simple, so basic and you really have no excuse but to start the learning process now.
Here are some things to do for yourself or your team:
• Buy a book on selling: Not just a business book, but a book specifically written for better selling skills. You can go back to 1936 and buy Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” or any of Jeffrey Gitomer’s or Brian Tracy’s books on sales, or even my books I have written on the subject. There are hundreds more to look at as well.
• Go online: Watch a video of one of the world’s top sales trainers (not just some salesperson’s personal opinions). Listen to podcasts from the leading experts, and read articles online from them as well. This can keep you busy for quite a long time
• Practice: The best way to practice is to rehearse your “presentation” or the questions you will be asking in the upcoming meetings you have planned. Notice I said questions – not scripts. This keeps you in pro territory every time you have your questions written out in front of you while you are with the customer.
Another way to practice is to pull out your smartphone in a meeting and press record on the audio or video app. When the call is over and you have a quiet place to reflect on it, press play and listen to yourself.
Did you do most of the talking or were you asking great questions and listening? If you are talking more than 30% in the sales call, you are not doing your job correctly and need additional training.
It is not easy to listen to yourself and be critical of what you might not be doing correctly. This is why some of the top Hollywood actors have a tough time watching their own movies.
• Consistency: This is not a one-time training exercise. Think of it as being an athlete or a professional musician in a top-rated orchestra. You are practicing all the time and in between games or performances you are still tweaking your craft.
When you see yourself as the consummate professional salesperson, so will the buyer.
Hal Becker is a nationally known speaker on sales and customer service. He is the author of numerous business books including two national best sellers, “Can I Have 5 Minutes Of Your Time?” and “Lip Service.” Hal’s newest book on sales is titled “Ultimate Sales Book.” He can be reached at Halbecker.com.