Comfortably Uncomfortable

Listen up everybody, if you want to be in sales people have to like you. People buy from people they like and respect. Typically, a great salesman has the ability to captivate an audience with a story and garner the status “life of the party” wherever they go. This is because a good salesman has become comfortable in uncomfortable situations. They understand that in that brief moment of uncomfort that prosperity will soon come (prosperity does not alway mean money). Being comfortably uncomfortably is a trait that people are drawn to it demonstrates a level of confidence that very few people have. Nobody likes a pushy salesman but everybody loves a good listener with a relatable story.

Sales is one of the most difficult professions to be successful and one of the very few where your performance is tied into your pay on a daily basis. However, according to CNBC sales is one of the top 20 best paying jobs with average mean salary of $140,320 right behind that of a lawyer. One of the reasons it is such a tough profession is because you have to prove yourself and your product. You have about 30 seconds or less at the beginning of a meeting to build a rapport with someone then if that is successful you have about 5 minutes to demonstrate how you can make them more money or you are out.

We do this by making small talk, if it is an in person meeting be sure to comment on something in their office, find common ground. This does not mean that if your buyer likes to hunt in their free time that you have to be the worlds greatest hunter, you just need enough to get the buyer talking. When the buyer is talking you are doing something right… within reason.

For example, if I walk into my buyers office and he has six taxidermies on the wall, I may say something like “Some nice animals you have on the wall there, I myself have a 30/30 in the gun rack at home”. Just find common ground. If you can get the buyer talking about something they are passionate about, they will like you. Everybody is 99% interested in what they have to say and 1% interested in what you have to say. You just have to make sure that you capitalize on the 1% that you get to say, make it worth while. Read Johnny, your 8 year old buyer for more information on the 1%.

If you are unable to meet with the buyer in person and are tasked with a phone meeting, there are a couple avenues that I recommend. The first one is to do as much research as you possibly can. I was recently in a meeting, admittedly that I was unprepared for, luckily my business partner had done his homework. As we got to the ending questions, the dreaded trial close, the buyer began to backtrack and showed signs of hesitation. He expressed that he had recently been furloughed by his biggest contract due to Covid – 19 and wanted to wait to hire us until the contract was active again. My partner quickly was able to reference, based on his research, what he thought would be our buyers biggest contract (based on his website). Once the company named was mentioned the whole demeanor of the ending remarks changed as he respected where we were coming from. We ended up signing the deal. It is all about relationships and trust, the customer has to like you or they will not do business with you. You will be surprised how big a customers wallet opens when they like and trust you.

The second recommendation for an over the phone meeting is to bring up something that affects everybody; sports, weather, holiday, Corona, etc. This allows for instant common ground, not nearly as affective as personal common ground but effective nonetheless. Often times generic small talk can lead to personal common ground if you can ask the right questions.

All of these aspects are important for every meeting that you go into whether in person or over the phone. Just remember that the product is less important than the relationship, find common ground and be likable. If the buyer does not like you then you’re not going to be able to sell them anything. People buy from people they like and remember nobody likes to be sold but everybody likes to buy something.

Everyone should work in sales. Here are 4 Reasons why.

If you are jumping into the workforce and you do not know where you would like to begin, start in sales. The lessons and skills you will learn in sales will stick with you through any career path that you decide upon. There are also an immense amount of sales positions available, 1 in 8 jobs in the US are sales focused. Here are some of the main reason why an introduction into a sales career is a good idea:

  1. Learn how to take a defeat: Likely at the start of any sales career you will be doing the very fun art of cold calling. For those of you that are not aware, this means that you have a list of names and numbers in front of you that you have to call all day. Most cold calling sales positions will reach out to 50-100 prospects in a given day and you may not even get a result. Most of the time, if you are lucky enough to actually get someone on the phone, the prospect will tell you they are all set and not in need of your product or service. Hearing no that many times is dexterity that most jobs cannot teach you and will surely be helpful down the road. 
  2. Resiliency: It typically takes 8 calls to actually get your prospect on the phone. That is a lot of work and is why most people do not like to cold call. This teaches you to never give up until you speak with the prospect. This is an important lesson no matter what career you choose.  
  3. Develop Relationships: Almost every business is about developing relationships, you could have the best product in the world but if you don’t know anybody then you will never be able to get it to market. In sales you have about 10-30 seconds to build a rapport that will likely develop a relationship. Acquiring the skill to develop a relationship in a mere 30 seconds is a skill that will pay dividends for years to come. 
  4. Professional Demeanor: In a world of technology, being able to carry yourself professionally is a talent being aggressively scouted in the workforce right now. Whether on the phone, in person, on email, or in any form of communication it is important that you are able to walk the walk and talk the talk. 

In any case whether you are interested in sales or not you should at least give it a try. If nothing else it is a great training ground for the rest of your career. In addition the top paying sales positions in each industry is well over $150,000 so safe to say there is a lot of money to be made in sales. 

Dress to Impress

The famous Zig Zigler once said “You cannot climb the ladder of success dressed in the costume of failure.” In short this means that you have to “look the part”, in business “looking the part” is an underrated principle that if mastered goes a long way. It does not matter which company you work for or which department you are involved with because you still have to look the part. Would you be a successful/respected janitor if you wore a tuxedo? How about a successful clown if you wore gym shorts a tank top and no makeup? Of course not, these are very elementary examples about what I am speaking towards. 

This principle works for more traditional business departments as well, here are a few: 

Management or Executive Positions: Must command yourself in a manner that demands respect and illustrates why you are the leader. This starts with your clothes, body language, attitude, and overall demeanor. People are looking for a leader, this does not mean that you have to wear a $5,000 suit, it simply means that your outfit has to be a non issue. (People don’t look at it and think wow thats a tough work outfit, he is my boss?)

Sales: You must fit in with the crowd that you are selling to. If you are selling Ferraris at the Los Angelas Ferrari dealership you should probably be dressed in business formal clothing as that is likely the clientele you will be dealing with and more so what your clientele will be expecting. However, if you are selling Ford’s in a small town in Maine then a polo and jeans will suffice and ultimately make your customer more comfortable with the buying experience. 

Marketing: Whatever business or industry you are in your website, signage, etc has to match your overall culture and brand. The marketing efforts must be impressive to YOUR customer base. If you are trying to attract a right wing conservative group, you had better have an American flag on your promo material. 

The main take away from this is to identify where you fit in a market, regardless of your department or industry, and make sure that you “look the part”.

Don’t dream, set goals

Most people reading this blog are probably aware of, even if only acutely, SMART goals. This is an old adage in business that acts as an acronym standing for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound. I am not here to push the SMART goal method onto you but I am here to introduce and illustrate the importance of having goals. Goals are an important motivator both in your personal and in your professional life. Success in life is a multi prong approach that always should begin with the end, start making your goals from retirement backwards. If you know where you are going it is a heck of a lot easier to design the road map to get there. 

When developing all of your goals always have the end in mind, without it there is no destination. Personally, I develop goals for every fiscal quarter for 3-5 years. On top of that I have 10 year goals, 20 year goals, and goals for the end. These are all encompassing that do not merely discuss my professional life but also the house that I want to live in, the beautiful family that I want to continue to develop, and ultimately continued happiness. 

Far too often people get lost in goals as these daunting achievements that you will never live up to. This is where the SMART goal format does come in nicely, as it coaches you through developing a goal so that it is achievable and rewarding. I was once told that a person/organization should be meeting about 80% of their goals, if you are hitting 100% of your goals then they are too easy and if you are not hitting 80% then you either are not working hard enough or your goals are too lofty. Find the sweet spot in your goals that lives right around an 80% success rate. Shoot for the sun and get to the moon.

The last two things that I want to leave you with are this; goals must be written down and attained goals must be celebrated. If your goal is not written down that it is merely a figment of your imagination and will likely never be achieved. Once you write a goal on paper it is a plan of action and you are ready to accomplish it. When a goal is accomplished you must celebrate it, go out to a fancy dinner, buy something nice. Do something for yourself, after all you gave yourself a goal, developed a roadmap to get there, and you navigated to the end. You deserve it. 

Be a Navy Seal QRT (Quick Reaction Team)

We all know that networking is a necessary strategy for success. Whether you are at a trade show, Chamber of Commerce meeting, or even at that barbecue that you volunteered to cook at. Networking can help you create exposure about you, your product or your service in a way that is somewhat innocuous. What I mean by that is most people that go into networking mode become immediately transformed into an obnoxious and cacophonous billboard/foghorn about all their company offers.

Networking requires specific tactics and talents in order to be successful. We all know that listening is a huge tenant of the sale cycle. The old adage that “God gave us two ears and one mouth” would indicate that we should listen twice as much as we talk holds true. In networking the first tactic that I would suggest is balance.

I have been to thousands of networking events and if you strike up a conversation with someone and stand there and listen to them pontificate endlessly then shame on you. Work to control the conversation gently, inserting your sales message and company information all while being mindful of the time. Networking is about quality AND quantity. If you attend a networking event that lasts 2 hours and you talk to 3 people then you have missed the boat. Basically act like a Navy SEAL QRT (Quick Reaction Team); infiltrate, meet objective, no shots fired, ex-fil and move on.

The objective is to meet as many people as you can, share your information, get their information and move to the next person. Hopefully you know what to do with all the contacts that you made. If not, do a quick search here, we’ve got you covered.