Contrary to popular belief, it’s not difficult to be successful at selling. However, it does take a willingness to examine your strengths and weaknesses, and take action to reinforce the former, and shore up the latter. This process requires self-awareness, which is the purpose of these four key questions.
Ask each of these four questions silently to yourself. Answer honestly, then take action based on what you learn.
QUESTION #1: Do I lack a fundamental skill?
If you’re failing on the basics, trying to make progress on advanced skills is a waste of time. For example, if you don’t have the skills to prime your pipeline, improving your negotiating skills is foolish, because you’ll soon have nobody with whom to negotiate.
While the required basic skills to sell vary according to business model, there are four that come to mind that are useful everywhere: establishing a relationship, assessing needs, providing solution, and closing the sale. If you feel that you’re lacking in any one of these areas, that’s your weakest link and you’ll never be really successful at selling until you strengthen that link.
How do you develop fundamental sales skills? Well, this blog is a good place to start. At the end of this post are a list of Sales Machine articles that can help.
QUESTION #2: What bad habits are impeding me?
Nearly everybody has some bad habit that’s keeping them from being as successful as they otherwise could be. In many cases, it’s a tendency to waste time on trivial matters. For example, if you’re in the habit of spending an hour a day on social networking that has nothing to do with your sales activities, that’s time that could be better spent communicating with customers, or developing new opportunities.
Other success-killing habits include eating too much and drinking too much, watching too much television or playing too many computer games, all of which tend to sap your energy, making it harder to get yourself out there selling. The worst habit of all consists of allowing your mind to have a negative dialog with itself. No habit frustrates sales success more quickly or effectively than perpetual worrying.
How do you change a bad habit? Simple. You replace it with a similar, but more effective habit. For example, if you eat too much, replace your interest in eating with an interest in eating healthy foods and still enjoying them. Make it a hobby. Or if you like playing computer games, put that energy into understanding how e-marketing works, and then try developing your own campaign.
As for a negative internal dialog, that’s easy. Consciously create some positive “mantras” and repeat them silently to yourself every time you start hearing a negative internal voice. Over time, your mind will start echoing the positive, rather than the negative.
QUESTION #3: What good habits could I upgrade?
Just as everyone has some bad habits, everyone also has good habits which help make them successful. Just as you want to shore up your weaknesses (as in questions #1 and #2), you want to reinforce your strengths and make them even more effective. To do this you look for a basically good habit or behavior which, if you improved at it, you’d be able to move your selling abilities to the next level.
For example, let’s suppose you have the excellent habit of always spending at least an hour a day on developing your pipeline. What if you added to that habit a stronger set of lead pre-qualification skills? That way, you’d get better leads into the pipeline and your good habit would be create much better results.
The reason that improving good habits can be so effective is that you’re already “in the groove” and doing the right thing, so it’s relatively easy to tack on something extra that makes it even better. You’ve already got momentum that’s carrying you towards success; you’re just making the process faster and more efficient!
QUESTION #4: What behavior, if I made it automatic and easy, would bring me the greatest level of success?
Whew! That’s quite a question. But it truly is one of the most important that you can ask yourself.
What you’re looking for is a skill or habit that today is totally foreign to you but which, if you mastered it, would propel you to a level of success far beyond your current state.
For example, suppose you’re the top sales rep in your firm when selling IT managers, making million-dollar deals. What habit or skill could you acquire that would make it easy for you to call on top CEOs and win corporate wide business worth hundreds of millions of dollars? In this case, it might be developing such complete self-confidence in yourself that it become contagious.
Similarly, suppose you’re successful at telephone sales but know that the big money in your business is done in the field, face-to-face. Right now, you’ve got great phone skills, but the idea of giving presentations to a live audience frightens you. What if public speaking were as natural to you as chatting on the phone? Perhaps you should consider joining Toastmasters, or finding some way to develop this part of your personality.
READERS: Any suggestions for additional questions?
- How to Craft an Elevator Pitch
- How to Find Hot Sales Leads
- How to Make a Flawless Cold Call
- How to Answer Sales Objections
- How to Sell Using Voice Mail
- How to Give a Sales Presentation
- How to Write a Sales Proposal
- How to Give a Product Demonstration
- How to Negotiate a Final Deal
- How to Close a Sale
- How to Create a Sales Process