Note To Sales People in 2017 — It’s Time To Up Your Game

notepad with pen on brown wood table background

 

notepad with pen on brown wood table background

If you’re a sales person and you give a shit about your clients, your personal development, your career, and your company, then I have a message for you.

It’s 2017, and we’re failing our customers, prospects, the companies we work for and ourselves.

In the past 15 years, there have been crazy advancements in the area of sales tools, from CRM’s that do just about everything except your laundry to data or insights applications that deliver a full dossier of your client’s life straight to your phone or desktop. Shit, there are even apps that tell you when to call a prospect and what to talk about.

Not surprisingly, advancements in the sales world didn’t just come in the area of tools and applications; they also came via new organizations structures like inside sales, inbound marketing, ABM (Account Based Marketing) and more, all to make selling more efficient, faster and more predictable.

Selling has been turned on its head by technology.  It’s never been easier to sell.

Yet, I lament, it appears we are doing less selling than ever. We’ve become slaves to the machine.

In spite of all the new tools, new methodologies, insights, our selling, our commitment to the craft of selling is waning, and it’s time we get our shit together and become the valuable purveyors of change our prospects expect from us.

Too many of us are operating from 20th-century sales rules that no longer apply, and it’s not longer OK or acceptable.

New Rules of Selling

Rule 1: Give a shit about your customers and prospects.

I mean genuinely give a shit about your prospects and buyer’s success and business.  Put them first, become an expert in their business, be able to bring value to them before you ask for something in return.  Your prospects are the ones with the money; they are the people with a problem, treat them that way. I don’t suggest you be their bitch, but for sure stop looking at them as an ATM. Put your customers and prospects first. Build your selling methodology around them, and you can’t go wrong.

Rule 2: You don’t matter

Your prospects and customers don’t give a shit if you’re the top rep, are going on Presidents Club or are on a PIP. They care about their business and are looking for you to make a difference in THEIR world. They have their own set of goals, objectives, and needs that have nothing to do with you. Stop getting upset when they cancel a meeting, don’t show up to a call or choose the competition. It’s not personal. You nor your product are at the center of the universe. Pull up your big boy pants and move on.  The truth is, it’s probably your screw up that cost you the deal in the first place.

If you want to sell better, just keep in perspective, you don’t matter.

Rule 3: Stop sending stupid emails

The number of stupid emails salespeople send out is at an all-time high. Stupid emails are emails that do nothing for the recipient. They are selfish requests for time, and rarely offer anything of value for that time. Stupid emails unnecessarily interrupt a prospects day. No, your buyer doesn’t want to give you 15 minutes in their crazy busy schedule to tell you about their organization or discuss how you can improve their business.

Just stop.

If you can’t offer something of value, in the email that’s not product specific, don’t send it.  Learn how to create emails that create value for the recipient. Learn to create emails that teach, educate and inform the recipient.

Learn to write emails that give more than their asking.

Rule 4: You’re not that good

It’s time you stop thinking that because you’ve made Presidents Club 5 years in a row and because you’re one of the tops salespeople you have nothing to learn.  You’re not that good. You have plenty to learn,  especially if you’re over 35.  Sales is and has been going through incredible changes,  yet too many of you think that you’ve seen it all and there is nothing you need to know.  Sales is a fluid, and ever-changing environment and assuming that you’ve completed the learning journey is a mistake. Have some humility, be open to new things, expand your craft, and embrace deliberate learning. 

Rule 5: Stop blaming the prospect

It’s not the prospects fault if they don’t return your call. It’s not the prospect’s fault if they choose the competitor. You can’t blame the prospect if they continue to push you on price. It’s not the prospects fault, so stop blaming them for your poor selling. Prospects are busy, and they aren’t beholden to YOU! They’re trying to run a business. They have goals they’re trying to meet. They have bosses, employees, peers and more all demanding their time. You are not their number one priority. If a prospect is ignoring you, it’s your fault. If a prospect is fighting you on price, it’s your fault. If a buyer chooses your competition over you, you didn’t do a good job selling. Don’t blame the prospect. Instead, provide more value, and stop wasting their time. It’s not the prospects fault; it’s yours.

Rule 6: Ask good questions not stupid questions

“What keeps you up at night?” . . . that is a stupid question. “What are you looking to accomplish?” . . . that is a stupid question. “What are your goals?” . . . that is also a stupid question. Most of the questions you ask are stupid questions. Why? See number Rule 1. You’re asking questions to sell your product or service.  You’re asking questions that benefit you, not questions that help identify and solve real issues or challenges your prospect may be struggling to address.  Your prospect knows what his or her goals are. They know what they are trying to accomplish and asking them questions they know the answers to, so you can attempt to sell them your shit, isn’t selling. It’s just annoying.

Rule 7: Yes, you have to use the CRM

The CRM is there to help you, and if you use it correctly, it will be your best friend. If you don’t think the CRM is useful, then you’re using it wrong. Today’s CRM’s do so much more than store a few names and numbers. They are central data hubs that can supply you with everything you need to engage with your prospects the right way. If the data in you CRM isn’t helping you, if you find the CRM to be a pain in the ass, take a good look in the mirror, ’cause it ain’t the CRM.

The CRM is a tool, like any other tool. It’s only as good as it’s handler.

Rule 7: You’re not ready for a promotion

Hey millennials and wily veterans, you’re not promotion material.  Just because you’ve made quota a few times or even been on President’s Club your entire life, promotion to sales management has nothing to do with your ability to sell.  We already have too many unqualified sales managers screwing up sales organizations because they were promoted for being great salespeople. Sales management is about leadership. It’s no longer about turning the screw but getting others to turn the screw. If you want a promotion, start learning to lead.  Embrace how to motivate, influence and drive people, because that’s what sales needs in sales management. Just ’cause you’re a badass sales person doesn’t mean your promotional material.  You’re not ready!

Rule 8: You’re not exempt from ANYTHING

Yup, you’re a great salesperson, you’re crushing it every month. You’ve never missed quota. You’ve always been on President’s Club. Your customers love you. You’re Ms. reliable.  Great, but that doesn’t mean you get special treatment. Put your shit into the CRM. Show up at the team meetings. Support the other reps on the team. Share best practices. Be present at company functions. Be a visible, productive part of the team and the entire organization. Just because you’re the top rep doesn’t mean you get to operate from a separate set of rules. You’re not a lone wolf; you’re not special, so stop acting like it. Doing your job well doesn’t entitle you to special treatment. You’re not exempt from anything.

Rule 9: Stop pushing your product

Feature-function selling is dead. It’s not selling, and no one cares about how many features your product has or how bits it can process or how many fizzy wizzies it has. Buyers are trying to get stuff done, and your annoying pitches about how great your product and company are is frustrating and wasting everyone’s time. It’s 2017.  Buyers can look at your site, trial your product or ask others what features you have. Selling features isn’t being helpful.

Rule 10: Do your homework

Take the time to learn a little something about your prospect. Do the research, know what your buyer does, what the company does, know what division he or she operates in, understand who their competition is, know what their overall corporate goals are, know what’s important to them.  Your buyer is not an unknown entity; they produce content. They write blogs. They may be public. They have a social media presence, etc. There is no excuse not to know someone before you reach out. Put in the time, stop being lazy and get acquainted with the people and companies your calling.  It’s not their job to educate you on who they are.

Rule 11: Elevate your game

Selling is a craft. You’re not a carnival barker, working a crowd to find the unsuspecting sucker who’ll drop the last of his hard earned money on your rigged game. You’re a sales professional who’s value is in providing solutions to companies big and small. Your job is to help businesses increase revenue, reduce churn, improve customer loyalty, save money, improve processes, and more. These are not small, immaterial efforts. As a sales person, you have the ability to substantially change the game for hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of individuals so act like it. Expand your business acumen. Elevate your communication game. Improve your critical thinking skills. Become a sophisticated sales leader, relied on for insight, advice, and direction.

It’s time sales people. It’s time we step up our game. The world demands it!

 

Keenan

  • Tibor Shanto

    Great point Jim, it is all about the connectin, and connecting on multiple levels to fully engage with the buyer.

    Tibor

  • Arudin

    Hi Jim: I like the idea, but I don’t buy it completely. No doubt connections are valuable in selling, and that they’re the plumbing that holds social networks together. But the key issue is the context for the connection: every salesperson is challenged to create value–usually measured in revenue. That’s seldom achieved through connections floating free in space–they have to be joined to a pain, challenge, problem to be solved, or strategic objective that lacks the tools to accomplish it.

    Taking this thought a step further enables a salesperson to be more discriminating about which connections are valuable. If we pursued every connection we’re like five-year-olds on a soccer field, chasing the ball wherever it goes without regard to a setting up plays. When we look at the differences between network connections, we can uncover patterns. For me, the more valuable ones involve revenue generation discussions, best-practice knowledge transfer, and innovation. When salespeople look for where those ideas are flowing, they will most likely find the right context for the best connections to have.

    • Aurdin,

      The connections you’re talking about are exactly what I was referring to, you just said it better.

      Thanks

  • Totally agree with your comments.
    I’m not sure many of them are new ?
    Give a shit about your customer was something I was doing back in the 1980s and Zig Ziglar was pushing that barrow years before that.
    Seems like a lot of your points are about keeping an EGO in check and being a polite, caring person ?

    • Unfortunately a lot aren’t new, but yet salespeople aren’t doing them and they need to. 😉 Thanks Greg!

  • This post sure does read like a huge blow to salespeople out there, and I mean it in a good way. Like you mentioned, some of them are not new (not very 2017) and are pretty basic but are easily forgotten by salespeople. It’s always about staying in the game by bring your game upwards. We wrote about this in 2016 and how salespeople must never settle for mediocrity and I think it’s also best to refresh their minds about it: https://www.tenfold.com/sales-performance/overcome-sales-objections

  • Fekecs Sándor

    Is this supposed to be a shitty article? As it smells and even emphasis is put on that specific word…

    You know, we are sales professionals, maybe not considered to be good at marketimg (actually, we are many times suffering from it…) but we just do not need this kind of language to be used in order to make us interested in your content.

    And by using “you” all the time while lecturing us – you know, maybe us, making a living from this daily, MAY stioll know more about it from the inside than some smart ass consultants – YOU are alienating US. Which is, by the way, bad marketing AND bad sales.

    And not too many novums in your article, by the way.

    Please.
    Thank you!

  • Syed Haris

    Totally agree…Solution sales with using right tools of the age and more importantly being Mindfull is the rule of the Game….Cheers with your work Keenan..