Sales Moves: Today's business environment calls for tough salespeople

We all hear countless foreboding comments regarding today's business environment. "My salespeople are anxious and procrastinating," "they can't get prospects to act," and "the pandemic has shut down business" are thoughts many fellow business owners have recently expressed in my training sessions.

When I ask how they are responding to these pronouncements I hear, "we're getting lean," "cutting overhead," "reducing expenses," and "laying-off non-essential staff" to build a war chest. Unfortunately, there are no commitments to act after all the fiscally responsible actions, so "What happens next?"

As a business owner, I believe it is wise to conservatively spend and do not encourage recklessness under any circumstances. So, what really separates those who prosper from those who struggle? It's no secret that a company with a strong, highly competitive, committed sales team will always find a way to achieve its bottom-line financial goal versus one with a sales force who believes the headlines, makes excuses and justifies a shortfall.

My analysis of most sales teams shows they adhere to the 20/60/20 rule. Approximately 20 percent of the sales team is comprised of winners or high performers, 60 percent of variable performers and 20 percent of non-performers. Sales winners will predictably and consistently sell more products or services to prospects or existing clients. Variable performers and non-winners squander their best-selling efforts on their business owner, to convince them they are the "victims" of a faltering economy.

The following are five of the ways sales winners approach selling to outperform the competition in today's challenging business climate:

1. Be a hunter, not a farmer. Take the time to critically evaluate your sense of urgency when it comes to prospecting. Sales winners spend 40 percent of their time farming their existing customers for more business and 60 percent of time hunting for new sources of business.

2. Critically evaluate your beliefs. "As you believe, so you act." If you believe everything you read in the newspaper and hear on the news, you will accept the stalls and put-offs of your prospects. Take time each day to clear the "head trash" that holds your success hostage. Prospects want you to believe that the sale hinges on the lowest price. In today's economy, more than ever, your money beliefs are challenged. If you are a lowest price, think-it-over buyer in your personal life you will accept those put-offs from your prospects.

3. Focus on business introductions and referrals. It is time to use your connections wisely as they know you, respect your ability and expertise and lastly, know prospects who can use your services.

4. Improve your sales skills and playbook. This is the time to sharpen you selling tactics. The same tired tactics you have used in the past will not get it done today! Develop a playbook mentality and focus on key selling tactics: handling objections, 30 second commercial, bonding and rapport, determining reasons to buy, etc.

5. Stop relying on your personality to get the job done. Today's business environment requires more professionalism than ever before. The days of the slick, manipulative, "smarmy" sales type is over. Develop an organized sales process and use it every time you make a sales call. Be memorable for your process and professionalism, not your personality.

All salespeople must ask themselves: "What am I capable of doing (sales aptitude) and what am I willing to do (sales commitment) in order to be successful?" Many salespeople have the aptitude or skills to be successful; however, it is only the top 20 percent, the true sales winners, who have the unconditional commitment that it takes to triumph in this demanding business economy. Keep in mind that commitment is the willingness to perform the difficult sales behaviors regardless of your own personal beliefs. Charles Swindoll said, "Life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I handle it." The same can be said for selling in today's economy.

Go conquer your worlds!

•Bill Bartlett owns Corporate Strategies, A Sandler Training Center. Text "salestip" to 35893 to receive Bill's biweekly newsletter.

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