To benefit the many new graduates and new sellers entering the sales arena, I’ve spent time thinking about the things I wish I knew before going into sales. This episode goes out to my buddy Isaac, who is just entering sales, as well as the other new graduates and new sellers.
Many sellers have initial experiences that leave them wondering if they made the right career choice. This month on The Sales Evangelist, we’re focusing on the class of 2020, but our messages will resonate with those who are entering the sales world for the first time as well as veterans who have been selling for a while.
Believe in yourself and starve your doubts
Mindset is incredibly important, but I didn’t understand that initially. I remember watching movies like Boiler Room that portrayed a charismatic sales rep who would sweet-talk buyers and say anything necessary to land a sale. I figured sales was entirely about skill set.
When I came into sales, though, I realized that mindset is probably 70 percent of the effort. Unlike football, which requires learning physical tasks, sales is largely mental.
Are you self-conscious about your ability to find prospects? Are you worried about people saying no to you? Do you believe in your product or service? All of these things tie back to your mindset and your belief, and you have to begin with a belief that you’re going to succeed. Believe that what you’re doing matters, and believe that you’re going to succeed.
I give credit to my buddy Jared Easley whose podcast Starve the Doubts first introduced me to the idea of dealing with doubt and worry. Feeling overwhelmed by doubts can cause you to wonder whether you’re cut out for sales, so you must avoid the temptation to fuel your doubts.
There’s a Native American proverb that says that we each have two wolves within us: a good one and an evil one. Whichever wolf we feed most often will survive. You can feed the doubt or feed the belief in success. Create a proper mindset, develop some goals, and determine how you will overcome your existing belief system.
Movies like Boiler Room perpetuate the idea that in any transaction, the seller is the winner and the buyer is the loser since the seller got money and the buyer got hustled. I wish I had understood that better before I got into professional selling.
When I started selling B2B, I realized that I was engaging with very intelligent people. These were smart executives who weren’t going to be tricked or bamboozled. I wish I had realized this when I started selling.
I realized after studying The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People that our job as sellers is to create a situation in which both parties win. We should create relationships in which both parties will benefit because the seller will close the deal and the buyer will solve a problem. Because the buyer needs our expertise, we’ll provide it and help them overcome a challenge. Once that happens, he’ll richly compensate us for our diligence and support. Sales is about helping the buyer identify a solution to a problem and then persuade himself that your organization offers the best solution.
You must be ethical. You must deliver the things you promise to deliver in order to avoid customer churn. When you lead with the belief that your goal is to help solve problems, you’ll create raving fans in your customers. Focus on how you can help.
Become an expert at asking effective questions
When I started out in sales, I thought that sellers did all the talking. I was surprised to find that many of the successful sellers are like Dr. Phil: they ask effective questions.
Sellers who do this build rapport, and they are able to gather all the information they need to solve problems. And when you master the art of asking effective questions and doing follow up, your customers will tell you everything.
Consider a situation where you ask the buyer why his company is considering making a change right now. Some sellers would stop with that question, but sales pros will go deeper.
“Why haven’t you been able to solve this problem in the past?”
“If your current vendor is working well, why are you considering a move to another?”
I’ve spent too much time pitching my company’s great track record and providing information that my buyer didn’t really want to hear. By asking better questions and probing, I was able to gain true understanding and help my customers solve problems, which helped us close deals faster.
Don’t take rejection personally
Your customers will not wake up this morning planning to reject sales reps today. They won’t conjure negative ideas about you or your product.
Most likely, when you call, they won’t be ready to talk. Give them a call back. Don’t take it personally if they reject you the first time. If you take these things personally, it can negatively impact your future phone calls.
I wish I had known when I first started selling that rejection wasn’t personal.
I ran track in college, and I learned the importance of being as aerodynamic as possible. If you turn to look behind you to see where your competitors are, you create drag. The wind pushes against you and you lose your forward momentum.
We learned to focus on improving our times. Although we did compete with other people, we worked on beating our own previous performance. Eventually, I want to beat my competitors so I can win the race, and I will definitely work toward that.
In sales, work to beat your yesterday. Don’t compare your pipeline to that of other sellers.
Dedicate time to prospecting.
Understand that you will make a lot of calls in order to find the customers who have a problem that you can help solve. You have to send out emails, connect with people on LinkedIn, and do all kinds of outreach in order to fill the top of your funnel.
Sales is a numbers game: the more you put in, the more you get out. New sellers may see veteran sellers succeed and assume that they aren’t prospecting much. What they don’t know is that the experienced seller goes to network events at night and generates leads in other ways beyond the phone. They are asking their current customers for referrals that lead to new business opportunities.
Put in the sweat equity to become a master prospector. Be disciplined enough to prospect daily.
Do the opposite of what everyone else is doing
When everyone else zigs, how can you zag?
If everyone else is relying on phone calls, maybe you can change things up a bit. Add something new.
If the goal is to get to the prospect, consider sending something via snail mail. Use LinkedIn. Use video. There are many, many people trying to connect with the people you’re reaching out to. Find ways to stand out from the competition.
We want to help
We create content like videos and podcasts because we have been in your shoes. I’ve been a seller who was frustrated with rejection and worried that I chose the wrong career.
These things I wish I knew before going into sales changed my selling experience, and I want to do the same for you.
I want you to find more ideal customers. I want you to know what to say when you connect with them. I want you to build value, close more deals, and challenge your mind to do big things.
Subscribe to the podcast. Connect with me on LinkedIn. Check out Crmble CRM, a digital whiteboard that lets you create lists of leads and contacts, and manage your projects. It’s a free Trello power-up that’s easy to use and customizable. You can also connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope you like and learned many things from this episode. If you did, please review us and give us a five-star rating on Apple podcast or in any platform you’re using – Google Podcast, Stitcher, and Spotify. You can also share this with your friends and colleagues. Audio provided by Free SFX and Bensound.