Author: Tommy Briggs
Principle I: Attitude
Tip 1: Look for the Positive Side
An important lesson to learn in life, as well as in the sales profession, is that everything that happens to us is for a reason. I suggest there is a positive reason for everything that happens to us. It may not always be as obvious as we might like, and sometimes we may have to search harder to find it. It may not always produce the outcome we would like, but if we look for the positive in everything that happens, we will find it. If we look for the negative, we will find that, too. Most people today want instantaneous reward. Often, the best things take time to occur. We cannot look at the immediate result and assume that there will be no positive future outcome.
The sales business is a never-ending series of events. These events are open to interpretation, and each can be labeled positive or negative. Whether you make a sale or miss a sale, if you keep an appointment or end up late for an appointment, if someone stands you up for an appointment or you write an order, everything that happens is just an event. I learned a valuable lesson when I realized this. I choose to make each event either positive or negative. Until I decide which meaning I assign to the event, it is merely an event. You can assign a positive value or a negative value.
Many sales people get upset when they arrive to see a prospect and the prospect cancels the appointment or will not see them. One positive value that could be assigned in that situation would be that at least he or she did not take up a lot of your time, considering that they must not have been interested. Fortunately, you found out before you expended a lot of time, effort or even money. Many prospects will allow you to make your presentation even though they have already made the decision not to buy your product (or service). They simply could not bring themselves to say ‘no’ when you called for the appointment. Rather than having your time wasted, it is better to save it for something more productive.
I worked for a company selling a service to business owners. My employer provided its sales representatives with appointments. When sometimes appointments didn’t materialize as anticipated, the representatives often complained about the lack and all of their idle time. However, I found a major positive in idle time. I chose to look at it as time I could work on my presentation, read a book, listen to audiotapes or otherwise improve myself. As Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) was quoted as saying: “A man should always have with him a book to read and a book to write in.” Indeed, he understood how to redeem the time, making a positive situation out of life’s negatives.
Many of the representatives focused negatively on the hour or two during which they were sitting around inactive without an appointment. I believe some representatives miss some sales because the prospects can sense the frustration the sales professional carries into the appointment with them.
Many sales people spend considerable time trying to figure out why the last prospect they went to see did not buy. If you were applying for a sales position, the sales manager told you his sales people were selling or closing 100% of the prospects they saw, and they had a never-ending supply of leads and prospects, how much do you think the commission would be?
I have always found a positive side to every event, and so can you if you look for one.
Tip 2: Tap the Power of the Subconscious Mind
Most people fail to understand and recognize the importance of their attitude and the power of their beliefs. They would be greatly benefited if they could learn to tap the power of their subconscious mind, which is often the hidden depository of such attitudes and beliefs.
Have you ever searched for your keys or wallet and been unable to find them? Later someone else walks into the same room and picks up your keys or wallet from the middle of the same coffee table or kitchen table where you looked for your keys or wallet just minutes before. Did you look in the same place three, four times or more and fail to see them?
In finding your lost item, your friend was not performing some cheap magician’s trick. I believe the reason you could not see your keys or wallet is because you gave your subconscious mind a command to carry out: “I have lost my wallet or keys.” Your subconscious mind then carries out the command and feeds your conscious mind information. If something is lost, it cannot be found. Finding your keys or wallet would prove you wrong, after having given your subconscious mind the “lost” command. Your subconscious mind literally makes the keys or wallet disappear from your sight. The person who finds them has not given their subconscious mind the same command; consequently, they walk right in and pick them up.
One of the most important lessons you can learn in life is the tremendous power of the subconscious mind, which takes everything you say as fact. It does not understand kidding or joking. One morning at ten o’clock your results (whether in sales or administration) may be less than desired, and you may say to yourself: “I am having another bad day!” Your subconscious mind is now going to fulfill the command you have given it. It will then prohibit you from achieving success for the rest of the day to prove you were right! You said you are having a “bad day,” not just an “off morning’ or “slow start.” Remember, your subconscious mind takes everything you say literally.
When someone asks you, “How are you?” and you say, “Okay” or “Not too bad,” you program your subconscious mind that you are going to be just okay or not too bad. It takes the command you give it and directs the conscious mind and body to complete it. The command you gave to your subconscious mind prevented you from seeing the keys or the wallet while they sat right in front of you. If you believe that you are not going to be successful in sales, your subconscious mind will ensure that this is the case. It can cause you to use the wrong voice inflection or body language with a prospect and lose a sale.
On the other hand, when you have a positive attitude and answer that you are “super” or “tremendous,” your subconscious mind can also come to your rescue and help you to recognize simple sales resistance and to say the right thing to put your prospect at ease. If you believe you are a successful sales person, your subconscious mind can help you remember information to close a sale. Your subconscious mind can also forget information and cause you to lose a sale if you do not believe in yourself, your product or company. With a positive attitude and beliefs, your subconscious mind will help you do everything better and achieve better results.
Learn to tap the power of your subconscious mind.
Principle II: Goal-Setting
Tip 18: Take Time to Create Precise Goals
If you decided you were going to take a vacation, you would probably first select a destination. Next, you would gather some information on where you might stay once you got there, how you would get there, and how much money you would need. Then, you would schedule your time to do and see the things that interest you. Most vacations are one or two weeks long, and many people spend more time planning their vacation than they do the other fifty or fifty-one weeks of the year—or even the rest of their lives!
Goal setting is life, career or success planning. First, you must decide upon your destination. Where do you want to be one year, five years or ten years from now? How do you plan on getting there? What will you need to arrive there? What will it take to get you where you want to be? The plan consists of your goals, which must be carefully and skillfully planned if they are to be achieved. You can have as many goals as you want. You can never have too many. Your goals are much more important than the one- or two-week vacations you will take, and the amount of time you spend planning them should easily exceed the amount of time you spend planning your vacations. In fact, your goals will provide the funding for every one of your vacations. They are the destinations you have in life.
Your goals must be specific. You would not take a vacation without knowing exactly where you were going, would you? Can you imagine saying to your spouse, “Let’s go to California this summer,” and to their question, “Where in California do you want to go?” replying, “I don’t know. Let’s just go to California.” Now, a one-week trip with a destination of Disneyland or San Francisco might make a little more sense. Then you must plan the trip. How are you going to get there? If you live close enough, you might drive there; if not, you might fly there. How much time will it take to drive there, or how much will you need to pay for the airline tickets? Where will you stay once you arrive?
How much money do you want to have in the bank in one year? How much do you need to save each week to have that amount in one year? Your goals are the motivation you need, when you begin to question whether the hard work and effort you are putting into yourself and your career is worth it. Keep a list of your goals in your pocket and review it often. Take the time to create precise goals. Then, rewrite your goals as often as you can to help keep them current and maintain them in your thoughts.
Tip 19: Picture Your Goals in Your Mind
I suggest that goal setting is one of the most powerful keys to success there are. What do you consider success? If you do not know where you are going, how do you know when you will get there? If you do not have a plan to succeed, then how do you know the route to take? Goal setting is the blueprint for your success. If you were to win the lottery, money was no longer an issue and you decided to build your dream home, you would know exactly how you wanted it to look. You would hire the best contractor there is, and, even though money is not a problem, the contractor would not start until you had given him a set of blueprints or plans.
I have used the following analogy many times to explain how I believe goal-setting works. I hope it helps you to understand the importance of goals a little better.
Have you ever decided that you were going to move into a new apartment, condo or house? You knew exactly how much money you needed for the down payment, closing costs, first month’s rent or security deposit. You knew how much you needed to get your electricity, your telephone and even the cable television turned on. You had to agree upon a specific date for moving in.
They may have given you a floor plan or information on the new home. The new home became a predominant thought. When you went shopping you would walk through the stores, see things, and say to yourself, “That would look nice in our new home.” You would drive by the new address and say, “This is the Chinese restaurant we will order from when we move.” How did you get the money you needed to move? Did you drastically change your spending habits to save the money you needed? Did you take a second job to raise the additional monies? In most cases the answers are no.
Many people, when asked, do not even know how they got the money they needed. They became totally focused on the apartment, condo or house, and by the time they needed the money somehow they had it. The reason why this was possible is because the home became their predominant thought. They knew the exact address they planned to move to and exactly what the home looked like. They knew exactly how much they needed. They said to themselves, “I will be living here by such-and-such a date.”
This is how goal setting works; anything you can picture in your mind and set a specific time frame to accomplish will start to dominate your thoughts and will cause your sub-conscious mind to focus and assist you in the achievement of the goal. Do not confuse goal setting with wishing. Without even realizing what you had done, you had used the principles of goal setting to achieve what you wanted. You must set a reasonable time frame to achieve your goal; you must picture it clearly and vividly in your mind. The goal must be specific in every detail, and it must be predominant in your thoughts.
You can expand your goal setting to other areas of your life and career—not just with the big items like saving money for an apartment, condo or house. Take, for example, the amount of money you had to save for a home and consider the period of time it took you to save it. Then, see if you cannot save that much money for another goal. Most people will not exert the effort to plan and focus in such a way, so they go without when it is your option of moving forward with such goals. Merely count the cost and pay it.
I encourage sales people to find pictures of the cars they want, the homes they want to live in or the places they want to travel to. I encourage them to display them at their desk, on their frig or in their car. This will help them to visualize the result they want. It also helps remind them why each call or presentation is important and what he or she is really working for.
Picturing your goals in your mind is a significant step toward the day of their fulfillment.
Principle III: Self-Improvement
I forgot that every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character.
—Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), in prison just prior to his death, from his De Profundis.
Our third Christian success principle for the sales professional is the principle of self-improvement. In the following seven tips we will look at the “whys and wherefores” of investing in yourself so as to better serve your Creator, others and yourself. First, let’s look at the place of hope in the self-improvement process.
Tip 26: Kindle Hope with Self-Improvement
Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “Things do not change: people change.” The only way we will ever accomplish more than we currently are is to learn more than we currently know. The only way we will ever earn more is to learn more than we know now. Hope is new information. Hope is the greatest motivator in the world.
Webster’s definition for hope is:
1. To cherish a desire with anticipation
2. To desire with expectation of obtainment
3. To expect with confidence
Let us use a compilation of these definitions and say that hope comes with expectation and confidence. The confidence we expect with is our knowledge. All hope, then, is really the confidence and expectation of an improvement of a condition. In order to hope you must have some knowledge, which creates the possibility of improvement.
By reading books and playing CDs or audiotapes, we acquire the new knowledge we need to expect an improvement in our personal or professional lives. If you are making sales presentations but writing few or no sales orders, and someone whose opinion you respect gives you some tips on how to sell your product (or service), you become excited. You have acquired new knowledge, which creates the expectation of an improvement in your sales condition. This is one reason why self-improvement—whether via books, tapes or CDs—is helpful. They fill you with new knowledge, and they create hope.
There are many books and audiotapes available on virtually any self-development subject. Such resources, discriminately selected, can enable us to improve in any area of our life or career. I believe that you will never have any long-lasting success in your career or in your personal life until you get involved in continual self-improvement.
The Lord gave us the Bible so that we could acquire the knowledge we need to live our lives successfully. In addition, many hundreds of talented and successful authors have published works for us to achieve success in such areas. As I stated earlier, almost all self-help and self-improvement ideas are found in the Bible. Timothy told us to, “Attend to the reading, exhortation, and teaching.” Books, CDs and tapes are available so that we can acquire all the knowledge we need to earn the living we want and to become the person we want. Do not be guilty of ignoring such a wealth of resources. Many such resources are available free at your public library or on the Internet. According to Mark Twain, the person who knows how to read and does not is living in a worse state than the person who cannot read.
You can kindle (or rekindle) your hope with self-improvement.
Tip 28: Practice, Focus, Practice
You cannot expect to succeed in sales or in your personal life without a serious commitment to personal and professional self-improvement time. A professional athlete will practice five or six days a week, twenty to thirty hours each week, to prepare to play a single game lasting only one or two hours. Professional sales people should spend more time practicing and studying than they do making sales presentations on their actual job.
The time you put into yourself by rehearsing your presentation, studying or doing research in your field, reading books or listening to audiotapes, is your practice time. The amount of time spent (or not spent) preparing for the actual game will produce great rewards (or negative consequences). You will win or lose the game, and the outcome will depend largely upon the amount of time you have spent in preparation.
The time you put into personal and professional self-improvement produces rewards, which multiply exponentially. If you invest a minimum of one hour a day into your personal and professional self-improvement, you deserve to have greater success than someone who does not. If you invest two hours a day into your self-improvement, you deserve to reap twice the rewards of someone who invests one hour a day.
You should tape your presentation and write it out. You should study and constantly strive to improve it. Some of the best time you can put into self-improvement will be time studying yourself. If you make the same presentation every sales call, you should carry an outline of it with you. You should review it before each sales call. You should rehearse your presentation before you deliver it to a prospect, just as an actor rehearses his or her lines.
You should review your outline again after each presentation you give. While the presentation you just made is fresh in your mind, you should perform a constructive self-evaluation. Evaluate what you believe you did well and what parts you should spend time working on improvement.
You should look for any common objections you are encountering. Look for ways during your presentation to answer them. The best time to overcome any potential objections is during your presentation, not at the end when your prospect brings them up.
The first game film a team watches after a game is the film of the game they just played to evaluate their most recent performance. Tape your next phone call to a prospect or carry a pocket tape recorder and tape your next presentation. I can assure you, you will hear yourself say things you do not remember saying, as well as other things you wished you hadn’t said! You will see that your mind was often focused on your next statement, while you should have been listening to your prospect. This is why you can become distracted and not realize you just ignored your prospect’s last statement or question.
Keep a notepad with you always and write notes, whether you are on the phone or in front of a prospect. If you keep good notes, while you are making a presentation you can also make notes about areas you want to improve. Your prospect will appreciate the attention you pay to their opinions, and it will enable you to remember what you want to cover and still allow yourself to pay attention to them.
This tip for applying the principle of self-improvement can be summed up in the words: “practice, focus, practice.” After that, you can practice, focus and practice again. Then come the fruits of maximum achievement.
Principle IV: Self-Discipline
Genius is only the power of making continuous efforts. The line between failure and success is so fine that we scarcely know when we pass it; so fine that we are often on the line and do not know it. How many a man has thrown up his hands when a little more effort, a little more patience, would have achieved success. As the tide goes clear out, so it comes clear in. In business, sometimes, prospects may seem darkest when really they are on the turn. A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success. There is no failure except in no longer trying. There is no defeat except from within, no really insurmountable barrier save our own inherent weakness of purpose.
Our fourth sales principle is that of self-discipline. This is where the rubber hits the road in the preparation of the sales professional for maximum achievement. The following ten tips will help orient us to the kind of “discipline” that the Scriptures describe this way:
All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. (Heb. 12:11)
Tip 33: Discipline Yourself Today
Many people relate to the word discipline as a punishment or form of punishment. The Webster’s definition for self-discipline is: Correction or regulation of oneself for the sake of improvement.
We all have either the knowledge or access to the information and training we need to be more successful. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Andrew Carnegie began building public libraries and encouraging others to help in the establishment of the public library system. In those libraries, which exist still today, there are books and information on countless thousands of topics from sales techniques to personal or professional success. The information you need to learn about almost any subject is available free and contained within the walls of your local public library. Yet today, less than three per cent of the population has a library card. (Hopefully, part of the reason for that low percentage is the development of the Internet as the research tool of the 21st Century.)
It is not a lack of knowledge that causes a person’s failure. It is their inability to apply self-discipline, to implement and use the ideas and to use the knowledge they already have. The accessibility to the information and the knowledge is there and free. What is missing is the self-discipline to go to the library and read the books, or to perfect your “search” skills on the Internet, so as to locate similar materials online. It requires self-discipline to turn off the television set, get on the Internet or go to the library and access such audio, visual or print-media materials.
It also requires self-discipline to apply the information you have learned. It is easier to say, “I will begin tomorrow,” than it is to begin today. It requires discipline to act. The mind tells us we should take action; discipline tells us to do it now. We have the plan to achieve more personal and professional success, and what we need is the self-discipline to do it today.
It is a proven fact that the mind is most receptive early in the morning. It requires self-discipline to get up earlier and to read or listen to audiotapes instead of the radio. As “discipline starts the night before,” it requires self-discipline to go to bed early enough so that you can wake up and be alert in the A.M. It requires self-discipline to make the time to study when all your friends and family are placing demands (some of them unreasonable) upon your time. And, it takes even greater effort to remain disciplined when all those around you lack such a level of discipline.
The Bible teaches us that there is an appointed time for everything and a time for every affair under the heavens. Our teaching and training prepares us to recognize the time for an action, and self-discipline teaches us to do it now.
The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is the formers’ ability to take action when necessary. Successful people make a habit of taking action right now; unsuccessful people allow procrastination to control their actions.
Successful people do things that are unpopular and difficult. Unsuccessful people put off the deeds and take the path of popularity and least resistance. The things unsuccessful people do on a regular basis are the same things successful people would enjoy, but self-discipline tells them to work towards remaining successful.
Discipline yourself today.
Tip 34: Accept Short-Term Sacrifices for Long-Term Gains
Procrastination and the lack of self-discipline are the most common reasons why so many people neither achieve higher levels of success in their professional lives nor greater personal financial freedom. Procrastination is the opposite of self-discipline. It requires self-discipline to save money and prepare for the future, to set aside our wants and pleasures for the present to save for the future. Most people end up broke or totally dependant upon the government for their retirement in their later years.
One of the main purposes in striving to succeed today is for the pleasure our success will provide for us tomorrow. This process involves embracing the necessary suffering along the road to the pleasurable results. Take, for example, the greatest suffering ever endured on this earth. Of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, it was said, “who, for the joy set before him endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2 NIV).
If we fail to plan, we plan to fail. If we fail to save, then we plan to end up broke. Self-discipline forces us to recognize the need for, and the wonderful benefits of, a sound financial plan. If financial freedom is available, why settle for financial dependency?
Your primary goal in your efforts to achieve success should be to provide a sound financial future for yourself. Self-discipline is the key to saving money. We live in a society which seeks instant gratification—a world where most people want the toys today’s technology offers. Self-discipline teaches us to accept short-term sacrifices for long-term gains. Our self-discipline constantly reminds us of the long-term effects of our every action. Self-discipline is our mind’s ability to train us to take action when it is necessary.
We must also understand that our self-discipline must be consistent in every area of our lives; discipline or the lack of it is a habit. We must apply self-discipline to all parts of our lives. Most importantly, we must create the habits necessary for our success. Saving money is not the habit; self-discipline is the habit, and saving money the by-product of our self-disciplined life. The same self-discipline that teaches us to keep our home neat and clean reduces our need or wants for short-term pleasures that would otherwise prevent us from achieving long-term financial success.
For every disciplined action there are multiple rewards. For every disciplined act that causes us to save money we gain future financial freedom, which will last for years to come. Without consistent self-discipline, we can always find other ways to spend our money and even to justify the act to ourselves.
Self-discipline reminds us of the future and the present. The lack of self-discipline only provides for the present without thought for the future. Self-discipline forces us to write down our goals and to keep them close when we are tempted to waver from our mission. Self-discipline helps us to put in the extra hours and effort, which provide us the financial success for our long-term stability. Self-discipline forces us to find the time to go to the library or Internet and read the books that cause us to become better equipped for success. Self-discipline allows us to access and implement the ideas and knowledge that will create our success, provide us financial rewards and allow us to save for our future.
It bears repeating that Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), in prison just prior to his death, wrote this in De Profundis:
I forgot that every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character.
We will never ever have any lasting success without self-discipline. To be effective, that discipline must accept short-term sacrifices for long-term gains. We must focus on our ability to increase our self-discipline—with an expanding awareness of how our every little action of the ordinary day makes or unmakes a happy ending to our life’s story.
Principle V: Respect
I never met a man I didn’t like.
Your prospect deserves the utmost respect at all times. Your prospect largely evaluates your product (or service) by their evaluation of you. You are often the only contact your prospect has with the company you represent. The impression your prospect will develop of you and your company is based largely on the respect you show him. In other words, the respect your prospect develops toward you will often flow directly from the respect you show him.
In this section I would like to share eleven valuable lessons (now, “tips”) I learned along this line early in my sales career. The first has to do with maintaining your convictions in your chosen sales profession.
Tip 43: Never Compromise Your Convictions
The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to him, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." So to them he addressed this parable. "What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, 'Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.” (Luke 15:1-7)
One of my sales managers once told me there were two things you never discussed with a prospect: politics and religion. I am here to tell you that the one thing you should discuss with every prospect is religion.
Now I am not implying that you should use every appointment or sales call as a platform to evangelize, but neither should you “hide your light under a bushel” (cf., Matt. 5:15; Luke 11:33). I believe that, as a Christian, you have a responsibility to acknowledge your convictions and beliefs. If a prospect knows you have a solid Christian base, they will be less likely to ask you to do anything to compromise those beliefs. If you stand firm in your beliefs, you will also appear more genuine because you are not hiding them.
Today, our society is composed of people who keep to themselves. I say you are who you are because of your convictions, and you are a product of your beliefs. Your prospect needs to know what you stand for. If you must compromise your beliefs to gain a sale, that is business you do not need.
You never know where or when you may run into one of your customers. If you have tried to convince them you have a particular belief or feeling and your customer finds you one day in complete contradiction, you have lost all credibility.
Many salespeople decide to take a stand or share a point of view contradictory to their true beliefs because they believe it to be their prospect’s belief or point of view. In an effort to win points, they have now compromised their own beliefs and convictions. What if they misunderstood what their prospect’s beliefs truly were? The salesperson would then have not only taken a position contradictory to what they truly believe in, but also contrary to what their prospect truly believes. What would happen if their prospect is unhappy with his or her current point of view? By compromising their own beliefs and convictions, the salesperson may easily lose the opportunity to take a position their prospect might have responded to.
Imagine that you have compromised your own beliefs and expressed an opinion in agreement with a husband. Then, when his wife arrives, she expresses the opposite opinion! What do you do then? Worse than that, what happens when the husband reverses his position to take his wife’s side? You have already committed yourself to a point of view you may not believe in or agree with. Your only ally, the husband, has abandoned ship and now you are debating a point of view that may not even be yours. Always make your position known. The worst thing that can happen is that someone may disagree with you and you then have the option of helping to end the conversation as quickly as possible.
If you are truthful and honest at all times, you never have to remember which position you have taken with which prospect. The bottom line is always being true to your Lord and to yourself. While not everyone may agree with your opinions or beliefs, at least they must respect you for having your own and not trying to conceal them from others.
Once secure in your own convictions and beliefs, you can also afford to learn the art of asking good questions. The proper question invites connection. Statements most often create a position and divide, whereas questions tend to unite as they invite your hearers into the learning process. Having a position puts me in a mindset where I must defend and invites my prospect to judge my words. Posing a question puts me in a mindset to be open to learn and invites my prospect to learn with me.
The most effective statements carry with them the invitation of the question. For example: “Ask not your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” The question raised is obvious, and the conclusion is compelling.
A tip for the wise is sufficient: never compromise your convictions, including the conviction to be a light in the darkness. This is a significant means of showing respect to your prospects and customers, while earning their respect.
Tip 44: Overcome Your Prospect’s Subconscious First Impressions
Each of us has a built-in sixth sense: our sub-conscious mind. It tells us many things—which people we like and which we dislike, as well as whom we believe to be trustworthy and sincere versus untrustworthy and insincere. In your own past, you have met people whom you liked or trusted from the very first moment. You felt comfortable around them, as if you had known them for a long time. You have also met people whom you instantaneously knew you did not like; you did not trust them and were uncomfortable around them. Certainly this applies with salespeople: some of whom you may have trusted and believed from the outset, and others you may have not.
We’re told our subconscious minds send us many signals, some of which we do not comprehend consciously. As a consequence, sometimes our conscious mind does not understand the reasons why we feel what we do about certain things or people. The person you have just met, for instance, may remind you subconsciously of other people you have had dealings with or have known. If it was a sales person you had business dealings with years ago, the outcome of the experience, whether positive or negative, could well affect how you perceive the person you have just met.
Your prospect will draw similar beliefs, feelings and conclusions about you. This is why you must always have your prospect’s best interests at heart. You cannot fake true sincerity. Your prospect’s subconscious mind will sense if you are there to help him or to take his money. Sometimes you will make a presentation and you just know your product (or service) is an ideal fit for the prospect’s needs and wants, but they will not order from you. Many salespeople try to figure out what they did wrong, although they have frequently done nothing wrong.
Perhaps you reminded the prospect of someone with whom they have had a previous bad business experience. The prospect does not even realize why they do not want to do business with you; they just sense they will not. This is one reason why it is so critical that you keep your prospect’s best interests at heart at all times. Your best interests and your prospect’s best interests must be the same. There will always be business out there that serves the interest of both you and your prospect.
By keeping your prospect’s best interests at heart and showing them respect, you can often—with patience—overcome their initial, perhaps-subconscious, erroneous impressions, and gain their respect.
Principle VI: Sales
Great minds have purposes; others have wishes.
Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortunes;
But great minds rise above them.
Our sixth section deals with the sales principle, which will include forty-one tips for maximum achievement in sales. This is our largest section, as it is opens up our working principle on how to present and close sales in a professional, non-hype, serving, persevering manner similar to the model we witness in the Scriptures.
Our first sales tip views the sales professional as a teacher.
Tip 54: Teach until the Prospect Understands
"Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates. Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
“But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch!'"
I have always considered the responsibility and obligation of a sales professional to be equivalent to that of a teacher or educator. When Jesus spoke to the people, He would teach them the ways of Christianity. He would teach them the advantages of Christianity. He would educate them as to the alternative if they did not listen and heed His message. He would ask questions of His prospects and tell them stories. He taught them the lessons written and handed down through the ages. Our Lord gave them enough information to make a good decision; He did not tell them everything He knew. Then His close was simple: "Follow me.”
I suggest there is the risk of “information overload” if you are not careful. You can teach your prospect too much or too quickly. You must give your prospect information and then allow them time to digest it. Our Lord did not tell the people everything He knew. He told them just enough for them to make an intelligent decision. I believe that if your prospect had already understood the benefits of owning your product (or service), then they would have already purchased it.
Somewhere in the past, your prospect is likely to have had your product (or service) introduced to them in some variety, but they did not recognize the value or benefit at the time. They may have had someone else present your product (or service) to them, yet somehow they did not receive the proper information they needed to take action.
Selling is an educational process. We must educate our prospect and prepare them for “graduation,” which is the agreement or the close. In school, our teachers gave us books and study materials. They would outline the material we needed to know, and at the end of the week they would test us on our comprehension of the material. It is the same in the sales process: we must present our material and test the prospect. If they pass, we graduate them, or write the order.
The good sales professional employs agreements, or trial closes—just as a teacher uses midterms to measure a student’s progress—to test our prospect’s understanding of the information we have given them. In school, when a student is not ready to move forward, the teacher stops and re-teaches, then re-tests, to make sure that the student is ready for the next level. In sales, sometimes we must go back and start over again if the prospect fails. If a student fails a test, they do not fail the whole year. Similarly, if your prospect fails a trial close, that does not mean he has failed the whole year. It just means you must go back and re-cover the material they do not understand. Re-educate and then re-test, remembering that the reason they did not pass is because they did not understand. No, spelled “NO,” often means they do not know, spelled “KNOW.”
For maximum achievement and success in sales, teach until the prospect understands.
Tip 55: Sell What the Prospect Wants & What the Product Does
Two of the most valuable lessons we need to understand in order to achieve success in sales are:
1. People buy what they want, not what they need, and
2. People buy what our product (or service) does, not what the product (or service) is.
One of the most frustrating things about sales is that you may know beyond any doubt your prospect needs your product (or service), but they do not purchase your product (or service) because they do not want it. On the other hand, you will meet prospects who have no apparent need for your product (or service) but purchase it anyway.
If you are selling a product (or service) which provides time off for your prospect—time off that they do not want—they will not purchase from you. Many people need reliable transportation at a reasonable cost. What they end up buying is an expensive vehicle, which may stretch them financially. Yet they buy it because they think it looks good. What they needed was a mini van, and what they drove off the lot was a convertible or gas-guzzling SUV.
When you are performing your “needs analysis,” you must always ask your prospect what they want. Remember that their wants are, to them, a “need.” It may be a need to boost their ego, or a need to impress people they know, but to your prospect that need is as legitimate as the need to have reliable transportation. This is the emotional side of selling. Wants are emotional, and your prospect is seeking from you the logical justification to make the purchase, which is the need.
We must learn how to sell what our product (or service) does, not what it is. A vast number of bread toasters are sold every year, because what people want is a slice of toasted bread. They bought a toaster because they needed to have a slice of toasted bread. The reason why there are so many toaster models is that some people want to toast muffins or bagels, not bread. They may purchase one with a white exterior instead of a silver surface, so as to match their kitchen aesthetically, but what they want is a slice of toasted bread. What our product (or service) does is the logical side of selling and justifies the purchasing decision.
For maximum sales effectiveness, learn to sell both what the prospect wants and what the product does.
Principle VII: Leadership
Leadership is not the accumulation of positions, titles, rank or status.
It is more than technique. It is within each person's character.
It is the embodiment of qualities that inspire, motivate and push others
to reach their potential and accomplish greatness.
—Colleen S. Willoughby
The Leadership Principle is our seventh and ultimate sales principle for your maximum achievement in the sales profession. Here is not only where the fruit comes in, but where it multiplies, as you sow into the lives of others who will also bear fruit as sales professionals. It is my desire that these final seven tips will be found to be “good news and not just good views,” springing from a life well lived and not just theory well taught. As most people desire a gospel (i.e., “good news”) that is vital and not just verbal, it is only appropriate that we should start out our discussion of leadership by looking at our roles as examples, where sales professionals influence other sales professionals with maximum effectiveness.
Tip 95: Lead by Example
Better a poor man who walks in his integrity
than he who is crooked in his ways and rich.
Without knowledge even zeal is not good;
and he who acts hastily, blunders.
A man's own folly upsets his way,
but his heart is resentful against the LORD.
Wealth adds many friends,
but the friend of the poor man deserts him.
The false witness will not go unpunished,
and he who utters lies will not escape.
Many curry favor with a noble;
all are friends of the man who has something to give.
All the poor man's brothers hate him;
how much more do his friends shun him!
He who gains intelligence is his own best friend;
he who keeps understanding will be successful.
If you beat an arrogant man, the simple learn a lesson;
if you rebuke an intelligent man, he gains knowledge.
He who mistreats his father, or drives away his mother,
is a worthless and disgraceful son.
If a son ceases to hear instruction,
he wanders from words of knowledge.
An unprincipled witness perverts justice,
and the mouth of the wicked pours out iniquity.
Rods are prepared for the arrogant,
and blows for the backs of fools. (Proverbs 19:1-8; 25-29)
On many occasions my father told me that you do not command respect, you earn it. Whether you are in sales or another type of management, there are several principles you must use to become a successful leader.
The first is that you should never ask anyone to do anything you are not willing or able to do yourself. Many managers ask their people to do things their employees may believe to be unreasonable. The best way to disprove that notion is to be ready to go out and do it yourself, if necessary. In such areas as these, you earn or lose the respect of the people under you each and every day you go to work.
If you are going to ask your employees to come early and stay late, then you must be willing to do the same. If you’ve asked your employees to come in at seven o’clock and you come in at ten, your employees see hypocrisy in your management style. If you come in every day at six o’clock, then you have earned the right to ask your employees to come in at seven. If you stay till eight o’clock at night, then you have earned the right to ask your employees to stay until seven.
The best way to lead is by example. If your employees see you putting in extra hours and the extra effort to get a task accomplished, then they will more readily want to respect your wishes. Always open up and lock up.
One of the best pieces of management advice I ever received was when my employer, Ron Borchelt, said, “It takes no talent or ability at all to fire anyone; true talent is in your ability to teach someone how to be successful.”
Fewer people would be fired if we as managers all looked at another’s dismissal and their failure to succeed as our own personal failure. Before you fire anyone, you must ask yourself, “Have I done everything possible to teach and train this person?”
If your brother, sister, or best friend were to come to work for you, what kind of attention would they receive? Would you allow them to fail as easily as you would allow others?
You are only as good as the people you have surrounded yourself with. When you treat every new employee as you would treat your relative or best friend, you will discover successful people in your midst.
We must be cautious never to become callous to turnover. While turnover is a part of the sales business, we must do everything possible to keep the people we already have. If you become callous to turnover, then you cannot expand or grow, because growth calls for the development of productive new members of your team.
The sweatshirt carries the inscription: “There they go! I must catch them, for I am their leader!” If you lead by example, that is eventually what will happen. Isn’t that the way the kingdom of God was designed, with each generation intended to eventually surpass its leaders?
Principle VII: Leadership
Tip 96: Inspire Your Team to Action
May the LORD give you prudence and discernment when he brings you to rule over Israel, so that you keep the law of the LORD, your God. Only then shall you succeed, if you are careful to observe the precepts and decrees which the LORD gave Moses for Israel. Be brave and steadfast; do not fear or lose heart. (1 Chronicles 22:12-13)
One of the primary lessons we must learn about management is not to confuse leadership with supremacy. The Webster’s Dictionary definition for manage is:
1. To handle or direct with a degree of skill
2. To exercise executive, administrative and supervisory direction of
3. To succeed in accomplishing
Let us examine the definition. First, the word is a verb, which means that it is something you do, not someone you are. Too many people always think of it is a noun. Yes, “manager” is a title and noun, but “manage” brings out the action: directing with a degree of skill. When you become a manager, it does not mean that you cease to act or work. A manager should demand more from him or herself than from anyone they manage.
Manage means to exercise, not dictate, and supervise direction, not command. Many managers develop a “because I said so” mentality that often leads to mutiny within the ranks. If people know why they are doing something, the time frame in which it needs to be finished and what the benefit of accomplishing it is, they will work harder to achieve the goal or mission than if they are doing something blindly just because they are ordered to. You will find few references in the Bible to our Lord ordering people or His disciples to do anything just because He said to. He normally explained why and for what reasons He asked anyone to perform a task.
Further, the definition goes on to read: to succeed in accomplishing. A manager’s responsibility is to accomplish certain tasks, and they have a team of people to help them do so. Whenever possible, use your team to help accomplish tasks, which also carry a benefit for them. If they believe you are the only person benefiting from their efforts, they will work at a slower pace, and their quality of work will be of poorer than if there were a reward for them in the accomplishment of the task.
Use the benefits the team members will receive as the reason for them to perform. Stress the benefits received from the accomplishment of the task, and your team will work harder for you because now they are working for themselves.
By the way, not all the rewards or benefits have to be financial. Taking your team out to dinner or buying their lunch will go a long way toward helping them feel like they are working with you to achieve a common goal, instead of helping you to accomplish your personal missions.
In any professional sporting event, the manager or coach never steps onto the field; they direct the team with skill towards the achievement of a common goal, which is winning. The team is only as good as the players who must execute the strategies designed for them by the coach or manager. The best game plan will only work as well as the players who execute it.
You are only as good as the team you surround yourself with. The execution of your plans will determine your success as a manager. Always remember that the greatest fear in any war is the creation of martyrs. When people find someone they are willing to lay down their lives for, they become an insurmountable foe. When your team is willing to “lay down their lives for you,” you have found a team that will achieve all their goals.
Inspire your team to action