By Joe Guertin, Streetfighter Selling
Selling is the ultimate entrepreneurial career.
If you’re paid on commission, YOU decide how much more you’re going to make this year over last.
If you’re paid a salary, you can greatly increase your value (to both your current employer AND potential future employers).
Because the sales profession generates income for the company, those who do it more efficiently and effectively make themselves valuable in an economy that craves their talents.
I’ve met salespeople in dozens of industries, from technical to service and retail, and one commonality applies to all of them. The salespeople who are the top 10% earners conduct themselves in a very specific way. It can best be described as operating as though they owned the business.
Many entrepreneurs already own their business, but this mindset helps them grow and stay profitable.
In general, these ‘Top 10% Earners’ live by these rules:
1. They ACT like it
2. They Look and Feel it
3. They’re Disciplined about it
1. Act like you own it.
One of the greatest skills a salesperson can learn is to think, look and act like an independent business. No, this doesn’t mean making your own rules! It means that you take into consideration all of the business aspects of selling. These are the activities and responsibilities that don’t just close sales but assure that they’re profitable, too.
If you have the latitude to negotiate pricing and terms, avoid thinking low price over profitability. The company’s profit is what keeps the company strong. A customer, while not always openly willing to pay more for it, will always prefer to work with a supplier that is financially strong over one that makes deals and lives day to day.
Problems happen. Even to the Top 10%. The difference appears to be that this group finds problems early, making them far easier to deal with. And that can only be done through superior communication. They have lines of communication with the customer’s front line people, those who are affected first by the product or service being supplied. So, if there IS a problem, they can fix it early. They almost seem to know what’s happening with their customers before the customer does! Now that’s communication!
c) Cash Flow
I was fortunate in that, in my first outside sales position, I was paid commission on revenues collected. Not because I’m a sucker for difficult tasks, but because developing skills for handing the task made me a better sales (and business) person. Our ‘paid-on-collection’ was a system that worked well in that situation. It forced me to keep an eye on my customers’ payment habits. If an account began to age, it was my job to address the issue.
You might not be in that position, but, to be a Top 10%’er, it’s important to be mindful of your ‘cash flow.’ Those who can see the big picture, and step in to assist their accounting office, add incredible value to their position.
2. Look like you own it
You can wear polo shirts, sweatshirts, khakis and pants, but there’s a lot of evidence that looking the role you want to have (with your boss or with a customer) demands a little bit more.
In his 1978, (very dated, but still highly relevant) book, “Dress for Success,” John Malloy said “a person’s appearance has a tremendous bearing on his or her success.” The reasons had little to do with status or overt “looks,” but rather:
-the confidence felt by the well-dressed individual, and
-the positive, subconscious impression it made on others.
Way back then, the recommended styles bordered on formal…two or three-piece suit for men; preferably navy suits for women. Times have changed…but customers still draw conclusions, consciously, or subconsciously, on what they see.
To dress for success is to dress to meet the situation. A well-pressed suit on a man looks way out of place on a shop floor. And a golf shirt and slacks may be too informal in a conference room. And you might feel comfortable wearing sweats during phone sales, but studies consistently show that dressing a step up results in confidence and positive attitude which can be ‘heard’ by your customers.
3. Be a Disciplinarian!
Every January, health clubs are full of new members with new resolutions for the new year. They’re fired up and committed to change. But then a funny thing happens. Time demands and old habits start gnawing away at the excitement and newness of it. Unfortunately, and too often, this happens to salespeople who are well-intentioned, but undisciplined.
We must hold ourselves accountable for being on time and getting through the tough tasks (even when nobody’s looking). Personal discipline is a lot more than “giving it 110%.” It’s having a plan, broken down into weekly and even daily ‘goals,’ then executing that plan and meeting each of those goals. Consistently. Being excellent is what we do is exciting when we first make the commitment to it, but can lose its luster many weeks or months after we start. Sales Streetfighters fight the good fight…every day.
Keep on Streetfighting
Remember, it’s not the most talent that wins at sales, it’s the most determination and perseverance. Whether you make your sales over the phone, in-store or in the field, keep on ‘streetfighting.’ And let me know if I can help your team.
The Guertin Group