Thanks for your active interest in my blogs, especially the ones dealing with descriptions of the top 5 secret enemies that hamper our performance in sales.
By now you all have read about the enemy number 5, number 4, number 3 and number 2….and I am sure that you are waiting with bated breath to know about the last one, enemy number 1.
So without further ado, let me introduce him to you folks in sales.
drum roll please………
Secret enemy number 1 in my list is….YOU
- Typical Job Titles: Sales Rep, Sales Associate, Sales Agent, etc.
- Distinguishing Characteristic: You haven’t taken the time and trouble fully develop your sales skills, attitude, business acumen, etc.
- Why You’re Your Own Worst Enemy: Your sales success is up to you, regardless of what problems or enemies you face on a day-to-day basis.
- How You Screw Yourself: Endless ways. You talk to customers more than you listen, you fail to prepare for customer meetings, you don’t follow-through on commitments, etc., etc., etc.
- How To Cope With Your Limitations: Overcome them! Decide, right here and now, that you won’t be satisfied with ANYTHING less than the absolute BEST that you can be. Make a commitment and then take action. You know what to do!
- Warning: If you actually make that commitment and take action, none of the other four enemies can possibly prevent you from becoming wildly successful in Sales!!!
Guys I have been my own enemy in the early days of my career as a sales pro.
I would like to take you guys to my earlier blogs on how best to improve yourself and empower yourself to become top notch sales pros and never ever become your worst enemy!!
This blog is a result of 18 years of sales experience, essaying various roles- Sales rep, Sales executive, Internal sales manager, Consultative sales specialist, Sales Director, Sales VP…..
During my formative years in J&J, there were many occasions in which I tried and failed, and tired again, and failed- hours with my mentors and trainers taught me valuable lessons on failure and the do’s and dont’s that impact results of your efforts.
What I have learnt during the early years, and what I continue to learn on a daily basis, is the basis of this piece that I am sharing with you today
top 10 reasons why new sales reps fail, according to me are the following
- REASON #1: They base their self-worth on what other people think. If you define your sense of worth based on how you assume your boss, co-workers, and customers see you, you’ll be deeply hurt by anything that smacks of criticism. Selling, and working inside a sales organization, begins to look like a series of horrible and (finally) intolerable rejections.
- REASON #2: They assume that past failure defines the future. Some people find failure so unpleasant that they try to avoid it at all costs. As a result, they avoid any situations where failure is a risk. Because any meaningful sales effort entails risk, such people seldom, if ever, accomplish anything significant in a sales organization.
- REASON #3. They believe in destiny, luck and fate. Some people believe that their status in life and potential as a human being is determined by luck, fate or divine intervention operating upon the circumstances of their lives…
These beliefs, however, constantly keep you focused on what you can’t change (e.g. fate) and not on what you can (e.g. your skill set.)
- REASON #4: They lack the right attitude. The right attitude for a sales pro consists three qualities: 1) Empathy, so that you can understand customer needs. 2) Confidence, so that your can bring customers to the point of buying, and 3) Resilience, so that you can use rejection and temporary setbacks as spurs that constantly move you forward.
- REASON #5: They don’t perceive the subtleties. When mediocre sales pros make sales calls, they are so busy “trying to sell” that they miss the nuances of the customer relationship. Top sales pros know that the most important element of a successful sales call is the value that the sales professional can bring to the customer, rather than whatever might eventually be sold.
- REASON #6: They’d rather be doing something else. Failing sales pros often wish they had the nerve get out of sales and do something completely different. If a sales pro’s ideal occupation is to play baseball, be a musician, write a novel, or do anything else that not in Sales — they’ll eventually sabotage their sales career.
- REASON #7: They don’t learn from their mistakes. Sales pros tend to avoid looking at their failures and would prefer to examine their successes – and then attempt to replicate them. However, until and unless you understand how, why and where your sales process is failing, it’s impossible to correct systemic problems in your sales approach.
- REASON #8: They can’t follow simple instructions. Sales skills must be learned. Some people are naturally resistant to learning new ideas and new techniques, especially if they’ve already achieved a certain level of success. Many a sales pro has “topped off” at the lowest level because of a failure to understand that news skills are needed at each stage of a sales career.
- REASON #9: They lack true honesty and candor. Sales is all about relationships and relationships are all about trust. People who lie and fudge the truth may become good at fraud or other criminal acts, but they’re at an extreme disadvantage when it comes to being successful at an honest sales job. Most customers can “sense” when a sales rep isn’t being real… and avoid buying.
- REASON #10: They can, but won’t, do the work. This is true not just of selling, but of every other activity in the world. Sales pros who don’t makes their numbers either can’t or won’t do what it takes to make sale. When you can’t do the job, it’s usually because you don’t know what to do. When you won’t to the job, it’s because you simply lack the drive.
I started as a sales rep with J&J some 18 years back and despite the progression in my career, have always been close to the sales function. Even as the P&L head for the business in Africa, I made it a point to share my earned knowledge with the team, and ensured that those in operations were in some manner a part of the sales function.
Over the years as a professional my belief has been strengthened that a stint in sales in a must for ALL key functionaries within the organization , and by that I mean , marketing,manufacturing, finance, stores, logistics.
What you have to understand, and understand well is even if you manage engineers, marketing, operations, or customer service; you’re still a salesperson. You sell every day. You don’t just sell products and services; you sell your projects, budget, ideas, and capabilities. And your customers aren’t just the paying kind; they include everybody you interface with.
During my 18 years career I have learnt some critical lessons because of my stint in various sales roles and this is why I believe that every manager should have a stint in sales as well
- Shut up and listen. Nothing you’ve ever read or learned is nearly as important as what the person across from you is about to say … if you just shut up and listen. When you talk first, you lock yourself into a position or path. But if you listen, you gain far more information.
- Problems create opportunities. Your biggest and best opportunities to make a difference will always be when things go wrong. How you respond in time of crisis, when somebody needs you, is a window into your true capability. And that spells opportunity if you rise to the occasion.
- It’s all about relationships. There are no companies or businesses, just people. Business is all about individuals and their interrelationships. When things go wrong, that’s the glue that holds everything together. There’s no such thing as a self-sustaining business.
- Your customer always does come first. Call it business Karma, but whatever you have going on, whatever you expect to accomplish on any given day, when somebody, anybody comes to you with a problem, help them first. Remember: you have way more customers than you think.
- Understand motives. When you think about what you’re going to say or do, you miss an opportunity to make a difference. If, on the other hand, you ask, “how can I help you,” or ask yourself “what’s in it for her,” you’ll be in a far better position to help … and recognize opportunities.
Over the last 18 years that I have essayed various roles in Sales and Marketing in B2B and B2C businesses, I have realized that soft skills and executive presence do make that comparative difference between a good performer and an excellent performer.
I have always maintained with my team that developing and acquiring ( improving) your soft skills, and creating executive presence was just as important as having selling skills.
Some of my ideas on what constitutes executive presence are shared here-
- Genuine. Open, straightforward, comfortable in your skin; no BS or sugarcoating.
- Passion. You love and feel strongly about what you do and how you do it.
- Clarity. Communicate thoughts, feelings, and insights in crystal clarity and simplicity.
- Intelligence. No way around this one, and yes, it shows through.
- Insight. Ability to boil complex factors and mounds of data down to rare conclusions.
- Determination. Driven and full of purpose, determined to achieve and succeed.
- Confidence. Not overconfident, but with enough self-doubt to be objective.
- Humility. Willing to admit mistakes, misjudgment, fear, and uncertainty is endearing.
- Courage. Willingness to take risks and take a position against considerable odds.
- Humor. Not over-the-top, but in the right measure, brings down other’s defenses.
With 18 years of sales management experience under my belt, from India to Africa, across Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Togo, Cameroon etc, I was often asked by young members of my sales team…” what are the 3 top qualities of a sales rep”…and the following I believe are universally relevant, even today. (I dont profess to know the future, and going by the way business eco-systems are evolving , I dare say that this list will undergo a change in some months and I will be happy to see additions or changes to this list!)
- Empathy: You need to understand customer emotional and financial needs, both as people and as professionals. ( Develop to “see” the business from the other side of the table)
- Persuasiveness: You need to be able to bring prospects to the realization that buying is in their best interests. (This often calls for developing your technical/analytical skills)
- Resilience: Being in sales means that you’ll sometimes face rejection, so you need to be able to shrug off such experiences and move on. (Learn from your mistakes and consciously endeavor to not repeat them , and hunt for other leads)