By John Chapin
Sales gurus like to talk about how much the job of sales is changing. But while the Internet, social media, and advances in technology have altered some of the peripheral aspects of the job, the foundational principles and keys that lead to sales success remain unchanged. Here are four sales facts that will always remain the same:
Fact 1: Sales is a numbers game
Ninety-nine percent of the time failure in sales is due to a lack of activity—i.e., not making enough calls. Don’t spend hours online looking up background information on prospects or trying to learn all there is to know about a product before making a call. Rather, learn just what you need to learn so you don’t make any careless mistakes. In short, focus more on activity than on being technically proficient.
Fact 2: You’re still the expert.
While it’s true that today’s consumer is, generally speaking, better informed than in years past, you’re still the expert who has probably forgotten more than they will ever know. The famous author Malcolm Gladwell once said that it takes roughly 10,000 hours of study to master one’s craft. While you may not be at the 10,000-hour mark yet, you are still far better off than someone who has spent five, 10, or even 40 hours on the internet studying your industry and products. You live in your business every day, the prospect doesn’t. People still need an honest, straight-forward salesperson who understands the subtleties and idiosyncrasies and can educate them on what’s best for them.
Fact 3: Face-to-face and phone are still the most effective ways to sell.
Have you ever not received an e-mail that someone swore they sent to you? In addition to the fact that you can’t always rely on an e-mail, LinkedIn in-mail, or other “internet” communication to reach the person, you also lose the most important parts of communication such as voice tone and body language. Couple that with the fact that electronic communication distances you and dehumanizes the experience. For these reasons, in-person communication is always the most effective followed second by Skype, and other face-to-face apps, and third by phone communication.
E-communication serves its purpose which is: short-sweet, non-critical communication in which you are simply conveying information—and even non-critical e-communication has to be backed up with a phone call or in-person contact to ensure it was received.
Fact 4: It is still all about relationships and doing what’s best for the other person.
There is no “new relationship selling” or “solution selling.” The best have always focused on the long-term relationship and the best possible solution for the prospect, even if it involved sending someone to the competition. The best have always been seen as a peer and business partner looking out for the best interests of the prospect.
The bottom line is this: The only way sales has changed is for those doing it the wrong way. Years ago you could pull the wool over someone’s eyes, get away with not knowing as much, have subpar sales and people skills, and not work as hard. That said, the people who have always done it right, have found little has changed over the years. For them, being great at sales still requires that you work hard and make the calls, communicate effectively, build the personal relationships, are professional, knowledgeable, put the other person first, and embody the character traits of honesty and integrity.
Chapin is a sales and motivational speaker and trainer. For his free newsletter, or if you would like him to speak at your next event, go to: www.completeselling.com John has over 29 years of sales experience as a number one sales rep and is the author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia. For permission to reprint, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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