A Word to the Wise

If you’re reading this article, you probably don’t need to. Confused? Good, I got your attention.

The people I’m really directing this article to are those who probably got into selling by accident and don’t take it all that seriously. You know the ones. They’re glib, they’re good, and they treat selling like a game between themselves and their customers. A game to be won, even if that means the customer loses.

Some of these people keep score with their wallet. It doesn’t seem to matter to them if their company makes money on a transaction or the customer gets what he or she really needs, just as long as the “salesperson’s” wallet gets thicker.

You’re Not One of “Them”

How do I know you’re not one of these “salespeople?” Well, first of all, you’re reading a newsletter that’s intended for sales professionals. The people I referred to above have absolutely no interest in improving their selling skills.

The second reason, and I’m guessing here, is that you’ve already figured out that selling is a lot more than just going around talking to people all day long, and you’re constantly on the lookout for ways to work smarter.

Having said that, I’ll go out on another limb and guess that, in addition to working smarter, you still work harder than the people I referred to at the beginning of this article. You know that selling isn’t a nine-to-five job. I delight in telling people that if you’re in sales, you start before nine, quit after five, and sell like hell in between.

Let’s assume for a moment that I had a chance to chat with one of those people who don’t take the job of selling all that seriously. What would I tell them? Here are a few of the things I’d like them to consider.

Learn Your Craft

While selling isn’t a profession, it isn’t an art, and it certainly isn’t a game. If anything, it’s probably close to being a craft or trade and, like any craft, there are skills to be learned and perfected. So, my first message is to learn your craft.

If nothing else, read a couple of good books on the sales process. Once you understand the process, you’ll be able to exert some control over it. All it takes is a bit of skill, and skill comes from practice. The trick is to know what to practice and that’s where knowing the selling process comes in.

For example, there is nothing inherently difficult about landing a small airplane, but put a non-pilot at the controls, disable the pilot, and the engine will immediately take the aircraft to the crash site. If our non-pilot had read “From the Ground Up” and “Stick & Rudder” and had a mere 5-10 hours of practice, there would be an excellent chance of a relatively safe landing.

Every day, we see “salespeople” who are flying by the seat of their pants and have never read a thing about selling or taken “flying” lessons. That doesn’t mean they don’t make sales. It’s just that they make more sales by accident than through know-how and skill.

Stay Sharp

Once you’ve learned your craft, you need to stay on top of it. That’s why you, and people like you, most likely subscribe to at least one sales-oriented magazine and one or more newsletters like Targets to stay in top form. So, there’s the second point, don’t stop learning. As the old saying goes, get sharp and stay sharp.

Golf pros are a good example of this. If a golf pro misses a putt for $100,000, where do you think he is the next day. You’re right; he’s out at the putting range fine-tuning his putting skill. I, on the other hand, am probably nursing an enormous hangover in my attempt to forget the day before and the $100,000 loss. But then, I’m not a golf pro.

Continuing Education

Never stop learning. In addition to just staying sharp, learn and relearn your craft. Invest in yourself. Don’t expect your company to always give you the training you need. Spend some of your own time and money to be as good as you can be. Selling is a highly transportable skill. Once you’ve learned and perfected your skill, you’ll be worth more to your employer.

The “salespeople” I’m referring to at the beginning of this article would never think of taking a sales training workshop. Why should they? Selling isn’t hard!

Ask any good sales manager if they waited around for their company to provide them with sales training, and they’ll probably laugh in your face. Most likely, they invested in themselves and their future. Do the same.

A Final Word of Advice

Don’t train for where you are today. Train for where you want to be in the future. That way you’ll always be moving forward instead of standing still. Take the challenge!