Because I’ve written an annual “Fall Selling Season” post the past few years, I was tempted to skip it this time around. But the more I talk with salespeople, sales managers and executives, the more I felt compelled to share some strong words as we head into this critical time of the year.
I won’t get into the genesis of my selling season theory again, but we can all certainly agree that NOW is the time to ensure a strong finish to 2014 and a full, healthy pipeline of sales opportunities heading into 2015.
Everyone, particularly those of us in sales, looks for short cuts. We all want the quick fix, magic pill, fool-proof technique to score more sales. I’ve got bad news for you: It doesn’t exist. If it did, we’d all know about it. So instead of searching for the easy way out this fall selling season, what if you actually did the smart, hard work that is proven to impact your performance?
I double-dog dare you to…
Get to work. Here’s some profound advice from a consultant who charges premium fees: If you want to sell more, spend more time selling. Read that last sentence again, just in case you missed my subtle point. Spend more time selling!
Take full advantage of the fact that vacation season is over – for your prospects/customers and for you! I have very little tolerance for salespeople taking time off in the fall. We relaxed plenty over the summer and also did our fair sharing of whining about how hard it was to get meetings with customers. Put your head down and get after it. Accept the fact that they call this “work” for a reason. Look to maximize, not minimize your effort between now and Thanksgiving. Don’t you dare let yourself get outworked by your competitor who is pursuing the same accounts as you. Take back control of your calendar and your early morning. And above all, stop playing good corporate citizen and start being a whole lot more selfish with your time.
Fix your sales story. I continue to hear, read or observe way too many self-focused, offering/product-centered emails, voicemails, presentations, demos, webinars and proposals. I will say it again: Your sales story is your most important weapon. Pieces of your “story” end up in all your other sales weapons. And when the first few words out of your mouth are about how you help customers and why they turn to you, everything changes: prospects lower their defense shields, they invite you to talk further, you’re perceived exactly as you want to be — as a problem-solver, value-creator and consultant. If you are willing to put in the effort to sharpen your most important weapon, I am willing to help.
Next to taking back control of your calendar so you spend more time actually selling instead of babysitting, shuffling emails or doing admin work, the single most impactful thing you can do to increase your sales effectiveness is to sharpen your sales story. And honestly, the best way to do that is to read Chapter 8 in New Sales. Simplified. and complete the sales story exercise. It’s the most popular and most referred to chapter in the book.
Pick up the phone. I know it isn’t en vogue to preach that traditional prospecting can still be a very effective way to secure a discovery meeting with a potential client. But you and I both know that the telephone is one of the most powerful, precise and potent ways to deliver part of your message and entice the prospect to want to talk further. The social selling crowd will boo loudly at this thought. They’ll call me a luddite and tell you that calling prospects is a waste of time. I’ll tackle some of the biggest myths about social selling in upcoming posts and also write more about prospecting. But for now, let me just dare you to pick up the phone and make the call. Oh yeah, since you’ll already have a copy of New Sales. Simplified. handy, go ahead and read Chapter 9 once you’ve completed your sales story exercise. That’s where you’ll find my best help for making effective proactive telephone calls, including practical tips and advice about your attitude and voice tone, key phrases to set you apart, and ideas for voicemails you’ll actually enjoy leaving.
To maximize your impact this selling season, get to work, sharpen your story and pick up the phone.