What Does it Take to Become a Champion Salesman?
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Late sometime in March and it’s 7:45 pm on the clock, a quiet conference room with notepads on the table in front of all. After a silence of over 5 minutes, you hear the most important person in the room saying it loud with authority, “Thirty-Five”… the other side of the table asserts “Forty-Five”.. till in response the big shot weighs in again “Forty”.. then you hear the three most beautiful words on this planet in a deal “Ok, let’s close!”. All get up for the final customary handshakes and pleasantries.
That’s how this story ends happily and like the wise ones say if you know how to sell you will never starve and will always live happily.
But what goes into making the story into this happy ending is what brings us to the otherwise less focused ingredients for the making of success in selling:
1. Pre-empting: A good salesman always knows what is needed before he or she even enters the door to sell. Most people undervalue the power of pre-empting the situation in a sales pitch. Stimulating multiple scenarios in your head beforehand helps, ultimately we all know it takes more of the mind over matter to close the deal. Selling is like a game of chess, to win you need to think at least one step ahead of the person across the table from you.
2. Relationships: Even if you are making lower margins make sure you build a relationship that averages out your loss in the longer term. A good salesman achieves numbers while a good dealmaker wins favors. I prefer people owing me favors than money because money is cheap, but favors are priceless. Always invest in relationships, you shall get better returns.
3. Integrity: Let’s get this right - selling ice to an Eskimo isn’t great selling, it is in fact fleecing. It is important you a sell ‘a solution’ to ‘the problem’ before you add the ‘other stuff’. If you know your product or service won’t be useful to the client, don’t sell it. Because, if it is a one-sided sale, it might happen only one time. A successful deal is when both sides win.
4. Impact: the First impression lasts till the end. Usually, when the other side gets back first after the sales pitch, your chances of winning the sale is high. Follow-ups are overrated, avoid it till it is really required. If you have pitched it right the first time, you only need ten percent in persuasion afterwards. Success in sales isn’t just about creating money, it is more about creating an impact.
5. YES: Every crisis is an opportunity waiting to be converted. Similarly, the way I see it every ‘NO’ you accept from the other side is your opportunity to make the other side say a ‘YES’ on something else. They key is to let the other side say what you want them to finally and at times de-selling your points work. In the end, a successful deal is all about getting the other side agree with your perspective.
6. Poker Face: Sometimes it gets rough, but remember just because you are loud while negotiating doesn’t mean you are a good negotiator. The art is to put across your point with a smile. In a negotiation, every action has an opposite reaction. Don’t react to the reaction it will take you in the opposite direction instead keep moving ahead on your own path. When you are in a difficult situation, it's best to put up a poker face to beat the odds. The trait to call out other side's bluff is the best one to have in a negotiation.
7. Failure: You don’t forget the mistakes for which you have paid a big price, it’s human nature. You should see a setback as an opportunity for you to make a stronger comeback. Failure is part of the game; so it is important how well you adapt to the situation post that. It’s not important if your horses win or lose if you place them right. In the end, it isn’t about how far you can march on, but how long you can hold your fort. Occasionally when you don’t have a plan, but you still need to act that you do, so that all things go as per ‘the plan’.
8. Humility: Be humble if you have an upper hand in the negotiation, the other side will give in easier. Once the sale is done, it isn’t the end. Execution is key, rather do deals that may look foolish on paper, but fantastic on execution, than the other way around. And in the end, if you are feeling invincible and on top of the world from where you can achieve any target set for you, just go and visit your chartered accountant he will surely bring you back to planet Earth.
Ultimately, the moment of experience on the negotiation table is more powerful than years of theory. It is an ongoing cycle unless you don’t kick, it won’t kick start again. So keep kicking - start to end. Eventually, how good was your run, depends on how many deals you could close by the time it ends. After a while, you can take a man out of sales, but then you cannot take the salesman out of that man…so keep selling & keep living happily ever after.
“Dedicated to all the sales folks out there, because everyone lives by selling something.”