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What NOT to Do In Sales: Two Terrible Examples

What Not To Do In SalesWhat NOT to do in sales is just as valuable to know as what TO do. Yet sales leaders are not always in agreement about the best way to move ahead. Recently I found two articles that share, in my opinion, terrible advice. And I want you to be on the watch for misinformation like this.

Titles That Don't Deliver Show You What Not To Do In Sales

First, we have a piece entitled "Top Sales Techniques to Revolutionize Your Business". Sounds good, right? But the first thing the writer does is start talking about "the" sales process--as if there was only one!--and how well-known it is.

Believing there is only one sales process is a huge example of what not to do in sales.

We could swiftly begin by separating sales processes into the traditional features-and-benefits style and the consultative approach. Two right there. The fact is, though, that each company has its very own sales process. Many of them don't even have their process written down. They don't understand it. Their process is sloppy and undocumented, but by golly that baby is their baby...and even if they don't consciously know it, they're following its every wild twist and turn.

In short, there are millions of sales processes.

So don't tell me only one exists, and it's "well understood".

The initial of four "techniques" merely shows the author's lack of having worked with a true sales coach. "Get off my back and leave me alone!" is the cry of the front line salesperson, not a sales leader. And it demonstrates that in the author's experience, close supervision of performance according to quotas rather than behaviors has been the norm.

The only thing this writer does get right is the fact that sales training is an ongoing process. You won't get much from a one-time shot in the arm. Which leads us to our next bad sales article.

What Not To Do In Sales Training

"Train Your Sales Team This Afternoon" this author exclaims. Wow. And this is from a sales training outfit.

Expecting a magic return from a single short investment in training is another big example of what not to do in sales.

Was this article promoted by a slowdown in business? They of all people ought to know better. You cannot get very far at all in one sales training session. If you've been following my commentary, you know that ongoing reinforcement is an absolute requirement for sales success. Otherwise, the salesperson falls back into their old comfort zone and results.

The only possible plus I could take from this article is that it may get a company doing something about sales training...and something is slightly better than nothing.

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Why Now Is the Best Time to Learn How To Sell

Learn How To SellShould you learn how to sell? And if so, when?

Well, let me ask you this:

Do you like the idea of being automated out of that job you have?

Does the thought of staying at pretty much the same income level year after year appeal to you?

If you're a business owner but aren't yet convinced that sales is part of 'what you do', are you enjoying the monthly rollercoaster of ups and downs in revenue?

Here's the unvarnished truth:

Now is the best time to learn how to sell. Right now.

Why?

1. It's going to take you awhile.

Selling is a skill. Just like riding a bike, cooking, painting or fencing...there are things you're going to have to learn and practice. Your commitment is required.

Start now, so that in a few months you'll be well on your way to competency. You'll see why this is important in a moment.

2. Many jobs are getting replaced by automation, or downsized out.

If you want to remain at the mercy of someone else and events outside your control, by all means ignore learning sales skills and keep doing what you're doing.

Anything that can be done by fewer people, or a machine, or outsourced to a country with a cheaper labor pool, is at risk of being instantly taken away. The whole concept of work is changing. And having a college degree does not matter.

But sales roles...

3. Skilled salespeople are rare.

Yes, there are loads of people who put on a sales department nametag and head on out--but few, very few, are actually competent. Sales is the only field I can think of that you can be sent out into the front lines without any training. And product training does not count. If you want to learn how to sell, you must begin with a consistent sales process.

Salespeople create massive value. Anyone who can get $2X for something that costs $X will always have a place in an organization.

Selling won't disappear. Able salespeople will always be in demand. And it's simple economics: when supply is low and demand is high, the price (your earnings) go up. So invest in yourself now, and reap the rewards for the rest of your life.

4. Learning to sell will make you a better person and communicator.

If you learn how to sell with a consistent sales process, you will become a more precise communicator. The things you say will have purpose. Take the simple act of asking, "Is this a bad time to talk?" When I call a family member this is the first thing I ask. How do I know what they were doing right before I called? Maybe one of my sisters-in-law is having a meltdown. Checking first is a polite thing to do.

Also, from a personal perspective, I know that learning to sell has made me a stronger person. Since I am looking for best fit rather than a sale right now, I only work with people who will treat me well. This takes away the fawningness that many people associate with selling--as if the salesperson has to become your best friend to get the order. Instead, I am checking for potential problems.

"Easy for You to Learn How to Sell, But for Me...?"

Sometimes I hear people say, "Well, it's easy for you." It wasn't. As a teenager I was nervous. I always wondered what other people were thinking. Getting on the phone was difficult until I got into my mid-20s. And even then, it took about six months as a credit manager making calls until I started getting comfortable with it.

If I can do it, so can you: but the point is, learning how to sell is a transformational process. If you commit to it, learning the skills will make you better.

Sales skills are going to become diamond-value assets in the next several decades. Fewer and fewer people are going to have them. Everyone wants to stay hidden behind a computer or away from the front lines. But for those who want to commit, and transform themselves with these skills, the rewards will be tremendous. Not to mention the stability. When you can pull money from the walls whenever you need it, you can truly write your own ticket.

The time to learn how to sell is NOW.

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How to See Bigger Opportunities In Business

How To See Bigger Opportunities In BusinessI'm ill, but it was worth it. I learned how to see bigger opportunities in business.

This past weekend I went to a networking event. It was for a group of about 300, but there were only 7 or 8 people I really wanted to see. Essentially I wanted to meet up with the other brick-and-mortar sales pros of the group. Most of them I hadn't met in person before. We had a lot of fun.

Now I don't know if it was the oysters I had Saturday night or germs passed along by another guest, but I've been out of it since about 8:30 yesterday morning. The blog post was completed and then all hell broke loose. The worst part is the foggy-headedness--after about 10 minutes, I stop focusing. But I can't stop thinking about a huge takeaway from the event that makes this temporary discomfort acceptable in trade.

We hear things in business like:

If you keep doing the same things, you'll keep getting the same results.

You have to transform what you're doing to make more money.

When you've plateaued out, you've got blinders on: you literally cannot see bigger opportunities.

(you got to skip the 15-minute haze I just went through to find that last point, which is the key to this write-up; lucky you!)

The problem is, when you've got those blinders on, it truly is difficult to see larger opportunities. It's easy to get frustrated in this situation. So how do you find out?

What Made Me Notice How To See Bigger Opportunities In Business

I was listening to a startup expert at our small group's breakfast table. He's reviewed hundreds of business plans for a Tampa-based investment group over the past several years. The realization I had while listening was:

Here is an opportunity for me to use my skills in a completely new-to-me area...where they're badly needed...and where the payoff is greater than the work I typically do! This was one of those opportunities! The blinders had slipped for a moment.

You see, it could be about doing more of the same thing you already do, for more of the same kind of people. That's called "scale".

But maybe you don't want scale. For me, scale doesn't make a lot of sense. I'd have to hire a bunch of other trainers, and I'd always be concerned they wouldn't be doing things "my way"...which is why my clients hire me. So I would have to manage them and that is not what I want to spend my time doing.

The Secret of How To See Bigger Opportunities In Business

So ask yourself:

Who can I solve problems for using my skills that I haven't considered as potential clients before?

What problems do people I haven't met yet have that are bigger than what I normally solve, but can be solved by my skillset?

See where this takes you. This is how you take the blinders off. This is how to see bigger opportunities in business.

What I have done until now is find or attract business owners and sales executives who want to learn how to sell, and train them on my approach to selling. I have been able to work with better-capitalized and more committed people as time has gone on. But is this the activity that would make me the most revenue?

What opportunities have you been screening out because they haven't fit the pattern of problems and people you've solved them for as you plateaued?

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