The key to being a professional salesperson is the ability to develop. You never graduate from selling. All professionals invest time, energy, emotion and money in developing their skills, attitudes, and knowledge about their profession.
Zig Ziglar is a great role model for us all and for a lot of reasons. One of the main reasons is that he is a constant learner. Every Monday morning, we conduct a 30-minute devotional at Ziglar headquarters. (And, if you are in the Dallas area, you are invited to attend…just show up, sit in the audience, listen to the presenter for the morning, and meet the Ziglar staff.) When Zig attended he always sat in the front row, stage right with a pen and pad of paper in hand. He took notes on what the speaker had to say. Now, here’s a man who has written 31 books and has touched countless lives with his philosophy. Any time he spoke, it was we who should have been taking notes on what he was saying. Yet, there he sat`, taking notes and continuing to learn and develop. What a great role model for all sales professionals! Zig understands that you never graduate from learning. We all need to follow his example.
Develop Your Skills
Professionals invest in their selling skills and techniques. They study, read, listen, observe and ask questions about their profession. Here’s a great technique I learned from one of the most professional saleswomen I’ve ever met. While managing a sales team at IBM, I was in charge of announcing a new product. I asked Mary to give me the top five prospects she was going to call on after we announced the product. She refused to give me her top five prospects. When I asked why, she taught me a great technique that I still use to this day. She said, “Bryan, I don’t call on my top five prospects when new products are announced. I call on my bottom five prospects! Those prospects aren’t going to buy form me anyway. By calling on these prospects first, I learn how to sell to the accounts who will buy.” What a great lesson to learn!
Develop Your Attitude
I am a big baseball fan. I believe baseball teaches us great sales lessons. One of my favorite players was Ernie Banks of the Chicago Cubs. Ernie never won a world championship. In fact, at one time he held the major league record for most games played without ever playing in a World Series. Did that negatively impact his attitude? No! Ernie was known as Mr. Cub and he was also known for his positive attitude, his love for the game, and for his favorite expression: “Let’s Play Two!” What a great attitude and what a great example for all of us. You may not win every sale, but you can have a winner’s attitude.
Develop Your Knowledge
It is a given that you should have product knowledge. Let me suggest that you should gain enough knowledge about your products or services so that you develop a strong passion for what you sell. Zig says that selling is nothing more than “transference of feeling.” If you can transfer how you feel about your products or services to the prospect, you will have a customer for life. How do you develop this passion? You need to see the benefits of your products or services in action. If possible, you need to actually use your products or services. This will give you a first-hand, personal feel for the advantages you offer. If that is not possible, you should visit a satisfied customer and observe how your solutions contribute to the success of your customer. Suggest that the customer write you a testimonial letter bragging on your company. That should really light your fire and spark your passion for your solutions (if it doesn’t, your kindling is probably wet!). Remember, you never graduate from selling. Take the time and effort to develop your skills, your attitude, and your knowledge.