There are some common ingredients among top sellers.
Sugar and spice and everything nice is what the nursery rhyme says little girls are made of but what are the ingredients for sales success? There are three as well, but you can’t simply buy them at the grocery store like you can sugar and spice.
The three key components that you need to have in good measure are 1) Activities 2) Skills and 3) Attitude. Strikingly different from each other, they are rarely found together in the right proportion. Each one deserves some specifics.
Activities – Activities are like the sugar. The more you have, the sweeter the reward! A great salesperson needs to understand what the key activities are that lead to sales success and then do lots of them. Are you taking the proper actions that move buyers through the pipeline? For most salespeople in traditional sales, these would include things such as leads generated, referrals received, outbound touches such as calls & emails, meetings set and proposals delivered. For social selling, the activities could be posts, new connections made or conversations scheduled.
Skills – Skills are like adding spice to the selling process. Without it, your activities will be bland. (OK – I’m stretching a bit to make the metaphor work.) You need to possess the skills to make your prospecting activities effective and turn them into meetings. You need to know how to manage your time, set & manage goals, adjust your selling style to the customer, do a great discovery meeting, present solutions, handle objections, move the buyer towards commitment and so on.
Attitude – This is the equivalent of “everything nice” because recent research clearly shows that having a positive attitude brings, on average, 34% greater sales. See my recent post “Happiness Can Lead to More Sales” for more detail. Without a positive attitude, you will be stopped in your tracks when you hit the inevitable challenges that selling involves. A positive attitude ensures that the other two ingredients, activities and skills, are sustainable.
Do you really need to have all three of these to excel in sales? Yes and no. I’ve worked with many salespeople who make a decent living with 2 out of the 3. For instance, I remember one very personable individual who I’ll call Marty who was part of my first client’s sales team. Marty had a positive attitude. He always had a smile and a high level of confidence. He was also pretty skilled. Even before training, he could clearly make effective prospecting calls and did a decent job in meetings too. He made a good six figure income. So what’s the problem? Maybe nothing except that he could have done so much better if he had the third ingredient: activities. To be blunt, he was lazy. He would go for 2 hour lunches at least a few times a week. At 5 o’clock, you’d better not be standing near the door for fear of Marty running you over on his way out. I did an analysis of Marty’s funnel and conversion rates and found that for him to earn $15,000 more that year, which was his goal, he only had to spend 45 more minutes prospecting per week. It didn’t happen because Marty was in the “comfort zone” and refused to do any additional activities.
On the other hand, I’ve seen some who have have an incredible work ethic, doing massive amounts of activities with wonderfully positive attitudes but have only moderate skills. Fortunately, these people have the best chance of improving their income from a sales development program because skills are easier to change than the other two ingredients.
Each of these 3 ingredients can be developed to varying degrees. Your takeaway action is to set a goal for the next 12 months how you’re going to grow each of them. After that, make a list of things that you can do in the next 30 days to get you started. The last step is to schedule an action that you will take tomorrow.
By focussing on the fine balance of these key ingredients, you will experience everything nice that a great career in sales can bring!