Something like six out of five neophytes wash out in a real-quick hurry!
Bill Willard coming to you, and as we often say around TFE, entrepreneurs, by the very definition of the word, may try tackling every part of their businesses themselves. They’re the proverbial chief-cook-and bottle-washers, but if you’re just getting started as an SBO, here’s a red-hot tip you should put the test.
If your business depends on you for hands-on marketing and selling of your products or services, and you’re not now or have ever been a trained, professional salesperson, you’ll need to know a few things about what you’re getting into to avoid falling flat on your face:
1) Failure rates in sales organizations are staggering (something like six out of five neophytes wash out in a real-quick hurry, and that’s not much of an exaggeration);
2) Even being as revved up as you are about your business, you may be not be able to cut the mustard when it comes to hands-on selling.
The Short Course
So, to test the waters before taking a plunge you’ll regret, here’s a Short Marketing and Sales Course that could be the most important reading you’ll do all year!
• If you market yourself and your product of services to the right groups of prospective buyers, selling becomes easier.
• By taking a consultative, problem-solving approach to selling, building a loyal clientele becomes easier.
• By maintaining healthy, productive relationships with clients and treating service as a profit center, managing your business becomes easier.
• And, by managing your business effectively and pursuing continuing professional education throughout your career, you can look forward to doing the rest of these things very profitably for a long, long time,
There it is…How to sell market and sell just about anything…reduced to a few simple sentences! If that flat turns you off, try hiring someone who fits the bill to market or sell (or both!) for you. Or try some other line of work.
Those few sentences were written some 20 years ago, long before computers and cell phones and the other technological bells and whistles took over (well) everything! Yet in many ways, while the business world changed exponentially since then, those fundamental principles remain as sound today as they were then. SBOs who were never cut out for hands-on selling in the old days are not likely to do any better in today’s souped-up business climate.
No matter how good the sales training or coaching system you have, successful marketing and selling require mastering the following set of Learning Objectives:
• Knowing what it takes to be a successful marketing and sales professional, and why they are in the "relationship" business.
• Knowing the difference between marketing and selling; why the tighter one’s marketing focus, the better the results.
• Knowing how to leverage technology to maximize efficiency and profitability — and why entrepreneurs cannot afford not to.
• Understanding why personal identity branding can get people to seek you out, buy what you’re selling, enthusiastically send repeat your way, and provide referrals.
• Knowing why activity is the key to sales, why people buy and how to manage the sales cycle.
• Understanding you’re in the "relationship" business and know how to create the virtual "24/7" business environment consumers have come to expect.
• Understanding the rules of business planning, and how to manage your time and business, while not neglecting your family or life away from your company.
A Caveat: Having established that, I must add that very few people who try marketing and selling are born to it. I refer to them as 10-Percenters: that rare 10 percent or so of new sales people who are so driven, they survive and succeed no matter how much or how little training, coaching and support they get–things, by the way, not always available to SBOs who are largely on their own!
But that brings us to something I call: “Success Factors.” These are the all-essential character traits men and women who succeed at hands-on selling must bring to the table—whether working for themselves or someone else, with or without sales training, coaching and support, and no matter what their products of services may be.
It matters not how much effort and energy you invest, marketing and selling are numbers games. You’ll encounter your share of turndowns, broken appointments, stalls, “almost” sales that never quite happen, as well as flat-out rejection!
Prospect: “…And, no, tomorrow would NOT be better. How about never? Would never be good for you?”
Those hard realities can be discouraging to those who are unprepared for them, who don’t understand they’re just part of the job…and that each “no” takes you closer to a “yes.” Though success wears many faces; successful sales people share several important character traits. These ‘success factors” are based on characteristics of successful sales people I’ve known: Do they apply to you?
• Ego — A self-driven motivation to sell for the sake of selling.
• Courage — The will to do the job despite turndowns and disappointments. Successful producers shed rejection like water off a duck.
• Empathy — Liking people and understanding their feelings, and being likable and trustworthy in return.
• Independence/Entrepreneurial spirit – The desire to be your own boss, a self-manager who runs a profitable business.
• Effort — High energy and a demonstrated capacity for hard work.
• Ethics/integrity — Doing the right things for the right reasons, no matter what.
• Financial achievement drive — The need to measure one’s success, at least in part, in terms of income or net worth.
• Self-promotional drive — A can-do, competitive spirit that says: "I’m one of the best. I want to prove it to you, and I will!"
Anyone who has those characteristics from the get-go can learn the rest! Those who don’t, or are not sure if they do, may want to think twice before launching a business requiring personal selling.
Core Career Skills
But if you have what it takes, we can get down to the four core “Career Skills” sales people must master in addition to understanding the ins and outs of their products and services. These are:
• Marketing — Finding enough of the right people to see, and having enough of the right reasons to see them.
• Selling — Making people aware of their needs, showing how they can meet them with your products or services, and getting them to act immediately.
• Client building — Turning customers (people who buy from you once) into clients (people who will buy from you, and maybe only you, again and again).
• Business management — Planning to have enough sales production and repeat business to meet their income and profitability goals.
By remembering those few simple sentences that opened this article, and getting started in marketing and sales by performing each of the core Career Skills to the best of your ability makes your success more likely. Not assured, mind you, but more likely!
The balance of sales training is mastering the principles, practices, tools and techniques associated with your products and services, getting some experience under your belt, and continuing to fine-tune those Career Skills.
One Size Does Not Fit All
Success in any small or closely held business is not a destination, it’s a journey. While the rewards are great, the trip is challenging, and no two people make it exactly the same way. SBOs whose success is tied to hands-on marketing and selling shape their careers to fit their personalities, not the other way around.
Whether by accident or design, the most successful sales people tend to market to the types of individuals with whom they feel most comfortable, and vice versa. They all may share the same Success Factors and develop the same Career Skills, but they adapt them to their own personalities, to their own products or services, to the markets in which they do business, and to their prospective customers.
The Bottom Line: If hands-on marketing and selling is the right business choice for you, Welcome aboard! I trust you’ll profit from it handsomely.
Comments: We want to hear from you! How many of driven “10 Percenters” have you known? Have they all shared the “Success Factors” and “Career Skills” suggested in this article? If so, tell us about them. If not, would you say they’ve succeeded in sales in spite of themselves?
Bill Willard is a freelance writer in Clearwater, FL.
Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit his Website: http://www.writergazette.com/WillardAssociates.shtml or phone 727 724 – 8338.
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