|IN THIS ISSUE SEPTEMBER 2012|
The Business of Selling
4P = Au
Dr. Jim Weber, Weber Consulting
While next month’s column will continue to explore compensation systems for salespersonnel, the focus of this column will address those winning attributes that were personified by each of the Olympic athletes as they participated in their individual and team events during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England. Whether Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, the U.S. women’s soccer team, or any of the other hundreds of participants, four attributes emblematic of gold (Au) medal play stood out; namely, purpose, passion, perseverance and pride, and each of those attributes are similarly applicable to a successful career in equipment sales.
The first attribute of all winners is they have a purpose. By definition, a purpose is “a goal or intended outcome of something” or “the desire or the resolve necessary to accomplish a goal.” Whether you want to stand on the winner’s podium or want to be recognized as the number one salesperson, winners establish meaningful and challenging goals.
Salespersonnel, at a minimum, should have written goals for each of the following: total desired income; total new and total used sales; total new and total used gross margin (percent or dollars); number of new and used units to sell; and the number of competitive customers to convert. Additionally, gold medal winning salespersonnel also establish an objective for each and every sales call. Being excellent time managers, gold medal winning salespersonnel refuse to squander that precious asset or to waste the time of their customer/account.
The second attribute of gold medal winners is that they exemplify and exude a passion for what they do. Passion can be defined as an “intense enthusiasm for something” or “a keen interest in a particular subject or activity.” As salespersonnel, the questions should be: Do you truly love and enjoy doing what you are doing? Do you wake up in the morning looking forward to calling on customers or do you get to work only to count the minutes until its time to go home? Do you thoroughly enjoy working with your customer base as well as your fellow employees, or do you resent and dislike having to spend time with either?
I recently told a long-time client that he should sell his business and get into something that he liked. He disliked his employees and abhorred any form of conflict. He was clearly not happy as a dealer principal managing a $50 million business. He took my advice and will hopefully lead a happier and more purposeful life going forward.
Perseverance is a “determined continuation with something” or a “steady and continued action or belief, usually over a long period and especially despite difficulties or setbacks.” The 2012 Summer Olympics in London showcased a panoply of athletes who failed to achieve their previous goal in an earlier Olympics and who then spent the intervening years training and preparing for their next Olympic opportunity. Nobody illustrated the attribute of perseverance more than the U.S. sprinter, Manteo Mitchell. As the leadoff runner in the 4 x 400 meter relay race, Manteo felt a pop in his left leg and ran the last 200 meters with what was later diagnosed as a complete break of his fibula.
Gold winning salespersonnel have to be committed to being successful. They know that only one customer contact will rarely lead to a sale and that only asking for the sale one time will consummate few sales. Sales are a manifestation of repeat calls and never hearing “no” as an answer. Rejection is verboten and lost sales are judiciously analyzed to overcome any presentation faux pas. Successful salespersonnel are continually looking for ways to improve. While mastering various closing techniques or retaining a cornucopia of strategies for overcoming objections, winning salespersonnel are always preparing for their next race, i.e., sale. Whether running a race or generating sales, persistence and vigilance are necessary components for success.
The fourth attribute of an Olympian, or a successful salesperson, is pride. Pride can be defined as “the happy, satisfied feeling somebody experiences when having or achieving something special that other people admire” or “something that somebody feels especially pleased and satisfied to own or to have achieved.” Throughout the Olympics, athletes continued to embody a pride in their accomplishments.
Likewise, winning salespersonnel should take great pride in their accomplishments. They recognize that becoming the best at what they do is not about the destination, but more about the journey. As John Galt, the protagonist in Ayn Rand’s great book, Atlas Shrugged, stated: “Pride is the recognition of the fact that you are your own highest value and, like all of man’s values, it has to be earned — that of any achievements open to you, the one that makes all others possible is the creation of your own character — that your character, your actions, your desires, your emotions are the products of the premises held by your mind.”