By Tim Brown and Dan Streeter
Make no mistake; the world of sales is changing. Technology seems to be driving the sales vehicle in today’s society, but it’s the old school, tried and true, consultative techniques that separate the good from the great sales professional. When we discuss old school techniques, we reminisce on our old school heroes such as Zig Ziglar, Harvey McKay, and Dale Carnegie who taught the world a few fundamental rules of sales, which can be encapsulated primarily by this one statement, which will always be true: People buy from people they like and trust.
As painstakingly obvious as that cardinal rule of sales is, there’s a diamond hard kernel of truth inside it that many salespeople overlook. The ability to cultivate and sustain trust with people is the X factor that the best sales professionals rely upon to consistently excel at what they do. Trust is a sales professional’s most valuable currency.
There are five old-school techniques to master, which will help you to build trust:
- Remember, you are ALWAYS selling: Whether you are in front of a huge client, at the grocery store, or posting your favorite beach photo on Facebook, you are always selling. Be aware of the image you are portraying and have alignment with your professional and personal image. Maintaining a personal brand of trust is a 24/7/365 proposition. People will keep a mental file on you. Every action, word, and interaction with people goes into the lasting impression you make on them, whether or not it happened during the workday. Directly or indirectly, you are always building or losing trust. You never know when a new opportunity to establish or nurture a relationship is going to crop up. Make trust building a part of your persona, make it genuine, and keep your brand switch “on.”
- Develop Your Personal Brand: Speaking of keeping your brand switch “on,” take the time to build a personal branding statement. Write down a description of your unique talents, skills, and practices, and why people with whom you do business value them. Then revisit this statement and ask three fundamental questions:
- Am I living up to my personal brand?
- Do I need to revise it and why?
- How could I strengthen my brand?
As you focus on developing and living up to this personal brand statement, you will find that your actions automatically become aligned to the statement. You will actively seek out opportunities to become an expert in your field and demonstrate that expertise on a regular basis, you will be sought out for your counsel, and ultimately, your customers will see you as their ally in their purchasing decisions.
- Always Be Serving: An always-serving mindset means you are serving the people you work with, whether they are your peers, you report to them, or vice versa. These are the people you need by your side to succeed; they are the ones in the foxhole with you. By serving them and by treating them with respect and humility, you’ll engender a culture of serving in the workplace. While you are out serving your customers, it certainly helps to have people back in the home office serving you!
- Be a Challenger: In a published study, five different and distinct seller profile styles of salespeople were rated by performance. Coming out on top was the king of the sales jungle: The Challenger Sales Type. Challengers take control of the conversation through the use of questioning to develop a deep understanding of their customers’ businesses. Then, they positively assert their viewpoints which help to push the customer’s and their own personal thinking to develop creative solutions. Ultimately, customers do not simply want yes-people. They want to know that you truly understand the problem and that you are promoting the best solution possible.
- Eliminate the “F” word: Show me a person focused on problems, and I’ll show you a person with a lot of problems. The same goes with the “F” word: “failure.” Pessimists tend to let failure get wrapped around the axle of their success and talent. Instead, your mindset should be that there is no failure; there are only opportunities to learn and move forward. Zig Ziglar never promised us it would be easy. Just listen to his journey as a door-to-door salesman, and you will see that sales are hard. It’s filled with rejection. Judging yourself based on that rejection serves no one, so silence the critic inside yourself…it serves no one. Every salesperson takes their lumps. So, replace the “F” word with the word “E” word: “Experience,” and treat those experiences as gifts. Through focusing on experiences rather than looking at failures, we build a sense of self-control, we persevere through even the most difficult of hardships, and we develop an indomitable spirit.
Your capacity to use the tools developed by the old school masters will become the bridge that provides any sales professional the 5% more power to allow them to move from Good to Great. By using these five strategies, you will be able to move the sales needle. It’s time to make your old school heroes proud.
About the Authors
Tim Brown and Dan Streeter are the co-authors of Old School with New Tools: The Extra 5% That Takes You to the Top of Your Sales Game and Keeps You There. Learn more at www.oldschoolwithnewtools.com. Listen to their “Old School with New Tools” podcast on iTunes and Stitcher.
Article reprinted from the Spring 2016 issue of Bellwether.
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