Are you ahead of the curve, or whining about the bends?
Most salespeople make the fatal mistake of concentrating on the “moment” or the “quota” rather than taking a step back to see the big picture.
Interestingly, the big sales are in the big picture. And that picture is where the prospect will buy. Meanwhile the “quota mongers” are busy trying to sell. The fact is: People don’t like to be sold, but they LOVE to buy. I’ve been trying to tell you that for the past decade.
Some people get it. Some don’t. The difference is following trends and the ability to stay ahead of the curve. The plugger is out making sales calls and cold calls. The thinker and planner is strategizing ways to get a qualified customer to call and buy.
Hey, if you gotta sell, you gotta sell. BUT it’s 100 times more powerful when they want to buy. Problem is that takes hard work over a long period of time and most salespeople won’t do the hard work that makes selling easy.
Writing this column week after week is hard. But it makes sales easy. People (like you) read it, like it, and call with questions or wanting to buy something. A book, a training program, a seminar. It’s been TEN YEARS since I’ve made a sales call to sell something to someone I don’t know. They call me and want to buy.
Please don’t think I’m bragging. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of the accomplishment, but what I’m trying to convey is the power of the process.
For the past two weeks I have been presenting sales trends for the next ten years, in celebration of my first ten years of writing this weekly column. What? Missed the first two parts and are in a panic or scramble? Relax and go to my website where all three parts are available for copyright infringement.
Here are the rest of the trends I believe will drive sales and customer loyalty (the second sale and referral) for the next decade.
11. Learn on the run. Everyone is out of time, including you. But everyone needs new knowledge, new answers and new ideas, including you. Learning must be done in chunks. Five, ten, twenty-minute intervals. Use your laptop (wireless of course), use your desktop (okay you can plug that one in), use your automobile, and use your walkman. If you wait until you are sitting in a classroom, you will probably wait forever. ACTION: Three ten-minute lessons a day will give you over a thousand lessons in a year and you can still have Sundays off. You need to stay one thousand chunks of knowledge ahead of your competition.
12. Read an old book a month. All the information you need to succeed already exists. The problem is you haven’t exposed yourself to it. If you know me, you know that I tend to read old books to gain new knowledge. ACTION: Start with the classics. “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie is the obvious place to begin, but you might also benefit from reading “The Little Engine that Could” or “Green Eggs and Ham”.
13. Guard the fort. Guard the hen house. Since there is less business to go around, there will be more stealing. The fox is hungry and hunting. Your competition will be coming at you harder than ever, trying to lure your customers away in any way that they can. If you get into a battle of pricing, everyone will lose. Now it the time to begin to build the value, build the partnership, build the relationship, and build the differentiation, so that your competition will be laughed out instead of invited in. You will only lose your customers if you are vulnerable to lose your customers. ACTION: List the last ten customers you lost. Call them and discover why. Eliminate every why (or continue to lose customers).
14. Build the relationship in a personal way. Your business relationships must evolve into personal friendships in order to ensure that your customers will be truthful with you, will trust you and will communicate with you in times of need. The old sales adage, “All things equal, people want to do business with their friends, all things being not quite so equal, people still want to business with their friends”, is more true in these times than it has ever been. ACTION: Schedule a retreat or conference with your top ten customers. Spend a half-day of business and a half-day of pleasure for two straight days. We just did this with our staff (internal customers) at the Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa in Asheville, North Carolina and I consider it to be one of most significant business actions I have ever taken. I’m scheduling the same event next year, for my staff and my top ten customers.
14.5 Take new actions or lose to someone who does. The abused word “change” needs to be thrown out of the English language, or only used when you tender a dollar for a seventy-five cent purchase. The operative word is opportunity. The more opportunities you seek, the more you will be rewarded both in loyalty and in profit. ACTION: Make a list of ten things you wish you were doing. Start there. Turn wishes into realities by taking achievement actions. Spend one hour a day on opportunities. At the end of a month, this will give you twenty hours of opportunity achievement actions. That should be enough to stay ahead of your competition and establish yourself as a leader.
I have purposely spread this information over the last three weeks, so that only those who are interested in leading the field will have had the patience to capture the trends and potentially put them in into action. I promise you that these trends are the new reality of what sales is going to become and that reality will lead to your reality of success of failure. I wish you success and I thank you for being my customer.
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Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts internet training programs on selling and customer service at www.trainone.com. He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org