When I began my sales career I assumed (falsely) that the great salespeople were born great. It turned out to be nothing more than a myth. You see, great salespeople all have something in common. They are confident and apply a set of principles that they always follow. They may or may not know where they learned the techniques and they may refuse to follow a selling system, but they always produce results.
The problem, as you are probably aware, is that you can’t find enough of these types of (already great) salespeople in order to achieve consistently great results for your business.
You have to try to make salespeople (called training) that can sell what your company offers. Most businesses have a method that they think works for their business. Some have promise and sufficient detail to be worthwhile. Others are little more than a photocopy of what a manager jotted down along the way.
So, the answer is yes. There is a definite, predictable path to sales excellence. The only variable is whether or not the salesperson, sales management, and company owners or directors will follow the path and accept excellence. The “path” is simply the pieces of the selling system that create the whole. Each piece, to a greater or lesser degree, holds a similar weight to each other piece. Leave a piece out and the sale itself is in jeopardy or retention becomes questionable.
In my article describing what a sales funnel is, I used an example of a selling system “piece” called Entry as one of the first parts of the sales plan. This step would define how a salesperson should approach and arrive at the prospect’s location, and entering the prospect’s area. It would include such things as acceptable dress codes, grooming, appearance, demeanor, arrival timing, greeting the prospect, manners, courtesy, etc. Most sales managers that I speak with, and many business owners that contact me, devote a sentence or two on the topic of this “piece” called Entry during sales training. It’s unfortunate, but they don’t seem to think there is much to train on the topic of entering a prospect’s area. This is a big mistake.
Connecting The Dots
My philosophy is grounded in simplicity. Small pieces of a subject are more easily grasped than the whole. In fact, if all of the pieces of a whole are thoroughly understood the whole itself is understood. And understanding leads to application.
The smaller the piece of activity that can be described in detail will lead to the greatest understanding of the sales process when all of the small pieces are combined to form the whole.Brad Barton
The process of predicting sales excellence begins with knowing what the pieces are, closely followed by knowing how to train the pieces. Interestingly, if you haven’t worked in a sales organization marked by excellence or created that type of environment on your way to the top of the org chart, you don’t actually know what the pieces are and/or how to train the pieces. …Yet. Steve Jobs summed it up like this:
Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.
Amazingly accurate when you think what he said, isn’t it? Good, bad, or indifferent you can see how the dots connected to bring you where you are today. The dots to the future, on the other hand, are created by each of us every day. There is nothing to connect until you look at them in retrospect. This is important to understand because someone that has connected dots in his or her past, similar to the dots you want for your future, could help you connect your dots more quickly, reliably, and predictably. Nearly 40 years ago I trusted my gut and put my faith in someone that turned out to be a fantastic mentor. I didn’t know for sure that I would learn anything of value at the time. There was no way to know. I had to trust that my decision would lead to my goals.
In my example of the selling system piece called Entry, I allude to the fact that the entire selling plan must be broken down into bite-size pieces. Then, the pieces need to be correctly trained. You see, sales excellence is a learned skill. Even the naturally great salesperson learned his or her skills somewhere, through their life experience, training, or having a great mentor. Once you learn the pieces it is with you forever.
Sales excellence also requires teamwork. Teamwork requires similar attitudes among peers in relation to the importance of everyone’s job. Each team member must know that everyone involved in the selling system has the same goals. I have seen sales departments where certain salespeople routinely berate the admin personnel and others that buy the admin personnel gifts in the hopes of earning favor. I have also seen admin personnel treating the salespeople like they were lower than dirt. Somehow these businesses were still functional. Somehow these adversarial environments were tolerated or created by management. Teamwork then can be defined as mutual respect bound together through common goals.
Lastly, for the purposes of this article, if you have been working in sales or sales management for a short time, if you own a sales organization, or if you are at the director level of a small or large manufacturer of products that are ultimately sold through direct sales, I know that you have seen what I describe on this page. There are some businesses have grown so large that their selling plan has become as dry and structured as an ancient tome. The elements of sales excellence could help even these large companies sell more than they currently do, while building mutual respect among the staff.
This article specifically deals with direct selling and direct selling systems (direct selling sales funnels). If you found your way here while looking for web-based sales funnels please click here for the hands-down, definitive web-based sales funnel solution.