Success in sales is found through the execution of the fundamentals. But many salespeople believe success is found elsewhere, seeking it through shortcuts, gimmicks, tips, tricks, and secrets.
Some look for advanced methodologies, believing that they are already competent in the fundamentals, and that they have nothing to gain from further effort in learning and applying the fundamentals to their own sales efforts. They believe that fundamentals are for beginners.
If the fundamentals are so easy, why then do we fail to apply them in our sales?
The Problem with Fundamentals
The problem with consistently applying the fundamentals, the iron laws of sales, to your personal sales efforts, is that they are difficult to consistently and effectively apply. It feels like it is easier to not apply them.
One of the fundamentals of selling well is qualifying. It is inefficient and unproductive to spend your time with prospects who, no matter how good of a job you do as a salesperson, can never give you business—or worse still, will be nightmare clients. Even though this is fundamental to selling effectively, it is easy to ignore the fact that you wasting your time because you mistakenly overvalue your prospect’s receptivity and undervalue their qualifications.
Prospecting is a fundamental to producing results. But prospecting is time-consuming work, the results of which aren’t immediately felt or seen. Prospecting can always be put off to deal with what feels like more urgent and more valuable work, but not something that can be crammed for later, when you really need those results.
The same is true of nurturing the relationships that you need to both gain access and to win your dream client. It is easy to work on what is hot and to forego working on what is not hot. Even though you know that you will need access to your dream client later, and even though you will need the relationships to position yourself to win and succeed, you ignore the fundamentals that build success, hoping you will be considered should your dream client become dissatisfied—but doing nothing to ensure that you get that call (or create dissatisfaction yourself).
Most of what you find contained within your sales process, the best practices that, if applied, lead to a better possibility of winning, are fundamentals. If your process is well designed, the steps require that you obtain commitments from your dream clients that advance your opportunity towards a positive outcome for you, for your company, and for your dream client. But it feels easier to skip over some of the stages, steps, and requirements. It feels like progress when your dream client asks for a presentation, even though you haven’t made the progress you might have made had you done the proper diagnosis your sales process requires.
The fundamentals are hard to consistently apply because it feels easier to do something else.
The truth is, the easiest path to success isn’t found by skipping the qualification, the prospecting, the nurturing, your sales process, or the difficult to obtain commitments. It only feels easier because it takes less effort, and you might occasionally win a deal.
The truth is that the easiest path is a strict and disciplined adherence to the fundamentals of good selling. Those who demonstrate mastery at any discipline don’t demonstrate their mastery through the esoteric, obscure, or archaic.
The masters in sales demonstrate their mastery and their supreme competency in the mundane. They master the cold calls and they book the calls. They master disqualifying and they avoid prospects that are not the right fit for their company. They master asking for and obtaining the commitments. They work to create value for their dream clients by working on their own business acumen and situational knowledge (turning off the television, or YouTube, or whatever) and instead picking up a book.
The truth is that the difficult path that the fundamentals require is the easiest path to winning. The truth is that the shortcuts, the tips, the tricks, the gimmicks, and the “advanced” ideas and tactics are the longest and least certain way to win deals.
If the fundamentals are too easy, why aren’t you consistently applying them?
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- You are consistent and exceptionally disciplined in your adherence to some of the fundamentals, no doubt. But what about fundamentals that you don’t exactly love, like, say, prospecting? What are the fundamentals of selling well that you struggle to exercise as religiously as you need to?
- What are the very negative consequences of not applying the fundamentals that you struggle with? How would your personal sales results be improved by a careful and consistent application of those fundamentals?
- When a path seems easier, when it feels easier, does that mean that it is really easier? What are you giving up in increased chances of winning for something that you like better because it feels easier?