Of all my frameworks, Level 4 Value Creation is the oldest. It only showed up in Eat Their Lunch, my third book, because there are prerequisites to effectiveness in sales, without which you will struggle. In my first book, I published The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need first because it is necessary for both of the books that followed. If you want to increases your sales, start by becoming someone worth buying from in the first place.
Personal Development First
Training someone to sell is very much like the movie Karate Kid. Even though you don’t understand why you have to paint the fence and wash and wax the cars, doing so prepares you for what follows, without which, you will struggle against yourself. Watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi to understand this principle.
The first half of The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need is a course in developing the character traits necessary to succeed in sales—all of which will improve your results in every other area of your life. While all of the chapters speak about and to effectiveness in sales, the attributes are a master course in success and doing meaningful work.
- Self-Discipline: Those who come to sales without the requisite self-discipline struggle to produce the results they’re capable of due to their lack of ability to will themselves to take action. No matter how skilled they might be, they never come close to their potential because they don’t religiously take the necessary measures. The best and most effective salespeople do the work others avoid.
- Optimism: It’s easy to identify people who will have a tough time in sales by their overall disposition and attitude. Selling isn’t something one does for long when they are pessimistic. To the pessimist, hearing “no” to a request for a meeting is a form of “rejection.” Their overall attitude causes a victim mindset, one in which everything is someone else’s fault. Optimism is necessary to carry on despite adverse events, believing you will succeed.
- Caring: If you were to watch the movies that have defined the stereotypes in sales, you would believe that salespeople are selfish, pushy, smarmy, and manipulative. Those character flaws are not what leads to success in sales today if it ever was. Instead, winning in B2B sales requires one to be other-oriented, caring about their contacts and their clients.
- Competitiveness: Sales is often a contest, with multiple salespeople competing for a client’s business. The burning desire to win is essential in sales, as the challenge of winning over stiff competition causes you to grow, and to figure out how to compete and win. In a role where winning is required, you need a competitive spirit.
- Resourcefulness: Much of success in sales is about solving problems, finding a way to create some outcome, even when it isn’t very easy. You have to be able to tap your deep well of resourcefulness to acquire a meeting, develop the right solutions, and develop a strategy to win. Without the ability to create and try new approaches, you will struggle to succeed. It’s incredibly important to exercise your creativity.
- Initiative: Unlike other roles in business, your work doesn’t come to you in sales. Instead, you go to work. When no one tells you what to do, how to do it, or when to do it, you have to possess the initiative necessary to act without being prompted to do so. Those who can’t work without being told to don’t last long in sales roles. Your discipline has to match your freedom.
- Persistence: In sales, it’s always a “no” until it is a “yes.” This I never more true than in competitive displacements, when winning new business means taking it from your competitor. Your prospective clients say “no,” starting from your first request for a meeting. They say no to the many other commitments they need to make to achieve the better results they need. A huge part of success in sales is persistence.
- Communication: This character trait sounds like a skill, like something you can learn, and that is true. But for our purposes here, it is more about listening, understanding, and creating a sense of intimacy, the idea that you know your client well enough to offer them your advice. It is helpful to be good with words. Very helpful. But it’s more important that communication occurs, especially in consultative sales.
- Accountability: One can never succeed in sales without being willing to be accountable for the outcomes they sell their clients. A reluctance to be responsible eliminates the ability to be trusted with your dream client’s business. Hiding when there are challenges will ruin relationships and eliminates any chance of winning future business. You own the outcomes you sell.
Enabling the Skill Sets
No matter how excellent your skills, they won’t make up for lack of these character traits. The skills of closing, prospecting, storytelling, diagnosis, negotiating, business acumen, change management, and leadership required for success in sales. The character traits are critical.
Someone Worth Buying From
If you want to make selling a lot easier and a lot more fun, then work to become someone worth buying from in the first place. Be the kind of person that possesses the character traits and skills necessary to provide advice and help companies and the people who work there produce better results. This will do much to ensure you achieve sales success.
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Filed under: Sales