If you are brand-new to sales, then the good news is you have lots of opportunities ahead of you. The bad news is you’re probably not very good at this. So how are you going to generate more leads? How are you going to increase your close rate? And how are you going to get those commission checks coming in?
The scariest thing about being in sales is when nothing is happening and you feel out of control. You don’t know what to say. You don’t know how you’re going to turn it around. I have six really quick tips that you can focus on to see improvements right away.
1. Spend your time on the customer. This is probably the most important thing you can do. When you come into the company, your sales manager, your boss, is probably going to sit you down and spend days and weeks trying to teach you the product, trying to teach you the service, how to sell what you sell, and all those things. They’re going to spend all their time focusing on the company and its history. They’re going to focus on them. It’s a really selfish point of view. They’re going to send you out to the world and say, “Start talking about us.” But here’s the thing: customers do not care about you; they care about themselves.
The very best thing you can do is spend all your time focusing on learning about the customers first. You can always tweak and change the benefits or the features of the product; you can figure that stuff out later. However, the thing that will take you the furthest in sales is focusing on what the customers want, the language they use, their fears, their pains, their dreams—all of those things. And that comes with time. It comes with repetition. It comes with exposure.
Start on day one. When you’re talking to your sales manager, ask them questions about customer insight, who you’re focusing on, not demographics, not their age or their location. Although that’s important, they’re psychographics. What are the themes that continually come up? What is the resistance I’m going to face? What are the things people are worried about? Start to hone in on your customers before you focus on features, benefits, and everything else.
2. Fall in love with the product or service. Find an interesting story about the company or the brand. How does it help people? Find something about what you’re doing and what the company does that you can genuinely love, something that taps into your past or why you picked this industry. If you haven’t made a sale yet, you can still hope. I spent years selling on intentions. I still do that today. I sit down with people, and I say, “Here is what we’re trying to do for clients. We haven’t gotten there yet. It’s really hard to do, and it might even be impossible, but we are trying every single day to get there.”
So even if you don’t have a sale under your belt, you can still talk about what you hope to accomplish, what you intend to do, how things should work, and what you’re working toward. Find something within the product or service, the company, and the story that you absolutely love, because that love and that passion will come through in how you frame your body, how your voice sounds, how your eyes shine, how you lean in, and how you help or care about the situation that the clients are in. All of that will come through and will lead to excitement and passion. That excitement will lead to confidence on the prospect’s side, and they will start to trust you and believe in you more. They will think that you are on their side, not the company’s side, that you are an advocate for them. They will really start to open up for you, and it’ll make your entire process a little easier for you.
3. Find a mentor. There are people who have done this and who’ve been salespeople for years. There are certainly people inside your industry, inside your company, or even outside who sell a certain way that could work for you. You don’t have to figure this out on your own. The very fact that you’re reading this means that you are trying to get better at sales. You have something to learn. You are open to the idea of learning. If I wanted to get super ripped, I could go out and copy exactly what Schwarzenegger did when he was in his prime, and I wouldn’t look like this anymore. I would be totally jacked because he’s figured it out. He’s done it. I could go out and copy what he does. But if I have a physical limitation, or I don’t think the way he thinks, or I can’t do what he does, or I don’t put in the time or the commitment, it’s not going to work. So find someone who has similar attributes and skill sets to you, and start applying those principles to what you do.
4. You need to be open to learning and be curious as hell. This isn’t rocket science: the more curious you are and the deeper you go about why things are the way they are, about how things work, about how people think, the more confident you will become. I know a lot of things, but there are also a lot that I don’t know. I’m confident in the things that I know, and I’m confident enough to tell people I don’t know something, because, guess what, I’m not insecure about the amount of knowledge I have. Because I’m super, super curious.
Be open to learning. Don’t assume you have all the answers. Don’t have a false sense of bravado. Don’t allow yourself to be out there and be egotistical or overly cautious and confident because you’re insecure. Be curious. You never know where that information is going to take you, and when it does come up, you feel amazing because you have the answers on hand. Be open to learning, and be endlessly curious.
5. Test what you say to people. The more volume you have, the more people you speak to, the easier this becomes. However, if something isn’t working, throw it away. Take a look at yourself in the mirror. Question why things aren’t working. Be open to small tweaks and small tests and learn from them. Things that worked for six months will stop working for the next six months. Guess what? Markets change. Competition changes. Your value offer changes. Everything is always changing, and you need to reinvent yourself. However, you don’t know that if you just stick to the same thing time after time after time, without trying things, without being a little bit reckless. Be open to trying something new. Gauge your reaction and see if it works for you. If it does, try it again. If it works the second time but not the third time, ask yourself why. Why is it that the third time it didn’t work? Is it about the person or the conversations? Did you remove a step? Always be open to testing and trying.
If you’re in a role where your manager will not allow you to do this, then you still need to consider how much freedom you have within your script, within how you speak to people, or within how you carry yourself. You still need to be testing because, guess what, what you’ve been doing didn’t work. It hasn’t worked, and you need to hit on that thing that works for you, for your customers, for your targets, for your audience—everything within your market. You’re only going to find that if you try new things.
6. Don’t jump from job to job or industry to industry. Don’t move around so quick and bounce from thing to thing, because while you’re going to accumulate a little bit of knowledge in the general sense, you’re not going to spend enough time or commitment on something to be able to dig deep and unlock those things you need to unlock. My last tip is the test, and you got to test in small incremental amounts. However, you can’t just keep throwing the whole thing out and start something new. You’re never going to grow. You’re never going to give yourself the time and patience that you need to develop your craft and your skill of helping people. It takes time. It takes repetition.
In my business, when we bring on a producer (someone who produces videos) and a director, they literally need 18 months. It takes a year and a half before they face the same type of situation or question a second time. There are so many different types of projects and different types of challenges and situations that come up. It literally just takes them a long time before they feel comfortable. Every day they’re being faced with new challenges and new situations, and they don’t have the answer to them. They feel like they should have this figured out by now, but here’s what I tell them: “It’s going to take you a year and a half.” There are so many different variables. Give it the time that it takes to master it and learn it.
Once you’ve experimented, found the mentor that’s going to help you, focused on the customers, and did all these tips but it’s still not working for you, get the hell out of there. Seriously, move on. But before then, give it the time that it needs to make sure that it’s not just you.