Improving Sales Through Common Sense

Although it is very difficult to discuss this topic in one brief article, there are a few dramatic points which should be discussed and reviewed.

Here’s a scary statistic: There are approximately 14 million salespeople in the U.S. today, and studies show that 98% are average or below. This should explain why most salespeople are so bad. Try to think of a couple outstanding salespeople you have ever met in the last few years. It is difficult to single out anyone from the Car Dealer to the Furniture Store or even the kid selling lemonade.

Think about it. Every company has a handful of salespeople who always stand out from the rest. You know - the “star” performers. Are they really that good? Or are they just lucky - in the “right” place at the “right” time? Or maybe are they “born” salespeople?

No! No! No! - to all three questions. The reason top salespeople get to be top salespeople is very simple - they work harder!!! Hard workers make their own luck. They have a knack of being in all the right places at all the right times.

It doesn’t matter if your offices are unbelievably plush, or that you’re running an expensive advertising campaign, or if you have a pretty face. The bottom line is that customers buy from people they like, with few exceptions. In other words, personal relationships between buyers and sellers is what sales is all about. The better the relationship, the better chance that a sale will be made. How do you develop successful relationships with your customers? By following these three simple words:

  • Honesty - This is a must. Treat your customers fairly. Develop credibility. You have to be 100% honest all of the time. Follow the Golden Rule.
  • Organization - Develop a system so you know when you called what customer and what was said. Know your products and your customers’ needs.
  • Aggressiveness - This is the last ingredient to complete the recipe. Play the numbers game - the more prospects you contact, the more sales you make. Small numbers multiply rapidly. Be persistent. If someone turns you down this week, try again next week, and the week after, and so forth.

For these concepts to work, they must be practiced on a consistent basis. Practice makes perfect.

Here are some examples of how hard work paid off for me:

  • I had a prospect who constantly turned me down without giving me a concrete reason why. I sent him a cassette tape with instructions to only play the tape in his car on the way home from work. In two minutes I explained the advantages of my product and that I would call him the next day for an appointment. Result: he became a loyal client.
  • Another time I made a list of my inactive or ”dead” customers. I called each of them and asked how things were going and why they hadn’t been doing business with me. Result: Over 76% of them became clients again.
  • My best customers are ones with problems. I love problems, or as I call them “creative opportunities”. If a customer is happy with everything, you can’t become a hero to him. If he has a problem, you have a chance to show and tell. I once had a client who couldn’t operate the product I sold to him -after I already demonstrated it to him. So one evening I went to his house and showed him again. Result: A customer for life.
  • It was during the blizzard of 1978 that I had the best day as a sales person. Instead of staying home, I called on prospects. I had a captive audience. Only the decision-makers made it in to work and had plenty of time on their hands. As a result, I made a constructive day out of a potentially disastrous one and set a record for Xerox Corp. by selling 23 machines in 3 days.

In conclusion, there are no shortcuts in building success. Everybody must pay their dues. Now it’s your turn to take control and choose whether you want to be average or a superstar. But to do this, you must work hard, not hardly work. Honest is the key. Remember - people prefer sales-men, not con-men.

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