Salespeople are often regarded as annoying and not-to-be-trusted pests and yet Thomas Watson’s old truism “Nothing happens until a sale is made” is as true today as it was when he penned it in the 1920s. Watson was President of International Business Machines from 1914 to 1956 and under his guidance, compelling management style and commitment to outstanding corporate values, he drove IBM into a highly tuned international selling organisation.
Watson understood the critical importance of making sales. For example, help desks and tech support are not necessary unless something is sold that needs to be supported. In the case of computers which contain hundreds of parts from metal cases to chips, fans, cables, software and specialised componentry, countless items have to be sold to create the working computer that requires support at some point in its or its owner’s working life.
There is an elegant simplicity and connectivity in making sales which literally, when you think about it, make the world go round. Sales is the highest paying hard work and the lowest paying easy work that you can put your mind and your hand to. Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the USA, is said to have exclaimed: “I’m a great believer in luck. The harder I work, the luckier I get!”
It’s certainly true that outstanding sales professionals are noted for their hard work, dedication and commitment to bringing business over the line. And yet, is hard work alone enough to become a successful sales professional? Any experienced salesperson will shake their heads and tell you that hard work alone will not crack the case and provide you with a six figure annual income. You need so much more than that including a platform of excellent product knowledge which is a given for anyone representing their company in a sales role.
So let’s look at some of the other attributes that you need to develop and hone to be become an above average or indeed champion salesperson.
Persistence: Sales is a numbers game and you may need to make dozens of calls to make just one appointment and a handful of appointments to make just one sale. In a different working environment entirely, consider the case of Shane Warne who took 708 test wickets and announced himself with arguably the best ball ever bowled by a test spinner.
It took Warne almost 41,000 deliveries to take those 708 wickets and there were many dry spells in between the successes. Warne did not expect to get a wicket with every ball, but he did expect to take wickets every match because he worked hard to hone his skills – and in most cases he did.
Similarly, it’s not realistic to make a sale with every call or after every presentation. But if you hone your skills, practice hard and believe in yourself and your product, you will get your share – because making sales is a tried and tested numbers game.
And what has this got to do with The Power of the Ask you may be enquiring at this juncture? That’s a very good question, and as in any sales journey, the full story needs to be told, patience is a virtue and the answer will become self-evident over time.
In our next blog on this topic, we will be looking at three more mission-critical sales attributes: