[Written by Keith Rosen, recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of the five most influential executive coaches]
What skills are needed in order to be successful today?
About 25 years ago, I read my first book on selling. It was, The Secrets of Closing the Sale. Like many sales and business professionals, this was the first book that I was ever exposed to which focused on the subject and the art of selling. 25 years later, this past June, I had the distinct pleasure of sitting down and meeting one to one with the master of selling and personal development, Zig Ziglar.
So, what impact did Zig leave on me that I have taken to heart? What profound, new and valuable message was I able to walk away with from my meeting with this highly acclaimed guru and though leader?
I was fortunate to gain the perspective of such a worldly man grounded in the values that matter. You would even think that it would be a bit of a challenge to retain all of the gems Zig shared with me. Conversely it wasn't. It was surprisingly, yet reassuringly very simple. You see, the ultimate epiphany I had, the priceless message that Zig delivered, was grounded in the core principles that are and have always been right in front of us.
Zig reinforced what really mattered most; the basics. Yes, that's right. The basics that we so often gloss over, neglect, take for granted and assume we already have in place. The very basics that are paradoxically, still the undeniable and timeless secret to success and designing a life worth living.
The basics of truth, being your word, living a life of integrity, honoring your core values and your commitments, honesty, family, faith in yourself and helping your fellow man and woman selflessly and graciously. Yes, the basics that our society seems to have an unyielding tendency to put aside and dismiss in search of the latest and greatest, the next Big Thing or the flavor of the month. We have fooled ourselves into thinking there is some other secret out there that would help us get what we want most and propel us to where we want to be, both in our home life and at our work life.
Before you can become a remarkable salesperson and exude that presence and confidence of someone who our customers want to do business with, we first need to become a remarkable person.
What are your tips for a tough economy?
I've decided (and many of my clients are on board with this as well) that it's no longer as tough as it was out there. That's right. Strip away what you hear in the media, and look objectively at what you can control; this one telltale sign that something in your selling formula needs to be developed, modified or redefined:
If there are people in your organization, even in your industry or profession who are currently performing like rock stars, that should provide you with one very critical insight. That is, it can be done because it is currently being done by someone else!
Here's a very clear insight into one example of some general statistical information about the selling profession that will help you begin the process of fine tuning and developing your own data driven solution to increasing your sales.
- 48% of salespeople never follow up with a prospect.
- 25% of salespeople make a second contact and stop.
- 12% of salespeople only make three contacts and stop.
- Only 10% of salespeople make more than three contacts.
Now, get this:
- 2% of sales are made on the first contact.
- 3% of sales are made on the second contact.
- 5% of sales are made on the third contact.
- 10% of sales are made on the fourth contact.
- But 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact.
Now, these numbers may change depending upon your selling cycle, geographic location, the dollar amount of your deliverable, target audience as well as the service or product you're selling but the essence of this message still remains in tact. That is, do you have your own set of data available, which you have used as the cornerstone to constructing your prospecting and selling strategy? If not, it's the same as getting into your car and saying to yourself before embarking on a trip, Okay, I need to get to a specific destination, but I'm not exactly sure which direction to travel nor how long it's going to take me to get there.
After all, the greatest rainmakers realize the importance of checking the weather first so they know where the best locations are to make it rain, and have the tools to do so.
What does the future hold for salespeople?
The salesperson of tomorrow will continue to evolve beyond their traditional role and become more embedded into their customer's business and the decisions that affect every facet of their operation. The true sales professional will be relied upon as a valuable resource and a trusted, consultative adviser throughout the entire selling process; and beyond.
This doesn't mean focusing solely on relationship selling because those salespeople who are doing so are the ones who are struggling today. Great relationships don't always equate to more sales. While additional time must be spent fostering stronger relationships with key clients, this isn't about calling them just to 'check in' but having a more strategic set of timely questions that will help you better understand how the current economic climate has affected the way they do business and make purchasing decisions.
This will help us accurately connect to what the true meaning of value is to our customers, as opposed to what we generically assume it to be and as such, enable us to deliver on this at a much deeper, more significant level. We need to take a closer and more holistic look at ourselves from the inside out while challenging our customers, the media and status quo. Therein lies the opportunity to elevate yourself and become the champion you know you can be.