You know what the nice thing about the truth is? It doesn’t change. What’s true today was true yesterday and it will be true tomorrow and next year as well. It’s like math: 2 + 2 = 4. You will always get 4 no matter what you’re adding, and no matter where you add it – in this country or in outer space.
And it’s the same in sales. There are certain sales truths that are true no matter what you’re selling, no matter where you’re selling it or who you’re selling it too, and no matter what the economy is doing or how your company is doing, or whatever. Just like 2 + 2 will always equal 4, these sales truths will always work for you – or against you.
That’s the good thing about the following 5 truths: If you follow them, stick to them, abide by them, you will close more sales with less frustration. On the other hand, if you ignore them or try to deceive yourself into thinking that maybe, just maybe, it won’t be true for this particular prospect, then you do so at your own expense. The expense of lost sales, much frustration and pressure, are the penalties for not following the following 5 sales truths:
1) You can’t close an unqualified lead. Seems straight forward enough, doesn’t it? And yet 80% of sales reps across all industries are trying to do just that – close prospects that should never have made it into their pipeline to begin with. To test this, ask yourself, “Out of 10 leads or prospects that send information to and follow up with, how many turn into deals?” If you’re like the average sales rep, your answer is one to two.
What this means is that 80% of the leads in your pipeline weren’t qualified to begin with and were never going to close. This is where the ‘sales is a numbers game’ philosophy came from. The solution to his is to learn the most important skill in all of sales – learn to disqualify rather than to qualify your leads.
2) Leads never get better when you call them back. Let me ask you, “How many times have you called back a prospect and found they were actually more interested and receptive than they were when you first called them?” Rarely, right? This sales truth is similar to the first one in that the more important thing you can do is properly qualify your leads.
People ask me all the time what the secret to closing sales is. They are surprised by my answer, but it’s always the same: The secret to closing is that you have to find someone who not only needs your product or service, but is ready, willing and able to buy it. In other words, see sales truth #1.
3) The objection, “I want to think about it” usually means no. Again, ask yourself this question: “How many times have you actually closed a prospect who tells you this and then gets you off the phone?” Almost never, right? The reason is that this objection is one of the most used smokescreens ever created to mask the real objection – which is usually that they’ve made a decision to not use you and they don’t want to have to argue with you or explain why not.
The only way to deal with this (and it’s not, “Oh, then when should I call you back?”) is to use a close that gets them to tell you the truth (see my blog for examples), and then learn why they weren’t qualified to begin with and do a better job qualifying your next prospect (otherwise you’re going to repeat this hundreds of times in your career).
4) Your success is always, 100% up to you. Until you take 100% responsibility for yourself (not 90% or 99%), you will always look for (and find) an excuse for not achieving what you want. For years I would point to bad leads, a bad economy, a bad territory, etc., as reasons why I wasn’t a top producer. When my manager pointed to the top reps driving porches and living in the homes I could only dream about, I found other excuses…
It wasn’t until I took 100% responsibility for my life and my results that I finally shed the excuses and found a way to succeed – no matter what. And once I adopted that attitude, I accomplished more than I ever dreamed possible. And still do. There’s a saying that if you’re not part of the problem, then there’s no solution. If you take 100% responsibility for your results and your life, you’ll find a way to succeed. All winners do.
5) Some sales people should be selling something else – or not selling at all. I’ve been managing and training sales people for over 25 years and this is one of the consistent truths in all of sales. It’s a hard truth to swallow, at first, but once you follow it, everyone’s life gets easier.
Let’s take the first part. Some people are better at outside sales then inside sales. Some people are better at a longer sales cycle than a short one. Some people are better at selling a service than a product, and some are better at B to B and others better at B to C. Ask yourself what you are best at and what makes you the happiest, then go sell that kind of product.
Second, not everyone is cut to be in sales. That doesn’t make you a bad person rather, it’s just the truth. Some people are better in a customer service role. Some people are better in marketing. And some people are better off going back to school and learning a different profession. Again, be honest with yourself and ask yourself what you are best at and what makes you the happiest. Then go out and pursue what will make you happiest (and more successful).
So there you have it. Twenty five years of experience boiled down into 5 sales truths. Are there more? Of course, but you’ll have to wait for another article for that…