It’s Time for a 180

Have you ever run into a sales professional who seems so unaffected by their success and so comfortable in their skin that you wonder how they got there?  They seem unaffected by the stresses their customers put on them.  Their approach to the management teams they report to shines with confidence and a sense of partnership.  Their professional lives seem so fluid and serene.  Are they on drugs?  In therapy?  Let’s get real here, sales is supposed to be all about stress, caffeine and nervous energy right?

Ownership

In talking with and interviewing these salespeople over the years, I sense a common thread in their approaches.  It’s called “ownership”.  They have replaced the often abused excuses of “It’s the market.”, “The product isn’t good enough” and “If we only had more support staff I could get more done” with a completely new dialogue.  You’ll hear these comments from these new professionals.  “I’m trying new markets and employing new models to open new markets.”  “I’ve gone back to basics to learn more about my product(s) to see what aspects I might be missing” and “I run this business as if it is my own.  I’ll do my best with what I have.”  In their minds, the relationship they have with the sales process has spun around from one where everyone else is at fault to one where they own the entire process – they are responsible – they take ownership.

Process, process, process

Perhaps the most surprising thing I find out about very successful sales professionals is their adherence to a process.  For those in the corporate sales arena you have been through Miller-Heiman, SPIN, Target Account Selling or some form of internal sales process orientation.  For those outside the corporate ranks, you may find it harder to find guidance in how to improve the way you approach your business.

I was reminded recently about some wonderful cassette tapes (yes cassette tapes) that I was required to listen to by one of my first professional sales managers.  Bob Fuire was one of the best I’ve known and was especially good at building the careers of young salespeople.  One of the disciplines he instituted was that we all were required to listen to a selection of motivational, self improvement and sales training programs by some of the giants in this arena.  Of course, at the time, none of us had any idea who these people were.  Each of us reviewed tape series by the likes of Wayne Dyer, Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy and Dale Carnegie.  Each of us was required to do a “book report” at our weekly sales meetings.  Sounds parochial right?  Well, it was something I took seriously and I’ve never forgotten.

I Google’d the website recently to see if the purveyor of these programs – Nightingale/Conant – was still in existence.  I was happy to find they were still going strong and they now carried many new voices in this field as well as all of the “old dogs” that I remember so fondly.

Some Homework

Take a moment to visit www.nightingale.com and browse their selection.  I’d guide you to explore two paths in your process.  Consider programs centered on self improvement as well as sales skill development.  As salespeople we must build a solid personal foundation as we grow our professional skills.  I’d suggest beginning with anything from Wayne Dyer and Brian Tracy.  Both are great voices whose messages continue to inspire and educate.  Give them a try.  There’s nothing stopping you from success except yourself.

Happy Selling!