Are You a Fair Weather Salesperson?

Shoveling Snow

Are you a fair-weather salesperson?

Do you know what that means? I admit to being a fair-weather golfer. I like warm, sunny days to really enjoy my trip around the course. Rain and snow are not my favorite times to head to the golf course.

A fair-weather salesperson is something kin to that. They make excuses for why they can’t do their job. The weather is too bad. All the prospects are on spring break. My wife is busy and I have to cook breakfast. And on and on it goes.

Not Completely True

How many times have you heard that you can’t see anyone between Christmas and New Years? Or maybe even between Thanksgiving and the new year. Maybe the snow is blowing so no one is out there calling on customers.

I am so tired of hearing these excuses from salespeople. They are just excuses. Excuses as to why they can’t make their numbers.

Are some prospects on vacation? Sure. Is it really cold with the blowing snow? Yes. However, the true professional is not looking for excuses to slack off, they are looking for sales. They are looking for an advantage over fair-weather salespeople.

Here’s the good news?

The week between Christmas and New Years can be fruitful. Do you know who else is taking vacations during the holidays? The regular gatekeeper. The one no one ever gets past. She is taking two weeks off and the temporary replacement doesn’t have her skills of rejecting you. Now you stand a chance to get past the front desk.

Deep SnowThe same goes for spring break and the blinding snowstorm.

Now’s your chance to make the appointment or get in to see that prospect.

Don’t be a fair-weather salesperson. Make the extra effort to excel.

That’s Not Fair

DodgeMagnum-B25

That’s Not Fair!

Fair. What is fair? Is there a requirement for fairness in the workplace? Does it exist in the world?

The definition of “Fair” is not very informative.

in accordance with the rules or standards; legitimate.
“the group has achieved fair and equal representation for all its members”

In accordance with the rules or standards; legitimate.  What does that mean?

And the synonyms are nothing if not interesting—just, equitable, fair-minded, open-minded, upright, honest, honorable, trustworthy.

Let me ask you this, what rules or standards? Who makes the rules? Who defines the standards? And then there is “legitimate” thrown in. How exactly does that fit with the definition?

If I set a standard height requirement of 6’0″ for entrance, is that fair? It is the standard I have set for admitance, so it must be fair.

Why Do I Ask the Question?

It seems the rally cry of the last few years is that “things” aren’t fair. Jobs, education, and finally life is not fair to expectations.

Is Fairness the Goal?

From my viewpoint, fairness is not the ultimate goal. They want special treatment, extra privileges,

Am I off base or right on?

Yeti Sighting in College Station, Texas

A Yeti walked in the door, continuing to the parts department in the auto dealership. Seven feet tall with long dirty, matted hair all over its body. AND NO ONE SAW IT.

Lately, several cartoons have depicted big happenings surrounding people who don’t notice because their heads were looking down at their phones. This was a brief experience I had last week at a car dealer.

Back Story

My son and his family were on vacation and spending time with us. My son was actively looking for additional transportation since the oldest granddaughter is now sixteen.

He spotted a car of interest while perusing CarGurus.com less than an hour away. Since the next day was his birthday, I said I would drive him over and back. This accomplished two things. He got to see and test drive a car on his list and I got to spend time with him.

We saw the car in the huge lot and walked around it to get a feel. Since he was interested in a test drive, we went to the showroom and consulted with a salesman. He found the keys, they climbed into the car and drove off into the sunrise. Since the back seat was all but non-existent, I declined and went back into the showroom to enjoy the air conditioning.

Then, as happens when you’ve finished several cups of coffee, … well, you get the idea. I walked to the front counter to ask the location of the restroom.

Cell Phones Everywhere

I approached the desk and the receptionist was on her cell phone. It was several moments before she noticed me standing there. Embarrassed, she looked up, and with my question, pointed me through the parts department to the last hallway. “Then take a left,” she said. I thanked her and headed back.

When I was returning to the showroom I noticed that the lady in the first office was on her cell phone. Then passing the second office, she was too.

Looking to my left, I noticed both Service Writers were busy checking their phones.

The Battle is Lost

The battle is lost and the war is not far behind. Here is what I remember from my work experience before the ubiquitous cell phone.

When there were no customers that needed help, we found work to do. Filing, sweeping, cleaning, sorting, whatever. Obviously, the options are different at different types of workplaces. Now the time is filled with heads down looking at social media. I’ve never worked anywhere there was not work that needed doing when the calm hit. Sometimes even preparing for the next onslaught.

I would like to see a study on how many million man-hours we lose daily to these devices.

My personal experience is no different. When I would walk into the warehouse, several people would scramble to put their phones away, while trying to look innocent. Speaking to them didn’t make a difference, neither did scolding them of writing them up. Addictions are hard to overcome.

Sadly, the only solution I found was firing people. That would help all workers in the short term but not for long.

Goals, Motivation, and Leadership

Texas Legislature in Session

One of the constants in my life had been my interest in Motivation, Leadership, Management, and Goal Setting. That interest led me to run a website and podcast back in 2005 called Motivation on the Run. It revolved around those particular interests.

Then life happened and it slowly passed into insignificance. My wife and I began a new business and made a physical move to get nearer to our new granddaughter.

Now life is happening again. I’ve wanted to revive a website and podcast on these topics but the needs of others are taking precedence. No complaints, just the facts.

So where does this leave me? With planning.

What do I want the new website and podcast to focus on? Only one aspect of the four intetests specializing on one topic? It’s difficult to pair down since all these topics are highly integrated. One cannot exist without a relationship to one or more of the others. Intertwined is the word that comes to mind.

Hince the planning. Between the mindmaps in Xmind and outlines in Evernote I can be as confused as all get out.

Confusion is my middle name the last five months.

Currently I’m in the local Whataburger having a completely free breakfast. I redeemed a reward for a taquito topped off with a senior coffee. Best deal in town.

Pursue The Top 4%

Do you want to be a professional salesperson? Are you sure? If we acknowledge that selling is a profession, you must make a few decisions.

Are you willing to do what it takes to be a professional? Do you have the desire and motivation to be a professional? Selling is a profession. It’s that simple. Unlike other professions though, it doesn’t require a board of review or a certain standard to achieve before calling oneself a salesman.

Many professions require a license to practice. Doctors, Lawyers, Beauticians too, are required to pass a minimum set of requirements to get a license. Then there are the continuing education credits to keep the license in good standing.

Selling is a job many “just fall into” without the real knowledge of what it takes to succeed. How many people do you know that went into sales because it “beat working for a living?” The dropout rate is high because of one thing: SELLING IS HARD!

Training

Sales training was non-existent for every sales job I’ve had, except one. One company handed me a 3-ring binder with a few pages inserted. Pointing at a map of the area, my new manager said, “You can call on anyone you want east of this line.” That was it: my training was complete. Go forth and sell.

The truth is you must take responsibility for your own training. If the company offers it, great. Participate with zeal and enthusiasm. If not, take charge and begin your own “self-training.” It’s more difficult but completely possible,  speaking from experience.

Professional Sales

What does it take to become a professional in selling? More than most people are willing to give. There is a difference between selling and becoming a  professional salesman. Professionals take selling seriously.

It’s not “just a job” for a pro, it is more than that.

All the real salespeople I have known had a genuine desire to succeed. They quickly determined where their skills were lacking and then took steps to correct and improve.

The Top 20%

The top 20% make 80% of the sales in an organization. My experience as a salesman and a Sales Manager bears this out. If you want to be considered a professional, you must strive for the top 20% in your organization. Amateurs settle for average.

The top 20% act with integrity and take pride in their work. They take the extra time to stay up to date in their industry. They work on their profession of sales. They develop habits that allow them to succeed.

What does it take to succeed at this level?

  • Study your craft of sales
  • Read books on sales
  • Watch videos on sales and training
  • Take courses in subjects that apply
  • Listen to sales podcasts and tapes
  • Attend sales and motivation conferences
  • Form a Master Mind group
  • Hire a coach

Now that you are a member of the 20% club, you need to step up to the next goal. The top 20% should be the first goal, but not the end game.

The Top 4%

The top 20% of the top 20% are the most professional of all. This usually takes the additional desire to achieve the best. It is not easy to reach this distinguished level but it’s a worthy pursuit.

Think about it. This group is 4 out of every 100 salespeople. It is such a small percentage because it is the hardest to break into.

Attaining this level makes you part of a very elite group. It is the pinnacle of the profession made up of people that never have to worry about a job. Companies are seeking these people and recruiters look for them. The 4% are the best.

How Can You Get There?

It is a simple 5-step process. Simple in form, but difficult in implementation.

  1. Determine you want it enough
  2. Develop a plan
  3. Implement the plan
  4. Make course corrections
  5. Rinse and Repeat

It doesn’t take the smartest or best looking. However, it does take a person that understands the hardships at the beginning and the knowledge that it gets better with time.

It does take effort.  Hard, dedicated effort. Oh, and determination.

So is it worth it? All this work? Absolutely. Selling is the most gratifying profession.

Tablets in the Workflow

Nexus 7 and Verbatim Keyboard
Tablet and Keyboard

Selling is hard work, not doubt about it. I’m always asking myself, how can we make it easier, better, more efficient. I believe one way is by using technology for the tools they are. Technology itself does not make sales easier, but it can make it more efficient.

Today I am writing this article on my Nexus 7 tablet to see if a salesman could enter information into a tablet quickly and easily. Some will say I’m cheating because I have my Verbatim blue tooth keyboard connected, but again, I say, use the tools. A very inexpensive keyboard turns this tablet into a data entry machine. Still not a full laptop, but remember, most information a salesman enters is short notes about a planned meeting, short notes after the meeting, or adding something to the to-do list.

I know this isn’t the end all, be all, but it shows a proof a concept once the appropriate software is made available. So now the question is about software. What can you use? How can you use it? I’m glad you asked because that will be next.