Seek the Opportunity of the Unknown in Sales
I remember the day I realized that it’s time to sell. I had made a major decision in my life. I had decided to pursue an opportunity in sales, because I saw it as both a way to take myself and my family’s life to the next level financially and an opportunity to step outside my comfort zone of a desk job in marketing.
Previously, I had dabbled in sales. But now, for the first time, people—namely, my family and my employer—had placed their faith in me and relied on me to bring in revenues.
I must admit that in those early days fear took a mighty hold of me. I had a fear of the unknown, with the unknown being the types of people with whom I would have to interact and the challenges they would expect me to solve for them. I recall one client in particular. My associates had set him up in my mind to be the scariest of them all. He was a former military officer who was now a director at a key target account. He applied his military personality to all areas of his life and was more than willing to tell you what he thought. On one hand, I was afraid of this trait, because one of my childhood teachers had been like this. On the other hand, I thought, isn’t this exactly the type of client I want? I knew that, once you truly get to know such a person, he or she can become your number one ally.
Our relationship didn’t get off to a great start, though. Our first meeting was scheduled for one month out, due to his busy schedule, and it only lasted about fifteen seconds, because he received a call about a “fire” that he had to go put out. As he ran out of his office, he said, “Leave your literature on the desk.” I thought, What literature? It was another two months before I could get in to see him again.
During the following year, I poured my energy into getting to know this prospective client. I quickly realized that he hated to waste time, so I would go into our meetings extremely well prepared. At the beginning of each meeting, I would spend about thirty seconds building a relationship bridge by commenting about a picture on his wall or an emblem on his desk, but then I would quickly dive into talking about the challenges he was facing in his job. I could tell that he respected me for this, so I built our relationship from there. Within twelve months we were having a couple of Thursday evening socials together, and within eighteen months I had landed my first contract with him.
It is an ageless human trait to fear the unknown, but that fear can prevent us from exploring new possibilities. - Chris Spurvey
Here are a few suggestions to help you get over the fear that may grip you when you realize that it’s time to sell:
1) Keep it simple
We all have a tendency to overcomplicate things. Sales is simply a conversation. Go into the conversation with one goal—to get to know the person and help him or her.
2) Be prepared
This recommendation should be obvious, but I can tell you first hand that it is rarely done. More often than not, entrepreneurs and sales professionals go into client interactions having given little thought to the prospect’s needs. Do you want to become a pro? Being prepared is low-hanging fruit.
3) Visualize a successful interaction
In the days leading up to an interaction with a prospective client, I take a couple of minutes each day to close my eyes and visualize how I would like the meeting to go. Seldom do the meetings go as visualized, but the act of visualizing puts me in a calm mental space for the meeting. In the few minutes just before a meeting, I often find a parking lot nearby and take five minutes to mentally rehearse one last time.
4) Record the small wins
After each interaction, write down a small win or two that you achieved. Even when an interaction does not go exactly as planned, you can find a small win for which to be grateful. The win could be something as simple as learning something new about the client’s environment. Record these small wins, pat yourself on the back, and make sure to review your notes prior to the next meeting with this client.
When you begin your entrepreneurial or sales career, you’ll encounter clients who have personalities you haven’t dealt with before, and it would be easy for you to decide to stick with personality types you know and with which you are comfortable. However, the more you break down these barriers the more opportunities you will have to reap the rewards from one of the greatest professions in the world.
Question: When it’s time for you to sell, what are some of the things that you do to put yourself in the right mind-set?
My first book, It's Time to Sell, is set to be released in early September. I am excited to share this one-year project with the world (although I must admit it is also a bit terrifying). I welcome you to visit (http://www.chrisspurvey.com/newsletter/) and sign up for my newsletter to be among the early readers. Thanks.