3 Keys To Success

Why do most people just make it in their sales career and not succeed? There are three main reasons why sales professionals don’t make it to the top 5% of the sales rankings. Have you ever done an inventory check on your own career to see if you are doing these three things and doing them consistently?

  • Always Be Cultivating- Some of the best of the best consistently cultivate. No matter how busy they may be or how good things may be going at that time, they always make prospecting for new business a priority. Prospecting is not seasonal nor is it something to do when you are bored or business is slow. You may have a full pipeline in the works or maybe you are an account manager and you are responsible for managing millions of dollars in revenue but at some point you will need to replace those accounts or clients. There is something called client retention and new business acquisition and most companies put a higher value on new accounts. This is how their business grows and this is how your personal book of business grows. If you are putting new business prospecting on the shelf then you are willing setting yourself up for failure. You’re playing sales roulette. You need to always till the top, turn the dirt and keep planting the seeds. Remember what brought you to the place where you’re at in the first place.
  • Don’t Be a Busy Body- There is a big misconception between being busy and being productive. The best example I can give is the difference between a car being in neutral and in drive. The car is still on in neutral but it’s not going anywhere unless you put the gear into drive. This is the same for anyone who is in sales. Some sales people think that busy is a good quality to possess until they realize that their results don’t represent the work they put into it. What does this mean? This means that you need to “clean out the closet” and look at your time wasters. This reminds me of a sales rep that used to work for me. Everyday, he would come into the office with a stack full of business cards and he would sit there at his desk shuffling through these business cards, staring at them and putting them in alphabetical order…believe it or not. Everyone would egg him on asking who he had in the pipeline. He came into my office one evening and told me he had some great news he wanted to share with me. I was sitting right across from him as he pulls out what must have been 20 pages of leads filled from the top of the page to the bottom. He let me know that his pipeline was growing and he now had 300 hot leads that he was working on. What came next was as Oprah says was an Ah…Ha moment. I asked him to bring in his business cards so we could review his pipeline. His pipeline was a pipe dream and it was a commission robber and time-stealer. I took his business cards and inserted them into the circular file and showed him why i did that. He was average far below the average rep and was sitting in the bottom 25% of the rankings for sales reps. He had not made a commission check in the last month so after realizing how much time he was wasting on busy work…he identified prospects that he had met with twice in the last couple of months and targeted those leads. We met on a Monday and by Friday he had doubled his productivity than the month prior.
  • Yearn to Learn (Reading, Seminars, Audio books)-When was the last time you picked up a book, invested into a sales seminar or listened to an audio book that challenged the way you thought, worked and helped you to sharpen your skill set? If you aren’t growing then you’re dying. Some of the best of the best out there today, even as successful as they may be still invest into themselves. Learn how to critique yourself on a monthly basis. Identify how many prospects did you reach out to, how many thought provoking conversations did you have and what percentage of those turned into clients. Are you consistently increasing your earnings on a monthly basis or are you experiencing the ups and downs. You can only learn so much by doing the work…and why do I say that? Most of us who are in sales will learn through first hand experience but because we all have our limitations and we only know so much, you become your own ceiling and limit your earning opportunity. You need to desire continued learning and education and I don’t mean going to school, I mean the resources that are out there for any of us to utilize. Whether it’s a book, a seminar, audio books, researching online or watching videos on Youtube…the more time you invest in yourself, the better you will become and the more money you will end up making.

Apply these 3 keys to success and you will see the difference in your level of success. The beauty about sales is the ability to dictate your own earnings and you earn what you’re worth. Make the most out of the opportunity you’ve created for yourself and you will have a long-term career in sales.

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Always Be Closing

Some of the best and most effective closers understand that the close is not come at the end of a sales call. We all have been taught in some form of fashion that a sale starts with prospecting, qualifying, introduction, needs assessment, reinstate and close. This is a great blueprint for sales professionals in any industry but this is a stock sample. The first lesson in sales that I was ever taught that has been the foundation that I’ve built my career around is the sales scripture, “sales is an emotional decision backed up by logic!” Regardless if you are acquiring clients online or offline, this very rule applies today and will always be relevant in the future. Every sales professional has seen Glenngary Glenn Ross, Always Be Closing…You Close or you HIT the Bricks! The truth about that term is so true but you need to understand that Always be Closing should be taken one step further which is always be closing throughout the sales cycle!

There is nothing worse than spending hours with a potential client going through your spiel and when you get the end for the grand finale…nothing happens. Empty face from your prospect leaving you no direction to go. You are fishing out objections so you can overcome them but nothing you say or do will sway the client into conducting business with you. As good as we may be, every sales professional throughout their career will experience this awkward moment. How do you prevent yourself from running into the wall? Well…it’s called test closing!

Where and when do you begin using test closing? From the beginning of every sales cycle! Keep in mind, in the beginning of the sales cycle your prospect is the most “curious” about how your solution whether product or service can solve his need or else he/she wouldn’t be sitting there with you in the first place. So strike while the iron is hot and I’m not saying tell them to sign the agreement. What I mean by this is ask questions geared towards bringing out the pain of why they are where they are. This is the emotion you begin to reel out because as stated before a “sale” is an emotional decision backed up by logic. Once you get them to that emotional level, you can begin to tie it in with reinstating where they are, why they’re there and what you can do to help them change their situation. Questions I normally ask in my industry is, “When did you notice the drop in business and what do you think was the cause of this?” After the client addresses the question, you are able to reinstate the question with getting their buy in or using a test close such as “So, you noticed the drop in business about six months ago when your phone stop ringing and you think it’s due to some of the poor reviews that showed up online as well as you cutting your advertising budget by 50% is that correct? So, in order for you to prevent experiencing times like this again in the future, you agree it’s important to identify the real issue at hand by taking a look at your previous advertising campaigns, study the analytics and address the negative reviews online ? The prospect agrees to it which is another “Yes” which builds and supports your solution.

Once you get a few of those, you are in the clear to assume the sale and finalize the transaction. As long as you focus a majority of your sales call on asking qualifying questions and revealing “pain points” you will increase your closing ratio and avoid wasting your time and the prospects time by not bridging his needs with your solutions. Clients sell themselves first even if you think it’s you that sells them. So the next time you are in front of your prospect…test the waters early in the sales cycle.

Attitude Determines Altitude

One of the greatest lessons that I learned in my sales career was from one of my mentors back in the mid 90’s. We were reviewing all the sales reps earnings reports and I noticed some of the biggest increases from salespeople that made $40,000 the year prior and $80,000 the next year then noticed top selling sales reps that made $110,000 year after year. Why is this?

Master the mind…the money will follow. Attitude determines Altitude. This is a quality that the most successful sales professionals in any industry possess. Think about why you have peaks and valleys and when you have peaks normally it’s because your actions and results are normally aligned with your attitude. There’s a saying that sales come in pairs and I truly believe this is the case. You can have the strongest skill set but if your attitude is crappy then guess what… no one is going to buy from you. Strategy is something that sales professionals focus on but common sense is a quality that sometimes gets pushed aside. So how do you “mind your own business?”

Attitude of Gratitude

Minding your own business is making it a priority that every morning you wake up, you figure out what to be thankful for. I used to teach my sales reps the first step in giving yourself a check up from the neck up is looking around you the moment you open your eyes because you were given another day to live and those that are dear to you were given another day as well. When you open your eyes, are you grateful that you have a roof over your head and food on the table. Yes, I know it’s a pay off due to your amazing sales career you built for yourself so why wouldn’t you have an amazing attitude knowing that some people in this world wake up to a world that is turned upside down whether their health takes a turn for the worse or something unimaginable happens. Call it what you want, this is not a speech about God or a higher power but it is what it is and you need to have an attitude of gratitude.

The Financial Foundation

The next step is your attitude needs to reflect the “Financial Foundation” you have establishing a career in one of the most important professions in existence. Keep in mind, you are in a profession that the only thing that stops you from making tons of money is you! You are not stuck in a minimum wage job somewhere like so many people are today. Don’t get me wrong, I believe people do what they have to do in order to survive but I also believe that if some of those very people had a different mindset, they could turn a minimum wage job into a well paying career. It’s all about the mindset and having the attitude that determines the altitude. Back to the Financial Foundation…do you realize that if you want to give yourself a 20% raise in your earnings all you have to do is make the decision to do so, create a plan and execute that plan flawlessly? That is the beauty of sales.

In everything you do understand that before you can set a goal and achieve a goal, your mind needs to be committed to that plan. The mind will empower you to execute or will cause you to make excuses so the next time you catch yourself with sub par results, do yourself a favor as well as your peers, friends and family…give yourself a check up from the neck up and “mind your own business” and remember that your attitude determines your altitude.

If You Want Change…Change The Want

It’s human nature to want and wanting is okay. I remember when I was 13, my life was consumed with skating (skateboarding.) Everyone had the newest Powell & Peralta board but those things weren’t cheap. I remember telling my mom that I wanted to buy a new Alva deck with Independent Trucks, Swiss bearings and Crossbones wheels. Before I could even finish telling her what I wanted, she started shaking her head in disbelief and told me I needed to work for it and save the money. Okay. Once you buy me what I want, I will work for it. I was so lost back then. She asked me how much everything was going to be which to me, I had closed the deal right then and there. After doing the calculation, the grand total before taxes because taxes weren’t in my vocabulary back then, it was going to be $190. Now, I knew the look turned from disbelief to straight out 5150 status. She thought I was nuts and maybe I was but I really wanted my skateboard. My mom didn’t have a lot of money seeing how she was a single mom, raising two boys who had expensive taste with all our newest hobbies. Although she would have given us the world, this was out of the picture. The conversation was dropped but in my head I was waiting for her to sit on the idea of how she was going to come up with the money to help her youngest son (me) embrace this hobby of mine. Dinner passed, dessert passed, breakfast passed and still no response on the skateboard so I followed up and once again asked my mom when we could get my board. She looked and me and told me she spoke with my Dad about how I could get the board. Nice…Mom and Dad are going to split the costs and get my board!

Not even close, that summer it took me two weeks to put a fence around his house. When I say put a fence up, I mean we built a fence, the beams, dug holes, screwed in bolts, hammered in nails and put that thing up around his house. This is not how I envisioned getting the board I wanted but since I’m writing about it right now, it obviously left an impression in my life. So what was the lesson I learned and how does it apply to this forty one year old sales professional?

If you really want something bad enough, the want is never enough if it is only an intention. The last time I checked intentions were worth a whole lot and they never produced a return. Sales professionals are a very unique breed of people. Although we love the rewards, we reap from the commissions we make-we sometimes forget that it takes hard work! You have to be willing to want something so bad, that it keeps you up at night and it drives you all day before you close your eyes. Everyone wants something but if you want it, you must claim it, own it and name it.

“If you want change, you must change the want!” brandon kuramoto

You see change is just a word until there is a desired outcome! What is it that you want to change? Are you going to continue to want to change it or will you? Whether you want to be a better husband, wife, father, mother, sales professional, friend or flat out a better person…it cannot happen until you change the level of want.

I Need To Think About It

How many times in your career have you heard a client say this after you have presented your product or service to them? This happens in any industry, some more than others but there are ways to overcome this objection and also to minimize the amount of times you hear this on a sales call. It is called the “Infamous Slow No.”

Setting the Expectation-In the Beginning

The best way to avoid hearing this after you have invested your time with a potential client or prospect at the end of a sales call is to set the agenda or better “set the expectation” up in the beginning of the sales call. So many times, sales professionals dive deep into the waters yet they didn’t take the time to ask themselves, “What if I can’t swim?” By that time, it’s too late and anything you say or do will just be suspect by that time and you now can classify that call as an official “time waster” appointment. Having one of those here and there is not bad but when you don’t change this -it begins to weigh heavily on your shoulders and this can effect your game dramatically. So set the expectation by letting your prospect know what to expect on the call such as learning about their business or needs, discussing some of the changes in the market and what and how that effects them directly and then let them know you are going to talk about your business and solution. Oh and by the way, ask if there is anyone else that makes the decision that needs to be on the call with them!!! Finally, if everything makes sense and they see the value of what you have to offer, you are going to ask for their business at the end of the call. Sound fair? You will get two responses…the first response which you will hopefully get is, “okay sounds fair!” and the next is I don’t make on the spot decisions which is not necessarily a bad thing to hear as well but at least you know how much information to put out on your call and the angle you need to use to approach that particular sales call.

Take Them Back to the Good Ole Days-End of Call

You have just delivered one of your best presentations, you asked all the right questions and provided tons of value on the sales call and even used test closes throughout the entire call yet he/she still comes back with, “Let me think about it!” I call this “The Good Ole Days Close!” Everybody loves reminiscing about the good ole’ days even 21 Pilots wishes they could turn back time to the Good Ole Days! Take them there to turn their state of mind from a defensive stance to an offense and inviting stance. “John, I totally know where you’re coming from. Every good decision made in someone’s life took a certain level of thought to move forward but also keep in mind, that every good and right decision that was made was done so because of the value and meaning behind it. Think about when you started dating or got married and had kids, bought a house or maybe even the seadoos you ride every summer in Laughlin. The only way you have experienced those very memorable times in your life has been due to making a decision to move forward with it. I realize most of my clients today at one point or another had reservations or questions they needed answered in order to move forward. What is your biggest reservation that stopping you from moving forward today? Let them direct you on the question that needs to be answered in order for you to use a clearing statement and overcome the objection.

This are very effective to use on a sales call, one sets the expectation and the other disturbs their complacency and changes their mindset by emotionally taking them back to the good ole days. For more information on how to apply this technique to your industry reach out to me directly at onlineprofessional@icloud.com .

Why Salespeople Fail Then Fall

There you are sitting right in front of the prospect. You can smell the sweet aroma of your prospect pulling out their credit card or check book and that’s when the adrenaline releases and you begin to think about “the CLOSE!” You’re looking in the eyes of the prospect and they are looking back…it’s a stare off! Who’s going to look away first…who’s the first one to speak? The client opens his mouth and just as you celebrate your victory, he calmly says,”I’m interested but I need more time to think about it.” What did he say? More time to think about it? Let’s do this now! Well at least that is what you’re thinking as he begins to sit back in his chair and you slowly drop your head in defeat. Your first reaction is to dig deep in the rolodex of your objection overcoming lyrics and you bounce back with, “John, the product I have can help you tremendously with your business goals. You seemed excited when we talked about how you only needed two new clients per month to make back your investment so let’s get the ball rolling and get you up and running.”  You can sense John is right on the edge of buying but everything you are spitting out doesn’t seem to be working. After multiple attempts only to get shot down, you give in and let John know that you will follow-up with him in a few days. As you begin to gather up your belongings, the dark cloud of rejection begins to form over your head and all confidence you had is now deflated. The words of your experience in sales tells you not to take it personal but deep inside you begin to get down on yourself you are pissed off.

 

rejected

Even with some of the most seasoned sales reps, rejection can become a game killer for some many sales people no matter what industry you’re in. Throughout my career, I have seen some of the most successful sales people fail then fall and they never seem to reach their glory days ever again. What happened and where did they fail? If majority of seasoned sales people know that rejection is a part of the game and it is a daily occurrence if you are hustling everyday then why do so many people fail? Is it rejection? Are you missing sales objectives? Is it outside influences such as family and friends? What is it?

I’ve been in sales for 23 years since i was 18 years old, fresh out of school. After selling multiple products, multiple services and holding multiple positions in the sales industry, I believe I have the answer. The number one reason why so many sales people fail is because they are “ripe!” Like the old saying goes when you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot. How can this be the answer you may ask? It’s simple. Think of when you entered the realm of sales. You didn’t know any better so when objections came, they rolled off of your shoulders because you were told that’s what you should do. You earned to learn and you spent endless hours working on your craft, learning how to turn information into conviction and you were a sponge of the game. Take the time right now to pause and remember those days.

Refreshing huh? Hopefully it brings a smile to your face and gives you the chills just thinking about it. Where did it all go sideways? The day you turned passion into a piss poor attitude and your turned drive into complacency is the day it began to take over your sales soul. You see, if you lose the love, you lose yourself. It’s just like a relationship-you either work at it by watering it or you’re room mate status which we know how that ends. So let’s get back to what strips you from the one true love.

  • Rejection-Why do you let a two letter word ruin your day, your month, your year, your career and sometimes your life? You will either give fuel to the fire and put power in that word or you can use the “NO” as an opportunity to learn, grow, strategize and better yourself as a SALES NINJA! You control the controllable. You may not be able to control their reaction but you can control your action.

 

  • Missing Sales Objectives-Majority of sales people experience the highs and lows in any industry. It does happen. What are you doing or should I ask, what are you not doing to hit your sales objectives. For every action there is an equal or opposite reaction which is called “Cause and Effect.” If you are not setting specific goals, making big moves and inspecting what you are expecting then you are going to miss your goals. When runners run…isn’t there a finish line. In most competitive sports there is a goal involved. The same rule applies to any sales profession. Remember sales objectives is the minimum so if you’re just aiming for the minimum, most of the times you will fall short or hit the minimum. Think of a stretch goal and live to accomplish it with all costs. By doing this, you’ll create the BAR!

 

  • Outside Influences-Family and friends can be the best support system in your career or they will be the thorn in your side but understand where that fine line is. Keep in mind you and your attitude that you bring home is the reflection of what they will perceive. If you complain, come home in a crappy mood and treat your loved ones like trash then guess what Einstein? Yes, they will hate the source of what’s turning you into the person they are beginning to despise. Protect your passion and come home everyday with the same attitude as if you made the biggest sale that day and you will have one less thing to worry about. You wouldn’t hate your wife, husband or kids if they did something wrong. You would forgive and forget, loving them for their inperfections and all so do the same with your other love. True Sales Professionals protect, embrace and hold this Industry on a pedistol.

In closing sales people don’t have to fail and fall. In the words of the great Sparky Anderson, “Success isn’t something that just happens, success is learned, success is practiced then it is shared. I wish you success in this crazy profession that we all chose to give our lives to. Treat it with respect, love it, learn from it and you will reap the great rewards it has to offer.

Too Good To Succeed

As I walked through the front door to my very first sales interview, my hands were clammy and I felt like a lost child who was suddenly pulled away from the security of his parents. I remember walking into the waiting room and seeing five chairs placed against the wall, most of them were empty except one that was occupied by this outgoing, confident and successful business man who was dressed to the nines. When I saw him, in my mind I had already surrendered to the fact that I wasn’t getting hired. I sat down two seats from him, hoping that the distance would prevent him from smelling the insecurity and lack of confidence that was oozing from my very soul. All I remember at that very moment is he kept glancing over to me and then he would grab the Entrepreneur magazine that was sitting a top of the end table and begin to browse through the pages. What was I doing? I was looking around the room aimlessly, staring at the clock on the wall and then I would look at the wall that held the clock up and kept doing that over and over. I was so tempted to get up and leave because I felt I was inexperienced and unqualified for this position compared to this candidate who sat next to me. The manager’s door opened and this girl walks out laughing while she is shaking the manager’s hand. “I really appreciate you spending this time getting to know me and explaining your business to me in detail. In order for me to really be successful in any career, I must first weigh out the pros and cons and match it up to who I am…it is only fair to you as the owner of this business that I don’t waste your time and resources that you are willing to invest in me.” she stated right before she walked out of the door. Did she really say what I think she said? It may have been my first interview but I would have jumped all over the opportunity not even knowing what the opportunity was all about.

All I knew was I was up after this guy and I didn’t know if I would even get a chance to meet with the owner after these two that came before me. I  could hear the interview clear as day through the door so of course I did the only right thing to do…I leaned over a bit more so I could get some pointers from ACE! Then it happened and the question that time stood still on was asked, “Jay, you obviously seem so confident and seasoned as a salesperson but my question to you is what are two areas that you really need to work on in order to become an excellent salesperson?” Are you kidding me? ACE came out and said, “That’s a great question…to be honest with you, I don’t feel like I have many shortcomings in my sales career and that is why I know I would be a fit for this position.” Damn, this guy is on point! He has an answer for everything. Mr. Smooth, Mr. Closer, ACE showed up! The owner walked Jay out of the room and told him thanks for coming in, I have a few more interviews and by the end of the day I will call you with an answer. Now I am even more confused, thinking I was in an episode of the Twilight Zone!

Hi my name is Jeff, what’s your name. My name is confused, insecure, inexperienced and some even call me unqualified but you can call me Brandon. Actually that’s what I was feeling, I just let him know my name. The minute I sat down in the seat it felt like I was on the hot seat. Oh great…he read right through my paper thin exterior. I was caught! Why do you want to work here? You don’t have any sales experience…why do you think you would be successful here? What do you have to bring to the table that these other candidates can’t? What are your strengths and greatest areas for improvement? After taking a deep breath and a moment of silence I answered him. “I know I am inexperienced, unqualified and probably not what you would think as your typical sales person so in that regards, I am sure others you have interviewed has that upper hand. What I do have is a desire to succeed…why? Because I have no choice. I have to succeed and I know that without experience I would have to learn from everyone who is successful here including you as well. When I was younger, I used to copy my brother and friends for hours, saying what they said and doing what they did. While others may see that as annoying, I could see that as a strength in some weird way. All I know, is what I would be taught so hopefully you could pair me up with the best of the best and I promise you, I will shadow them in everything they do…everything!” He just stared at me and as bad as I wanted to gravitate to that clock on his wall…I didn’t break eye contact. The silence must have filled the room for a good few minutes. With the most serious look on his face Jeff replied,”Brandon, we both know that there are more qualified people than you but how many of those top performers that I interviewed are willing to learn? How many of them are willing to wreck what they have been taught and start a new career? How many of those cocky, arrogant and self-righteous people are willing to humble themselves?” Before I could answer, he blasted out “ZERO, ZILCH, NOT ONE DAMN ONE! I am willing to give you a chance, because I believe you are GREEN! Yes…I am green! What the hell did he just call me? Did he say I was money? No, what he was saying is when you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.

Needless to say, that day I learned many great lessons! The biggest lessons I learned is from ACE is just because you look like a million bucks doesn’t necessarily mean you will make a million bucks because if you can’t see where you fall short and always make improvements to better yourself then you will be your own ceiling. The other lesson I learned that day is competition is not a bad thing. Everyone will always sell themselves on why them…and it begins to become the same noise after awhile. If you bring “You” and not who you think people want “you” to be…your qualities will come to light and if it’s meant to be then it will be and if it’s not…NEXT! That was 8,395 days ago and today, I have reached a period in my career of reflection. I am grateful for the mentors that took me under their wing and as much as I may have hogged up their time, they all have brought me to this place where I am today. I will forever be grateful for your direction and guidance.

In case you were wondering what happened to that girl and ACE, neither of them were hired and my very first sales job was a commission only sales job based off low payouts unless you hit volume. I worked my way to a team leader within the first two months and then to a district sales manager by month six. Now I was the one sitting behind the pine door asking the questions. The moral of the story is don’t be too good to succeed!

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