BECOMING THE OPTIMAL SALESPERSON®
By Dan Caramanico
DO THE WORK
The title of this article sounds like direction your parents or your teachers or your boss might have given you. It goes right along with the advice to work hard and keep your nose to the grindstone. Of course, when you matured a little they revised the advice to work “smart” not hard and use your head. All of that is good advice, but it is not the kind of work that I am talking about. The most successful salespeople work optimally. The Optimal Salesperson® is motivated to put energy into the right area. They develop the key attributes in themselves, which will allow them to excel in their field and meet their personal goals. Those key attributes allow them to achieve a state of effortless high performance. To illustrate, let me describe two different people, the Optimal Salesperson® earning at the top of the profession and the typical average salesperson who is not starving but not struggling and not meeting his goals.
Hard Working Harry – Harry is a very hard worker but he is missing some of the key attributes of the Optimal Salesperson. He gets up every day and makes thirty cold calls. He talks to anyone who will listen and books 8 appointments per week with prospects too low in the hierarchy to make a decision to spend money. When he visits his prospect, he is the picture of the professional salesperson. He asks a few need based questions and gives his presentation in a professional manner. He generates 5 opportunities requiring proposals and 3 people want him to follow-up in a month or so. Harry agrees to all of that even though the prospects won’t tell him what they want to spend exactly, or if a decision will ever be made. He closes 15% of his proposals and his profit margin is thin. He doesn’t get many referrals because he is afraid to ask. Harry is working 60 hours per week and he gets by … barely. His head is always on the chopping block, but management keeps him around because of his work ethic and they think that eventually the hard work will pay off.
Optimal Olivia – Olivia is the Optimal Salesperson®. She earns four times what Harry earns. She makes no cold calls, she doesn’t call on people who have no authority to spend money and is a trusted advisor to the C-suite of her target market. She is constantly introduced from one decision maker to the next. She only writes four proposals per month, but closes virtually every one. She doesn’t really make presentations but rather has a conversation about the challenges facing the senior executives she meets with. Then she explains (sometimes with the aid of a PowerPoint and sometimes not) Her profit margins are high and she always knows what clients want to spend and the time frame for the prospect’s decision. She sees all of her kid’s soccer games and management leaves her alone and wishes they had four more like her.
The Difference – If you ask Harry, he would tell you that Olivia gets the best accounts, has the best territory, is just lucky or was endowed with some magical list of contacts. The truth is that Olivia started from the same place as Harry. She was afraid to ask for a referral. She lived by the PowerPoint presentation and she had a low closing rate, low profit margins and called on the wrong people. However, somewhere along the line Olivia came to understand that the problems she was facing were all of her own making.
She Worked Hard In a Different Way – Olivia became The Optimal Salesperson® through hard work. Rather than just put her head down and make more calls in the same ineffective manner, she figured out how her beliefs were getting in her way. She did the emotional work to face her fear of calling at the top. Once she became comfortable with that, she worked on discussing money with prospects. Once she overcame that discomfort, she worked on her fear of asking for a referral. Harry on the other hand never wanted to face the inner fears that were getting in his way. He put his head down and worked harder at what he was doing. Olivia learned that if you put your effort into understanding how your belief systems are defeating you and then work hard to change them, selling becomes easy. Harry never wanted to do the hard work of facing his inner fears so he is doomed to a lifetime of working hard at sales.
Dan Caramanico is a sales development expert and is president of Caramanico Maguire Associates, Inc. If you want to learn more about self-limiting beliefs and the key attributes of the Optimal Salesperson® go to www.optimalsalesperson.net