Practice makes perfect. Except when it doesn't. And it doesn't with sales. Now, you can say that the more you are out there selling the better you get at it, sure. However, there are pitfalls to that. Here are just a few.
1. When you have it wrong
Could you imagine doing the same thing wrong over and over again? Well there's a world of salespeople out there doing just that. They've learned or developed some awful behaviors and beliefs, and they repeat them consistently, destroying their chances of ever being successful.
2. When you're practicing on ‘ideal' prospects
There are those prospects who are marginal. If you don't get them, you're not so sorry. Then there are those prospects that you really want to win. You should never practice on these. You should really know what you are doing before you ever approach one of these prospects.
3. When you aren't prepared
Have you ever contacted a prospect because you felt pressured to do so? You weren't really in the right head space? This kind of thing happens all the time. It does much more damage than not calling at all. When you aren't on your game, you are telegraphing the wrong message.
Whether you work for a company or own your business, sales is a critical part of your success-or failure. You owe it to yourself to be sure you are trained effectively. Find a training program that fits with your beliefs and sign up! Reach out to successful salespeople who you know and ask for their advice and insight. Read sales training books. Do whatever it takes to gain the knowledge you need to be successful at sales.
Here are some ideas for your consideration.
What is wrong? Wrong is cajoling, persuading, pressuring, coming on too strong, and being in ‘sales' mode all the time. No one likes a salesman. People don't like to be sold. However, they do like to solve their problems and are open to assistance. Know your value, and your ideal target client. Understand that you are not going to do business with everyone. Nor should you want to. You want to build relationships with people and help the right people solve the problems you can fix. That's it. There's nothing more to it. And it isn't complicated!
What's ideal? Your ideal prospect is the one whose problem best matches your solution. It's the kind of company or person you enjoy doing business with; the kind who pays timely, who values your product or service, who doesn't dicker over price. When you build your target market list, they are at the top. Everyone else is just that: everyone else.
How can I prepare? Start with knowing what you want to get out of the conversation. Is it an appointment? Maybe it's an opportunity to quote. Whatever it is, know it before you approach. Understand why you are reaching out to them. Learn as much as you can about the prospect so that you can speak intelligently. You gain their trust when you show them that you've done your homework, and that's key.
And then, after you've gotten your training from a class, a book, a webinar or some combination of the three, you can prepare for the ideal prospects by practicing on the nonideal ones. Yep, that's right. Practice on the companies or people with which you don't necessarily need to score a deal. You'll be more relaxed, and you'll get the chance to work out the kinks of your communication. You'll know when you're ready to move on to your ideal prospects.
So, you can see how practice really can make perfect. It's all in the approach. Don't practice on your ideal prospects; have your system down before you ever reach out to them. Learn how to sell the right way. Don't be one of those people everyone is avoiding. If you are currently struggling with sales, consider the notion that you might be doing it wrong. Then get educated.
Make sure you are always prepared before you take action. Know what you want to achieve. Just like leadership expert and author Stephen Covey says, "Begin with the end in mind." Then be prepared for the call, the meeting and the follow-up. Whatever phase you are in with the prospect, be prepared.