Commitment is the key ingredient that separates sales winners from losers. Top performers show this five-part commitment to selling:
- They make a commitment to their company. Committed salespeople find reasons to be enthusiastic about their companies, realizing their futures are tied together.
- They make a commitment to their job. They stay abreast of developments in the sales field and their industries in general. They know what worked yesterday may not work today. They recognize that past success doesn’t guarantee future performance. But they know persistence, constantly striving for knowledge and refining existing talents will.
- They make a commitment to their customers. Committed salespeople always try to deliver the very best for their customers. They’re always available when problems develop and do everything in their power to act in their customers’ best interests by focusing on customer needs.
- They make a commitment to themselves. They recognize they’re in absolute control of their life. How they spend their time, how they educate themselves and how they develop their sales abilities is their responsibility.
- They understand they must be people of action. Knowledge isn’t enough. It’s necessary to both know and do — and top salespeople know this. They have exceptional will power and regularly take on unpleasant tasks and accomplish them. By taking care of these tasks before they become urgent, they give themselves much more time to handle emergencies.
Once salespeople develop these qualities — particularly a commitment to customers — they must demonstrate them.
Here are eight ways top salespeople demonstrate commitment to customers:
- Help the customer succeed. Top salespeople get a first-hand experience of how a prospect’s business operates. Just selling the right product or service isn’t enough. An experienced salesperson is in a unique position to offer ideas and suggestions that can benefit a customer’s business. Finding information that can help the customer gives a salesperson an opportunity to show that the goal is not just making the sale but helping the customer succeed.
- Make the sale a solution. The superior salesperson knows that what the customer buys will be soon judged as either valuable or a mistake. This is why time is spent framing the sale in a larger context, one that helps the customer appreciate the value of not just buying a product, but also buying a solution.
- Manage leads and customers effectively. Competent and swift account management separates the average salesperson from the superior professional. Top salespeople stay in constant touch, monitoring pending proposals and responding to any changes in the customer’s needs. This kind of hands-on treatment allows a salesperson to implement new strategies. Because the salesperson is in control, there is never a feeling of being overwhelmed or always trying to play catch up.
- Take cues from the customer’s page. Some salespeople fail because they come to the prospect with a predetermined agenda. They know what they want to sell and spend the time with the customer figuring out how to get the order signed. Manipulation doesn’t work with customers today. Customer focus does. When attention is fixed on the customer, valuable discoveries take place.
- Don’t rush the customer. There’s a difference between being perceived as concerned and thorough, and trying to rush the customer into buying. The former ends in making a sale and the latter in turning off a prospect. The goal is to help the customer come to a buying decision that is natural, one in which the customer is comfortable. The major mistake is assuming when the customer should buy. Each situation is different. Even if a customer doesn’t return your calls or cancels a meeting, you shouldn’t assume that the customer isn’t interested. Customers have their own schedules today.
- Anticipate customer needs. Customers want to do business with leading edge suppliers. This is why leadership is one of the qualities that makes salespeople valuable to their customers and sets them apart from the competition. By looking carefully at the company, division or department, the top rung salesperson identifies future needs and develops a plan for initiating appropriate discussions.
- Cultivate prospects continuously. The average salesperson tries to control the buying process by deciding when the prospect stops being a prospect and goes to the “dead file.” If the prospect hasn’t bought in a certain length of time, the salesperson tears up the lead. This may be the single biggest mistake in selling today. While not every prospect buys, every salesperson has a long list of customers who eventually buy from someone else. It occurs because a salesperson stops cultivating the customer. Just staying in touch periodically can keep alive the possibility of getting the order.
- Stay on track. Be relentless. Average salespeople are easily distracted, jumping from one prospect to the next hoping to make a sale. Top salespeople stay with the plan. They aren’t always looking around for the latest gimmick or spending valuable time trying to find a “silver bullet.” They are totally directional. This doesn’t mean they are closed to new ideas. Rather, they evaluate every suggestion by a rigid standard: Will it help me get closer to the customer? If it fails to pass this test, they don’t waste their time. They know their sales come from being consistent with their prospects, always demonstrating their reliability.
Why salespeople lose commitment
Some salespeople lose commitment just as they’re about to achieve success. They get tired of waiting, trying or dreaming, and they give up, usually for one of the following six reasons:
- They really didn’t want what they were going after in the first place.
- They thought success would be easier.
- They thought success would come sooner than later.
- They lost belief in themselves or their mission or cause.
- They let someone else discourage them or talk them out of wanting it.
- They failed to realize that anything worthwhile takes time, patience and action.