The No.1 Key to Great Sales – That Most People Forget

‘Sales Cures All’ Mark Cuban, Investor, Net Worth $3.7B 

IBM Crash

In May 1989, a technician became IBM President. His promotion was unusual since most IBM presidents came from sales instead of engineering. The new president was a tremendous technician and he knew IBM’s product inside out – after all he had risen up through the ranks on the product development end of the business. He saw the product as beautiful…so beautiful that it should standalone, without the dirty taint of sales over it’s shoulder. The result: In 1993 IBM reported an $8 Billion loss – at that time the biggest drop of any company in corporate history.

“E-myth: The Fatal assumption that an individual who understands the technical work of a business can successfully run a business that does that technical work. ” Michael E. Gerber, Author of The E-Myth Revisited

When IBM hired corporate evaluation giant McKinsey at great expense to assess why sales had slumped McKinsey came to the following conclusion…

…you are not selling….because you are not selling…(queue awkward silence and rolling hay or whatever that stuff is…tumbleweed…yeh, tumbleweed…what is tumbleweed anyway?)

Sales had become a dirty word in IBM and 80% of the work being done by sales teams had been diverted into other product based or administrative tasks because leadership was all about the product standing alone. IBM wasn’t selling… because IBM wasn’t selling. Is your business getting customers? If not….are you selling?

Why do people avoid selling like the plague? Let’s not blame it on ourselves…let’s blame it on…..(drumroll)….the MEDIA (never been done before).

The Two Sales Stereotypes

Hollywood essentially cuts out two types of unpleasant sales characters in all their films…(or at least the ones which have sales people in them). They are almost opposites but both are repulsive to the sensitive soul.

Salesman No.1) Mr. Slime 

 

Mr Slime is very rich. He makes all his money off the back of hardworking people like you and me. He does this by using his dirty machiavellian tricks to pull the wool over his targets eyes and cod them into buying something that a) they don’t need b) they can’t afford and c) doesn’t work. A manipulative S.O.B. fast talking Slime preys on the weak and unsuspecting, the naive good souls who roam amongst us.

Salesman No. 2) Mr Sucks 

 

Mr Sucks …well…sucks. He couldn’t sell a sin to the Devil. This rejected wannabe plods from prospect to prospect, warn out, broken brief case in hand, puffing ‘You wouldn’t wanna buy this would ya?’ in each painfully brief encounter with non interested individuals. Someone has slapped the tag ‘loser’ onto his back…nobody wants to be Mr Sucks. He is inferior, a disappointment and represents the lowest ebbs of self esteem….he’s just ‘not good enough’.

Due to the power of these two images in the human mind the average business owner will avoid sales at all costs. He or she is afraid to look bad in other’s eyes. Afraid of rejection, they put everything into the mastery of their product and forget that incredible, simple maxim of abundance creation in all spheres of life….

…In order to become rich in all senses of the word you MUST give as much value to as many people as possible. 

In business the first half of that sentence is the product, the second half ‘to as many people as possible’ is the marketing.

If you don’t let people know about your product in nearly all cases they quite simply won’t know about your product. Selling is the missing engine in 90% of businesses that I see. After working with over 850 clients it’s become apparent to me how much of business is truly emotional. We as a species are quite simply afraid of looking bad. This is an evolutionary tool designed to keep us safe from being ostracised by those around us…our genes rightly assuming that we will do better in teams and communities….but this doesn’t work in the selling and marketing world where the objective is to stick out and be noticed rather than blend in and join the flock.

So…what do we do about this? Well here are the two fundamental differences that I see in my most successful clients – people who regularly multiply their quarterly sales year on year and love the process of doing so. These ‘rockstars’ of the business world tend to keep two attitudes ticking the whole time:

1) THE TRUE SALES IDENTITY

They ditch the two fake Sales Identities above and replace them with the true and honourable sales identity. They believe sales is not only OK, not only acceptable but is actually….GOOD, crucial, respectable and literally keeps the world turning round….and they are right. Our economies….familial economies, communal economies, national and global economies are all predicated on the work of great sales people. These true action takers do the honourable work of connecting people with true value. This is REAL sales…anything else that Hollywood or anyone else espouses is in fact not sales but scamming or sucking. 

As a result these sales superstars are not embarrassed by what they do but rather take pride in doing their work. Doctors and lawyers provide value….so do sales people. That value will improve or even save that customer’s life and it certainly provides the financial infrastructure for the country to keep the hospitals and school’s running…those institutions are not viable without a sales driven economy. Sales…real sales is one of the most honourable professions out there and it should be taught as a core subject in every secondary school so that our children actually have the where-with-all to sustain their families and communities when they leave the education system. Know that when you are making that call that you have a worthy identity if you are attempting to sell a worthy product to those who need it.

2) SELF VALIDATION

The best of the best do not hang their self esteem on the next yes that they come by. Their ability to rack up the numbers necessary for elite success comes from their love affair with failure. Yes, failure. They praise themselves for every failure they get. In my book The Winning Mode I explain how one salesman rocketed from no. 3000 to no.1 in his organisation in 18 months by methodically rewarding himself for his failures using a weird, simple and powerful little system.

By self validating for every call you make rather than every ‘yes’ you receive you end up not only speaking to far more people because you need less rejection recovery breaks…..but you also get far more successes per call since you have essentially had more sales training than most others will ever have. Most others will stop selling because they are worried about facing another rejection. You can rise above that forever by changing the goal posts….see how many fails you can rack up today and keep score on paper as you do so. Many years before IBM’s catastrophe which I mentioned above, it’s greatest ever CEO, Tom Watson Jr. once said….’If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate’

‘If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate’ Tom Watson Jr.(worth mentioning twice ;))

…that’s why Watson was the greatest leader IBM ever had and it’s also why he managed to multiply the juggernaut’s already large turnover by 500% in the space of a decade making it the Google and Apple of it’s era. The best salespeople are already sold on clocking up more fails than anyone else in their industry. That is why they succeed again and again. We find the same goes in other disciplines including music and sport…

Dispelling Fake Objections to Sales

Any other objection’s to growing your sales? Here’s one which I often hear….

‘but David, if I increase my sales now then I might get overwhelmed’

Well this issue is usually resolved when I reply, ‘If I clicked my finger now and you had 5 new customers would you object?’ — nobody ever says ‘no.’ You see this is a cover rationale which our brain uses to protect us from facing the pain of our fears as described above. I love the following quote so I’m going to keep using it in as many of my blogs as possible….

‘It’s the guy who is afraid to look bad who is going to get beaten every time’

Lou Brock

Did Steve Jobs get worried about overwhelm for Apple?….no, in fact quite the opposite. The marketing genius actually put Apple in a position where they didn’t have enough product to service the market to orchestrate queues of customers and hence greater mania for his brand. Think queues around Apple stores, think queues around clubs….organised scarcity increases demand, price and fervour in the masses. Too many sales is an important problem to make sure you have when running a robust and growing business…

‘Keep yours sales pipeline full by prospecting continuously. Always have more people to see than you have time to see them.’ Brian Tracy

Then there is another fear which drives people to steer away from sales and this goes for marketing and advertising too….’won’t people think I’m desperate’

…..hey, let me ask you….are Nike, Apple, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s desperate? Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. As they say there’s only one thing worse than people talking about you and that’s people not talking about you. If you keep your True Sales Identity in tact and measure and reward yourself according to your attempts to add value to as many lives as possible you will sustain a powerful sales and marketing presence that will reap multiple rewards for decades to come.

Great Salespeople Powerfully Parent Themselves

It’s this shift from external to internal validation that is the benchmark of maturity. At a certain point in life we need to start parenting ourselves, whatever the quality of our upbringing. You can have people with the best or worst parents but the biggest predictor of the success of that individual will be their ability to parent themselves. Working for yourself is a privilege. You must exercise self discipline. Those who cannot self discipline will always need to work for others who will discipline them….and if you do work for others…showing self discipline will raise your position in that company.

Self discipline sounds like self flagellation. Not very pleasant. The real way to parent yourself powerfully is by focusing much more on self encouragement and acknowledgement then on the reprimanding. The rule is 5 positives for every negative. Great parents not only love their kids unconditionally but they also express that unconditional love no matter what.

In the same way your underlying conversation with yourself needs to be from a place of ‘I love myself no matter what’. What then of ambition and pushing forward? With this approach you will push much further because you are no longer achieving in order to love yourself…you are achieving as a gift to yourself BECAUSE you love yourself. Suddenly you are no longer tied and bound to the ‘yes’ from the prospect who you are trying to sell to. You now have permission to acknowledge yourself for EVERY call you make regardless of outcome or performance. Does this stop you from learning from each successive call….not at all….now you have an even greater drive to help yourself grow and succeed, in fact it has been found that people who are happier are 31% more productive….so love yourself no matter what.

Will I Ever Forgive Myself?

Commit to forgiving yourself for your mistakes along the way…because you will make mistakes. People think they will have greater willpower if they get tough on themselves when they ‘muck up’. The opposite has been found to be true. In the epic work ‘The Willpower Instinct’ by Professor Kelly McGonigal the author uncovers the game-changing results of a key study which shows that people’s willpower to improve actually decreases when they refuse to forgive themselves while their capacity to persist is rocketed by introducing self forgiveness at each stage of the journey. Yours sales persistence depends on your commitment to forgive yourself learn and move on. So decide to make that commitment today. No matter what. Not only will your sales change, but your quality of life will too.

Summary and Suggested Action Steps:

1) Love and respect sales and salespeople in your business

2) Give resources like Time, Money and Prestige to sales in your company

3) Fail more, count and reward your efforts then learn from them whatever the short term outcome

‘If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same’

‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling

4) Every week check yourself for false objections to growing sales

5) Love Yourself No Matter What

Which of these 5 points means the most to you? I learn more from you than you do from me. Go ahead and type a number down below in the comments section. Thank you!

6 Comments

  • Hadassa

    Reply Reply April 17, 2018

    3 and 5

    • David Citron

      Reply Reply April 17, 2018

      Thanks Hadassa!

  • Chaim

    Reply Reply April 18, 2018

    3 & 5

    • David Citron

      Reply Reply April 18, 2018

      Much appreciated Chaim!

  • Nik

    Reply Reply April 21, 2018

    3 & 5

    • David Citron

      Reply Reply April 24, 2018

      Thanks Nik! Looks like fail more and love yourself no matter what are the key takeaways for most people! I highly recommend reading Kiplings poem ‘If’ on a daily basis to everyone here.

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