What Does It Take To Succeed In Sales?

Selling is not about our own success… it’s about our commitment to helping customers achieve a far better life and more successful business. Real sales leadership is helping someone achieve a far better state of affairs; and doing it with the belief of an evangelist, the passion of a lover, the courage of a warrior, the rigor of an engineer, the thoroughness of a forensic accountant, the diplomacy of a politician, the mindset of a marathon runner, and the discipline and determination a world champion martial artist. Here's the bottom line in what it takes to succeed in professional sales today.

If you've got the right mindset you then need the right 'narrative' and provide value in the initial conversation rather than seek to sell them your product or service. This is at the heart of 'insight selling' and 'value selling' becuase you provide something of value well before asking them to consider becoming your customer. Next, you must embrace technology by using LinkedIn for personal brand, Sales Navigator for building sales pipeline, CRM such as Salesforce for managing the sales process, and AI sales intelligence for changing the rules with research and personal productivity.

The people we are trying to reach and help are themselves facing a barrage of messages every day they come to work. Their inbox is clogged, their calendar is packed, everyone wants their time and their boss wants results without excuses.

An average buyer receives 100+ emails a day, opens just 23%, and clicks on just 2% of them [source: Tellwise]. LinkedIn InMails are increasingly regarded as spam. Office phones usually go to voicemail as people race from one meeting to another. 50% of sales time is wasted on unproductive prospecting [source: The B2B Lead]. A team of 50 salespeople leave about 1,277 hours of voicemails per month [source: RingDNA]. 40% of emails are opened on mobile first where the average mobile screen can only fit 4-7 words max [source: ContactMonkey]. Subject lines with more than 3 words experience a drop in open rate by over 60% [source: ContactMonkey].

This is why it is esential to find the right channels to gain buyer attention and secure engagement. But there is a strange inertia to being human. Most fear public speaking, probably a bit more than death. Somehow, somewhere along the track, cold calling became high up on the list of loathing. Let's review general fears in descending order of magnitude: Cold calling, public speaking, disappointing your lover, being fired, death, falling.

I know that falling is #6 because so many skydivers hate cold calling, public speaking and disappointing their lover! The latter drives trillions of dollars of the global economy!

The phone is important because it's an act of courage that inertia is battling or assisting. The more you do it, the warmer it gets, the faster the pre-call research, and the more confident in every area of your life; not just sales. Automated sales engagement dialers hold salespeople accountable to the action of calling. The best ones deliver news and insights about the target account and individual at the moment of dialing. The best dialers are also systems that enable emailing and social outreach. The call with a local area code can increase ‘call to connect’ by 21% according to a study conducted by SalesLoft measuring the performance of 1 million calls. SalesLoft is a market leader for capturing sentiment and disposition during calls but most importantly, automated dialers build courage by shoving you into the fight cage and locking the door from the outside.

Facing your fears is a beautiful thing. Overcoming your fears and your ego is the biggest breakthrough you need to make if you are to truly succeed in sales. There is an amazing liberation that comes from not caring anymore about what people think.

Nevertheless, rejection sucks and so ‘inbound selling systems’ have become a panacea for the sensitive new masses. I'm here to tell you that you want to be a bit extreme as a seller. You want to embrace not just a high volume of activity, but activities that are heavily fear-based that you can turn into an unlimited sword of power.

Be the extreme person on your team that is breaking ice, opening conversations, and doing what's uncomfortable. You can leverage social platforms in this way also, by sticking to the value and going beyond the fluff. Never blast and spam your network with sales messages or publish anything that is inconsistent with your employer’s brand.

If you’re not in a state of fear when you go sell today, you’re not pushing hard enough or taking the actions that will enable you to truly excel and exceed quota. Make no mistake, everything you are doing is to avoid being fired.

Friending everyone and seeking to be a people-pleaser will not make you a trusted advisor. Nor should you grasp your way up the ladder via politics because it just makes you a lesser person. You can instead earn credibility by doing what's assertive, hard, and courageous. Fortune will literally always favor the bold. As Lee Bartlett says: "If you can pick the phone up to 10 C-level execs and chew the fat, nobody is firing you and everyone wants to hire you."

Only the strong will survive and only those who give their all, benefit from the law of reciprocity. I'm encouraging you to hunt. You can't feed the tribe without bringing back the kill and putting the pelts on the wall. You cannot harvest a crop without laboring in the soil and sowing the seed. You cannot achieve greatness with vapor. You must be committed to the hard things. So many salespeople are half-assing and managers are even worse, literally unwilling to do prospecting. Are you a CEO or GM or SVP? Yes, I'm encouraging you to prospect by phone after doing some research and preparing with the right narrative. The best ones do because they lead by example.

How do you overcome your biggest fears in selling?

Special thanks to Bernadette McClelland for the interview and to Salesforce for a brilliant event. If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website: www.TonyHughes.com.au.

Main Image: Salesforce World Tour - Sydney March 2017