For salespeople, there’s usually a lot to remember. Every sales rep must not only understand the intricacies of selling, they must also learn about their company’s products, customer base, and the various internal tools and processes required to operate effectively. To say there’s usually a lot going on in a salesperson’s mind would be a grand understatement.
But it doesn’t end there, as there are even bigger, more important rules every salesperson needs to keep in mind. Some of them are well-known, (such as listening more than you speak), but others are unspoken, despite being incredibly important to anyone who wishes to excel in the profession — important but frequently omitted edicts that often get overlooked.
Every successful salesperson knows these rules, and they’ll gladly impart them to anyone who asks. Here are the five unspoken rules that all competent salespeople follow:
1. Sell the problem you solve
This rule, despite being critically important, is often overlooked in the jumble of information floating around the sales community. Prospects care very little about the actual features of your product, and are more interested in how it helps them solve their problems. For instance, a back-up camera on a vehicle is an interesting feature, but the value to a customer is that it makes it easier to back up, which is the problem being solved. Always identify, then sell the problem you solve, not the product you sell.
2. Don’t be afraid to move on
In sales, there’s just as much time wasted pursuing prospects unnecessarily as there is time spent procrastinating, neither of which moves the needle in any meaningful way. Successful salespeople understand that not all prospects are created equal, despite how important they might seem when our pipeline is running low. This is why qualifying quickly and qualifying out is so important; it can save hours that might otherwise be spent chasing someone who has no interest or ability, and create a potentially demoralizing situation down the line. Smart, successful salespeople aren’t afraid to move on when a deal doesn’t make sense, and won’t chase prospects who aren’t a good fit, since it’s essentially the same thing as throwing good money after bad.
3. Always do what you say you’ll do
Has anyone ever promised to email you before you never heard from them again? Has someone ever told you they’d send you a quote the next day before emailing it (along with an apology) a week later? While these things might seem trivial to some, they’re great examples of a lack of personal accountability, and for most people, they erode trust. After all, if you’re not doing the small things you’ve promised, how can anyone expect you to do the bigger things? This is why successful salespeople always do what they say they’re going to, and if they can’t (or won’t), then they won’t make any promises. It’s a simple rule, but it’s critically important, and often overlooked.
4. Self-pity is pointless
Sales can be punishing, and after hearing rejection after rejection, and spending days or even months working a deal that eventually falls apart, many people find themselves wallowing in despair, and, in many cases, feeling sorry for themselves. Successful salespeople, however, don’t waste time with self-pity, for the simple reason that they know it’s pointless and accomplishes absolutely nothing. Instead, they understand that the downs are just a part of the game, and that the best way to move forward is to take action and try one more time. Feeling sorry for yourself might be comforting, but the only thing you end up doing is giving into the negativity, instead of brushing it off and moving forward — which is the right direction to go.
5. Sell something you believe in
If there’s one “secret” hack that can improve your sales performance by a factor of ten, it’s selling a product that you’ve truly bought into. This, of course, doesn’t happen all the time, but when you understand your product’s value, or believe in its competitive advantage, then selling it will become infinitely easier, and your enthusiasm and belief will shine through on every call. It can help to work in an industry you’re passionate about, but if you’re unable to do that, then simply working for an industry leader, or a truly disruptive company can make all the difference. Even if you’re selling a commodity, working for the right firm can be enough to help you succeed, especially if you trust your leadership and coworkers. So if you don’t believe in your product, and don’t believe in the company itself, the best thing you can do for your career (and for your employer), is to go somewhere that’s a better fit. Everyone will benefit, including your customers.
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