In the past 30 years in sales, I've learned a lot. I've also experienced failures, but from those failures I've learned the most. The road to success can sometimes be a little bumpy, but I've narrowed down the lessons I've learned and will share my three keys to success with you. These are my three sales mantras. Think of them as bumper stickers.
1. Believing Is Seeing
In sales, we start with believing. We must believe in ourselves first in order to see the successes. I call it the “mirror test.” If you're the little kitten looking into the mirror, you have to see a lion. If you wake up in the morning, and you don't believe that you are the best sales professional in your industry—then turn over and go back to sleep. You wouldn't tell your client, “I'm offering you the second best solution you can get for your company." Or if you ask someone to go out with you, you wouldn't say, "I'm the second best date you could have had tonight.”
I realised my friend Jeffrey Gitomer and I share the same philosophy, when he said to me, “The first thing that you have to have is the mental attitude that says, 'I can do this.'” And he's absolutely right.
Believe in yourself. Be a product that everyone wants. Be unique. Be a brand. Look in the mirror and reflect the top sales professional you need to be.
2. Shovel First, Collect Second
That's something that I learned as a high school student in Roselle, NJ. Roselle wasn't exactly part of the dreams I had about my stay in America. I had been thinking more about “California dreaming” or “Surfin' U.S.A.”, bikinis on the beach, the Pacific Coast Highway. But there was none of this in Roselle. Let's just say the only hot spots were the local Dairy Queen and the bleachers behind the high school. However, looking back, maybe that was good, because that's how I learned the lesson of a lifetime.
I was surprised to find that all of my classmates had jobs. They waited tables, they washed cars, they mowed lawns. So I decided to do the same. In the winter, my buddy Rich asked me, “Do you want to make money in the winter, too?” I said, “Of course, but how?” He said, “Shovel snow.” Then Rich introduced me to the snow shovelling business. Snow shovels in hand, we picked a nice neighbourhood. I started walking toward the first door, when Rich stopped me and said, “No, no, no, start shovelling.”
“Yes, trust me, just start shovelling.”
So I did. It was hard work. I shovelled the entire driveway. And when I was done, the door opened, and a friendly man came out, patted me on the back, and gave me a big thank you and a ten-dollar bill. Wow! This worked every single time. So the lesson of a lifetime was this: You shovel first, and you collect second. It's the law of reciprocity – if you give, you shall receive.
That winter I made my first thousand dollars, and I decided to become a millionaire.
In sales, you must be prepared to hear the word no. No matter who you are, no matter what you have to offer, no matter how smart and charming you are – you will hear no, and you will hear it frequently. But that does not mean you hit the wall, it just comes with the territory. It's normal. For top salespeople it's as normal as shaving or brushing your teeth.
When I sold photocopiers, I went door to door. In ten months, I visited a thousand companies, unannounced, passed hundreds of receptionists, met hundreds of decision makers, and sold 81 photocopiers. I was proud, I loved it. That's how I learned the basics.
“What?! 919 rejections?,” you're thinking. Of course! It's a numbers game.
Some people will buy from you, because you are the way you are. Others will never buy from you – for the same reason. That's just the way it is.
What's important is what you do with that no. A no does not mean that you have lost the client, but that you have to give some more thought to their needs. Ask more questions. Listen carefully. Identify what your customer really wants. Be polite and persistent at the same time. Make adjustments. It's hard work. Sometimes it takes four attempts. Or five. Or even six. It may take several days, weeks or months. But in the end, you would be surprised how many nos you can turn into a yes.
Today these three mantras make up the core of everything I do in business. These are the keys to my sales success.
By Martin Limbeck is an international sales authority and sought-after keynote speaker, dubbed “The Porsche of Sales.” He helps sales professionals seal more deals. Martin has trained and inspired audiences in sixteen countries for more than twenty years. The Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) has been honoured as Top Speaker of the Year 2014, International Speaker of the Year 2012, and Trainer of the Year 2011 and 2008. He teaches at Reutlingen European School of Business, Steinbeis University Berlin, and St. Gallen University, and is the author of several bestsellers. His latest work is NO Is Short for Next Opportunity — How Top Sales Professionals Think.