The number one false assumption that I’ve seen peers make about top sales performers is that they have an it thing—some natural-born personality trait or gift that makes them automatic stars who close high-dollar sales easily and with practically no effort.
While their performance in front of the client may seem effortless and entirely natural, the truth is that nothing is left to chance. They study and pay close attention to what works for them. They have honed their natural abilities into precision tools. They stick to their winning formula and practice their craft with intention and focus.
Just as excellence in any sports takes a combination of talent, training, skill, practice and execution under pressure, so too does sales excellence. Top performers have mastered the following five steps that lead to reliable sales results.
Preparation is the first indicator of success. The sales person who is running out the door, last-minute, tucking their shirt in, grabbing a stack of beat-up cards and jumping into an (unwashed) car with no idea what samples are in the trunk or with whom or where their first appointment is has hardly set themselves up for success.
Top performers take the time they need to plan their time with the consumer. They understand that this meeting is their one shot to make a great impression and they do everything in their power to avoid wasting the opportunity. They don’t want to show up harried and stressed scrambling to get their act together. They want to show up calm, polished, professional, in control and ready to rock their appointment.
Having a clean vehicle, looking good, smelling good, and with samples and all the necessary tools does not happen accidentally. Top performers out-prepare their mildly performing peers by double.
Expect the unexpected
Top performers know that homeowners can be unpredictable, scared, stubborn and sometimes downright rude just as easily as they can be willing, friendly, open and inviting, so they never leave anything to chance. Those men and women who can walk into home after home and close top-dollar deals with ease and predictability aren’t thrown off their game when little old Mrs. Jones answers the door with her rollers still in her hair. They are ready both with their hard preparation and with soft skills.
They have mastered their inner game. They are confident and don’t get rattled by off-the-wall requests or run-of-the-mill objections. To bolster that confidence, they have a ready arsenal of stories to share about other happy clients who started in just the same place as the prospect in front of them.
Average performers shrink from objections. They get caught off guard and become defensive when they are raised. But top performers recognize that objections are not unexpected, but rather a natural part of the buying process. They see objections as an expression of interest and greet them as powerful buying signals.
Top performers know that having and absolutely sticking to a proven step-by-step sales process—formally, a sales methodology—is a huge part of success. They know that systems, not salespeople, make sales.
The beauty of the systematic approach to the sales call is that it provides a structure that allows the sales professional to relax into the process, to connect more personally with the homeowner, to focus on finesse.
Top performers learn and stick to a proven sales methodology. They know the exact steps that lead a consumer from evaluation to payment and have practiced their steps with so much discipline they could pull it off in their sleep.
Ask for the sale
The most common mistake that average performers make is neglecting to ask for the sale. Think back to the last time you had a sales person in your home from whom you did not purchase. Did they directly ask you for the sale or did they assume it was a yes and ask you how you wished to pay for the product? If a sales person is not directly asking for the sale, they are leaving the consumer hanging.
Top performers know that the decision to purchase contains some tension and they don’t back away from it. They know that the tension is only the precursor of a choice, and they stand firm in their conviction that they have provided the best service and solution of the consumer. They ask for the sale and maintain their focus, composure and silence until their prospect has had a chance to think through and verbalize their response. They don’t tame the tension.
Successful sales professionals mentally review the playback of the appointment and pick out the moments of magic. They focus on improving their great performance until it hits excellence every single time. There’s an adage that applies here: a novice practices until they don’t get it wrong; a master practices until they always get it right.
Top performers are continuously improving their own performance. They have a process against which they can evaluate their performance in each step and stage of the sales call and they take the time after the appointment to review their performance in front of the customer. They look to see what went well and what could have gone better. They figure out why certain elements may not be working as well as others and they take the time to identify what can help them be better.
It’s easier to be an average sales person than a top performer. Top sale performance takes focused attention and practice and, despite the often larger-than-life egos of some top performers, it takes the heart of a student who is willing to adjust. The good news is that, with the five steps of top performance to follow, this level of excellence is truly within reach for every sales person.