I love people. Always have, always will. I hope you feel the same way since we’re in the people business. I especially love people who challenge me, who make me think. In a recent conversation with Adam Mendler for his columns on Forbes and Thrive Global, I was asked: In your experience, what are the key pitfalls to succeeding in sales and how can you overcome them?
Wow! Good question! After considerable thought, I drafted the following response I hoped worthy …
It may sound simple but the key pitfall is perspective – how salespeople see not only what they do, but how they feel about their product, as well as how they see the market itself. Allow me to explain…
- If what they do feels like a job, they will treat it like a job. If they feel like they have to go to work, they’ll treat it as work and will not enjoy what they do. The result? They’ll struggle. If however, they feel like what they do is a privilege, that they get to have fun with their guests, that they love what they do – they will succeed.
- If they feel their product is inferior to the competition, or is overpriced, they’ll prove it true and won’t sell as much. Plus, they’ll end up discounting the price to buy the business, resulting in a loss of margins for their company.
- If they feel the market is slowing down or is bad and no one is buying, they’ll prove themselves right. The market will be bad for them! If however, they see the market as good, as a great time for their guests to be purchasing, they will sell well.
It’s all about perspective! They’ll be right either way!
A Self-fulfilling Prophecy
I’ll bet you’ve seen this too. Having had the privilege earlier in my career of overseeing the sales efforts for three of the nation’s top-ten homebuilders, I saw this play out day, after day, after day. From east coast to west coast, from high-end to low-end, it didn’t matter. When sales people saw the good in their product, their neighborhood, their market, and felt the value was there…they sold – they performed well! But, for the sales people who chose to see the bad? Well, they didn’t sell – they performed badly.
A Time To Reflect
So, back to my visit with Adam. I was not at all surprised when he followed a good question with a great question…
What sale are you proudest of? Walk through how you made it happen and its significance.
I would expect many authors and consultants who are asked this question typically have to go back very early in their career, since most haven’t sold in years. And as is often the case, the farther back that was, the greater they were! Now, except for two personal homes I sold in the 90’s and one in 2006, that journey would have taken me back to the late 80’s. And yes, I too was a legend back then…in my own mind that is!
In case you don’t know it, I’m a blessed man – in many ways. I began the first page of my first book Circle Selling counting my blessings. But some years after teaching from that book, I would be blessed even more. I, along with my beautiful wife Susan, would be offered the rare opportunity to get back on the sales floor again – I actually refer to it as a dance floor where I equate selling to a dance. We jumped with joy at the opportunity!
A Personal Story
This response to Adam’s second question comes from that experience…
A few summers ago, my wife and I had the opportunity to get back on the sales floor to help boost sales in a high-end resort property on the same lake we also live on. In that property’s 4+ years of existence, to our knowledge not a single property had been sold at full price, nor on a family’s first visit. The lake elevation was at a near 50-year low and the economy was still weak. Sales had been extremely slow, and we were brought in by a friend to help change that.
We took a family we met via the internet, who told us upfront they had put in an offer of $260,000 on a $300,000 condo on another property on the lake which the builder countered. They walked away from that counter determined not to pay more than their offer for a second home. In spite of the fact that the least expensive condo we offered was $600,000, we got them to agree to stay in a cabin offered on site, to at least rule out our property.
We practiced what I preach in putting others first, focusing on the relationship, and not discussing the product until your guests bring it up. The end result? They purchased a condo that exceeded their budget four-fold, on their first visit, at full price!
The significance? Earlier you asked, “What are the key pitfalls to succeeding in sales and how can you overcome them?” My answer was perspective.
When we started at that property there were two salespeople there, who took it upon themselves to tell us: how slow sales were, how low the lake was, how it would take 4 to 6 months for anyone to consider purchasing because these were 2nd or 3rd homes so no one was in a hurry, and that we would have to negotiate on the price because these were sophisticated people with money who would negotiate on everything.
From their perspective, they had proven themselves right, for years. Our perspective was the only difference. We were given the nickname “lucky!” We got lucky more than a few times that summer!
All of this said, the real significance was the relationships we had, and continue to have, with Russell and Amanda, and other families we helped that summer who became family! We’ve remained very close and visit every time we’re near each other!
What Lessons Were Learned?
What Susan and I accomplished was nothing extraordinary, when you put it into perspective. It was just people helping people – a husband and wife, trying to help another husband and wife (and their adorable son) with an important decision, at an important moment in their lives. And you can just as easily do the same by choosing the right perspective!
If you’d like to learn more, you might consider ordering both Circle Selling and S.M.I.L.E. They both deal with perspective. Or, pick up the phone and give me a call. I’d be happy to discuss ways I can help you!