What the Profession of Selling Really Is
I learned a long time ago that selling is the highest-paid hard work-and the lowest-paid easy work-that I could find. And I also found out another exciting thing about selling-the choice was mine, all mine. By myself, I could make it the highest-paid hard work, or I could let it be the lowest-paid easy work. I discovered that what I'd achieve in my selling career was entirely up to me, and that what anyone else wanted wasn't going to make much difference. What anyone else would or wouldn't give me wasn't going to make much difference, either. The only thing that really mattered was what I did for myself, and what I gave to myself.
Will you agree with me on that? I hope so, because the whole point of this book is that the skills, knowledge, and drive within you are what will make you great, and that these qualities can be expanded and intensified-if you're willing to invest time, effort, and money in yourself. Is there any better investment than in yourself? Most of us know there isn't, but many of us don't act often enough, or decisively enough, on that belief.
You are your greatest asset. Put your time, effort, and money into training, grooming, and encouraging your greatest asset.
Let's talk about some of the advantages of selling.
The first advantage and the reason I love selling is its freedom of expression. Sales is one of the few professions left in which you can be yourself and can, in essence, do what you want to do. This freedom you've won for yourself by successfully competing where resourcefulness and perseverance are demanded and highly valued. No activity is more vital to the economy's health than selling; no activity is more dependent on individual initiative than selling.
The second advantage of selling is that you have the freedom to become as successful as you'd like to be. In this profession, no one limits your income but you. There are no income ceilings.
You may question this statement. You may think the limit is the highest income anyone has yet made selling for your company. Does that mean it's not possible to earn more? Of course not. But it does mean that all the salespeople in your company who aren't earning the highest income aren't applying all the strategies and techniques of the Champion.
The third advantage of selling is that it's a daily challenge. You can go into almost any business and have no challenge. That's never the case in selling, where every day you're confronted with new challenges. Let that fact refresh you, not weary you. Glory in it. Our overregulated and highly organized society provides few lucrative work activities where the end of each day isn't known before that day dawns. You are privileged to be involved in one of those precious few activities where freedom and challenge aren't rarities, they're constant companions. In sales, you never know what opportunities the day will open up, what prizes you can win-what catastrophes may befall you.
To the salesperson, every day is an adventure. Working at this profession, we can go from the heights of exhilaration to the depths of discouragement within forty-eight hours-and climb back to the heights again the next day. Isn't that exciting?
Every morning, tell yourself that challenge is exciting, it's fun, and you look forward to it. Tell yourself that-and mean it. Psych yourself up to enjoy challenge. Then go on the prowl for it, find it, and overcome it. If you want to be better than average, do that. If you aspire to greatness, you won't hesitate. The shortest route to high earnings goes straight through the challenges you'll encounter.
The fourth advantage of selling is that it offers high potential returns from a low capital investment. What does it cost to gain entry into this profession that has no income ceiling? Compare whatever you think that cost is to the investment required for one of the fast-food franchises that have been so successful. Typically, owners of a new location invest three hundred thousand dollars or more, work long hours, and pay themselves a small salary. All of this is done in the hope of a sixty-thousand-dollar return on invested capital the second year.
You can launch yourself into a sales career for a tiny fraction of the franchiser's investment and, by applying the systems in this book, have greater earning power sooner. This enormous leverage on the small investment that getting into selling requires has always fascinated me. What an exciting prospect!
The fifth advantage of selling is that it's fun. Do you know how many people aren't having fun with what they're doing for income? My philosophy is that if it's not fun, it's not worth doing. Life was meant to be fun, and there's no reason not to have some of it while you're earning a nice income for your family.
The sixth advantage of the selling profession is that it's satisfying. You feel good when your client owns your product. It's a thrill to know you've helped people when you go home at night and can say, "I got another family happily involved in what my company provides."
When an executive or official approves your purchase order, it's exciting and satisfying to know you've helped that organization carry out its purposes, save money, make more money, or provide its employees with better benefits. The people you serve benefit in direct proportion to your ability and skills. The better you are at sales, the more you benefit others-your clients, your family, and the nation's economy.
No one limits your growth but you. If you want to earn more, learn more. That means you'll work harder for a while; it means you'll work longer for a while. But you'll be paid for your extra effort with enhanced earnings down the road.
Most people in this world have jobs and professions-existences-that can't fulfill their potential. The scope of their labor is confined to narrow limits; their toil hinders rather than fosters their growth; they dislike everything about their employment except the sense of security its familiarity has bred in them. So instead of venturing into what they don't know and might love, they allow themselves to be trapped by what they do know and don't like.
Professional salespeople recognize no limits to their growth except those limits that are self-imposed. They know that they can always reach out for more. They know they will grow in direct proportion to their competence. And they have little fear of the unknown in change because overcoming the unknown is their daily work. That's the seventh advantage of being a professional salesperson: It stimulates your personal growth.
To earn more, develop more competence. Study this book's sales skills. Study your product or service. Study your customers and your territory. Keep up with technology-at least those aspects of it that help make you more productive. Practice growing your skills at every opportunity. Do what you know you should do. Follow that program, and you can't fail to push your earnings to a much higher level.
That's my purpose in life-to help you make more money. Please don't let me down-develop more competence, earn more money, get your share of life's good things. Developing competence is the only way. I know many salespeople making several hundred thousand dollars a year, and some making more than a million dollars a year, and I'm always intrigued by the variety of their backgrounds, the diversity of their personalities, and the range of their interests. Yet they have many things in common, foremost of which is this quality: They are competent. They know exactly what they are doing. This book, like my seminars, is aimed at helping you learn how to become competent.
Please notice that I said learn.
There's an obstacle to learning how to become competent that we meet with here.
THE MYTH OF THE NATURAL-BORN SALES WONDER
So many of us believe in this that we've come to look on it as an old friend. It's a tempting devil. It lets us avoid taking full responsibility for our own performance. This common fallacy is a destructive idea that I'd like to eliminate from your mind right now.
Having trained more than three million salespeople on five continents, I've met a lot of strong individuals who are on the fast track. I've met with large numbers who haven't put their foot on the lowest rung of their potential yet. And sadly, many of these people never will climb very high on their potential's ladder because they are firm believers in the myth of the natural-born sales wonder.
The myth cuts two ways.
A few believe they're naturals. That's great for confidence, but it's often the source of raging overconfidence. When this overconfidence persuades people that they don't have to bother learning to be competent like ordinary mortals, they trap themselves far below their potential.
Many more people believe they're not naturals, think it's hopeless to work at becoming competent-and trap themselves far below their potential.
"I'm just not a salesperson by nature. Wasn't born with the golden touch like Joe Whizzbeau over there. If I'd been born with his wit, charisma, and bear-hug personality, I could tear 'em up, too. But I wasn't, so I'm never going to make it big in sales."
Don't be too quick to say you're free of this myth. I hear it far too often from my seminar audiences to take it lightly. In fact, I'm convinced that most salespeople who operate far below their potential suffer from it. Let's attack this dangerous idea now and get rid of it.
There never has been a great salesperson who was born great. Imagine a woman in the delivery room. Her newly born infant is saying, "Make yourselves comfortable, folks, and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask me." Pretty silly, isn'it it? The little feller has a long way to go before he can even start learning how to walk, talk, and operate without diapers. He's got a lot to learn, and if he's going to be a great salesman, he's got it all to learn. Psychologists still argue whether it's instinct or learning that causes us to jump at a sudden loud noise, but they agree that everything about selling is learned.
So stop excusing yourself from the hard work of learning how to be competent in your sales career. It doesn't matter whether you think you're a wonder or a nonwonder; you still have to pay the learning price.
And you never stop learning and reviewing. Professionals work on the basics once every year. That's where we're going to start.
THE SEVEN BASICS THAT'LL MAKE YOU AS GREAT AS YOU WANT TO BE
What so few of us are willing to accept is this fundamental truth: Great salespeople, like great athletes, simply do the basics very well. Some of us would like to believe that there's a shortcut around the basics; that, if we could only find it, there's a secret formula out there somewhere for just sitting back and letting the money roll in. The sooner you get rid of that illusion, the sooner you can get on with reaching the heights you want to reach through effective use of the basics.
1. Prospecting. If you're like most of the people in my seminar audiences, just hearing the word prospecting makes you a little nervous. Don't think that way. If you don't like to prospect, it's because no one has taught you the professional way to do it. I'm going to.
2. Making original contact the professional way. We all meet new people all the time-in social situations, at events for our children, at church, in nonsales business settings. The key to success in selling is to refine your skills during these initial contacts to become memorable to the other folks and to remember as much about them as possible so you can impress them even more on your second meeting-which, hopefully, will be a selling situation.
3. Qualification. Many salespeople spend most of their time talking to the wrong people. If you do that, it doesn't matter how eloquently you present your service or product. Your earnings are going to be low. I'll show you how professionals make sure that they invest their time with the right people who can make yes decisions, instead of expending it on the wrong people who can only make no decisions.
4. Presentation. After you qualify and know that this person has a need for your product or service, it's time to move on to the fourth basic, which is the presentation or demonstration. You must present your product in such a way that your prospects see it's just what they had in mind all along.
5. Objection handling. The fifth basic method of developing your competence is to learn how to handle objections effectively. Maybe you've had prospects who want to wait and think it over; prospects who already have one of whatever it is you're selling; prospects who've been doing business with your competitor for years. Have you ever heard any of these things? If you've been in sales longer than a week, you undoubtedly have. Read on. You'll find material that'll make you smile the next time you hear these objections. You'll smile, bore in-and close a delightful number of such sales. But there's a price to pay for that smile: You've got to learn the concept, adapt the idea to your offering, and learn the words that make it work.
6. Closing the sale. Many average-to-good salespeople prospect, make contacts, qualify, present, and handle objections so well that they manage to get by without learning to close competently. And that, of course, is what keeps them from being great. Closing contains elements of both art and science, and those elements can be learned.
7. Referrals. After you've satisfied the needs of your client and closed the sale, you have earned the right to your next prospect. By that I mean getting referral business from each and every client. That is the seventh and final basic. If they're happy, they'll want someone else to be happy, too. I'll teach you simple steps to getting solid, qualified referrals every time, if you're willing to learn.
But many of us have forgotten how to learn, so let's quickly review the steps to learning that apply not only to everything in this book, but to anything you choose to study.
MONEY STUDY: THE LEARNING-TO-EARN-FAST FIVESOME
Money study-I call it that to emphasize how vital it is to learn how to acquire new knowledge quickly and thoroughly. Knowing how to learn fast is the key to rapid personal growth and quick sales success. As adults, it's easy to fall into the habit of skimming over new knowledge, of avoiding any organized effort to grasp and hold new knowledge. That's no good at all. That's how you achieve the status of being average. Superior earning ability grows out of the superior performance that superior learning makes easy. The place to start being superior is to acquire and use a superior learning system. Here it is: