I don’t like going to the gym, I really don’t. Lifting weights is OK, but going on the treadmill is almost punishment for me. I have to distract myself with music, conversations (if I have enough breath to come up for air) or just thinking about certain things that keep my mind occupied. For the longest time I was focusing on the speed and trying to make sure that I would increase my tempo in order to have the greatest impact. Then, a couple of years after torturous walks and runs, a very smart fitness trainer told me that it’s not all about speed, but also about the incline. He advised me to go slower and to steadily increase the incline. It builds muscle and stamina, he told me.
That’s when the light bulb went off for me. How often in life do we just run and run without adjusting and changing course? I immediately thought of sales and how so many sales people run on flat surfaces, as fast as they can without ever adjusting the incline. What exactly do I mean by that?
When Prospecting Choose Quality over Quantity
It’s not about the number of calls – it’s about the quality. Think about it. What if sales people would take a step back and do their research before picking up the phone? They would be more effective, wouldn’t they? Utilizing LinkedIn and all other available on- and off-line sources is a great way to optimize your sales prospecting – or “adjust your incline”!
Sometimes making fewer calls can lead to better results. First off, you don’t sound like a broken record to yourself by the end of the day. More importantly though, when you are prepared you are in a better, position to actually have a conversation with your prospect – should you be so lucky that they pick up the phone. If not, just leave a meaningful voicemail instead of a particular script that is so often used.
When Presenting Use Engagement Rather than PowerPoint
There are still too many sales people who are trained and taught to rely solely on PowerPoint slide presentations. While a good presentation can certainly be of added value, very often it is an obstacle to engaging with your prospects. PowerPoint presentations are generally effective and I’d suggest using them when you have more than 4 people in a room. For smaller groups, or 1-on-1, I’ve experienced that it’s more effective to start a conversation, to engage and ask questions – and then LISTEN! If you still feel that a presentation or demo is necessary, you can always pull it up at a later point, just try a different route and see what the results are. You will be amazed how many “selling” opportunities you will find by just listening.
Be Natural Rather than Scripted
We all like people who are funny and natural. There is nothing wrong with making little mistakes, stumbling over your words or forgetting something as long as we catch ourselves and make reference to it. Nobody expects you to be “perfect” every single day and as long as the overall experience is professional, engaging and client-centered, there is nothing wrong with flaws. Quite honestly, I really appreciate people who admit that their technology isn’t working properly that very moment, or when they mention that the spot on their shirt or blouse is a result of their three year old spilling juice on them that morning. Professionalism doesn’t equal boring or stiff. Be yourself when reaching out to prospects or presenting, and people will gravitate towards you.
Change Things Up a Bit Once in a While
In closing, I find it’s really healthy and necessary to look at the way we do things on a daily basis and adjust course when necessary. Eating oatmeal instead of a bagel for breakfast could have an impact on your health and your waist line. Adjusting the incline on your treadmill will help you build muscles without being out of breath. Making smarter choices in sales will eventually result in increased revenue and it will also result in you having more fun which, in turn, will help your outlook on life in general.
Just think about the way you do things and mix it up once in a while.
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