It all begins with the right mindset. Early in my career, I learned this African proverb that truly resonated with me, “If there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm.”
This African proverb translates perfectly into what sales people experience while cold calling everyday. The little voice inside their head is the enemy saying; “why bother?”, “they won’t answer”, “they don’t have the budget”, and “they aren’t interested”, along with an ongoing list of negative anticipation.
If we flip that internal script to:
They will answer!
They will find the budget because of the value we can provide!
They will be interested because we can help solve their biggest problems!
We can conquer those negative thoughts and be prepared for when they do answer. We have to maintain a proactive mindset rather than reactive. This leads me to the next part of the equation.
Once you have the right mindset, the next important part is following the 5 P’s – Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. We have to know who we are calling and WHY. Without knowing or fully understanding why we are choosing to call a prospect, we will not be able to convey the value as to why we are reaching out to them.
Favorite Sales Book Review
If I had to pick one sales book that would greatly impact any sales professional regardless of what they sell, it would be Dale Carnegie’s, How to Win Friends and Influence People. This is not technically a “sales” book. But after learning about it over 15 years ago and putting the teachings into practice, I can full-heartedly say that this one book may have made the biggest impact on my sales career in both helping me achieve my sales goals and getting promoted.
The book primarily outlines principles and real world examples of how to manage people of different backgrounds and personalities we will inevitably face; whether they are prospects, co-workers, or extended team members. In sales, it is rare to be a lone wolf and excel in the art of managing. Leading people is the key to our success. If we can master interacting with others, the potential is unlimited.
How to handle objections
Once a rep has been in a role long enough, the objections are repetitious. Rather than striving for a golden response to every objection, it is best to develop the right philosophy on objection-handling. In translation, if we can look past the surface level of an objection and peek into the “why,” then we can best address it.
Objections are not signs of disinterest but are actually the opposite because the contact is addressing something THEY are concerned about. If we recognize this, we can pivot and turn the conversation into the right direction. From my experience, when I was able to overcome the first 2 to 3 objections confidently, I was able to successfully address and alleviate most of my prospects’ concerns.
First we must acknowledge the objection and combat our urge to reveal our default response. Similar to the adage when it comes to speeches, there are three types:
1) The one we planned to give.
2) The one we gave.
3) The one we wish we gave.
Similar to objections, our initial thought on responding to an objection is not the best we could do. If we want to be exceptional sales professionals, we need to inquire more about why our prospects are objecting and how we can overcome this.
As an example, let’s look at a common objection – “We work with ‘X’ Competitor.” By default, reps either view this as a closed door or they go on the offense as to why that competitor is not the best. The latter is not an ideal approach because the prospect already has the competitor and no one wants to feel that they went with the wrong choice. Exceptional sales reps are not afraid to inquire deeper into how they are using that competitive solution, what they like about it before leading into what they wish it could do, or what they don’t like about it. By this point, the prospect is much more transparent and most importantly, we gain intel on their likes, dislikes, what they wish it had, and the timeline on when the renewal is due.
Lastly, a common objection is that it is too expensive. This can be handled in many different ways but I will leave you with a quote on this specific concern. Remember that price becomes the topic of discussion in the absence of value.
Know Your Why!
It is cliché but this is a top crucial recommendation for any sales professional. Know and understand your “why” as to why you get up in the morning and what you are working towards and why. If your main trajectory is to earn the paycheck and maintain your job, then you are on an inevitable path to unhappiness. Sales is not easy and not for everyone.
Our “why” is what motivates us to get up every morning to do what we need to do to get to where we want to go. Our “why” is what drives us to make that extra call, take that additional training, spend those extra minutes on crafting a tailored message to a prospect, and collaborating with our extended team. A weak “why” leads to weak results. The stronger your purpose and “why,” the stronger your results.