Is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. An important part of sales is the ability to show empathy to our customers needs, challenges and failures. Its very important that you empathize with what your customer is going through. If your care and concern is not genuine they will pick up on it. Being able to put yourself in their shoes and see it from their perspective is an important skill. Many times, people want to jump into what they are selling or try to fix the customers problems, but being able to just sit and listen is so important. Perhaps you can’t offer any solution but you can offer a listening ear. The time you were able to just sit and listen and to share in their struggle might be more important than the product or service you are trying to sell. Building long lasting relationships takes a lot of work but can pay off in big dividends. Would you say you are empathetic or just find yourself being annoyed by having to sit and listen to a sob story? Evaluate if this is a strength for you or do you need to practice empathy?
I’ve been watching “Mad Men” on Netflix lately. Not only am I grateful to be a woman in business in 2018 I am grateful to pioneering women like Peggy who paved the way for women today. When I first started watching the show I was entertained as it was filmed in my parent’s era. I was also a bit appalled at how the men treated the women in the office. However, once I got past my thoughts on the show I began to see how good men are at networking. These guys were not just arrogant but they knew how to “play the game” together. I have found over the years that women have a tendency to get competitive with each other but what happens when women pull together and really start networking. Female entrepreneurs are so amazing, they can hustle, multitask and posses a passion like no other. When women lean on each and pull from each others strengths the sky is the limit. I have been building my tribe of fabulous women and I could not be more grateful for these ladies who have amazing creative ideas and push me forward. Who are the fabulous women in your life and what do you do to foster these relationships?
Have you ever noticed that children are like little sponges when it comes to learning? I am always so thrilled when I see my grandchildren hit new milestone. Their first word, first step all the firsts especially in their first year. We spend our youth learning, exploring and developing new skills.
Then somewhere along the way we tell ourselves what we are good at and what we are not. Now while its true we might be more drawn to one skill verses the other or find learning one subject more interesting than another. There is real value in developing many skills not just the ones that we have a natural ability towards.
Take for instance public speaking, this is the number one fear. Many people run from this skill, claiming they are no good at it. The truth though is that everyone can benefit from learning to speak in public. At some point in time you will be called upon. Whether it be a toast a wedding, a presentation at work or sharing at a funeral you will most definitely benefit from practicing your speaking skills.
It does not need to be your favorite area of learning but developing new skills is extremely important for challenging yourself. I have been doing a lot of research on the subject of dementia as my Mom suffers from it and almost every article I read talks about benefits of challenging your brain and learning new skills. Its just exercising your muscles, the more you do it the stronger you become.
What skills would you like to learn? What skills would you benefit from in your career? Once you pick a topic get out there learn a new skill, it will build your confidence, you might make an amazing connection along the way and the benefits will outweigh the work involved and most importantly have fun along the way.
Many customers are afraid to make a purchase. Typically, this comes from the fact that they don’t want to make a wrong decision or be taken advantage of.
Have you ever bought an item only to get it home and it does not perform exactly how you were led to believe? You would feel let down and disappointed. Worse yet, you may try to return the item only to find out there is a no return policy because you bought it on sale. This is not only frustrating in the moment, but it might make you defensive when someone tries to sell you something in the future. Your past experiences may make your wary of making the wrong decision again.
Perhaps you purchased a service in the past that not only let you down, but made you feel like you’d been “ripped off” or “taken advantage of.” Perhaps you purchased a warranty that did not deliver on the promises you’d been sold. You would have felt taken advantage of and perhaps vowed that this would never happen again, causing you to become defensive when someone tries to sell you something.
So as a salesperson how do I overcome this?
A customer will trust you enough to do business with you if they see your positive character qualities. They might question whether or not you are dependable, kind, generous and honest. These qualities display good character. Will you call back in a timely manner if they reach out to you with questions? If you make a promise, will you deliver? Are you generally a good person to do business with?
Establishing trust with a customer is key to sales success. No one will want to purchase any products/services from you if they do not trust you.
Trust is magnified with social media. You should make sure your social media accounts establish yourself as a trustworthy person. Customers will also look online for reviews—good and bad–concerning your trustworthiness. They want to know that they are dealing with an honest person who has integrity. It is your job to build trust between you and your customer.
Need help in establishing trust between you and your customer, please feel free to email me to set up a coaching session.
Have you ever felt overcome with the mystery of the unknown and repelled solitude?
Tonight, I took a walk in the pouring rain. I reflected on how so often in business we avoid the darkness that sometimes comes with being alone with ourselves. There are a million things we need to accomplish and the ladder to building your business can be overwhelming at times. There is the mystery of what is around the corner, the stress of being able to find the resources we need, the question of our own talent, the weight of time—the list goes on and on. There are endless ideas for promoting your business, and sometimes that endless list makes it easy to become completely overwhelmed.
As I started my walk, I was disappointed it was raining, but the farther I walked, I realized it was actually refreshing. No one was outside, the air was brisk and fresh, and I began to embrace both the darkness and the solitude. I felt creative juices begin to flow. Why had I dreaded alone time so much? In the darkness, there were no distractions, no emails, no phone calls—just me the rain and the darkness of the night. I felt liberated.
As I embraced the walk, I embraced ideas that began to cross my mind. With all the clutter gone it was much easier to focus. In sales, we are taught that we need to network, relationship-build, and constantly keep the pipeline full. It’s all good advice, but what about time and space to focus, plan and create a vision for your life? As we approach the Christmas season, it’s really easy to get caught up in all the commercialism and craziness. Being in sales can be very exciting, invigorating, and at times, overwhelming. In my years as a sales consultant, alone time was very important. It was in the quiet I could recharge my batteries. When you are in sales there are constant demands on you, whether it’s your customers or the company you work for.
There’s is a ying and yang to sales. While many sales people love the connections sales bring to their lives, it can deplete your energy. Over the years, people have told me they love the energy I bring to a meeting, but the energy is not free. It had to come from somewhere. Many times, I had to retreat to a quiet space to recharge and focus. Making this a priority has become more important in the larger professional roles I have embraced and especially as I build my own sales coaching business.
My challenge to you this holiday season is to find time to retreat, recharge, and focus.
One of the most important keys to success in sales is goal setting. One of my colleagues asked me about my work strategy and how I was managing both our retail and dealer accounts. At first, I just explained that goal setting is an integral part of my territory plan, but I realized goal setting runs a little deeper for me.
It all started when I was a young mom in my early 20s. I sat down one evening and made a vision board for myself. I pasted pictures of everything I wanted to achieve. I dreamed of some larger goals—a cute blue house, a nice black SUV. Of course, there were also some smaller goals—I wanted new furniture, the kids needed boots, and there was even dish cloths on the board. I had so much fun not only dreaming, but setting goals for myself. I moved a few months later, misplaced my vision board, and soon forgot all about it. Many years went by and one day while cleaning out a storage space, I found my vision board. I looked at the board closely almost stunned. There it was—my blue house, my black SUV. I had replaced my dish cloths a few times by that point, there it was my life. It was at that precise moment I discovered the power of goal setting.
Goal setting must be an integral part of your strategy if you are going to achieve great results
As an account manager, I took the time to plan for my success. I didn’t wait for the clouds to clear and the warm rays of accomplishment to beam down on me. I learned at a very young age the power of goal setting and how it could affect my life.
In grade 2, I entered a private school where goal planning was part of the curriculum. I was mandated to set out yearly goals, monthly goals, weekly goals, and daily goals. We had a strict set of rules for how much school work was mandatory, but for those that wanted to accomplish more, we could set goals to complete our courses early.
Math was my least favorite subject, so my goals in that area were usually set at the minimum amount required. I loved social studies, so I would get excited and make lofty goals for myself in that area. In doing so, I set myself up for success. Not only did I finish my courses early, but I received high grades. These powerful lessons learned at a young age set me up with the tools I needed to be able to set much loftier goals later in life.
Do you regularly set goals for yourself?
One of the keys to effective goal setting is finding something that gets you fired up. Making the goal fun and with a large personal payoff will be a predictor of success.
For example, maybe you want to increase your income for 2018. SMART is an acronym used in goal setting that can help you achieve this goal.
S stands for specific. Is your goal very specific? Putting a dollar figure to your goal is more descriptive than “lots” of money. Is your goal $50,000, $100,000 or $200,000? Whatever the number is, name it. Naming it gives the goal an objective.
M stands for measurable. How can you measure your goal? If your goal is simply “lots,” it’s hard to measure, but if its $75,000 or $100,000, then it’s measurable. You either make it or you don’t.
A stands for achievable. Can you achieve it? Is the goal realistic?
In running, I set goals for myself. My current goal is that I want to complete a 10K in 1 hour or less. This is specific, measurable, and achievable, but if I said, “I want to run a 10K in 30 min,” when I regularly run it in 1 hour 15 min, it would not be realistic at this point and I would be setting myself up for major disappointment.
If your goal is to make $100,000 in 2018 and you currently earn $75,000, this would be achievable. But if you said $250,000, it would not be completely realistic at this moment in time. Of course, you could get there, but that might be a goal that comes later after you achieve a more realistic goal of $100,000 in year one.
In running, we don’t bump up more than 10% at a time. In goal setting, you should plan similarly. Hit your first target and once you hit that, aim realistically higher the next time.
T stands for timeframe. What is the timeframe for you goal? If the timeframe is 2018, that is a specific timeframe. If you said, “I eventually want to earn $250,000 a year,” that does not include a timeframe. It has no beginning and no end. Make a very specific timeframe for yourself.
Once you have established a goal, it’s time to break it down into monthly and daily plans. Think bite-sized pieces. If I want to make $100,000 in 2018, how much is that monthly? Weekly? Break it down. The more you plan, the easier it will be to attain your goals.
I have used goal setting in many aspects of my life from playing the piano to running to my career.
I am so passionate about goal setting you will find my goals listed on my fridge at any given time with a clear action plan laid out.
When I decided that I wanted to run my first marathon, I made a goal setting plan.
I established a goal that I wanted to compete a marathon in the next 6 months. This goal was measurable. I would either cross the finish line or I would not. It was definitive I determined the goal was achievable as I had already completed a couple of half marathons. The goal was realistic because this distance would challenge me for sure, but was feasible so long as I established a plan and stuck to it. The timeframe for my training was 6 months. I found a plan for completing your first marathon by Hal Higdon. Once I had established the goal and found a plan that matched my objective, all that was left was to train using my plan and I went on to run my first marathon. The goal setting strategy worked so well that only 1 year later I ran a second marathon 15 min faster than that first one. Once again, goal setting proved to be a powerful tool in many areas of my life.
Your goals in business should be ones that get you excited. If the goal does not give you a sense of enthusiasm, it will become a drag and the process of hitting the goal will become a burden. If the goal gets you fired up, your chances of success dramatically improve.
What are your sales goals? Have your written them down and laid out a clear plan? If you have not, I strongly urge you to start goal setting. I promise it will change your life. It’s one of the most important tools you will carry with you. Ask any successful business owner about his or her goals and the will definitely have them and most likely very willing to share them. Ask an athlete about his or her goal and see what happens.
Goal setting is one of the most powerful routines you can establish in your career and it is a strategy utilized regularly by top producers in any industry.
One of the most important keys for me in sales has been my strong motivational behaviour. I have spent some time thinking about what creates motivation inside each of us and how we can unlock it. Is there a secret to tapping into unlimited motivation? What fuels the desire to excel? What fuels us to produce top results? What pushes us to live extraordinary lives?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines motivation as, “the act or process of giving someone a reason for doing something; the act or process of motivating someone; the condition of being eager to act or work; the condition of being motivated; a force or influence that causes someone to do something.”
I have always been eager to learn and better myself, but why? In school, I struggled for years. My perfectionism would take over and I would fear failure and disappointing my peers. What I learned was to never back away and always use my fears to propel myself forward instead of backward. I would push the boundaries and challenge myself to overcome whatever obstacles stood in my way.
I have a distinct memory of developing my own sense of personal motivation. I was about 6 and I was sent home with two boxes of chocolate bars to sell for a school fundraiser. This was a pretty big challenge considering I lived on a farm with only one neighbour. How was I going to sell 48 chocolate bars? My mom picked me up from the bus stop and asked what I was going to do with 48 bars of chocolate. Now, my dad and I loved chocolate, so we would have been happy to eat all of them, but my mom wanted nothing to do with that idea. Instead, she drove me to a neighboring community and dropped me off. She told me she was going for coffee at a friend’s place and I should meet her back there after all the chocolate bars had been sold. I remember feeling overwhelmed and intensely afraid of rejection. In that moment, I knew I could not let this fear take over; I wouldn’t. Even at 6 years old I knew I was stronger than that.
So, I put one foot in front of the other, walked up to a house, and knocked on the door. I put on a big smile, introduced myself, and explained that I was selling chocolates for school and that I needed to sell them all. I could feel my heart pumping. The lady who opened the door just looked at me, expressionless. I thought rejection was coming. However, she quickly offered to buy a chocolate bar. I did it. I sold my first chocolate bar.
I told myself that wasn’t too bad. Just knock on the next door and do it again. So, one by one, house by house, I sold all 48 chocolate bars. I could feel a light inside me ignite. I had overcome the fear of rejection and the few people who did reject me were quickly forgotten. Best of all, I went on to win the entire fundraising contest.
The key to unlocking this motivation was not that I was gifted with magical sales glitter dust, but that I put fear in its place. I tuned out the negative voices and put one foot in front of the other. I had awakened the force inside myself. Was it easy? No. In fact, it was terrifying. But I pushed beyond my comfort zone. It was my first real sales lesson and I had many more to come.
Thankfully, my mom believed in me, even when I didn’t. She taught me a valuable lesson in just getting out there and making it happen. Now, I’m not advocating dropping off children in a random neighbourhood to fend for themselves, but I am all for helping our children succeed and teaching them to take the very first step out of the nest to test their wings.
As much as I wish I could have had found magic sales dust to reach my goal, that, would not have helped me learn the value of determination and perseverance.
Are there areas of your life that are limiting you? I think if we sit back and just wait for the perfect opportunity, it will never come. Just jump out of the nest and learn to fly. If you wipe out, get up and do it again, but don’t let negativity or fear stand in your way.
To truly be successful in sales, the first step is learning to step out and move past your fears. Jump out of your comfort zone and start spreading your wings. If you keep at it, soon you will be flying until suddenly, it’s not so scary anymore.
Sharon-Rose McNeil Honor Sales Coach