Ten Commandments of Sales Success Article by: Jim Rohrbach
I’ve been on a continual quest to give my coaching clients the very best information on how to build their clientele. My clients â€” small business owners, entrepreneurs and professional service providers â€” are technically proficient but lack the same essential business success skill: how to market and sell their services. And so most fail â€” the Small Business Administration estimates as many as 90% of new businesses go bust within 5 years. (Unless they hire me, of course. As an example, one of my clients began as a financial advisor in 2001 with seventy other rookies at a major brokerage firm. By 2005 he was one of only five still in business.)
So I wandered up Mount Sinai, where I happened to run into this incredibly old man with a long white beard way down past his waist who was chiseling away on a stone tablet. Stunned, I said, “Hey â€” aren’t you …?” And before I could say another word, he cut me off, “Yes, it’s me â€” Moses, who brought the Ten Commandments down to my people. And aren’t you …?” I cut him off, saying, “Yes, it’s me â€” Da Coach. (Nice to have that kind of brand awareness, huh?) I urgently want to bring The Ten Commandments of Sales Success down to MY people: the struggling salespeople of the world. Do you think you can help me?” With that he smiled, handed me a chisel and said, “Boy, I thought the Ten Tribes of Israel was a tough crowd, but you’ve REALLY got your work cut out for you!”
Commandment 1. Thou shalt love thy product, service and industry. You’ve got to have an unshakable belief that your products, your services and your industry provide great value to your customers â€” that beyond features and benefits you help people experience some kind of positive emotional outcome from your efforts: more happiness, peace of mind, fun, joy, security, prestige, whatever. If you can’t wake up every morning and say, “I LOVE this game!” then quit what you’re doing and go be a greeter at WalMart.
Commandment 2. Thou shalt persist in the face of rejection. Perhaps the greatest inspirational quote of the last century comes from an unlikely source: Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States, who said, “Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” (He also said, “The business of America is business.” So Silent Cal had a strong grasp of the obvious …) One myth about successful sales people is that they get LESS rejection than their peers. In truth they get MORE â€” they persist because they do not take a “No” personally, while others cry for their mommy.
Commandment 3. Thou shalt stick to business on the first call. A lot of beginners think that they need to first make friends with their prospects. Usually this leads to a lot of lunches with you picking up the check without picking up any new business. While you’ll become a favorite of the local eateries, you’ll soon be working at one as a waiter if you don’t initially focus on business. You can always become friends later if they have the true need for your products or services.
Commandment 4. Thou shalt not commit the sin of premature presentation. When you go to the doctor with a pain in your shoulder, does he begin by talking about all the great ways he can treat it? Does he pull out a skeleton and show you the way your shoulder should align? Does he turn on his computer and run a Power Point presentation on “The Shoulder â€” That Misunderstood Joint?” NO â€” he starts by asking you, “Where does it hurt?” A doctor who begins with a diagnosis and prescription before an examination is guilty of malpractice â€” it’s the same for you.
Commandment 5. Thou shalt take control of the sales process by conducting a proper consultative interview. Prospects want someone to demonstrate leadership in a meeting, so begin by asking permission to ask questions. Once you get the green light, pull out your list of carefully scripted questions to get to your prospects’ pain, gap or needs. If you feel like that’s too forward, take the Yellow Brick Road until you see the Emerald City … then ask for The Wizard. (Worked for the Cowardly Lion, didn’t it?)
Commandment 6. Thou shalt be a world class listener by practicing W.A.I.T. and S.T.F.U. Contrary to popular belief, people with the gift of gab do NOT make great salespeople â€” the great ones ask probing questions, then listen to their prospects to gain trust and understanding. If you find yourself talking too much on sales calls, see the letters W.A.I.T. form on your prospects’ foreheads, which stands for “Why Am I Talking?” If that doesn’t work, go to emergency mode: see red lights flashing over their heads in the letters S.T.F.U. â€” the S stands for “Shut,” the T stands for “The” and the U stands for “Up.” The F stands for … “For God’s Sakes!” (What were YOU thinking it stood for?)
Commandment 7. Thou shalt gain a commitment at every step of the way. The true sales professional ends each meeting with one of these three outcomes: A closed deal, an appointment for a future meeting in which he and his prospects know exactly what’s going to occur, or a cordial agreement to not do business together. Only an amateur would accept an ending like, “Call me in two weeks.” Translation: You’ll never get back in to see this prospect â€” deal with it.
Commandment 8. Thou shalt eliminate bad prospects. You know them â€” the ones who don’t return your calls and emails, but always seem to be available for a nice lunch when you’re buying. Life’s too short to deal with such schlemiels â€” get rid of them.
Commandment 9. Thou shalt become a master of networking. The best sales pros are great networkers â€” they take time to build relationships with owners of synergistic businesses. For example, I encourage my financial advisor clients to meet with CPA’s, estate planning attorneys, realtors, mortgage brokers and insurance agents â€” all professionals who handle large financial transactions for their clients. Networking takes patience, energy and a “give first “attitude to ultimately get referrals but it sure beats the heck out of cold calling … unless you actually enjoy intruding on people.
Commandment 10. Thou shalt get a coach. Moses told me it’s OK to be a shameless self-promoter. (Look at where it got him â€” Charlton Heston played him in a blockbuster movie that’s shown every year around Passover.) Face it: there are no self-made sales professionals â€” they all got advice, encouragement and accountability from somebody along the way. You may think it’s a sign of weakness to ask for help, when actually it’s a sin not to. Why rob yourself out of climbing the Mount Sinai of Sales Success because you never got the right guide? Besides, I guarantee I can get you to the Promised Land a lot faster than 40 years …
P.S. Besides Moses, I would be dammed for all time if I didn’t mention The Sandler Sales Institute, Brian Tracy and dozens of other great sales trainers I’ve studied over the years. Thanks to them I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel too …
Success Skills Coach Jim Rohrbach, “The Personal Fitness Trainer for Your Business,” coaches business owners, entrepreneurs and sales professionals on growing their clientele. He has helped hundreds of individuals to achieve their goals since he developed his first coaching program in 1982. To arrange a Free Consultation with Jim, go to www.SuccessSkills.com.