If Selling Is So Simple Why Can't Everyone Do it?

How many people do you know who have tried selling at some point in their lives? Out of all of those people, how many failed?

The answer to the first question is easy, probably quite a few. At some point or other in their lives many people have had a go at selling even if only as a student or in their first job. You may not know the answer to the second one… it’s probably most of them!

Probably most of them.

Oh, for sure, they’ll tell you that they did well. They’ll tell you that they sold bucket loads! They’ll tell you that they were a top sales performer. They’ll even talk knowledgeably about how to sell. It’s amazing what a good game people who only sold for a few weeks and never had any sales training can talk! They’ll talk about open questions and wants and needs like they know what they’re talking about but… seriously… most of them failed!

Not all, but most!

Top salespeople lead an enviable life. They earn great money. They win promotions. They have job security. They have respect, opportunity and friends. They have freedom, career choices and financial independance. They have fun, challenge and variety.

So if you had all of that, why would you leave? Mostly only if you weren’t getting those things at all! I met a friend of a friend in the pub the other night and he looked scathingly at me when I said that I was a sales training expert and told me that he left sales for “more security” and opportunity. He earns in a month what I earn in a day. I recently heard that his company are looking to “cut back” in his department. Nuff said!

But why this tirade? And why today?

Simple. This week I worked with a really great team of salespeople. They were enthusiastic, interested, open and up for it. They embraced the fact that selling is simple and they wanted to master those simple skills. Sales is so simple infact that nearly anyone could  be very successful in sales. So simple that everyone in the room could achieve sales success if they chose to go for it…

So if selling is so simple why can’t everyone do it?

Because selling is about attitude. Selling is an attitude.  Selling is an attitude that leaves behind a trail of techniques. Now don’t get me wrong here… sales skills are very important, very important indeed. Anyone who has been through a sales training programme with me or who has attended one of my sales seminars will know just how important I believe sales skills are…

But they’re not the key factor in this equation. They’re only a part of the equation. And on the other side of that equation is attitude. Without the right attitude you won’t be able to access your skills. Frankly, without the right attitude, you’re in trouble. If you can get and maintain the right attitude then you will make a success of yourself in sales and selling. Period. If you can’t, you won’t. It’s goodnight sweetheart!

I would far rather hire someone with all of the right attitudes and potential and train them on the skills side than I would wrestle with someone with all of the skills and experiences who cannot be bothered any more! The former salesperson I can train because they want to learn, the latter I have to remotivate and reeducate. Possible but much harder…

You’ve probably worked with or recruited a salesperson who had all of the right attitudes but was light on skills. They probably did pretty well. It usually gets put down to “beginner’s luck” but it’s not “beginner’s luck”, its “beginner’s attitude”.

And it’s at this point that many people not in sales might be tempted to conclude that sales and selling is easy. Something for thickos, something that anyone can do.

Just so wrong!

The hardest thing in the world is getting, keeping, maintaining and improving the right attitude. In sales you never know when you might run into someone who is going to be your best ever client. You never know if the next sales call is going to win you a multi-million account. You never know which meetings are going to convert and which aren’t…

And this makes it hard becuase you have to be on top sales form for every call. Top sales form for every presentation. Top sales form for every meeting. Top sales form for every negotiation. Top sales form for every conversation. Top sales form for every communication. Top sales form. Top sales form. Top sales form.

Not for you the mindless “going through the motions” that some non-salespeople can get away with for periods of time. You have to be switched on, tuned in, fully focused, up for it, raring to go, playing from a 10, on the ball…

Salespeoople often say to me that cold calling (for example) is repetitive and boring…

Wrong attitude! You have to be on top sales form for every call. It might be your 47th call of the week or the day but it is your client or prospect’s first experience of you. You have to be on top form, you have no safety net!

To make matters worse, salespeople get faced with problems and challenges every day. Difficulties, challenges, issues, rejection and objection are a part and parcel of our daily lives and we need to smile through them and stay on top sales form.

So if selling is so simple, why can’t everyone do it?

Because selling is about taking personal responsibility for your own attitude, your own behaviours and your own results. Selling is about smiling when you don’t feel like smiling. Listening when you don’t feel like listening, Caring when you don’t want to care. Standing up when you feel like lying down. Pushing on when you feel like giving up. Firing on all cylinders when you feel like throttling down. Taking responsibility when you want to pass the buck.

Selling provides virtually unrivalled opportunitites for anyone who is prepared to commit themselves. Your degree won’t help you. Your qualifications and exams won’t help you. Your CV won’t help you. The only person who can help you is you. And that’s too much of a leveller for most people.

Handbrake off, safety net removed, crash helmet discarded.

Most people want to blame someone else. It’s all about what they didn’t get, who didn’t help them, who let them down, whose fault it is, why they weren’t on top form, why they deserve another chance, why they should have done better…

If you want to maximise your sales performance and be a top sales performer you need to let all of this go now and focus on delivering the right attitude at the right time, no excuses.

Why not take a look at my Sales Success sales training audio programme – it’s what sales motivation is all about.

Is There Such A Thing As A Professional Salesperson?

“I want to be professional”. I’d have a decent sized pot of cash if I’d received a pound for every time a salesperson has said this to me.

“I want to be professional”.

What do they mean by this? Is there such a thing as a professional salesperson? Does it matter anyway? And how can you become a professional salesperson?

It always intrigues me every time a salesperson says that they want to be professional. Do they mean that they want to act professionally or do they want to be seen as more professional by their peers or something entirely different?

Certainly, many salespeople do not see their chosen career as a professional one, that’s for sure…

Take the case of a young salesman I spoke to recently. He’s earning decent money, he has good promotional prospects and he is well thought of by his company, his peers and in his industry… Yet he is thinking of doing something else. He’s considering something “more professional”, something with a structured career in place. Perhaps going back and studying again.

Whilst I think it is important that people follow their dreams it would be wrong to change jobs simply because selling might not be “professional”. Particularly in the UK people sneer at sales as a profession anyway. Maybe this is because you don’t need a degree to get into sales, perhaps it’s because there aren’t any recognised qualifications, exams or governing bodies or maybe it’s just tradition. Is it because of the old class system, old school ties or maybe just because the people who run the country aren’t very good at it?

So let’s knock this one straight on the head right here and right now…  Selling is a profession.

Dictionary.com defines “profession” as:

  • A vocation requiring knowledge of some department of learning or science – selling then.
  • Any vocation or business – err, selling then.
  • The body of persons engaged in an occupation or calling – and , ummm, selling again!

So selling is most definitely a profession then. What’s more, selling as a profession has a lot to say for itself:

  • Money! From a monetary point of view people entering sales can earn good money. With commissions, bonuses and other benefits , very good money. I know salespeople with only a couple of years worth of experience earning more than lawyers with the same amount of experience (and they’ve done years worth of training).
  • Opportunity. Selling provides huge promotional opportunity. Every company needs sales and people who can sell well wield a lot of power. Rapid promotional prospects are often available to them. These paths to the top are often a lot quicker than more structured and traditional professions and paths where the path is laid out for you.
  • Fun. Selling is a varied and interesting job in which you meet people, can travel and where every day can bring a new task. 
  • Challenge. Selling is challenging. In sales we deal with people and people always provide challenges. Learning to be flexible and dealing with different people in different situations, from different backgrounds and with different levels of experience is very rewarding.

But I don’t think that the reality is really the problem here. The problem is usually the salesperson’s perception. The issue is that they don’t see sales as professional therefore they don’t see themselves as professional…

And this often means that they don’t act as a professional!

Many salespeople do not do a professional job. Think of a few personal experiences and you will immediately know what I am saying. Because of the low barriers to entry many salespeople will behave unprofessionally and do an unprofessional job. That’s just the way it is.

But you’re not one of them!

There are unprofessional lawyers but that doesn’t make all lawyers unprofessional. There are unprofessional accountants but that doesn’t make all accountants unprofessional. There are unprofessional surveyors but that doesn’t make all surveyors unprofessional. Far from it, in fact.

Just because there are unprofessional salespeople does not stop you from being a professional salesperson! And if you want to get on in sales this is exactly what you need to be.

Unfortunately, many salespeople don’t take action. They don’t do what is necessary. They mistake low barriers to entry for low effort being required to succeed. Turning up at 9, leaving at 5 and doing the bare minimum is not the way to behave as a professional. Taking the easy route is not the path to professionalism. Ultimately, professionalism is not where you came from, which school you went to or which career you picked – professionalism is what you do consistently.

If you want to be a professional, if you want to be treated like a professional, if you want to feel like a professional then you need to take consistent action.

Here are my top 5 tips for acting like a professional…

1. Know your industry inside out

Professional salespeople know their industries inside out. They’re the ones who always have the information to hand. They’re well prepared, well read and knowledgeable. They know how they fit into the industry, who the main players are and who their competition is.

2. Know how to add value

Professional salespeople understand their products and how they add value for their clients. They study case studies and know how they can apply them for their clients. They understand the differences between their and their competitors’ offerings. They care about their clients and help them to make the right buying decisions. They know when to stick and when to fold. They know how to add value before, during and after the sale.

3. Study top performers

All professional people have role models. This can be someone you know or someone you read about. It must be someone who you consider to be a consummate professional. Choose carefully and choose wisely. This does not have to be a formal process but that does not make it any the less important. Studying top performers, understanding how they behave and why, is essential if you want to be a professional. Modelling top performers can accelerate your learning and improve your skills rapidly.

4. Create a study programme for yourself

When did you last read a book on selling? Or listen to an audio? Or watch a DVD? Or attend a training programme? Or a seminar? Now ask yourself the same question but add in “off your own bat” i.e. not sent or given by your boss. For many salespeople the answer is never! All accountants, lawyers, doctors etc have self development plans. They have to complete a certain amount of study to remain up to date. Some salespeople tell me that they have never read even one book on sales. How can you claim to be professional if you don’t study?

5. Look sound and act like a professional

To be a professional you need to look, sound and act like a professional. Take a look around your office now. Who would you view as professional? Who wouldn’t you?! Now rate them all on a scale of 1 to 10 and think about why you made those choices (I’m not recommending you tell them though!). It will be because of their actions. What they wear, how they talk, the kinds of questions they ask, how intently they listen, how focused they are…

So the answer to the question, “Is there such a thing as a professional salesperson?” is a resounding yes! And, of course, yes, we do care!  So the only question worth considering is, “What are you going to do to attain and maintain your status as a professional salesperson?”