During the years I owned my remodeling business, I remember one experience I had which gave me a lesson I never forgot and subsequently changed the way I trained and coached people in the art of selling from that day on.
I was in the process of recruiting two more salespeople. After having these top two candidates go through our in-depth interview process, I made them a job offer which they happily accepted.
During the initial three-week training program, I had-each new recruit spend the day going out on appointments with one of my more seasoned salespeople. When the time came for my new salespeople to spread their wings and go out on their own, I noticed some interesting results.
After a few weeks of being in the field, one salesperson quickly demonstrated his selling competency, reinforcing that I made the right hiring decision. However, the other salesperson’s performance was questionable.
“How can that be?” I wondered? They both received the exact same training and support. They both passed the initial exam demonstrating their product knowledge and selling ability. After many skill practice scenarios and role-plays, they both seemed capable of selling effectively.
In my quest to find the answer, I went back to the two seasoned salespeople that took them out in the field for the day to see if I missed anything. I sat each veteran down one at a time and asked each of them the following question, “When you took the new salesperson out in the field, what did you tell them?”
The first sales veteran who ran appointments with the new rep that wasn’t selling responded, “I simply shared with him my personal experience here. I told him not to expect any sales activity until your third month. I also said that you’re not expected to perform immediately and because of the vast amount of product knowledge you need to assimilate, what needs to be learned can be very overwhelming. I told him it wasn’t the easiest job he’ll ever have and quite often you’ll find the leads aren’t as qualified as they should be, so don’t expect to sell more than one out of five appointments on average.”
I then went to the other sales veteran that ran with my new superstar who was performing right out of the gate and asked the same question. He responded, “I told him that this will be one of the easiest jobs you’ll ever have. You have an opportunity to deliver incredible value to each prospect. You’ll probably wind up selling most of the prospects you speak with; just follow the sales process. Since the product practically sells itself, my customers feel that it’s really a ‘no brainer’ to make this purchasing decision. Sometimes the prospect may have one or two concerns, but for the most part, you’ll always be able to design a solution that addresses and defuses their concerns. Therefore, expect to close nine out of every 10 presentations you deliver.”
The lesson? Don’t believe everything you tell yourself. Even though people say, “Seeing is believing,” the truth is, “Believing is seeing.” What we believe in our hearts and our attitude toward our career, other people and more specifically selling affects our behavior; a byproduct of how we think, which then creates our experiences and results.
Here were two new salespeople with a desire to succeed and who shared the same level of product knowledge and completed the same training program. Yet, each of them performed very differently based on their belief around what to expect regarding their career as well as their level of productivity. This universal law certainly applies: “How you think is what you get.”
This experience drove home the importance of training not only on the skill set or sales process needed to succeed but also the mind-set of a sales champion.
To generate breakthrough results, you need to change not only what you are doing but also how you think. Otherwise, you’ll simply wind up developing only half the salesperson you can be. Just look at the slogan the army adopted: “Be all you can be.” It doesn’t read, “Do all you can do.”