So often, people turn to me for the one piece of advice that will help them succeed in the world of selling and business development. Can I please give them the one magic bullet that will take them to the next level? You might imagine me saying to myself, Why would I want to give them the Holy Grail? Wouldn't I be putting myself out of business if I gave them such advice?
The truth is, I give that information every day, and I'm about to give it to you: behave. It won't matter much because you won't use it. It's the easiest thing in the world to understand and the hardest thing in the world to implement.
Behave. That's it: the advice for success in sales.
What do I mean by "behave?" I mean behavior: setting goals, creating plans to achieve those goals, and implementing a set of consistent, controllable activities aimed at accomplishing the plan. While every company's world is a little different, you probably already know what those controllable activities might look like: go to networking functions, make calls to clients, build referral partnerships, ask for referrals, make cold calls, exhibit at tradeshows, run prospecting seminars, and make follow-up calls.
Let me share with you my personal experience. In the simplest terms, I work with my clients to help them implement improvement strategies in the areas of attitude, behavior, and technique. For virtually everyone and every company, behavior is the most difficult to change. In a few short months, perhaps even weeks, people can recite (and even role-play) many of the new techniques they've learned in the training process. But changing their behavior (getting them to consistently do more of the right stuff they know they should) usually takes longer. That's the primary reason short-term training rarely creates long-term behavioral change.
Behavior provides the opportunity to try the new techniques often enough to master them and thereby improve the qualification and closing processes. Without behavior, positive results come much more slowly.
The commitment level of the individual and/or the corporation's management generally dictates the rate of behavioral change, and ultimately, improvement in results. When a business owner states, "We will change our selling behavior, we will track and measure it, we will do what we need to do to be successful," and then stands behind that belief through his or her actions as manager, the improvement in results are dramatically expedited.
The best example I've seen of this is a client company that implemented, long before they ever met me, a top-rated behavioral selling model. Because this sales team was already doing consistent behavior, they had lots of opportunities to try the new approaches and techniques I recommended.
By the third week of our once-a-week training, many of the salespeople were reporting positive experiences and real results with the new material. This was in dramatic contrast to most companies, which usually take a month or two just to get used to the stuff.
Regardless of what type of business you run, focus on behavior first. Without it, nothing will change. IBI