No one wants to be THAT guy-the guy who is a failure, who can't pay the rent, who just can't get it together (ladies, be nice, I'm using guy as an absolutely sex neutral pronoun). But we all want to be THAT guy-the one who is extremely successful, who has his life together, who everyone envies and wants to emulate.
What separates THAT guy who is a failure from THAT guy who is a star?
When we boil it down it comes to actions and attitudes. The problem is there are so many more actions and attitudes that lead to failure than lead to success. Frankly that's the reason it is so easy to fail and so hard to succeed. The path to success is steep and narrow while the path to failure is wide and easily traversed.
So, what are the actions and attitudes that that sales failure guy has? Here are a few of the more prevalent actions that that failure guy engages in. I hope you don't see yourself in any of these:
1. That guy loves to hang around the water cooler shooting the breeze with other salespeople. Once they've discussed last night's ballgame or hot date they don't miss a chance to bitch and moan about the crappy products and services they have to sell, how lucky that big producer is who just seems to always be in the right place at the right time, how bad management is screwing them, and how they'll never be able to make their unrealistic quotas in this economy. That guy knows all the good gossip and all the office's problems.
2. That guy also realizes that he can't possibly make prospecting calls until he is fully prepared and that means he has to make his own collateral material since the marketing department has no idea what they're doing. He can't use the junk marketing provides so he must spend his time creating a number of fliers and leave behinds just in case he does talk to someone interested in a product or service. You'll find that guy at his desk everyday getting ready to make the calls that he never makes.
3. Many times that guy knows far more than anyone else in the company. He certainly knows more than his manager and folks in the training department. But he also knows more than anyone in marketing and certainly more than those dopes in the executive suite. With only a few days in the industry, much less with the company, he has already figured out what's wrong with the way the company is managed and with the way the company tries to sell. In fact, that guy knows so much he won't be with the company long enough to learn just how little he does know.
4. Sometimes that guy is an absolute committed professional who will not compromise his professionalism-and everyone knows professionals don't: cold call, walk into offices cold, send out unsolicited emails, try to talk someone into a conversation they might not want to have, intrude on someone, or ask an uncomfortable question like asking them make a definitive yes/no decision. That guy can only deal with prospects that come to him since everyone knows that's what professionals do. Then he goes and stands with all of the other professionals at the unemployment line.
5. Often you'll find that that guy knows exactly how good he is and he doesn't mind telling anyone who will listen-and he'll make sure you listen. He'll let you know that he is going to be the biggest thing the company has ever seen. He'll tell you straight out how many people he knows who'll buy, what incredible contacts he has, how good a closer he is, and how he has the skills and talent to blow the hell out of all the company's sales records. Unfortunately for him and the company he never actually does anything. In Texas we'd call him 'all hat; no cattle,' that is, he talks the talk but doesn't even begin to walk the walk. By all means, don't be that guy.
6. A very close cousin to that guy above is that guy who makes everything about him. All of his talk is about what he has done, what he is doing, and what he is going to do. Sounds a lot like the guy above, huh? Well he is-but he carries this 'me' attitude with him when he gets in front of a prospect. Consultative selling? Solution selling? Meeting the prospects wants and needs? None of these are important to that guy. The only thing important is meeting his own wants and needs. The conversation with a prospect is all about him-how this sale will make him number one in the company for the month; how he sells more of this particular product than anyone else in the company; how he can get the prospect an unheard of discount because he is the top salesperson in the company; how lucky the prospect is to be dealing with him instead of someone else.
7. Sometimes that guy is an old school guy, using the high pressure, strong-arm tactics of the 60's and 70's. That guy is not only still around, but you can easily find him breaking arms and bashing heads in some traditional high pressure industries such as auto sales, MLM companies, and some others. Fortunately these industries are rapidly changing and have fewer and fewer old school, high pressure salespeople; but they're still there and you'll find them in almost every industry. That guy's a dying breed-as you'll be if you're that guy.
8. There was a time when it was cute that every kid who played a sport or participated in any event was treated like a winner. Everybody got a trophy for doing no more than showing up. No one kept score because they all deserved to win and no one wanted to crush the kid's delicate self-image. Well, it isn't so funny anymore. Those kids are now adults and guess what? That guy wants a big salary and lots of benefits for just showing up. That guy thinks life owes him the rewards not because he earned them but because he and his parents bought into the Woody Allen nonsense that "80% of life is showing up." If you're that guy you better change your thinking quickly or start looking for a new job.
9. Are you that guy who thinks he's Capital Ahab, passing by all the small fish while single mindedly hunting for Moby Dick? That whale hunter guy is usually a short-timer. That guy can't be bothered with average sales. They're just a waste of time for after all, all he needs is to land one whale and that will be worth dozens of small sales. While he's out starving trying to land that elusive whale, his fellow sellers are making a good living brining in the fish that are all around. Whale hunters have tall tales to tell when they succeed-but most are telling their tales in the unemployment line.
10. We all know that guy who is a plastic mannequin of a salesperson-the one with all the right "stuff"-the gold watch, expensive car, high dollar clothes. He hangs out at the right upscale bar after work. He's that guy who has all of the signs of success-but none of the actual success. He works one or two extra jobs and lives in an apartment with no furniture in order to be able to afford the appearance of success. He works harder to look like a success than if he actually worked to be a success. Don't be that guy who so desperately needs to be seen as successful that he'll spend all of his time putting on the airs and never has time to actually become successful.
11. That guy can also be an office hermit-so afraid of rejection that he spends all of his time in the office doing busy work and never getting out into the light of day. That guy is a hard worker, no doubt. He is in the office early and often leaves late. He is forever compiling lists, creating collateral material, helping customer service, shipping, finance, the clerical staff and anyone else he can think of. In fact, he is ready, willing, and able to anything that will keep him from having to leave the office. That guy would make an ideal office staffer and might even work well in inside sales, but he is a complete disaster in outside sales.
12. That guy also comes in the form of an old-time gunslinger; shooting from the hip. The problem is he isn't Doc Holliday but is instead Don Knotts' shakiest gun in the west. He doesn't have time to learn anything about the products or services he sells, no time to learn anything about selling, persuasion, or presenting. Nope. His game is to go out and wing it figuring if he talks fast enough and makes up enough crap as he goes along he'll talk 'em into buying. Sales gunslingers end up in boot hill pretty quickly in today's marketplace.
13. That guy can also be the king of discounts, giving away the store to every prospect he comes across. Have an objection? He counters with a discount. The product not right? He gives a discount. Thinking about a competitor's product? Discount. Don't like the color? Discount. Have the hiccups? Discount. To that guy the word margin simply means with space around the edges of his brochure where he can write the newest discounted price he is offering you. In a tough market lots of sellers try to be that guy-don't because they don't last long.
14. Finally that guy is sometimes an eternal optimist, hanging on to every "prospect"-and everyone is a prospect. He'll invest time and effort calling and visiting, he'll do proposals until the cows come home, and he'll give them all the specs and all the quotes they ask for-no matter how poor a prospect they may be; no matter how unable to afford his product or service they are; no matter how direct they have been in letting him know they'll never buy from his company. That guy just won't cut the dead weight out of his database. He won't recognize the tremendous amount of wasted time and energy he puts into non-prospects.
Do you recognize yourself in any of the guys above? I hope you don't but probably 30% or more of all sellers fit in one or more of the above categories. If you are in one of the above descriptions, you're flirting with sales failure for these are the behaviors that lead directly to failing miserably in sales.
Don't be that guy.
But hang on because in part 2 we'll take a look at that guy you do want to be.