I've been in B2B and Corporate sales since age 22, and like most other sales people, didn't plan to become a salesman. How many kids do you know that dream about becoming a sales person? Firemen, Doctors, Attorneys or maybe a CEO of a large corporation, YES, but not a sales person!
As for so many others, my 1st sales job was by default, as I missed the university intake after doing my national service and had 6 months to kill. So I took a job as door to door salesman for a security company. It was tough as you literally had to take to the streets and knock on doors after hours. While most of my colleagues left within a week or so, I decided to do it a bit differently and start making appointments with business people during office hours. It was just what was needed and within 6 months, I was the no1 earner in the company and became manager at the age of 21. Oh, I also got a company car...I think the only reason I became the manager was because there were no one else left to choose from as this was a really difficult job.
After another 4 months I decided to make a change and joined an insurance company as they offered ongoing commissions and an office! Once again, this wasn't my childhood dream, but I loved chasing the deal and doing things differently. It was about the challenge at that stage and I wanted to be the best. Is still remember my manager saying that I won't make it, because back then, you had to be married and at least 25. Apparently I didn't have any responsibilities, hence couldn't be successful at this type of sales. 12 Months later, that same manager handed my the regional young salesman of the year award.
6 months to sales success
I have asked myself many times, why I succeeded at such a young age and others didn't? I guess I have always been internally driven to do things differently and persist when things got tough. If everyone was cold calling, I would send letters. If everyone was sending letters, I would make an appointment with by paying for that consultation. (read that about one of the greatest Insurance sales people in the USA, so followed that advise) I remember a school teacher of mine always saying; "don't be like everyone else, as 90% of people don't know what they want and just follow other peoples dreams and you can never reach the top by following others"
I guess that must have stuck with me as I've always tried to do things differently. To separate myself from the bunch and stand out. That has always paid off and I landed deals where others didn't and secured meetings where others struggled.
When company owners and business leaders have to deal with thousands of sales calls, emails and pitches, be the one that stands out and make an impressions! In my coaching practise I find that most sales people have a few common challenges; such as knowing exactly who their clients are? (This sounds so basic but believe me that many sales people don't know who they should sell to or who the decision makers are.) How to approach them with fresh ideas that stands out from their competitors, and how to lead that conversation to the closing of a deal. Those might be basics, but if 10 other sales people see that client or approach that client in the same old boring ways, just imagine how frustrated clients get with the same pitches and the same approaches? All that really separates the top companies is how the sell and market, as most of them have the same offering, just packaged differently.
My advise is to find fresh approaches to present your products or services. Make this compelling and interesting for clients to hear. Find a fresh approach to getting that first appointment. Schedule some time weekly and go and sit by the see ( for those of you that don't have a see, find a place that inspires you) and really think of how you could package your pitch so its different and fresh. Place yourself in your clients shoes and figure out what would work if you were them. Remember that you aren't the only person trying to do business with them! They hear many sales pitches weekly and you want to be the one that stands out if you are going to fix that first meeting.
About the author
Over the past 20 years, Riaan has been working with leading Sales Organisations, Sales Managers and select Individuals who want to improve sales performance, design and implement winning strategies and sales cultures that leads to more deals.
Since 1985, Riaan has been in Corporate | B2B | High-level Sales and led teams to maximise performance. He provides strategic oversight and serves as executive sales coach and advisor to clients ranging from small, rapidly growing start-ups to well-established, large corporations.
His experience has allowed him to work with organizations and executives within entities such as Old Mutual, the Telecoms Industry, Siemens, Capgemini, Accenture, BWI in Hong Kong and many others, to help them improve sales performance
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