Developing a New Approach: The 12 Key Elements of Sales Success
About six years ago I hit a wall in my career. I was making my sales numbers, but I thought I could improve my production. I was roughly seven years into my selling career and knew a change needed to be adopted if I was going to take my career to the next level.
Early in my sales career, I concentrated on building base skills around product knowledge, prospecting, and networking. While I was doing well in many areas, I still wasn’t where I wanted to be, even though I had been promoted a few times earlier in my career. I was extremely successful by the standards of many, but something was certainly missing. I have never been complacent in my career or willing to accept the status quo. Sometimes I wondered what was missing. I would also ask myself why I could have a great meeting with a prospective company, only to find they decided to buy from my competitor.
In the spring of 2006, my wife and I welcomed our second child into the world, which truly was a special time for our family. As a father you look at your newborn child and you oftentimes wonder what he would grow up to be like, what traits he would inherit.
A couple weeks after my son’s birth, I was watching the NCAA Lacrosse final four. The game that had my attention was Syracuse vs. Virginia. As I was watching the game, I looked across my living room to my sleeping two-week-old son and thought about what college he would attend. Would he be an Orangeman? Seconds later an overwhelming thought entered my mind: college tuition for two children!!
“Holy crap,” I thought. Suddenly I wasn’t thinking about the game any more. I was in a dazed state for a few minutes. My wife was sitting beside me on the sofa and asked, “Matt, what’s wrong?”
“Two words sweetheart: college tuition.”
She looked at me and laughed gently. “We have plenty of time, let’s not worry about college tuition now.” I stared back at her like a deer in the headlights.
After a brief pause, I said, “You know what, you’re right, I just lost track of the score of the game”.
I knew I needed to take action in my career. My family was young and growing and my income needed to outpace this growth. I began to reflect on my daily work, scrutinizing everything I had been taught about professional selling to businesses. Like many other sales professionals, I was taught to discuss how great my company is compared to the competition, and how great my products are, and discuss product differentiators as a core focus during client and prospect presentation. I dominated most customer presentations with this mantra.
There is a level of arrogance to that flawed approach which hurt me from taking my career to the next level. I committed many common mistakes that plague business-to-business sales professionals and with every lost account I learned something. Eventually I said to myself, I’m going about this all wrong. I decided to change it up and adopt a far different approach. This approach eventually became a 12-step tactical game plan that I implemented:
• Motivation – It Starts Here – Take Action.
• Understanding the Science of People
• Effective Communication
• Cold Calling and Prospecting
• Leveraging Social Media – Today’s New Gold Mine of Opportunity
• Interviewing the Client
• Understanding Opportunity Cost
• Building and Maintaining the Client Partnership
• Constructing a Proposal That Wins
After adopting this new approach, I made far more sales, which resulted in a 71 percent increase in my overall pay. In addition to the increase in pay, I was also granted a significant amount of stock options. A few short years later I was executing multimillion-dollar contracts and was responsible for managing the most significant client relationships for a Fortune 500 company. All of this happened before I turned 30.
I quickly learned that if I successfully executed each attribute of the game plan, I won more business. But more importantly, I won the long-term client partnership that subsequently allowed me to build a significant loyal customer base. Instead of differentiating with corny product buzz words, company achievements, and products, I became the “Differentiator.”
* Learn how to execute the 12 attributes I’ve discussed here in my new book titled The Game of Business-to-Business Sales: How to Execute a Winning Game Plan.
* Also for more crucial sales-related resources please check out my new website at: www.thesalesjournal.net
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