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updated: 1/19/2021 3:26 PM

Unconditional commitment yields sales success

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In today's world, about 80% of salespeople ended up with a sales career as a default choice. They did not set out to be salespeople, but found themselves in this challenging, yet exciting, career because they had the "sales personality."

However, many of these "accidental" salespeople give the profession a bad name. They are nothing more than "professional visitors" with a low price. The pandemic is certainly doing a great job of sorting out the true professional salespeople from the "hobbyists" who sell to make a living.

My personal philosophy regarding the sales profession is, "I don't sell to live ... I live to sell," and my clients know this passion drives the conviction that it takes guts to be an extraordinary salesperson.

I have a client base that ranges in size from Fortune 500 companies to small, one-person businesses and they all share a common purpose, "an unconditional commitment to success." They will do whatever it takes to excel regardless of the economy, their competition, and any foreboding predictions about the COVID-19-fueled future.

I help them develop sales and leadership skills, high-performance behavior plans, and a belief system focused on maximal results. I teach all my clients that in order to succeed, they must "stiffen their spine" and demonstrate the guts it takes to be peak performers.

There is a famous quote by Confucius which says, "All humans share similar natures, it is their daily habits that carry them apart." I have given this thoughtful phrase a lot of attention and translate these words of wisdom to the basic nature of all salespeople: "All salespeople are created equal; the only thing that separates them is their behavior they have committed to perform."

Every sales manager and salesperson I train understands there are key income-generating behaviors that must be performed monthly to assure consistent success. They are the moneymaking activities that drive quota achievement, company recognition and overall selling excellence.

Many salespeople fill their days with busy work and tasks that never contribute to a strong company bottom line. They "wake up, work hard and go home" each day without connecting their behavior plan to their goals. Their bosses are subjected to an endless array of excuses for low sales and are held hostage by sales forecasts based on hopes, wishes and dreams.

True sales winners create predictable behavior plans that guarantee quota achievement and will not offer the excuses that are generated by conditional commitment.

As you stride confidently into 2021 here are five behaviors to build better habits around:

Targeting: Create a success profile for an ideal prospect. If a salesperson does not have a clear target, any achievement will suffice.

Generating new leads: Find new sources of business opportunity through cold calling, email, networking, referrals and business introductions. New business is the lifeblood of the future.

Qualifying/disqualifying opportunities: Eliminate "tire kickers" who have no intention of doing business with you. Use a defined sales process to disqualify business vampires who suck the life out of performance.

Closing business: Turn the qualified prospects into customers. Focus on the prospect's pain as it is the strongest buying emotion.

Customer development: Look for ways to expand each customer's business and develop "gold level" relationships. Remember, your customers are your competitors' prospects.

• Bill Bartlett owns Corporate Strategies, A Sandler Training Center. bbartlett@sandler.com. Text "salestip" to 35893 to receive Bill's biweekly newsletter.

These categories of behavior necessitate unconditional commitment; however, by devoting your energy to them, you will achieve the success you deserve as a professional salesperson in 2021.

It takes guts to challenge the beliefs and behaviors that are not yielding results. If you became a salesperson by default you may want to explore your career options. If you are a salesperson by design, now is the time to stretch your comfort zone and challenge yourself to experience greater success. Go conquer your worlds.