The Will, Skill, and Drill of Selling

Editor's Note: This is excerpted from Kick Your Own Ass: The Will, Skill, and Drill of Selling More Than You Ever Thought Possible, by Robert Early Johnson (John Wiley & Sons Inc.)

Sales success doesn’t come simply from the execution of sales skills. It’s an amazing journey wherein you develop the ability to manage the will, skill, and drill of selling.

The will is the required mental preparedness—the drive to persevere and to face and overcome fear, procrastination, constant adversity and rejection. Your will sets you in motion and can also stop your momentum. This quality is the toughest to diagnose and handle, since so much of our internal struggle is masked by excuses and our positive external voice.

Skill is rooted in a vast foundation of knowledge of product, industry, competition and selling skills. The mastery of these four basic areas indeed enables you to guide prospects successfully through a sales process.

And the drill? It’s the process of setting goals, creating strategic and tactical plans, planning territory, and executing activities that create sustained superior results.

OK, you need a process. Sounds like the typical approach. Consider, however, that the drill of selling is possible only by engaging the will to do so. Your motivation to change and grow must come from within. Coerced or mandated change rarely works effectively and usually produces the opposite outcome. Think of something for which you have a passion and examine how you and others excel at it. Maybe it’s something from the business world or a leisure activity, art, or athletics. How about cooking as a process example?

Cooking is like Selling—You need a Kick-Ass Recipe

Creating a meal and selling are somewhat alike. They are both process-driven. You can’t, for instance, bake a cake before you mix the ingredients; you’d end up with an inedible mess. Similarly you can’t take an order from a prospect before understanding what he’s hungry for, his needs, or wants. Yet one of the most common challenges for salespeople is their tendency to do just that—to present a solution before the proper time, often with a poor outcome. That is why it is so helpful to have a sales process map to follow, as if you were following a recipe. Consider the following for your Kick-Ass sales strategy cookbook:

  • A sales process road map should include activities and milestones that must occur for a client to understand their issues; the impact of not solving; and choices for moving forward. Regardless of your personality, developing a systematic approach is essential to changing the arc of your potential because it improves predictable outcomes, creates measurable metrics, establishes a repeatable pattern, and makes the job manageable.
  • Nearly all sales processes are composed of four basic elements: prospecting, qualifying, presenting, and enabling a decision. The two most important elements are the first two. The best prospectors—not the “best closers”—are the ones who win all the top sales awards and make the most money.
  • A sound sales process will help you achieve consistent, superior results, and is made up of these sections: customer process, sales process, sales actions and milestones, and sales tools.
  • A general customer process pattern includes bringing an unrecognized need to the customer’s attention; gathering information; making the decision to solve; picking potential partners; performing due diligence; selecting a partner; negotiating price and contract; reviewing the value proposition; and choosing to buy or not.
  • A general sales process includes initiating opportunities, holding an initial meeting, conducting a needs analysis, reviewing the summary of findings, presenting “best thinking,” engineering a decision, and delivering results. No matter what your industry, 80 percent of your sales process should be focused on inquiry—assisting your client to understand his particular issues—and 20 percent focused on advocating a solution, if one is warranted.

Once you map out customer and sales processes, it’s relatively easy to develop the benchmarks, actions, and tools needed for each phase. Taking time now rather than later to ponder the four primary sales process elements can net you an ideal system for using your strengths and solving your prospects’ business problems. There’s probably a nice dinner in it for you, too!

About the Author

Robert Early Johnson is head of sales training for Sage North America (www.sagenorthamerica.com), a provider of business management software and services for more than 6 million small and midsized businesses worldwide. He can be reached at robert.johnson@sage.com.

Reprinted by permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons Inc., from Kick Your Own Ass, by Robert Early Johnson. Copyright © 2010 by Robert Early Johnson.

Please note that the Viewpoints listed in CRM magazine and appearing on destinationCRM.com represent the perspective of the authors, and not necessarily those of the magazine or its editors

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For the rest of the October 2010 issue of CRM magazine, please click here.

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