Climb to Level Four Selling
For seven years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Steve as he advanced from a sales neophyte to a confident salesperson earning a handsome living. Just forty years old, Steve and his wife have a young family. A more comfortable lifestyle and his children’s education were making Steve rethink his sales success strategy. During our last conversation, Steve asked me, “Is there any way I can make more money and spend more time with my family?” Steve was delighted when I told him it was absolutely possible because he has already advanced through three of the four levels of sales competence. Here’s what I told Steve about where he’s been and what his next step should be.
Level one for the new salesperson is all about survival. Sales goals set by the sales manager loom as large, unreachable goals. If you’re new to the business as Steve was, he had to learn who his potential buyers were, what exactly they wanted, and how his products and services could fill those needs. A new salesperson needs to gain the respect of his sales support team to help him maneuver the internal processes. Because of so much personal uncertainty whether they’ll make it or not, level one individuals consider the competition as an evil force with which to do battle.
Steve clearly remembered those first two years. In fact, he even added that he lacked so much confidence that he actually was afraid of his prospects. Afraid to take their time, afraid he didn’t know the answer, and afraid he looked dumb.
Luckily after some success level two kicks in. The salesperson has gained knowledge, confidence, and respect. In this success stage, the salesperson solves problems for prospects so they become customers, remain loyal, and refer business. The salesperson continues to work on a sale-to-sale basis, but is able to effectively manage his time, prospecting efforts, and customers. Steve piped in and said that was all true, but he remembers that he still felt fearful of his customers’ like his fate was in their hands. I agreed this was absolutely true and many salespeople plateau in the stage forever.
I told Steve that he’s in his stride and that’s level three. He’s earning a good living and has become a strategic thinker in terms of his sales strategy. Steve has carved out an industry niche and is well known in that arena. He invests time and money to network, attends and participates in trade shows, gives referrals to get referrals, and has moved from merely problem solving to improving customers’ businesses without trying to sell them anything. That’s a very high level of sales competence that only the most successful attain. Steve added that he now considers his customers and colleagues his friends. He even said that his number one competitor has become a friend as well. All of that makes his business life very enjoyable. “So what’s next?” Steve asked.
You said you want to have more free time and earn more money. You’ve worked hard and have loyal customers, a strong network, and thorough knowledge. You’re ready for the highest level of selling which is respectful confidence. Here are three strategies to operate at that level. First, go through your accounts and give smaller revenue or stand-alone accounts to a less experienced salesperson. Handle the transition professionally so it’s a win-win for your coworker and customer. Second, direct your efforts to larger income-producing business. Target top businesses that meet your elevated new business criteria. Position yourself as the sought-after expert you are and you will open new doors. Last but not least, don’t give a proposal to a customer without having conceptually agreed to do business together. Set a close ratio goal of 100%. Walk away, but stay in touch, if you can’t formalize the relationship. Keep the door open for when the prospect decides to move forward. Stay visible. People buy in their time, not yours.
Steve is ready, willing and able to go to level four status. It’s been a long, hard climb, and he knows that the view from the top will be great.
Emily Huling Selling Strategies, Inc. P.O. Box 200 Terrell, NC 28682
Phone: 888-309-8802 Fax: 888-309-7355