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Tennessean Column- Sunday, April 20th

Posted on: April 21

Author: Tom Black
Tennessean Column- Sunday, April 20th

Winging It

“Today I begin a new life.  Today I shed my old skin which hath, too long, suffered the bruises of failure.  Today I am born anew…”  ~ OG Mandino, The Greatest Salesman in the World

I have noticed the same bad habit by the same bad salespeople over and over again. 

It’s winging it.  For some reason salespeople have told themselves that they can wing it and succeed.  Some salespeople even have some measure of success winging it.  However, the greatest salespeople do not wing it. 

No one wants to work with a doctor, a lawyer, a preacher or any other professional that wings it.  Of course all those professions have people that wing it but they usually are not successful and they usually do not serve their clients very well.  I have never heard anyone say, “I want to work with someone that wings it.”

For some reason a lot of mediocre salespeople tell themselves, “I can get by winging it.  I know more than the prospect and I can get by this time.”  Then winging it becomes a way of life.  Sadly, sometimes it works so this reinforces their justification for a lack of preparation.

My first sales manager said, “Perfect performance is preceded by perfect preparation.”  In this day of unlimited information there are no excuses for a lack of preparation.

As salespeople we should prepare by knowing as much as possible about our prospect’s company and about them personally.  LinkedIn can tell you about your prospect personally and you might even check out Facebook.  Most companies have websites and those should always be checked before a sales call.  Despite these resources many salespeople don’t do this.

In addition to knowledge about the prospect, salespeople should have unlimited knowledge about their product or service.  No one in operations at your company should know more about your product or service than you.  Yes, that means asking questions and digging in.  It means extra hours beyond what your fellow salespeople and competitors are doing.  Although you may hate the price you pay you will love the prize.

What about competition?  When I do sales training I ask, “Have you looked at your competitor’s website?”  Easily 25% of the salespeople I ask have not.  Over the years I have learned the best solution does not always get the sale but the most knowledgeable salesperson does.  Learn and know what your competition is doing as well as they do and you will win most of the time.  Most of your competitor’s will not do the work.  They are winging it.

Finally, how about you and what you say?  60% of communication is non-verbal.  So you better look and act your best.  Blue colors send a message of trust; pastels send a signal of weakness.  What colors are you wearing?  By the way, notice how our national politicians dress.  They have image coaches.  They are not winging it.

A huge part of what salespeople bring to the table is what we say and how we say it.  Is it memorized but does not sound canned?  Have you practiced it?  Is your presentation part of your fiber or do you wing it differently each time?  Do you have planned and memorized answers to your most common objections?  Most salespeople do not because they are too lazy to do it.  The greatest salespeople are prepared for anything.

If you have been winging it, stop.  Begin your “new life” today!

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