The best salespeople on the planet are readers. Why? Because when you stop being curious about your prospect, their needs, and what sets them up for success, you stop asking great questions. And when you stop asking great questions, you will almost certainly fall into “passion vomit” - overwhelming your prospect with information, which is absolutely what they don’t need.
According to Pew Research, 23 percent of American adults haven’t read a book in the past year. This is a scary reality, especially in a world where the present and the future are changing so rapidly.
If you’re not growing your mind, your perspective, and your breadth of experience, you will be left behind. Just read, The Future is Faster Than You Think, and you’ll begin to understand why continuous learning is the posture of salespeople, leaders, and organizations alike.
Shaping the Salesperson
Extreme Ownership. This book will teach you two important principles: ownership and execution. Your success and your failure are yours to own. While there is a leadership component to this, every salesperson knows they need a team to help them succeed. But whether you win or lose, it’s on you—not them. Blame is simply a way to justify passing the responsibility of your decisions onto someone else.
The Power of Habit. Disciplined behavior leads to predictable success. My first sales manager encouraged me to make one more phone call every day. He promised me when I was ready to hang it up for the day that one more phone call a day would mean I would never miss a monthly or quarterly number again. While I haven’t hit EVERY target or goal, I’ve hit most of them. And I credit that reality to this advice. Build good habits, and you’ll change your present and your future.
To Sell is Human. I usually recommend this book to non-sellers. But, truthfully, the author makes a compelling case for everyone is in sales. I think it’s important to remember that trust is the currency in the “age of empathy.” Partner with your prospects to solve their problems. When any part of the sales process becomes about your success, you’ve already lost.
Shaping the Sale
Inbound Organization. This book was written by two leaders who not only know sales but live what they are preaching. Dan Tyre and Todd Hockenberry have become friends. They embody everything it means to be helpful, human, and humble before, during, and after the sale. This book demonstrates what’s possible when salespeople bring a holistic view to the revenue-generating process. This is a great book for marketing, sales, and service teams to read together. The customer doesn’t see you as separate departments but one brand. And it’s your job, as the public face, to make that experience exceptional.
Fanatical Prospecting. The most successful salespeople I know are always prospecting. In fact, when they’ve hit their number, maxed out their earnings, and have blown away every other record they’ve ever held, they are still prospecting. Why? Because they know it’s the secret sauce to a sales career. A long-term salesperson knows the most important metric isn’t close rate. Rather, it’s the rate of new opportunities being created in your pipeline.
The Challenger Sale. Search engines have won when it comes to rendering information. What salespeople know is prospects, clients, and customers need people around them to help them clarify the problem, architect solutions, and bring new perspectives to the table they hadn’t considered. This is where you can become unbelievably valuable.
SPIN Selling. This is a classic. Understanding the (S)ituation, (P)roblem, (I)mplications, and (N)eed-Payoff formula will give you superpowers with prospects and clients. It’s an exceptional way to organize information, move prospects forward, and ensure you can appreciate the gap the prospect perceives to be urgent and clarify the opportunity to work toward a more preferred future.
Salespeople Are Learners First
The opportunities to consume information, shape thinking, and improve awareness about the challenges and opportunities around you are more prevalent than ever. There are podcasts, eBooks, audiobooks, seminars, courses, peer learning experiences, boot camps, and even mentorship programs to help you push past your current barrier and deliver results you never thought possible.
But no one can make you do those things. Yes, it’s extra work. Yes, it’s likely going to fall outside of working hours. And, yes, it’s going to make you uncomfortable and maybe even create a little doubt within yourself. All of those are good things. Everyone wants to talk about personal growth and development, but no one wants to break things—like old thinking, habits, and behaviors that simply aren’t productive for you anymore.
It’s time to own your success. You must make yourself responsible for the goals and outcomes most important to you. Ironically, it takes a lot of humility to admit you need help. And your renewed sense of humility will serve you well as you engage in the selling process with prospects, clients, and peers.
Ben Stroup is Chief Growth Architect and President at Velocity Strategy Solutions where he helps leaders design, develop, and deploy smarter business growth strategies. Ben is a futurist, disruptor, and data champion. He leads a team that takes a structured learning approach to business challenges, which allows them to assist leaders in bridging the gap between ideas, innovation, and revenue—taking ideas from mind to market.
Velocity Strategy Solutions is an on-demand, next-generation business strategy and management consulting firm which provides clients with a relentless focus on data, execution, and results that positively impact the bottom line. Velocity delivers integrated people and revenue strategies combined with a disciplined approach to growth architecture that elevates the capacity of leaders, teams, and organizations to succeed and win more.