It happened again two weeks ago. I met with someone struggling to get their business going. One of the first questions I asked, and always ask: “What are you doing to bring in revenue (sell something)?”
“I have a display at the local Walmart, and I belong to five Chambers of Commerce.”
“And how long have you been doing that?”
“And how much business have you gotten from each one?”
“Pretty much zero from all.”
I’m not kidding. I also wish I could say this experience is the exception to the rule. Actually, it is more the rule than the exception when I talk to a struggling salesperson or solopreneur. What’s the definition of insanity? Right. For five years.
Look, it really only takes four things to be successful in sales and business. If you have all four, success is virtually guaranteed. If you are missing even one, eventual failure is guaranteed.
Item #1: Good people skills
If you’re good with people, in other words, people like you because they feel good around you and believe you care about them, you’re off to a good start. If people like you, they’ll buy from you. The best salespeople and business people always have great people skills. They can connect and carry on a conversation with anyone at any level or any age. They have a charisma about them and their conversions flow smoothly and easily. They are able to make people feel important by talking about what’s important to them, being a good listener, and focusing completely on the other person as if they are the only person in the world. Even in a crowd, they can make you feel as if the two of you are the only ones there. That relationship, that connection, is usually the most important aspect when selling most items.
Item #2: A great attitude
A great attitude includes: passion, confidence, conviction, commitment, and perseverance. It also includes being positive. The former attributes ensure you have the mental wherewithal to go out into the world with enthusiasm and remain that way while suffering the slings and arrows necessary to succeed in business and sales. The latter attribute, being positive, ensures that you present well to people. Your objective is to be a pleasure to interact with, to be the most pleasant person that people encounter during the day, and to be a joy to do business with. You want people to enjoy the experience of working with you. This means going above and beyond, doing more than people expect, and always doing everything in your power to make sure the client feels important. You want to have a can-do, happy-to-help-you attitude.
Item #3: The right activities
Activity starts by having a plan which includes how much business you need, how many people you need to talk to, and where to find those people. In addition, you need the self-discipline to stick to the plan and ensure that you spend your time and money on the right activities and resources. The most important activities you spend time on during the day are the ones that bring money into the business. It isn’t working on your logo, driving to the post office, or entering information into the computer. During business hours 90+% of your time should be spent on activities that generate cash flow.
The fastest way to build business is by calling on people in-person or on the phone. Business is a contact sport and is all about relationships. In order to build relationships and connect with people, you need to be talking to them live, not sending spam e-mails, LinkedIn messages, or connecting on Facebook. Also, your activities should be focused on meeting new people (strangers). Going to the same networking events and seeing the same people over and over again is a mistake.
Incidentally, discomfort and fear of calling on people, both strangers and people you know, is what stops most people and causes them to fail in sales and business. If you’re going to be successful, you need to get over that. Bottom line: focus on meeting strangers and making lots of contacts. Business is a numbers game, if you talk to enough people during the day you will eventually run into someone who needs what you have or knows someone who needs what you have. So go out there and take massive action.
Item #4: A good product and support
This one goes without saying. If you have good people skills, a great attitude, and are focused on the right activities, you’ll make your share of one-time sales. But if you have a bad product, or are lacking support, the word will get out and any success will be short-lived.