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Developing a Sales Mindset

Sales is a profession that can be uncomfortable at times, rewarding at others, and very difficult at yet others. In my opinion, one of the keys to being successful in sales is to have the right mindset. Skills are, of course, vitally important, but having the right mindset will allow you to utilize those skills in the best way possible. Without further ado, then, let me show you the ten steps you can take to go about developing a sales mindset.

1. Focus on the relationship.

When I started out in sales, I naturally focused exclusively on the deals I was closing. I was good at speaking with people, and gaining trust, and at developing a good relationship, but I didn’t continue beyond the sale. With time, I learned that it’s the relationships you build that make the sale.

The key factor I learned is that when you build a relationship, you should put in the work to maintain it. More sales will come, and you’ll get pro-active tips and advice about where the company’s going next. Even if you happen to lose a sale, remember to keep the communication flowing. It’s usually rewarded.

2. There’s no such thing as an economic crisis.

The media may well be reporting that there is one, and that we’re all doomed. Companies may be making statements to that effect. You may even be feeling the bite in your wallet. But let me be perfectly clear: if a company requires something you’re selling, and you’ve done your job well, they will buy.

The point I’m making here is: if your focus is squarely on your customers and their needs, you’ll be successful despite the economy.

3. Be positive.

Sales is fundamentally a seesaw. Some days will be great, some won’t. Some months will be great, some won’t. Always keep your perspective. To do this, it helps to look at your yearly targets, or to set some for yourself. You won’t be as easily moved if you know you can balance the negative you’re taking this month with a great month down the road.

Remaining positive will also help you to deal with difficult clients and stressful situations – after all, the next client might be great, and the situation is only temporary. If your clients notice you can’t be shaken, you will be seen as more professional and capable. The positivity you radiate will also infect your clients, and make your conversations easier.

4. Show your passion.

Radiating positivity is one thing, radiating passion is quite another. You work in that company because you believe in their product. You’re interested in helping the customer, and you think the product you sell may address their needs. Above all, you know the product you’re selling is the best one out there.

Show the customer this when you’re speaking to them. Be enthusiastic and passionate. Infect them with your passion, and they’re more likely to listen to you. Stand out from the crowd. They’re much more likely to take you seriously if you know you can help them.

5. Stop being a salesperson.

By this I don’t mean go into a different field of work; I mean stop thinking of yourself as a salesperson. Instead of that, think of yourself as an expert – after all, that’s precisely what you are. You are an expert, seeking to build a mutually profitable relationship.

It’s really the relationship that’s key here. You don’t want to be seen as another one of the hundreds of salespeople who call there every day. Instead, you want to set yourself up as a trusted advisor from the very beginning. Become a consultant, and help them solve their issues. Selling your product is a part of this, as is bringing your expertise to bear on the matter.

Coming into this as well is a crucial factor in relationship-building: be yourself. Don’t be another sales drone with a set script and a bored voice. Nobody can connect with that. Instead, let your personality shine through, and build a true relationship on that basis.

6. Stop using sales language or jargon.

This is a vitally important point, and makes a major difference in any conversation. You’re probably surrounded by a particular type of language, and use certain phrases to mean certain things within the context of your company. The people you’re calling are not within that context, and may, consequently, have difficulty understanding you.

Try to avoid using jargon in all avenues of conversation, both internally and externally. Likewise, don’t use business-speak like “moving forward” when there are more appropriate words available. By doing so, you’ll become more precise in both your written word and your thoughts (which is an extra benefit). You’ll also avoid confusing the person you’re communicating with.

7. Qualification is the foundation of all things.

A salesperson will always attempt to get to the root of a matter. This is best achieved through qualification. There are many methodologies of doing this, and they’re all quite similar. Pick one, and learn how to use it well. Make sure it includes a method of questioning. When qualifying, you not only want to find out the current situation and the issues they’re having, but also what the consequences are of those issues.

When I was new to sales, one of my mentors told me to get a questioning method down pat, and I’m eternally grateful to her. It’s become an instinct by this point, and because of that, I can build it into conversations quite naturally. You’ll want to do the same – a salesperson qualifies everything.

8. Remember the three “c”s.

An ideal salesperson is always cool, calm, and collected. I learned this the hard way, as I used to have quite a temper, and would lose focus when I was frustrated by a prospect. As I matured in my chosen profession, I was able to channel this into increased focus. When I’m frustrated, I realize this emotion isn’t coming from the prospect, nor are they doing anything to frustrate me purposefully (and if they are, being calm is the best way to counteract that).

This sounds like life advice, but in sales it can really be the difference between success and failure. Someone who is calm and collected will come across as more professional automatically. Remaining cool-minded in any circumstance will help you within your company as well as with your clients, and will earn you respect. The latter is priceless when trying to build relationships.

Remember: remain cool of mind, calm of demeanour, and collected of thought.

9. Be aware of your beliefs and don’t make assumptions.

I’m certain this should be on everybody’s wall, and it’s as true in sales as it is in any other profession. Your own beliefs (about their business, for example) can cloud your understanding of your prospect’s issues. Likewise, assumptions you make based, for example, on an incomplete qualification, can destroy deals.

When talking with prospects, leave all of your assumptions and beliefs at the door. Make sure you treat every prospect as an absolutely unique case even if you can guess what they probably need and how they probably operate. This will avoid misunderstandings, will help you close more deals, and will make the prospect feel like you’re really paying attention to them (which you are).

10. Don’t forget to enjoy it!

Sales can be frustrating and difficult, but it can also be immensely fun and rewarding. Don’t forget to enjoy those moments, and celebrate them. And keep them in mind when you’re slogging through an unlucky week: it’s always ups and downs, so keep the ups in mind when you’re down.

I hope this has been useful to you, and, as ever, I wish you all the best!

Do you agree with what I wrote here? Disagree? Did I miss something? Could I have done something better? Please let me know in the comments!

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