I recently started making a list of all of the mentors, advisers, and smart friends that have helped me over the course of my career. I ran out of time when the list got to 39 people---I'm not finished yet. It made me think of just how many people over the course of our lives have contributed to our success through their words, actions, and examples. Some have little idea of the impact they have made because their seed was planted a long time ago and did not really mature until much later. Others we have near us all of the time and that is a great gift.
Here are a few pieces of sales advice that I received in the recent past that I am grateful for and wanted to pass along.
- You get sent to whom you sound like--Tom Schaff, author and sales coach. I cannot remember a week in the past several years that I have not quoted this insight. It so clearly explains why certain people get to speak with decision-makers while some are relegated to non-decision makers. Every prospect in a sales situation is qualifying and sorting out whether or not the conversation has value. Busy people are looking to deflect and defer any non-crucial interaction to another time or another person. If you are speaking with someone about their problem in their language, then you get to stay. However, if you are not tuned to the language of the decision-maker, you will get moved.
- Be as real and raw as you can--Daniel Waldschmidt, business strategist. As people have become less concerned about being "politically correct," authenticity has become more valued. Prospects, customers, and colleagues are seeking the real you, without caveat or qualification. It is refreshing. It also means that your agreements and disagreements with them carry weight and value.
- Don't "should on" people--Mikki Williams, speaker and consultant. As a speaker, consultant, leader and sales person, I often get the opportunity to appear stage. Often, part of that opportunity includes answering people who have asked for my opinion. Mikki helped me to understand that "shoulding on" people, (giving my opinion as a command as to how someone else should handle a situation or live their life), created distance between us rather than connection. People naturally resist being "should upon." Advice should carry discernment, but not judgement.
- Own your failures, share your successes--Jim Schinco, marketing and management consultant. I could write a hundred pieces of advice from Jim, one of my greatest mentors, but this one is timeless. Simply, if you don't own your mistakes, you won't truly learn from them. If you don't share the successes you have with the people who helped, you will have fewer of them because people will be less inclined to help.
- Protect your swagger--Barbara Weaver Smith, author and sales consultant. My old partner always talked about the importance in sales of preserving your self-confidence. Her point was that as a consultant, just like a sales person, people are buying into you. If you are not carrying that confidence with you, then how can they trust your recommendations?
The holiday season is often a time of reflection and gratitude. Take a minute and make a list of your advisers, mentors, and smart friends who have contributed to your success. See if you can attribute a piece of advice that made you better. It is a great exercise for the season.