For any of you who have been to our “Transition Training” or to our “Raise the Bar” training you know that we talk mostly about how questions can be the answer to your success. Thomas Freese is the guru who has had the most success with the Question Based Approach. Here is a guest article from his most recent news letter.
How to Succeed in Sales By: Thomas A. Freese
To succeed in most anything, you must first pay your dues. Olympic athletes don’t just show up in a host city once every four years in order to get some exercise. Instead, these legends in sport invest countless hours of preparation and study before the starting gun goes off. Ultimately, you can be sure that whoever takes home the gold medal has paid their dues well in advance.
I didn’t really know much about selling when I first started, but they were willing to “train” me and I was willing to learn. Lo and behold, I finished my first full year on commission at a whopping 45% of my sales quota; which I actually thought was good. I was glad to be above zero, to be honest. My sales manager didn’t share the same opinion. Still, I hung in there year after year and I busted my butt to make the grade, but I didn’t achieve my quota a single time in my first five years in sales.
Finally, I figured out how to sell lots of stuff and as a result, I finished seven consecutive years above my sales quota. From there, a chain of more than coincidental events caused me to sit down and start writing my first book. What did I know about writing books? Nothing–I just started putting words on paper–another place where sheer determination and desire kept me going. Nobody paid me a cent for rewriting the book five times over three years, or for the nine times (count ’em) we went back and forth with the editor before Secrets of Question Based Selling was eventually published. It was all on my dime, a significant investment that involved a tremendous investment in time, effort, and personal sacrifice.
As it turns out, my commitment to making sure QBS would exceed client expectations has paid off many times over, mostly because I was willing to pay my dues in advance. It’s simple really: all you have to do to be successful in sales is be willing to put in the time and effort necessary to “out-work” the rest of the pack. Think about it this way. Somebody is going to succeed in the next account; it might as well be you.
So, let me get back to the question about how your going to reach your sales goals? Let me ask: how many articles have you read about your industry in the last 90 days? Great! Now double that number in the next 90 days. Make it a passion to become an expert on your customer’s world. Sure, you could just try to be empathetic and walk a mile in their shoes. But, if you are committed to paying your dues upfront, then I would keep walking until you’ve lapped the field and there’s a perceptible difference between talking with you and your competitors.
Along the same lines, don’t wait for someone else in the corporate marketing department to create a more compelling presentation at some point down the road. Use your newfound expertise, be creative, and develop your own positioning strategies that are more impactful than the customer has ever seen. Also, take the time to learn how to work the white board and how to visually explain how your product will impact their business more than other options in the marketplace.
Trust me. If you are willing to go above and beyond and put in extra effort even when you are not being directly compensated, two things will happen:
a.) First, you will never (ever) have to worry about money again.
b.) Second, your services will be in high demand, such that you will never again have to worry about landing a top job.
At the end of the day, success is a choice, not some kind of lottery system. So, what if you choose to take all the resources you could otherwise spend hoping to win the human lottery and instead invested heavily in your own skills? I can tell you right now that those people who are willing to turn off the television, unplug your video games, and maybe even skip a few bowling nights, will find that the odds will suddenly become heavily stacked in your favor.
Although this article was written with the sincere intention of encouraging you to become part of the solution, at the end of the day, the ball is ultimately in your court. The difference between the level of success you desire and wherever you currently are is, in fact, you. The good news is, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. The QBS Methodology has already been created for you. All you need to do is be willing to step outside the box of traditional thinking and put a series of proven and strategic question-based techniques into practice. From there the formula for success is relatively simple: If you are indeed willing to invest in yourself, in a similar way that I invested in myself when I created QBS, then as the late Zig Ziglar would have said, “I’ll see you at the top.” Let me know how I can help.