The biggest criticism of being in sales is that it’s so unpredictable. “Hogwash”, I say! But wait…most people in sales DO have hugely unpredictable incomes. So what gives? Is it really possible to make an actual, consistent income when you’re self-employed? I argue that your sales income, even in real estate (my main business) can be consistent, no matter what happens. Is the economy taking a downturn? Yes. So what? You can still get the job done. If you’re not selling, you’re selling the wrong thing, and you have a LOT more flexibility and power at your fingertips than you think you do.
I was talking with my team earlier today, and the point I tried to get across is that people buy when they NEED to buy. Right? So, let’s say you’re out there working your tail off…and people are not buying from you. What gives? Am I an idiot? Is this proof that sales in not the career for you? No. I’m right. You CAN make consistent income in sales…in any business. I will say it again: If you’re not selling, you’re selling the wrong thing.
Here’s the deal…if you’re in real estate, car sales, or any industry that’s being massively transformed as we speak, there is HUGE opportunity to make a great living. But most of you (I know; I talk with you guys every day) are either keeping your nose to the grindstone, doing the same work and hoping that if you just work hard enough it will all pay off in the end, or you’re waiting for the economy to “come back around” or for things to “go back to normal”. Admirable…but the effort is misplaced. Please believe me.
I read a post on Michael Martine’s site just a minute ago, and let me tell you, he hit’s the nail on the head. Here’s just a small part of what he says in this smart article:
If your fortunes rise and fall with the economy, what you sell isn’t necessary to people. People will always buy what is necessary, no matter what…If you go through boom-and-bust cycles, it’s probably because you’re an “opportunity chaser,” as internet marketer Rich Schefren puts it. Everything you do should point like a laser to a focused long-term strategy.
I highly recommend following the link above, and reading the whole article. But suffice to say, sales people get it wrong when they just chase after deals. It’s not what sales is about. It’s NEVER been what sales is about. Sales is not about closing deals. The sooner we wake up to this, the sooner we can get on with our lives and go actually create value for others and create wealth, instead of just chasing dollars.
Unemployment is rising, and many people are getting into sales-related jobs. Many people are getting into blogging (another sales-related business…if you want to make any money at it anyway). So to me, it’s crucial to point out the facts regarding what it takes to be successful in sales. Real estate people screw this up royally. I speak from experience; I’m in the real estate business. It’s easy to chase after the deal. It only makes sense…it’s how you get paid, right?
Here’s the thing: being in sales is about providing a valuable service, and if you’re in a position where you need to make a sale RIGHT NOW, you have no business being in sales.
That said, how do you make consistent income in sales? Here’s the answer…prospect, qualify and close. Most sales people just do step three. Anyone who comes into their midst, they close. Close, close, close. Guess what. Maybe this isn’t a person who needs what you’re selling right now. And if all you’re trying to do is close, guess what you’re selling? Nothing. A sales transaction is a transfer of enthusiasm from one party to another. It’s a power play, every time. And if you’re in sales, you damn well better have a healthy motive for doing what you do. You have an ethical responsibility to your customers. I’ll get off my soapbox now, but you know I’m right about this. If your main motive is to close, without prospecting and qualifying, then the only thing you’re doing is attempting to part one more poor sap from his money, regardless of his needs. Now, that is not the kind of career you want to have. See, people think “the close” is what salespeople are all about, and the reason they think that is because we’ve earned that reputation…one bad deal at a time. But let me tell you what good salespeople, the top performers who are successful over decades will tell you…”the close” is the last thing on their mind when they’re talking with a prospect.
Prospecting and qualifying are huge. They are the steps most sales people skip. The reason they skip them is because they are uncomfortable and not nearly as fun as “making money”. It is what separates “the men from the boys” as they say. In a nutshell…when all you do is close, you’re just chasing deals, and that makes your income susceptible to any winds of change that will inevitably blow through your career from time to time. If you prospect and qualify people everyday, you accomplish two things that are vital:
- You are in a process of constantly building a pipeline of people who are either interested in what you do or who may become interested in the future. Your pipeline is what makes your business a business. Your pipeline is what makes your business recession proof. It is your foundation. Without prospecting you have no pipeline. Without a pipeline, your income will never be consistent.
- Through constantly qualifying new prospects as they come in, you are forced to get intimately in touch with what you’re actually offering. You are forced to become keenly aware of the value you offer, where you can help and what you can do to improve yourself. You are discerning the customers needs and closing on yourself, not the prospect. The question is “how can I help?”, not “how can I close?” Perhaps there’s a match, and you can do business. Perhaps not. Either way, it’s all good, because you have a pipeline, and if this person is not a good match for what you do, then all you need to do is continue on to the next prospect.
See, sometimes you may need to talk with many people to find a good match. But when you prospect and qualify, then the “close” part of the equation happens naturally, almost automatically. And a lot of times the customer will literally give you a hug afterward. If you are not regularly getting hugs from your customers, you’re doing something wrong. If you’re business is online, then maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but I will tell you the truth, I’ve been invited to dinner. I’ve been given a beer (yes, I accepted), I’ve been given many hugs. I mean this literally, not figuratively. If you’re not regularly getting hugs (be they real or virtual), then you’re not prospecting, you’re not qualifying, and you’re not building a recession proof business.
Are you waiting for the market to “come back around” or “go back to normal”? Cut it out. Get on the phone, get to work. Become a real salesperson, or go get a “real job”.