This is an excellent post and the comments, while directed at realtors apply equally well to home stagers.
I have been in some form of sales since I was 10 years old working in my mom's craft store selling yarn and bobbins to her quilting and knitting friends. And, since that time, I have always tried to establish myself as a leader in any sales position that I have held...and I also have noticed that there are some really good sales people out there.
The kicker is...a good portion of those people aren't good at sales. What they are good at is avoiding the things that cause sales people to falter.
Now, before we get into this...lets establish a quick and simple truth: Knowing what NOT to do is just as important when talking about sales as knowing what TO do. Make sense?
Knowing that, here is a quick "Top 10" of mistakes I have seen sales people make that are guaranteed to derail the very efforts that are being put forth by a salesperson.
1. They refuse to learn. -- I have seen more than one 'newb' burst onto the scene and run huge numbers in a very short period of time...and then just disappear into obscurity. Why is that? It is because they refused to continue to learn. It is vital to be a student of your game. Make sure you are continually learning about your product/service/industry. Read the new books that come out. Go to the seminars that are being held about your industry. Listen to audio, watch video, read blogs (like mine! hint hint) about sales and how to be better at what you do for a living. Reinvigorate yourself.
Did you know that Tiger Woods spends $1 million a year for a swing coach? He is constantly looking to be better at what he does...
2. They stay generalized. -- "Narrowcasting" is the specialization into a specific segment or part of the market. Staying generalized eliminates the ability to be considered an expert in any one specific area. Think about that for a second....Medical specialists get paid more than medical generalists. A specialist has narrowed his/her field of vision to ensure success in mastering that specific part of the market or product. They become known as specialists and people recognize that and come to them when they need that expertise.
3. They dont position themselves properly. -- The way people position themselves is the primary determining factor in how they are seen by prospects and clients. People pay attention to people they THINK are in a position of importance. Blogging, engagement and interaction with prospects and others via social media are all ways to help position yourself accordingly. The best way to sell is not to position yourself as a salesperson...but to position yourself as an expert in your field. And, one of the best ways to do that is to offer up information and assistance to those that are in need. (A Realtor might do a class on being a first time home buyer, for example. A guy that sells referrals to Realtors might write a bunch of blogs that help the agents do their jobs better...) The goal of these sessions isn't to sell anything, but to establish yourself as an expert in the field so that, as the need arises, those seeking your service automatically think of asking you.
4. They dont prospect. -- This is HUGE! The largest cause of failure in a sales position is having a lack of potential customers. You should always have multiple streams of inbound leads to work. You should never be out of people to pitch to even if that means you spend more money to get them. Take advantage of the technology that exists and use it to your advantage. Don't have anyone to pitch? Start thinking about a new career.
5. They pitch the wrong people. -- You cant get rich selling to the wrong people. You had better be in front of people that can make a decision, have a need for your services, and are willing to listen to you. If anyone you are pitching your services to doesn't meet that criteria, you are spinning your wheels. Remember, not everyone is a good prospect. Spend the time required to find good prospects and work with them rather than trying to peddle your wares to those that don't need them, can't decide if the need is there, or are not willing to listen to you.
6. They listen to their peers. -- Listening to your peers usually means you get an earful of negative input. "This isn't the way that you sell houses." "Blogging doesn't bring any clients." "Social media is a huge waste of time." Yeah...You've heard that before, right? And, it goes on and on and on and on...ad infinitum.
Instead, listen to positive, upbeat stuff that makes you feel good and allows you to think clearly. For me, thats music. Some use motivational speech, etc. And remember...most of your peers suck at their job.
7. They don't understand economics. -- Would you sell something you bought for $1.50 for $1?? Painfully obvious, right? Yet, that is what a good portion of sales people do because they don't understand the 'back-end' costs that should be added into the equation. For example, if you spend $750 marketing a home, $300 in gas showing a home, $200 in food wining and dining clients, and then only make $1000 on the sale of a home...what have you gained?? Here is a quick lesson in Economics 101 -- If you are losing money on your deals, you can NEVER make that up regardless of how many deals you complete.
8. They spend money before they make it. -- I had a sales manager who said to me, "Clint...a sale is never done until you are eating the steak that you paid for with the money you got when your commission check cleared the bank." Why think this way??? Look at all the things that can happen that can derail a sale in today's market...if you are out buying a new TV on credit because you have a closing happening on Tuesday, you are going to lose your butt in this business. Just because you have a signed contract doesn't mean you are going to get paid anytime soon.
9. The fail to ask questions. -- More importantly, they fail to ask the RIGHT questions. And, when they do ask them, they fail to actually listen to the answers given. A prospect will always tell you what it is that they need to hear come out of your mouth. Asking the right questions based on their feedback will, more often than not, lead to a sale for you. You have two ears and only one mouth. Use them accordingly.
10. They are hindered digitally. -- "Hindered", in this instance, means they are either digitally compulsive or digitally impaired. Both are a hindrance. You can be so addicted to the technology available (Internet, sales force automation, blackberries, iphones, etc) that they are completely paralyzed when it is not available. Or, the mere thought of being surrounded by that much technology has them so scared, they refuse to adapt to any of it. Both are career-killing impairments. In truth, it is those that have the ability to take on the technology without losing the human aspect of their jobs that will be the ultimate winners. Find your happy medium.
Sales people are a curious breed. "Experts" rarely have the open-mindedness required to accept criticism and adapt to make themselves more successful. Yet, it is exactly that which will set you up for a stellar sales career. Pay attention to the pitfalls that you can fall into that will slow your momentum and focus on those things that will increase it. Do this, and you will be just fine regardless of the market.
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