This week, Cindy Novotny's article was featured on Think Splendid!
Sales is a misunderstood profession. Every time you hear someone talk about a sales person they refer to a negative perception and use the analogy of a ‘used car salesman.’ My life is far from that. I am proud to call myself a sales professional and even prouder of the success I have had based on understanding the business of selling.
To give you some idea of who I am and how I got the reputation as one of the best sales trainers in the world, you need to know that I have spent a lifetime studying the best practices of top performers all over the world and have put these theories into practice. I am a doer not a dreamer!
The secret to successful selling and especially in the elite world of business today, you need to follow a finite process of the rules in selling. The biggest mistake that most sales people make is that they ‘wing it.’ They have no plan, no process and they lack professionalism. In this short blog post I will give you the key to selling in today’s complex and competitive marketplace.
In the wedding industry as an example, I have found that many wedding professionals sell a lower-volume, higher priced, unique and customized service rather than a mass-produced, easily scalable product. I was asked a question about how these professionals who are selling their artistry hone their sales process and what areas should they focus on. Simple but not easy.
1. A professional in any industry is an artist of their craft and in the wedding market this is the foundation that separates the great from the average. An artist needs to have sales processes in place so that they can separate their art from the business. They must become a necessity in a marketplace where more and more clients can research, compare and buy online.
2. A sales professional must be able to articulate the differences between their services/products from the closet competitor. I find in the wedding industry too many people are overusing the phrase “we are friendly competitors.” Let’s get real – you are competitors – period!
3. What is your story? Most artists in the wedding industry show their pictures, tell their stories and live from one event to the next. A sales professional knows how to tell detailed stories that evoke emotion and the undeniable essence of what you are selling. Make no mistake – you first must sell before you can create.
4. A business professional has processes in place that allow all employees who represent the ‘artist’ the ability to ask good questions, uncover the clients’ needs, communicate a compelling message about the brand and assist in taking the sale to the close. This should not be a ‘one man show.’
Staying current is a critical element in winning more business. To understand your clients you need to understand the environment you are selling in. Trends come and go so quickly in any industry that if you are not engaged in current events, technology, and buying behaviors of your clientele you will be in last place. Take the wealthy and affluent client – there are so many misconceptions about their buying patterns and if you are not paying attention, reading and researching these trends you will miss many opportunities. Great sales professionals understand the brand they are selling, the heritage and the value. Many times the ‘artist’ is the sales person and does not elaborate well enough to highlight their excellence. This is a studied art and must be practiced over and over to hone that ‘pitch.’ Most wedding professionals that I speak to are not as aware of their competition outside of the obvious circle, and continue to swim in the same pool where everyone is using the same ideas. The concept of ‘blue water’ is critical to stay current – in simple terms it means to swim away from the sharks. Get out into the blue water where the sharks aren’t killing everyone.
So what would I change and where is my ‘blue water?’ As a business owner, sales professional, sales trainer and consultant I am always working on perfecting our processes. If I could change one thing to keep our firm in blue water it would be to have one person on the team that is doing nothing but researching new ideas and writing proposals. As a small business owner we fight the same battles of everyone else. The busier we get, the harder it is to keep prospecting for new business. So as we grow we are taking a chance on young talent. We are putting faith in them by teaching them how to sell. We are not waiting for them to learn ‘the ropes,’ we are teaching them the ropes so that very soon we will double our sales staff and double our business.