We generally know whether a sale is going to close or not in our head before it happens in reality, and quite often this occurs entirely unconsciously. This is because the basic difference between a sales person and other people is what we call the «inside game».
You are the first product you have to «sell» to your customer. But do you know yourself? Do you know what your strengths are? And what could be improved? What distinguishes you? There are times and circumstances in our personal or professional lives when, although we have nothing to lose, we look in the mirror and see a deer in the headlights, insecure and uncertain of how to cope with the situation in front of us. Other times, however, we act like lions, with determination and courage, because we believe in ourselves and in our abilities. Why are there times when technically well prepared vendors are not able to face a closure or negotiation with a difficult client, while others with less training or experience are happy to launch into attracting new clients and have no fear of getting «no» for an answer? The way each one perceives themselves is what will determine their behaviour and the responses and results obtained. Attitude, therefore, is the determining factor that makes the difference.
Numerous studies have shown that only 25-30% of our attitude is written in our DNA. As we grow and learn habits, we forge our character and define our values, creating our personality. Accordingly, 70-75% of our attitude is completely chosen. As noted psychiatrist and professor Luis Rojas Marcos says:
«Our true legacy is the ability to take charge of ourselves, not to be a slave to the destination wrought in our DNA, but its master.»
In the 1970s American author Timothy Gallwey developed a sports training methodology that, a decade later, was implemented in the corporate environment to great success. Called The Inner Game, it proposed that in undertaking any task there are two areas of activity: internal and external. According to Gallwey: “There is always an inner game in our minds, no matter what is happening in the outside game. The more aware we are of the inside game, the more visible the difference between success and failure in our outside game”. Understand “inner game” as the mental game that takes place in our mind. It’s the “internal dialogue” we have with ourselves when we have to deal with fear, doubt and assumptions. The inner game is played to overcome the self-imposed obstacles that prevent us from accessing our full potential. Meanwhile, the outside game comprises the results we get, the steps we take in order to achieve our goals. Taking the example of an athlete, his outside game is what we can all see in the number of trophies won during a season or a specific training routine, for example, while the inner game is everything he tells himself before a competition: “I’m going all out to win”, or, “The others are better prepared than me and it’s going to be tough”. Professional golfers often say that the most difficult course they have played is no longer than the 15cm between their two ears: the brain. The mind game. Elite athletes know that the game that takes place in your head is crucial to obtaining one result or another. In this sense, if we consider a sale as a game, our outside game will be the actions that take place throughout the process: preparing for the visit, presenting the introductory offer, negotiating objections, closing or not closing the sale and follow-up. How do we prepare technically? What knowledge do we have of our product and of the competition? How do we present our offer? How do we negotiate? How many clients can we contact in a day? Are we reaching the established targets?
Companies that offer the best service to their customers are full of people working to their maximum potential. They are true leaders who believe that selling is providing value.
These things are all verifiable by partners, clients, and so on, but what our customers and collaborators cannot easily know is what is happening «inside» our heads during the sale process. That is, what is happening in our «inner game»: what is our professional opinion? Are we qualified to speak about the competition? How do we feel when we get «no» for an answer? Do we believe in our product?
VALUES & BELIEFS
The foundations of our inside game, as we mentioned previously, are our values and beliefs. But in what sense?:
Values. Our internal barometer. As we grow they may change, but what is clear is that they govern many of the choices we make throughout our lives. When we feel good about a decision, it is because we are being consistent with our values, and showing them respect. Frustration and anger appear when we forget our beliefs. So, it is essential to clearly know and define our core values, to align them with our goals and enjoy balance in our lives. Not to mention that everything that happens within a company, for better or for worse, depends on the culture of its people. And it is quite possible that sometimes our values are not aligned with those of the organization we work for, in which case our performance will surely suffer, and we will be in constant conflict with ourselves. Do you know your values? Are your personal and professional values in alignment? And with those of your team? And with your company?
Our beliefs will also be linked to the experiences we have lived or external events that have affected us and from which we have learned.
Beliefs. A belief is an affirmation that we «believe» with absolute conviction, independently, it must be said, of its veracity. Beliefs are largely subconscious and affect our perception of ourselves, of others and the things and situations around us. In addition, they change as a result of the experiences we live through and how we process them in our inner world. Beliefs vary from person to person. For example, some consider that, «Over the age of 45 years, you are no longer of interest to the market», while others believe that, «More experience can make us better candidates for the position». These kinds of beliefs condition our thoughts, feelings, attitudes and our behaviour, and, obviously, depending on what they are lead to certain results or others. In the realm of beliefs, however, there is also another important factor: our origins. Firstly in childhood and then throughout adolescence and our immediate environment is made up of parents, school friends and teachers. It is a time in which, above all, we greatly respect the opinions of our friends: the things they say tend to become real truths for us. And as we grow, we notice that certain behaviours are applauded while others, meanwhile, are punishable. As what we seek, in short, is to feel supported and accepted, this need for security makes us modify our behaviour so that it always falls within the «approved». Our beliefs are also linked to the experiences we have lived and external events that have affected us and from which we have learned. There are two types of beliefs: those that motivate us to set forth and accomplish our goals (motivating or enhancing) and those that limit or block us (limiting).
- Motivating beliefs impel us into action to achieve our goals. Examples would include the beliefs: that we can achieve what we have set our mind to; that we deserve a raise; that learning comes through action; that there is no such thing as failure, only learning; that we are doing our best and still we can do better; that we are responsible for our own reality and we have all the resources we need or the ability to find them, etc.
- Limiting beliefs, to the contrary, drain our energy and prevent us from reaching our goals or what we inwardly desire. When we want to achieve a goal or have a purpose and we are not reaching it, quite possibly there is a hidden limiting belief. These beliefs give us «tunnel vision», or «limited vision»: why am I sometimes paralyzed by having to make a call to a difficult customer? Why do I sometimes not meet my monthly targets? Some examples in the game of sales could be: better not to call a client on a Monday morning or a Friday afternoon; my area is not as good as my colleague’s; I’m not good at selling, since a good sales person is born; when I try to make sales, it is too obvious that I want to place my product at all costs, etc.
TRemember that our sales will always be linked to what we internally believe we can get. Unconsciously, we seek the level of success that we think we deserve or that is within our possibilities, blocking all actions we assume would be impossible for us to achieve. What we know about sales is only a small part of our sales success.
A good way to start creating alternatives is to be convinced that this is possible. We need to fill ourselves with motivating beliefs that carry us into action, and fight with all our might to eliminate from our lives those that limit us. Limiting beliefs do not only sap energy but diminish our self-esteem and prevent us from achieving our goals.
The ultimate goal of an organization is, as we know, not just to sell but also to meet the needs of increasingly demanding and selective customers in the hope of winning their subsequent loyalty. Therefore, we need «seller-consultants» and not «product-price sellers». This is the mission of the 21st century sales person: to become a seller-consultant, and that takes more than preparation and technical knowledge of the product, customer and competition, it also requires a set of highly developed inter- and intra-personal skills.
The 10 characteristics of the Seller-Consultant would be:
- 1. Loves the job.
- 2. Has good presence.
- 3. Has a cultural level appropriate to the customer.
- 4. Is knowledgable about the sector, the market and the company.
- 5. Is competent with modern sales techniques.
- 6. Sells well (quantatively).
- 7. Sells well (qualitatively).
- 8. Has interpersonal emotional intelligence: empathetic; good at public relations and a good team player; has the facility to communicate with others and good customer focus.
- 9. Has intrapersonal emotional intelligence: responsible and self-motivated; consistant, honest, willing, available and persevering and knows how to manage emotions.
- 10. Looks for the true meaning in what he does.
Companies that offer the best service to their customers are full of people working to their maximum potential. They are true leaders who believe that selling is providing value. Making sales has nothing to do with what we want to sell, but with what we believe we are able to sell and, of course, what our potential customers want to buy. In sales, as in life in general, our outer world is a reflection of what is happening in our inner world. If we are comfortable with ourselves, it is likely that we are comfortable with our friends, family and, therefore, with our current and potential customers.
The sum of all rules: a sale is a transfer of enthusiasm
Always remember that selling is like a game, and if we want to play our cards right, we have to learn the golden rules:
- First. The cost of keeping a client is lower than the cost of captivating a new client, but the latter is, in turn, lower than the cost of regaining a lost client.
- Second. It is much easier to sell a third product to someone who already has two than to sell the first to someone who has none.
- Third. Always give your customers more than they expect to get for what they have paid.
- Fourth. Remember that «what we are» is the product of our values and the beliefs we hold about ourselves. Being technically prepared, knowing the market and our competition, as well as our products, simply gives us the ability to adequately negotiate the commercial world, but it doesn’t necessarily offer us any guarantee of making the sales we wish to make.
- Fifth. If we cannot accomplish something we are trying to achieve it is probably because we are running into a «limiting» belief. Try to look at it as a point of view rather than an absolute truth.
- Sixth. The more a client sees us as a consultant and advisor, the more interested they will be in our product. For that to occur, however, we must truly believe in what we are doing, why we are doing it and what for.
- Seventh. If you’ve done your homework properly, it’s unusual not to have some level of success. But even in cases, logical and possible, where we don’t close a sale, we will still have achieved something wonderful: leaving a potential customer with a great impression of our friendliness, professionalism and dedication, which will undoubtedly open up future opportunities to present them our products and / or services.
- Eighth. Finally, don’t forget that without clients you don’t have a company. They are the ones who pay your salary, not the organization you work for.