Knowledge is one of four critical factors required for succeeding in sales or business of any kind. Yesterday I shared with you the two types of knowledge and if you only engage on the first level, it won’t help you much. Now you need to understand there are seven topics you should be very knowledgeable in that will greatly affect your ability for succeeding in sales. (Remember: If you are in business or in ministry, you are in sales, regardless of the title on your business card!) Let’s get started…
1. Know thyself: What are your strengths and weaknesses in these areas?
Do you speak well? Are you clear? Poor enunciation, a thick accent, a soft voice can all hinder your effectiveness. If you want to excel in your market, adjust to their expectations, don’t expect the market to accommodate you. When you speak, do people ask you… “What’s your point?” Do people seem to lose interest when you are talking or do they gather around to hear what you are saying? Do you know what “net talk” is? Jesus was the master at that. Look at how few words He used to tell a story or share a parable. Amazing. We can learn a lot from His example.
Right brain skills
Can you communicate with illustrations, stories, examples and demonstrations? Your right brain taps into imagination. It allows for internalization. People can understand logic but they remember stories and illustrations, examples and demonstrations. That’s why Jesus communicated so often using that. For every major point of your value proposition, you should have an illustration or example, a story or demonstration to help people own the understanding of the point you are making.
Left brain skills
Are you good with numbers, reports, studies, testimonials, analysis? The right brain speaks to the “want to” side of the sale. The left brain addresses the “how”. It provides justification for what the heart desires. A couple set out to buy a house. Maybe the man says, he has a budget he won’t go over because they can’t afford to. Then they find a house with five acres, a stream, a large workshop and lots of fruit trees. Now that his right brain has been stimulated, his left brain may kick in and find financial justification for the higher price. Are you good at providing left brain justification to satisfy right brain desires? Obviously, I am not speaking of justifying something that will wrongly burden someone.
How’s your grammar? Spelling? Sentence structure? Visual layout? Flow? In a world of email communications, writing skills have become very important. I’m amazed at the amount of poor spelling, terrible grammar and poor layout I see in written communications these days. Even when texting, I make a point to properly capitalize the right letters and fully spell out words, when communicating professionally.
In what situations do you have or lack confidence? I do have a list of ten things you can do to build confidence but that will have to be another blog. However, knowing where you lack confidence allows you to address that need head on and deal with it. When you lack confidence, your prospect will also lack confidence in you, making it harder to win the business.
Do you dress for success? That looks differently depending on your industry and market. Why not stand out? Why not dress in a professional way that builds your own confidence? Why not dress in a way that makes the customer feel they are being respected? Are your shoes scuffed? Do you look sharp? Know what uniform your customer expects you to wear (ie: suit and tie, scrubs and a stethoscope, hard hat and steel toe boots, etc.) and meet that expectation well.
Does your mind wander? Do you pay attention? Are you looking at your watch or observing other people when the customer is speaking to you? Do you give them full eye contact? Do you look bored? Notify your body that you need to pay attention. Ask lots of questions. Repeat their answers back to them occasionally to confirm you really heard them.
Do you quickly understand what people are trying to communicate? When the customer explains their problems, do you really understand? Are they speaking over your head? Do they bore you? Maybe you’re working in the wrong field.
Good math skills are easily learned. If you are weak in math you can easily improve with great courses like Secrets of Mental Math by Dr. Arthur Benjamin offered by Great Courses. Another way to compensate is to always carry a pocket calculator.
Do you have good command of the language? How’s your vocabulary? Do you rely on slang? Try learning a new word every week. Not some word no one understands but good descriptive words that enhance your conversation. Language has a rhythm. An ebb and a flow. Learn how to communicate by flowing with the rhythm of the language. If it sounds awkward, it probably is.
If your memory is excellent but just very, very short, consider taking a memory course. With respect to your prospects and customers, make a point of remembering their name and pertinent personal and business details. Record the most important info you want to remember and review before you re-contact that person. A faint pencil is stronger than most people’s memory.
Do you wear out before the day does? Maybe you need to change your diet or exercise or take other corrective measures. A friend of mine decided it was time for him to lose the weight that was severely curtailing his ministry and business activities. In less than 2 months, he lost 55 pounds and has another 115 or so to go. His physical endurance has improved drastically and he is feeling much more confident about himself.
This is where a lot of folks struggle, but if it is necessary for your business, you will have to overcome that. One way to overcome the fear of prospecting is to set aside a number of days and do nothing but prospecting. Don’t let up. Just do it and do it and do it until you are no longer afraid of it.
This is the ability to combine a lot of individual skills listed above and make a compelling presentation. This is important because you are now making your case to an undecided prospect. This is worth practicing in front of the bathroom mirror or your spouse or the cows in the pasture until you have confidence you can do it well. Things like body language, voice projection, visual aids, logical flow, length of presentation, avoidance of rabbit trails, etc., all contribute to making a great presentation.
Do you know your way around an Excel sheet? How about PowerPoint? Video editing? Social media? Depending on your business, these and other skills can be invaluable.
I suggest you have a trusted friend give you feedback in these areas as well. Sometimes we lie to ourselves and don’t know it. The tendency to be too lenient or too strict is inherent in all of us, so get a third party, unbiased opinion and go from there. Once you know yourself, you can begin working on you. The impact that will have on your career will be astounding, but not entirely instant. If you work at it though, you can truly develop the greatness God placed within you.
In following blogs I will share with you the remaining six areas of knowledge that you need to be strong in, to succeed, so stay tuned. As always, if you like this post, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, etc and post a comment so I can learn from your feedback. If you’re not signed up to get launch information for the MPI Christian Business Institute and our opening Fall semester, please check this out and let me know your interest.
But in the meantime… Be fruitful and multiply!