How To Become A Top Seller In A New Industry
When I joined ConsumerAffairs nearly four years ago, I didn’t realize that I had jumped into the deep end. I had some great results in other sales roles, and I had owned my own businesses and helped grow several companies across different industries, but selling a software as a service (SaaS) product was a whole new ballgame for me. I started out as one of the lower performers on the team. In my first eight months, I closed very few deals and was ranked last among the company’s sales account executives (SAEs).
Do I qualify? I didn’t even know what SaaS stood for before I worked at ConsumerAffairs. I never used customer relationship management (CRM) software before. There was so much I didn’t know and I felt like I was in over my head, but I had challenged myself many times before, and I knew with the right attitude and strategy, I could figure it out. Here are five steps I took to become a top seller when I switched industries:
1. The ASK triangle I approach success by thinking of it as a triangle. The sides are made up of attitude, skill and knowledge (ASK) and to reach your optimal performance these qualities should be equal on all sides. I had the right attitude and I knew from previous experience that I was skilled in selling. Now I just needed to gain knowledge. Think about your own situation. What’s keeping you from success?
Do you need to train your skills or adopt a more positive attitude? I needed to know all I could about the industry and my company to become a top performer. You can’t set out trying to know everything at once, though, and you can’t wait until you know everything to start selling. I had to remember to break both learning and selling into small, achievable goals and focus on methods of selling that didn’t rely on having all the information.
2. Focus On Execution, Not The Score I grew up in a small town playing multiple sports through high school and even attempted to make the track team at the University of Arkansas. After two years of training with some of the best runners in the world, I realized I was not a future Olympian. Our coach, John McDonnell, won more than 40 national championships at Arkansas with a philosophy that I still use today. It’s about execution.
What can you do today? When you break things down to what you need to do today and how it relates to the next presentation, quotas and annual goals, the results will follow. I begin each day by writing down my goals and visualizing achievement with as much detail as possible. I imagine getting a call from a prospect I expect to close, seeing an email with a completed agreement, ringing the sales bell and seeing my name in the first spot on our leaderboard. I recommend mixing in family goals and reminders for the proper work/life balance and keeping it to three impactful items. Focusing on executing each step leads to continuous improvement from hitting quotas to setting records.
3. Facts Tell, But Stories Sell When I was new at ConsumerAffairs and I didn’t feel like an expert on the phone with prospects, I remembered the saying “Facts tell, but stories sell.” A good success story about other customers resonates longer than data and statistics. Your company story is likely what attracted you to your company. I wanted to work at ConsumerAffairs because I had a background in direct selling, generating referrals and witnessing the power of word of mouth. Word of mouth in today’s digital world is in the form of online reviews. We saw an opportunity to help brands have more control over consumer-generated content online. There was also little in the way of best practices for how to handle negative reviews. I saw working at ConsumerAffairs as a great opportunity to help companies show a more authentic representation of the customer's voice, leverage testimonials from happy customers to impact buyer behavior and resolve customer service issues with the vocal minority of unhappy customers.
4. Don’t Tell People, Show Them I quickly moved away from talking with companies over the phone about the benefits of our service and began using presentations and video conferencing programs to show prospects exactly what it was like to use our platform and see public-facing results. Once people can see and interact with a product, they’re much more likely to commit than when they're just being told about it.