Updated: Jan 2
Sales and selling brings up a lot of psychological baggage. If you want your company to grow, you must create a sales machine that converts interested prospects into buyers. If it’s just you, then you need to be the sales engine that grows your practice.
If you want to watch a video of this exact same topic, go here: https://youtu.be/wAe3iWwnS1s
(Core Energy™ is a registered trademark of iPEC and all Core Energy™ concepts described in this blog post are derived from iPEC’s Core Energy Coaching™ program.)
There are eight critical mechanical components of business. There are seven levels of core energy. I’m creating a series of posts called Business Mechanics & Mindset. You can read about these topics in more detail in my book entitled, “Business Mechanics & Mindset: How Your Thoughts Create or Sabotage Your Business Success”. Today’s post is the third of this series entitled Core Energy™ Selling.
Before I go too far, I have created another post that you may want to read before you read this one. It is entitled “What is Core Energy?”. It explains the seven levels of Core Energy™ in detail that will be mentioned in this entire series.
When I was young, I sold popcorn, calendars, and other trinkets door to door to people who didn’t want what I was selling. I hated it! When I transitioned from an engineer to a salesperson, the same emotions surfaced. I was convinced that salespeople are liars, cheaters, and thieves and I wanted no part of it. Once I was trained in professional selling and worked with a professional sales team, I learned that selling is the most beneficial skill you can have as a business professional. I have officially been in the sales profession in one capacity or another for 30-years.
In my business coaching practice, I’ve discovered that there are five foundational components of sales or selling in any small business that you must get right:
Mindset: how you characterize the profession of selling;
Process: repeatable steps you take to educate your prospective buyer;
People: while I believe anyone can sell, hiring people with solid values is a must;
Sales management: whether it's just you or a team of 100 salespeople, tracking numbers and holding sales people accountable is critical to your sales success; and
Compensation: Proper sales commissions and base pay are different for different industries. It's imperative that you match compensation with desired behavior in your sales force.
I call these five components, the "mechanics of selling".
In today’s post, I will tell you a story of five different car salesmen with five different sales mindsets. Please pay attention to see which one of these are representative of your sales or selling mindset.
Nathan had difficulty finding a job. He was told that he could easily get a job as a car salesman. The only catch was that he wouldn’t get paid unless he sold something.
Mindset: Nathan felt he had no other job opportunities, so he took the car salesman job. He felt uncomfortable in this new role. How could he convince someone to buy a car?
Process: Nathan watched what the successful car salespeople did and he tried to mimic it. When it was his turn, he’d approach a customer and manage, “Hi, can I help you?” At which point, he’d get a smile and a, “Thanks, we’re just looking.” When he got this rebuff, he knew they wouldn’t buy from him, and he'd bow out with, “If you need me, you know where I am.”
Management: Nathan’s sales manager continued to ask Nathan how he was doing. Nathan would frown and say, “another tough day.” At which point, Nathan’s sales manager would sigh and say, “keep trying.”
Compensation: Nathan could see that sales was not for him. He wasn’t making any money because he hadn’t sold one car. In fact, he hadn’t given a test drive.
People: Nathan noticed that he wasn’t like some the successful salespeople. The other reps seemed flamboyant. This just wasn’t who he was. After a few more dud encounters with customers, Nathan was convinced that people were either born salespeople or not. He was not. It was time to look for another job because sales isn’t his thing.
Results? Nathan eventually found another job doing data entry for some insurance company. While his job didn’t pay much, it was much less pressure than trying to sell cars.
Sammy was a wheeler and dealer most of his life. He was convinced that he would be a great car salesman.
Mindset: Sales is all about convincing a prospective customer to buy; and Sammy believed that he could convince anyone of anything. Sammy believed that most people are resistant to buying, but it was his job to convince them otherwise.
Process: Sammy had a line that he'd use to any prospective car buyer. He’d say, “That car's a beaut! How about a test drive?” There was no need wasting time on small talk. He wanted to sell cars and make his commission fast.
Management: Because of Sammy’s direct approach, his close rate was rather low, and he didn’t have any customers to call for follow up calls. He noticed that other sales people seemed to be getting more interest on follow up calls. Oh well! It was only a matter of time before his direct approach paid off.
Compensation: Sammy was always targeting that immediate commission payment. After all, if he didn’t sell, he couldn’t make a living. He was convinced that if he stuck to his direct approach, he’d be rich.
People: Sammy did get a few test drives and was able to close a few sales a week. Unfortunately, half of Sammy’s customers would return to the dealership within to complain about some “bait and switch” tactic that Sammy used to deceive them.
Results? Sammy was let go after a few months when the dealership learned they were getting a slimy reputation of cheating customers.
Carl was new to selling cars.
Mindset: He was nervous but was convinced that if others found success in selling cars, so could he. He paid close attention to what his sales manager taught him. He also intently watched other salespeople.
Process: Carl noticed that the more successful salespeople were laid back. They didn’t hard-sell their customers but tended to engage in small-talk. Carl’s sales manager told him that their sales process was:
to introduce themselves on the car lot to people looking at cars.
It was always good to start with some small talk about local events.
The next step was to learn the type of car and budget from the car buyer.
After that, Carl was to show the car shoppers some cars.
The car shoppers would then ask to test drive a car.
Eventually, Carl would ask if they wanted to buy the car.
Management: Carl was told that if he encountered at least 10-people each day, he would sell a car a day. Carl followed everything he had been told, but only managed to sell one car each week.
People: Carl wanted to do better, but he noticed that other successful salespeople were just better at small talk than he was. They seemed to develop a relationship with their clients while he seemed robotic in his approach to selling.
Compensation: As Carl did the math on his car sales, he realized that he would make $1,400 a month at his current rate of sales.
Results? Carl gave it a few months, but as his income continued to languish, he decided it was time to look for another profession.
David loved people and loved being around people. He believed that selling cars may be a great opportunity to get to know strangers that he’d never meet otherwise.
Mindset: David believed that he was providing a genuine benefit to his customers. His customers would get a great car that would get them to work on time and be a joy to drive on long road trips.
People: David was convinced that if he took care of his customer, sales success would follow. He intently focused on his customer’s needs. If there wasn’t a car on the lot that fit his customer’s budget and other requirements, he’d often send them to a competitor.
Process: David was introduced to the typical sales process. However, David spent more time in the first part of the process. He loved to get to know people and learn more about them before he spent time on the remaining steps.
Management: David’s sales manager was apprehensive about David's referrals to competitors. But his numbers showed that he was successfully selling cars for his dealership.
Compensation: David was very successful with his “customer-first” approach and sold 2-cars a day. He was making great money and doing a job he loved.
Results? David stuck with the car dealership for a long time. Eventually, he was promoted to sales manager and developed other successful salespeople.
Ivan had a lot of energy and felt he could do well selling cars.
Mindset: At first, Ivan thought of selling cars as an opportunity to improve the car-sales image. He knew that many had a bad experience with car salespeople, and he wanted to do things differently.
Process: Ivan followed the sales process that his manager taught him at first. He then realized that certain car shoppers preferred a different type of process. Women seemed more engaged in small-talk while men wanted to talk more about the features of different cars. As he adapted his observations to the sales process, he became more and more successful.
Management: Ivan was diligent about his numbers. He knew how many people he had engaged with daily, the number of test drives, the number of closed deals and the amount of each sale. He was working with his sales manager to continually improve his numbers.
People: Ivan’s skills went beyond sales acumen. When a customer couldn’t find a car on the lot, Ivan could quickly access upcoming auction inventories to let a customer know when they could get their desired car on the lot. Eventually, Ivan was helping the dealership stock the most popular and profitable car inventory.
Compensation: Due to Ivan’s ingenuity, he was able to optimize his time to sell an average of four cars per day.
Results? Since Ivan was coming up with innovative ideas all the time, he was promoted to the business manager of the dealership. Many competitors would try to duplicate Ivan’s success, but were always two steps behind.
As you listened to these five stories, I hope that you identified with one of the five. Let’s review…
§ Newbie Nathan is at Level 1 Victim with the core thought of “I Lose”. The victim mindset in selling is defeatist. The victim may try something and quickly give up. The good news is that it's rare that a victim is employed as a salesperson. Why? Because they can’t manage to fake their confidence in a job interview.
§ Slimy Sammy is at Level 2, Conflict with the core thought of “I Win, You Lose”. Sadly, this is the salesperson who gives salespeople a bad name. This is also the most common type of salesperson employed. With pressure to make sales commission, the conflict mindset salesperson identifies the customer as the enemy. It's up to them to trick the buyer into buying.
§ Compliant Carl is at Level 3, Acceptance with the core thought of “I Win”. Carl followed the rules and did what he was told. Unfortunately, going through the motions won't create a trust connection with prospective customers. Without trust, there is little chance of a sale.
§ Delightful David is at Level 4, Compassion with the core thought of “You Win”. David put the customer first and was glad to do so. David is the opposite of Sammy. David sees his customer as his friend, while Sammy sees the customer as an enemy.
§ Innovative Ivan is at Level 5, Opportunity with the core thought of “Win-Win”. Ivan will constantly improve his performance at selling. Some of his ideas will be duds… but he'll get right back in the game and try something else until he finds something that works.
I created these fictional stories to illustrate these five Core Energy™ levels involved in selling. At first glance, you may read these stories and think, "I only want to hire Innovative Ivan's." The fact is that the performance of each one of these sales people had little to do with their ability and everything to do with their mindset.
All salesman had the same level of experience. The difference was the attitude or energy level each salesman chose in their new career.
How do You Apply Core Energy™ to Selling?
It isn’t always apparent which energy level you have with selling. Whether you're a salesperson or a sales manager you will rationalize your sales performance as being affected outside of yourself.
Here are some lower level selling mindsets, and suggestions on how to shift up.
Victim mindset salespeople think and feel like they have no control. You do have control… here’s how you shift up:
What if you’re a sales manager stuck with non-performing salespeople? You can shift to Level 2 to threaten firing; … to Level 3 to seek out strengths and use what you can with the people that you have; … to Level 4 and employ intense sales training and grow sales skills and disciplines.
What if you’re a salesperson, and have no confidence to have a sales conversation? Gain the confidence you need by having a relational conversation first. If that’s too much, start with small-talk.
Conflict mindset salespeople are anxious about selling. This anxiety often results in taking shortcuts to success.
What if you’re trying to sell an inferior product for a high price? You have the option to work for a different company or represent a different product. Don’t lie to sell a bad product or service.
What if you're convinced that people will never buy if they know the truth? Understand that deception is not part of selling. Honesty builds trust. Trust is the foundation of successful selling.
Acceptance mindset salespeople are quite obedient. They'll follow a process and do what they’re told. This obedience is rarely a recipe for success.
What if you follow the sales process and it doesn't work? Once you understand what you’ve been taught in training, make it your own. Answer the question of “why” the process is the way it is, and you will shift up.
What if you aren't a people person? This notion that there are people-people and non-people-people is a myth. Yes, extroverts are more conversational. However, introverts are better listeners. Be curious about your customer and not afraid to engage. The more you practice, the better you will be at conversation.
Compassion mindset salespeople are customer-centric. However, not always beneficial for their employer.
What if you tend to always side with your customer? Learn more about your company's business. The more you learn about how your company makes money, the better you will be able to negotiate win/win deals.
Some parting thoughts...
The purpose of sales or selling is to convert interested prospects into paying customers.
This conversion happens through education.
If your product is superior, an educated customer will buy it.
To educate your prospect, they must trust you.
Trust is comprised of competence and character. Know your product and act with integrity, and you will earn trust.
Salespeople build trust and educate in a structured sales process.
Sales process(s) and sales activity are overseen by a competent sales manager.
Regardless of whether you have an entire sales force, or it's just you, follow this simple philosophy of selling at Level 5 – Win/Win energy… and you'll be wildly successful at selling.
I hope that you better understand how Core Energy™ works with selling in your business. If you’d like to learn more about how I coach my business owner clients with Core Energy Coaching™, please visit my website at www.mmbizcoach.com.