By URSULA MENTJES
As a professional sales coach, people often ask me what my top sales strategies are. What’s the magic script or the key to overcoming objections? Oftentimes, they are surprised to hear how simple my answers are! Surely success in sales can’t be that easy, right? In fact, sales is not complicated, though we tend to overthink it. Most salespeople are great humans who genuinely believe that they have something of value to offer their clients. Where they struggle is in thinking that they need to do something that they aren’t currently doing. They think they need to just find that one magical strategy—the golden nugget so to speak—and then they will have it made! It’s in this mental minefield that good salespeople get mentally locked up into thinking that what they currently have isn’t enough.
SO WHAT ARE MY TOP SALES STRATEGIES?
RELEASE YOUR LIMITING BELIEFS
Too often, people read “release your limiting beliefs” and check out. Or they continue to scroll through looking for the piece of magic that they didn’t previously possess. But hear me: Because all the strategies in the world will not make you successful if you don’t first have your mindset right.
Before you have any sort of strategic plan in place, you need to first know that you can and will succeed! Your mindset is the key—it’s the single thing that will launch you forward or hold you back. Once you know you can succeed, you then tackle your limiting beliefs.
What is a limiting belief? It is a belief held tight by someone—and oftentimes they don’t even realize that they believe it! The best definition I ever heard is it’s just a “thought you think is true” and you keep pointing to evidence that it is true, when it might not be. In fact, at first, they will reject the idea that they actually hold this belief. But under the surface, when they really get through all their struggles with sales, they find what it is.
… all the strategies in the world will not make you successful if you don’t first have your mindset right.
At the beginning of the pandemic, many of our clients were worried about their sales. Would they survive or would they thrive? And then we noticed something. Those clients who believed they would succeed kept going and, in fact, have had some of their strongest sales months ever. Those who moved into survival stayed there — until they realized that their limiting beliefs about the pandemic were actually stopping them morethan anything else. Once they shifted their belief that they were stuck, sales started coming again.
The first step to shifting a limiting belief is to look at three things that might not be true about that belief. For example, if you think people will see you as pushy, you can consider that you are a friendly and personable salesperson. Your clients want what you have to offer, so you aren’t pushing anything on them. Finally, your clients are living busy lives so you are being a consistent, persistent problem solver. Some of the most common limiting beliefs I see in salespeople are:
- Sales is hard.
- People will think I’m being pushy.
- Nobody wants what I have to offer.
- I don’t deserve to make that much money.
- There’s no way I can double my sales.
- The top 20% doesn’t exist for me.
Next, you can create a new achieving belief. The best new beliefs are in the present tense. So, replace them with:
- Sales is easy. (Because it is!)
- I am a professionally persistent problem solver.
- My target market genuinely needs what I have to offer as it carries value for them.
- I deserve to make as much money as I want.
- I am already on my way to doubling and tripling my sales.
- I only work with my top 20%.
Find your limiting belief and replace it with a new one that will move you forward!
FOCUS ON THE 20%
Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto was the first to observe this phenomenon in the early 1900s. The 80/20 rule specifies that “80% of consequences come from 20% of the causes, asserting an unequal relationship between inputs and outputs.” This rule applied in many different areas. For instance:
- In team efforts, 80% of the work is done by 20%of the participants.
- In countries, 80% of the land is owned by 20% of the people.
- In agriculture, 80% of the crop comes from only 20% of the seeds.
And in Sales, 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients. 80% of your time is spent on 20% of your revenue. 80% of your results come from the first 20% of your time and effort.
… and so on.
Who are your top 20%? These are the clients that you love to work with. They are the ones that buy easily, whom it’s a pleasure to serve, that you tend to connect with, and that you want to see more of. Focus on them. Yes that may mean that you lose the 80% — but since they are taking 80% of your time and only supplying 20% of your income, the trade off is ultimately beneficial.
Furthermore, the 80/20 rule applies once again within that 20%. So what does that mean? When you start to focus on that 20% that is giving you the majority of your revenue, you’ll find that 20% of them are supplying 80% of that revenue, and so on. In the end, your sales won’t just double—they increase exponentially.
KNOW YOUR NUMBERS
Many salespeople want to grow their sales. But all too often, this is a vague dream with lofty aspirations that have no clear direction.
How can you double your sales if you don’t know what you are doubling? Every salesperson and business owner needs to take the time to really examine their numbers.
Let’s use some simple math. Imagine that you need 12 new clients per month with the average client value of $1,000. If your average closing ratio is 50%, meaning half of the prospects you meet with will become your client, you would need 24 qualified appointments to reach your goal.
By clarifying your sales goals and knowing how many qualified appointments you need, you can then begin to reverse engineer your marketing strategies. It’s that simple!
I recently read that many companies are hiring individuals with communications degrees in preference to a skill-specific degree. Why? Because it turns out that no matter what industry you are in, communication skills are far more important than degree-related skills. Now this is obviously not true in certain fields, of course, such as medicine and engineering. But the point is clear: Communication skills matter a great deal and effective communication is essential for salespeople. More pointedly, effective listening is an essential sales skill.
Selling isn’t telling. Selling is asking questions, making recommendations, encouraging dialogue, and solving someone else’s problem. In order to listen, you need to develop the skill of asking the right open ended questions — then waiting to hear what they have to say. Then, you can summarize what you heard them say, offer two to three options for them to choose from and simply ask, “Which one will work best for you?” By asking questions and listening, you can carefully guide your prospect through the sales process.
And, after you ask a question, be okay with silence! According to research, people start to get uncomfortable after only 5 seconds of silence. We feel the need to fill a space with words to ease the discomfort. But when you ask your client a question and the silence fills the air, this moment is a gift. It communicates to your client that you greatly value what they have to say, enough that you are going to grant them that space to think. This, in turn, creates a connection, and communicates to your client that they genuinely matter to you.
Before you even start networking, calling, setting up appointments, or closing deals, your thinking must be in line with what you wish to see for your business. It begins with releasing limiting beliefs, identifying your top 20%, running the numbers, and refining your communication skills.
Then you will become unstoppable!
URSULA MENTJES is an award-winn ing entrepreneur, sales expert and in spirational speaker. She was prom oted from account executive to president of an international technical train ing company in just five years at the a ge of 27 with revenue in the tens of m illions. Ursula is the recipient of the SBA’s Women in Business Champion, Willow Tree Extraordinary Example and E xtraordinary Entrepreneur Awards, and chosen as PDP’s Extraordinary Speaker and Businesswoman of the Year. She is also the author of four award-winning books: “Selling with Intention,” “One Great Goal,” “Selling with Synchronicity” and “The Belief Zone”. Her clients include Aflac, Ebenezer, Keller Williams, Fairview Hospitals, New York Life, Paychex, Union Bank, LeClair Group and more. Reach her at: www.UrsulaMentjes.com.