21 July 2024, 12:10
By Adam Hankinson Jan 17, 2024

Ready, set, start again!

Even the most seasoned sales professionals could benefit from taking a moment to reassess the fundamentals of their approach, says industry training specialist, Furniture Sales Solutions’ Adam Hankinson …

Sometimes you’ve got to take one step backward to take two steps forward. Whether you’re trying to improve your performance at work, learn a new skill or hit a new personal best on the bike, the best decision in the short term might be to hit pause.

Going back to the start

I was reminded of this a few months ago when I had to go back to ground zero with my running. I’d been moving further and more comfortably than I had in decades, but as I began to increase my distance above 5km, I suddenly found that I’d hit a wall.

A couple of months of physio, conditioning and stretching, and I found that I was once again able to put my trainers on and gradually start again.

The challenge of re-learning

It made me think a lot about the parallels between physical training and sales training. A lot of salespeople, managers and owners alike feel that because they’re “selling well”, they don’t need to train.

It’s the same as me when I was running comfortably. It wasn’t until something went wrong that I felt the need to look at my technique and ask myself if there was anything I could be doing better.

For years as a salesman, especially in my early years, I never took a step back and asked myself:

• Am I approaching every customer?

• Am I genuinely interested and engaged with them when I do?

• Am I asking poor, closed questions, when I could be asking thoughtful, open ones?

• Am I taking the time with every customer to cross-sell or sell add-ons, rather than just snatching the sale from them at the first opportunity?

• Am I keeping the pipeline full with plenty of referrals and recommendations?

These, and a million other questions, are exactly what we should be taking the time to ask ourselves so that, even when we are performing well, we still have a few things in our minds that we are constantly focusing on improving.

In the same way that great athletes work on their conditioning, as salespeople we should never become complacent with our skill-set. It’s sometimes the most difficult thing to re-learn what we thought we already knew so well, but I haven’t met a salesperson yet who couldn’t stand to improve in at least one key area (and I include myself in that number!).

The key to exceeding your expectations

Start by working through the handful of questions I’ve listed above and, rather than answering ‘yes’ or ‘no’, score yourself on a sliding scale of 0% up to 100%. I assure you that, if you’re completely honest with yourself, you won’t be 100% on all of them.

That gap between your score and 100% is where the money is! Acknowledging our weaknesses and refocusing ourselves is sometimes a very painful thing to do, but in all areas of our lives there are improvements to be made that could hold the key to exceeding our greatest expectations.

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