In my articles: “Are we allocating our work time effectively?”., and “A Strategy to Develop a Unique Ability,” I discussed effective time utilization and the technology of the sales process. (These articles can be found on www.danharkey.com in the business article section.) Both prior articles are suggested for the student to master salesmanship.
A byproduct of this transition is developing into a unique, authentic and caring person. That is not to say that you are not already a unique and authentic person. A very good read on this subject is by Martin Heidegger, a German philosopher and analytical thinker. The concept of being authentic and caring were best discussed in his 1927 book, “Being and Time.”
In the mid-1970s into the mid-1980s I developed a unique strategy and grew from a high school business teacher to one of the highest-producing real estate agents from Newport Beach to San Clemente—between 1978 and 1984, and later in the mid-2000s—to producing up to $25,000,000 per month in sales in the real property lending business. Before 1980, I was one of the early adapters of cross selling. I created a real estate company to sell the product, an escrow company to process the sale, a mortgage company to originate the loan, an insurance agency to place the homeowner’s or investment property’s hazard and liability policies, then later auto, life and disability insurance and, of course, a property management company to manage the income property.
Effective salesmanship is an experiential and learned enterprise but, the authentic and unique being is the treasure. Confucius and Dan say: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
The first part of this process is to develop what I call, “The Technology of The Sales Process.” If your objective is to follow up your few closest friends and no more, then you do not need this exercise. Effective networks start with a few, but grow into thousands, and tens of thousands.
The 80/20 rule applies to the sales profession. 20% of the salespeople develop 80% of the sales. Conversely, 80% of the salespeople develop only 20% of the sales and resulting profits.
You must start by defining your universe of possibilities. In other words, what is the maximum and broadest number of individuals or prospects that you may develop to sell your product, or service? Is it 1? Or 1,000? Or, 100,000? The size of a few salespersons’ thought processes may be limited by lack of experience, lack of desire to take risks, or just plain lack of enthusiasm for engaging in long term effort.
I consult with many promising salespeople. Yes, size matters! The size of a reasonable network begins with 1,000. You may start much smaller, but do not pretend to max out unless you are selling a multi million dollar product with a huge profit margin, such as Caterpillar and Lear Jet.
You need to communicate daily to develop new and lasting friendships. Therein lies the strategy. How do you turn prospects into friendships? I do not want to suggest that you should create superficial friendships, but friendships that are bonded by authentic communication and caring and, without doubt, agree that you have a friendship bond. This, of course, takes time.
Through this process, divergence develops between a struggling salesperson who will never or marginally make it, and one who can transform into a master.
Yes, you locate a buyer, you do not create one. However, if you were taught that slick language, like handling the objections and then switching to assumptive close works—Fuller Brush Company and Encyclopedia Britannica—they may have a job for you. Also, using tools like Linkedin and Facebook can be effective, or a complete waste of time. A new link is only the most minute beginning and introduction into the process of developing future relationships, and friendships.
Each of you need access to a CRM (a customer relations software package) to load a list of prospects, to memorialize conversations, histories, families, events, backgrounds, and other important aspects related to developing a friendship. The more you know about your friends, the closer you will become. They will look forward to communicating with you and sharing their lives with you. And, of course, you will enjoy talking and sharing your life.
Now comes the strategy of calling at least 15 prospects per day, with the intention of becoming friends over time. What can you do for them? How can you assist them in accomplishing their goals? Messages, friends of friends, people who respond belligerently, and spouses, do not count. Continue the exercise until you get so much business that you are forced to process all of your new contacts rather than continue your daily business. As soon as you are effectively able to delegate much of the job to others, then get back on to your solicitation exercises.
While making your calls, if you connect to an answer machine or voice mail, leave a message: “Just calling to catch up;” or “Just called to check if I can do anything for you or your clients in the ____________ business;” or, “Just called to share an interesting article that I read.” Then follow up with an email.
The most important, but most difficult, part of any conversation is developing the habit of listening. When you have conversations with others, it is easy to talk about yourself. We can all become amused by ourselves and our life histories. In order to develop friendships, and I mean real and authentic friendships that will desire to work with you, there is a natural transition from acquaintance to friendship, to authentic friendship. This process requires you to learn about your friend’s background, family, and what is important to him or her, not about you. What can you do to improve their lives, help their client, or help them put bread on the table? This is the most important trait in a master salesperson’s life.
Find a person who develops enough friendship relationships to do business, and you will both enjoy a full and enriched life.
Developing your unique ability will create a positive magnet around you. People will be drawn to you through developed friendships and social networking, enhancing both your personal satisfaction, professional career. The same applies for those who come in contact with you.
In my opinion, coming from experience: 20% of the people and friends in your life give you 80% of life’s satisfaction. Tolerating belligerent, disrespectful, condescending, game-playing, and jealous people does not fit into a satisfying life. This also includes superficial, sycophant, and parasitic friendships. Eliminate all these types from your life. Pronto!
One last, and very important, thing is to develop an infrastructure and support system around you. These may be employees or independent contractors. Only with a system and a complete support staff can you develop high sales volumes, and consistently deliver a quality outcomes. If you have weak staff members or weak systems, this will drag you down and make you only marginally effective.
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