Successful selling is all about taking the right steps at every stage of the sales process.
And while there’s some good sales training out there to help salespeople identify those steps, I find that most sales training is either geared toward selling beginners or selling veterans.
But what about the people in between—those intermediate salespeople?
If you’re a salesperson who’s in the middle in terms of performance, looking to take it up a notch and start crushing your sales, it can be much harder for you to find the right guidance.
I created this video to help intermediate salespeople master the most critical steps to successful selling. You’ll learn the 7 keys to successful selling for intermediate salespeople so you can start climbing the ladder right now. Check it out:
Successful Selling Key #1: Don’t wing it.
So many salespeople are just winging the sales process. I see it all day long. They walk into a prospect’s office and start the conversation based on “gut” or “feel”—or they hop on the phone and leave a rambling voicemail with no real point.
Many salespeople tell me this is part of their “creative process,” but in reality, they’re just making stuff up as they go along.
The first key to successful selling is identifying your sales process. Instead of winging it, you should script out your process—or at least strongly outline what that process looks like—and then follow it every single time you’re in front of a prospect.
When you wing it in sales, we have no idea what we’re doing wrong or right. But when you follow a process consistently, you can pinpoint exactly what went wrong and why. And conversely, you can identify the specific tactics and strategies that really work.
I can’t stress this enough: If you’re an intermediate salesperson looking to climb to the top level of sales, you need to stop winging it and put a solid sales process in place—one that’s based on data and real-world results.
Successful Selling Key #2: Make tons of mistakes.
Most salespeople are just plain terrified of screwing up a sale or messing up a cold call.
The reality is that it doesn’t matter.
Let’s just say the worst happens. You have a terrible call, and a prospect actually calls your boss and says, “This is the worst salesperson I’ve ever heard from.” Your boss comes to you and says, “You’re fired.” You lose your job.
Then you go out and get a new sales job.
That’s it. That’s the absolute worst case scenario, right? And I can’t emphasize enough how unlikely this is to happen.
So be willing to make mistakes. Be a little reckless sometimes. Top performers make a lot more mistakes because they just don’t care. They don’t live in fear of making that next mistake, and that’s one of the biggest secrets behind successful selling.
Successful Selling Key #3: Remember, they can’t hurt you.
This builds off the last point. The absolute worst thing that can happen to you in sales is that you annoy a prospect, you get reprimanded by your boss, or you lose your job (again, highly unlikely). Nobody can hurt you. No one is actually going to do anything to harm you.
Salespeople sometimes act like they’re at war. We’re not at war; we’re just selling.
And if you’ve got a good boss who understands that things sometimes go wrong in sales, you don’t even have to worry about your job being on the line.
Remember, they can’t hurt you. To achieve successful selling, be willing to push outside the box. Set yourself apart from most salespeople, who play it safe since they’re so afraid of making mistakes.
They’re also intensely afraid of making prospects angry or fielding aggressive comments from prospects, so they don’t want to rock the boat.
Salespeople ask me questions like this all the time: “But what happens when the prospect immediately tells me that they don’t have a budget, and that they’re never telling me if they have a budget, and they get aggressive?”
And I always respond, “When’s the last time a prospect aggressively told you, ‘I’m never telling you my budget’?” Most of the time, the salesperson can’t answer, because it happens so rarely. Aggressive statements like this might come from a prospect 1 in 20 times. So be willing to push through and just remember, they can’t hurt you.
Successful Selling Key #4: Your comfort zone is your enemy.
Most intermediate salespeople are intermediate not necessarily because of a skills gap (although that might be a component) but because they haven’t pushed outside of their comfort zone to go after higher level prospects.
Your comfort zone is the enemy of successful selling. It’s actually keeping you stuck at the intermediate level. So be willing to stretch outside of your comfort zone.
How high are you calling up the food chain? Are you calling only low-level prospects? Or are you calling people at the very top of the organization?
Top performers are calling high. Intermediates and beginners call really low. Be willing to get up there. Stretch that comfort zone. See yourself as the CEO of your own sales business. Even if you’re not an entrepreneur, think like an entrepreneur. Do more. Be willing to take risks. Remember, they can’t hurt you.
Successful Selling Key #5: Activity is all that matters.
At the end of the day, what you actually do in terms of sales activity is all that really matters. It’s like Albert Einstein once famously said, “Nothing happens until something moves.”
Sales activity is the “making things move” in sales. Activity can be defined by the number of calls you make, the number of emails you send, or the number of meetings you conduct. Of course, what you’re saying in those meetings, in those emails, and on those calls, matters—but the thing you can control most easily is the amount of activity you’re doing.
Don’t get bogged down in non-sales-related tasks. Someone says, “Hey, can I borrow you for a minute to help with this training initiative?” or “Hey, can you do this for me? I need a quick favor.” Before you say yes, ask yourself, “Am I getting paid to do that? Am I getting commission?” No. So don’t do it.
Activity is all that matters for successful selling. Hold yourself accountable to making those calls, setting those meetings, and conducting those meetings; to knocking on those doors, sending those emails, and asking for those referrals.
Successful Selling Key #6: Find a great mentor.
I can’t tell you the impact that finding a great mentor had on my own career. I remember when I first started selling, I was running a small business, and as a business owner I didn’t have a natural mentor for sales. So I was reading as many books as I could. We didn’t have YouTube at the time, but we had other ways to learn: listening to tapes and CDs, etc.
Ultimately, I felt like I kept hitting a sales ceiling because I just didn’t have someone to push me. I didn’t have a mentor to tell me, “This is exactly what you need to be doing.”
Once I found a great mentor, my selling completely transformed. Finding that mentor is so important for successful selling.
But it’s not enough just to find any mentor. It has to be someone great. Someone you look at and say, “I want to be where they are. I want to do what they have done.” Not someone who’s a stepping stone along the way, but someone who’s where you want to be when all is said and done.
Once you find that person, offer them any help they need. Carry their briefcase to meetings if that’s what they need. If it gives you the opportunity to be mentored, to observe what they’re doing, to model what they’re doing—great. Seriously, if it means getting them coffee in the morning, get that mentor a latte every day.
Just focus on finding someone inspirational who can really take you under their wing and teach you their process.
And by the way, your mentor doesn’t have to be someone you have direct access to in person. I mentor a lot of salespeople virtually as well. We have people in our online forum who find mentors through other people in our programs, and that’s fine.
But make sure you find that mentor, and learn everything you can. Ask them tons of questions, and provide value in that relationship so they don’t feel like you’re just taking from them. Make them feel appreciated.
And also be sure to implement what they say to implement, because I can’t tell you how frustrating it is for me to be mentoring someone who doesn’t implement what we talk about. Don’t let that happen.
Successful Selling Key #7: Keep learning.
When it comes to successful selling, learning is a process that goes on forever. I’m constantly learning, honing my craft, and getting new ideas from the latest data, books, and experts.
That’s what we all have to be doing in sales. We never want to get to the point where we’re saying, “I don’t need to learn anymore.” That’s when you start to see people go into decline in their career. Be willing to just keep learning. Be a lifetime learner.
Keep sharpening that saw, and what you’re going to see is that even when you become a true top performer, there’s still going to be so much learning to do. There are different levels of top performance in successful selling. So never, ever stop the process of learning.
So there you have it. Now you know 7 keys to successful selling for intermediate salespeople. Which of these ideas did you find most useful for your own approach to selling? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below to join the conversation.
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About the Author Marc Wayshak
Marc is is the best-selling author of three books on sales and leadership, including the highly acclaimed titles Game Plan Selling, The High-Velocity Sales Organization and his forthcoming book, Sales Conversations, Mastered.
Marc is a contributor to Inc, HubSpot, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Huffington Post Business. He also hosts a popular YouTube channel on sales strategy with over 103,000 subscribers.
Marc helps thousands of people his data-driven, science-based approach to selling that utilizes all the best tools available to sales organizations today.