Leadership Simplified: Doug Van Dyke

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Sales Skills to Thrive in a Tough Economy

Volume: September 2008

By Doug Van Dyke, Leadership Simplified, www.leadershipsimplified.com

Henny Penny is alive and well. The sky is still falling, have you noticed? Henny has effectively influenced newspaper editors and every single NPR reporter. Her tentacles of doom have stretched all the way to television, the Internet, and several parallel universes. Perhaps you received a text message from Henny mentioning the five reasons why America is falling apart. 

Maybe the economy and all sorts of things are falling apart. Then again, maybe they are not. Can you control these things? I can’t. But I can control my thoughts, my perspective, and my actions. So can you – if you choose to. So let’s shift gears and examine something that is truly important: sales skills and selling our goods and services during challenging economic times. The following are some, but not all, of the sales skills, habits, and mind-sets that will help you thrive in a tough economy. That’s right, I said thrive. 

  1. Get organized. My experience has shown that the best sales professionals are quite organized. They plan their day – many of you have experienced my “Building A Powerful Day” training which details this important skill. Well, it is time to make certain that we strategically plan every day and ensure powerful results are achieved. 
  2. Practice your craft. Many of us enjoy participating in sports. All of us love to win. In order to consistently win we must practice. Those tennis guys, Nadal and Federer, practice quite a bit. And I hear-tell that in his day, Michael Jordon was known to practice frequently. How often do you practice sales skills such as driving incredible sales conversations?  In the past month, how many times have you practiced the art of making appointments?   
  3. Be authentic about your strengths. We improve by enhancing our strengths, not by focusing on our weaknesses. Know your strengths and the real ingredients of your winning formula. Not sure what they are? Ask ten people you highly respect to answer this question: In your opinion, what are three qualities or skills that make me successful? I guarantee that you will learn a few things about yourself. In the process, you will see a clear pattern of what makes you terrific!
  4. Be realistic about what the market will give you right now. Think way back to the gold rush. At the height of it, the gold rush was giving gold. When the gold ran out, and people continued to pan for it, who made money? The people selling the pans because that is what the market was providing. As a side bar, ponder who else were big winners during the gold rush. Two names stick out: Levi Strauss and Wells Fargo. Both provided products and services that were much less sexy than gold. However, Levi’s and Wells Fargo thrived, even as the gold rush crashed and burned. The point is this: you and your product/service are good – make certain that you position yourself appropriately for current market conditions
     
  5. Review best practices. Certainly over the years you have amassed a cubby-hole of tips that you find useful. My favorite resource is a field guide entitled Leadership Simplified – it’s available in the Productivity Store of www.leadershipsimplified.com. Review these resources and reinforce behaviors and sales skills that have led you to success in the past. 
  6. Be confident. Often times the difference between selling our wonderful wares or not, is tied to our level of confidence. If you allow yourself to get caught up in the prevalent sociology of a “shrinking economy,” you may very well freak out and not project yourself as the confident professional that you are. Remember that desperate people never gets dates. Similarly, desperate professionals rarely get sales. You are good. So too are your products and services. Be confident and exhibit sales skills that help you sell your wares for what they are worth. 
  7. Visualize success. Too frequently people imagine the worst. This is a huge error because it sends a message of failure to your subconscious. I will not go into the psychology of this, but I would like to share my favorite visualization story. During their championship years, the San Francisco 49ers had a running back named Roger Craig. He was a terrific player who ran hard and could catch the ball as well as any receiver. He was consistently excellent and as a result played in a bunch of Pro Bowls and Super Bowls. Someone once asked him about his pre-game routine – they were expecting to learn about his physical regiment. Instead, they received a surprise. Roger Craig stated that he arrived at the stadium at least four hours before the game. He commonly hit the locker room two hours before any of his teammates. He would situate himself on the floor, elevate his legs on a chair and then visualize every play in which he could be included. Importantly, he visualized each play unfolding routinely, yet ending with him running for a touchdown. Over and over again in his mind he would visualize success!
    Now keep in mind that Roger Craig was one of the best athletes in the world, on the best football team in the world. I wonder why he was so good? Hmmmn. Let me ask you a couple questions (be honest now): Are you visualizing yourself being successful? Do you find yourself visualizing challenges, rather than what could be a happy ending? No matter what you answered, seek to create the following positive visualization habits:
  • In the morning, before what you call breakfast, take 10 minutes in order to picture yourself achieving success with every meeting, task, and activity you are going to engage in that day. While you do this, sit straight, close your eyes, and take deep, controlled breaths.
  • Prior to each important sales appointment or phone call – close your eyes for one minute and picture a positive result. Put yourself in a positive frame of mind and then implement your vision. Be positive, be confident, have fun, get a decision.

Doug Van Dyke is a leadership and communication consultant, executive coach, and business planner. His book, Leadership Simplified, as well as audios and video are available at the Productivity Store of www.leadershipsimplified.com. To learn more about consulting services, coaching, and training, or to have Doug speak at your next event, contact him today at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or at 941-776-1121. 

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