Every business has a personality. Apple has cultivated its ‘rebel’ image since the early days of the Mac. On the other hand, IBM is ‘all about business’; Singapore Airlines ‘pampers you’. Mercedes Benz is a ‘serious money automobile’; BMW is a ‘driving machine’.
What’s the personality of your business and could you renew your business by changing its personality? Getting a personality transplant is a hit like rebranding but on a much more pervasive scale. The personality of your business is reflected in your corporate culture.
You might ask yourself, “Do I have what it takes?” The magic is in the personality. Is there such a thing as an entrepreneur personality? And, if there is, what is it?
When you love what you do, there is a greater chance that you will stick with it. There are many setbacks and disappointments in business. Sometimes you feel like quitting. Often, you make little or no money, especially early on. If you are not passionate about your business, you won’t last very long.
It is your vision that gets you started. Your vision inspires others and it keeps you going. Entrepreneurs are full of ideas but it is your vision that helps you go from idea to business. In a way, your vision lets you see the future before anyone else sees it.
Don’t confuse vision with dreaming. Dreaming doesn’t require taking action. Vision is your path to get where you are going. If you want to open a restaurant, your vision would help you see what it would look like, the design. You vision would also help you taste the food before your kitchen was built and it would help you see who your customers will be.
Each and every business needs to get sales from somewhere and young people – even shy, introverted ones, can be very effective at finding and winning business. Some people seem to be born to be in sales. Let’s just say that selling does not come naturally to your normal everyday experience, which turns out to be a potential competitive advantage when they start to take sales more seriously.
So how do you succeed in sales without needing a personality transplant? Unfortunately there is not one silver bullet or pearl of wisdom that will magically turn you into a fearless red meat-eating sales person. Adopting few insights, however, will give a significant boost to your confidence and collectively they will provide you with all the sales you need.
Insight -1: Become a student of business management
In order to master anything you need to become a student. When you decide that you are committed to becoming confident and competent with sales then you become open to learning. You need to develop your own style that works for you and that is why reading and learning are important. Just 20 minutes study a day adds up to eight hours a month. That’s a whole day!
If you don’t have time to read, then buy some audio books and listen to them in the car or when you are doing the chores around the house. You should also give yourself feedback and review your performance and seek to be making small improvements all the time rather than big gestures.
Insight -2: Seek different perspectives
Do you have any experience seeing a spectacular view on a sunny afternoon? Then you go back late afternoon the sky was grey and the rain falling hard. You are in exactly the same place and yet get a totally different outlook. The way we look at things changes the way we perceive them. If we want to understand how to best think about sales, then learn to see things in the same way as someone whose abilities and values you admire. The best way is through some form of mentoring relationship but just by seeking new perspectives we will begin to find them.
Insight -3: Learn how to motivate yourself
Have clearly defined and motivational goals. It is a start. You need to have them for the long term as well as the shorter term. If your goals do not excite you into action then get some that do! As well as clearly defined goals make sure you have a roadmap for achieving the goals. This will ultimately break down into sales activity. Your goals do not have to be materialistic at all but they do need to be compelling enough to drive you forward.
Insight -4: Work on your fears and limitations
Whenever you do something new, you will feel little uncomfortable. Yet, the more you do something, the more you get used to it. If motivation is the accelerator in a car, then fears and limitations are the brake. These include the way you handle rejection and failure. If you approach the sale in the right way, you will never be rejected and you will never fail either!
Insight -5: Work on your people skills
People do business with people they know like and trust. Professionals typically are introverts to some extent and their people skills can be further developed. Although personal development will reduce levels of shyness and increase self-confidence, it will not change an introvert into an extrovert. That’s not a problem in sales, especially if you want to sell to executives. Where having the ‘gift of the gab’ can actually be a disadvantage?
Insight -6: Learn to tell stories
If there is one skill that will help you to sell without feeling like you are selling it is storytelling. All the top sales people do it naturally and you can learn to do it too. People who like each other trade anecdotes and talk in stories. If you incorporate storytelling into your style, then you will find everything so much easier!
You can use stories in so many different ways in sales. For example, when you first meet someone, ask them their story of how they started in business. It really helps to break the ice much better than any rapport technique I know. Have your own stories about how you started in business and how you have helped clients to successfully resolve their problems. You can also develop stories to inoculate against objections and to up-sell other products and services.
Insight -7: Clarify your sales process
What really surprises lots on sales people is that selling is not just one activity but a whole series of activities. Each business will have a natural process of taking a sale from initial interest to cash in the bank. It should be a repeatable process that others could follow if necessary. Getting clarity about the specific actions required to achieve the desired level of sales gives a huge boost in confidence.
Insight -8: Hold yourself accountable
If you have a boss, he will be coaching you to raise your game and meet your agreed targets. He will also hold you accountable for achieving those targets. If you don’t have someone to keep you focused on the activity and your targets, then it easily slips into the ‘feast or famine’ syndrome. This is where an external sales coach can pay huge dividends. If you don’t like the thought of a sales coach then see them as a personal sales manager.
Insight -9: Look after your health and happiness
You are the golden goose so look after yourself. Be aware of your need for exercise, relaxation, holidays and family time. Give yourself rewards and recognition for a job well done. Stop and smell the roses. Every problem will pass away and be no more.
(Lionel Wijesiri is a retired corporate director counting three decades of senior management experience. He is now an independent consultant and a freelance journalist. He may be contacted on email@example.com)