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Be ahead of the curve by learning the bends


Most salespeople make the fatal mistake of concentrating on the moment or the quota, rather than taking a step back to see the big picture.
Interestingly, the big sales are in the big picture. And, that picture is where the prospect will buy. Meanwhile, the quota-mongers are busy trying to sell. The fact is, people don’t like to be sold to, but they love to buy.
Some people get it. Some don’t. The difference is following trends and the ability to stay ahead of the curve. The plugger is out making sales calls and cold calls. The thinker and planner is strategizing ways to get a qualified customer to call and buy.
Hey, if you gotta sell, you gotta sell. But it’s 100 times more powerful when they want to buy. The problem is, that takes hard work over a long period of time, and most salespeople won’t do the hard work that makes selling easy.
Writing this column week after week is hard. But, it makes sales easy. People read it, like it and call with questions wanting to buy something: a book, a training program, a seminar. It’s been 10 years since I’ve made a sales call to sell something to someone I don’t know. For the past two weeks I have been presenting sales trends for the next 10 years, in celebration of my first 10 years of writing this weekly column.
Here are the rest of the trends I believe will drive sales and customer loyalty for the next decade.
10. Learn on the run. Everyone is out of time, including you. But, everyone needs new knowledge, new answers and new ideas, including you. Learning must be done in five-, 10-, 20-minute intervals. If you wait until you are sitting in a classroom, you will probably wait forever. Three 10-minute lessons a day will give you more than 1,000 lessons in a year. You need to stay 1,000 chunks of knowledge ahead of your competition.
11. Read an old book a month. All the information you need to succeed already exists. The problem is, you haven’t exposed yourself to it. If you know me, you know that I tend to read old books to gain new knowledge. Start with the classics. “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie is great, but you might also benefit from reading “The Little Engine that Could.”
12. Guard the fort. Because there is less business to go around, there will be more stealing. Your competition will be coming at you harder than ever, trying to lure your customers away in any way that they can. If you get into a battle of pricing, everyone will lose. Now is the time to begin to build the relationship, so that your competition will be laughed out instead of invited in. List the last 10 customers you lost. Call them, and find out why.
13. Make your contacts personal. Your business relationships must evolve into personal friendships in order to ensure that your customers will be truthful with you, will trust you and will communicate with you in times of need. Schedule a retreat or conference with your top 10 customers. Spend a half-day of business and a half-day of pleasure for two straight days.
14. Take new actions. The abused word “change” needs to be thrown out of the English language. The operative word is “opportunity.” The more opportunities you seek, the more you will be rewarded, both in loyalty and in profit. Make a list of 10 things you wish you were doing. Start there. Turn wishes into realities by taking action. Spend one hour a day on opportunities. That should be enough to stay ahead of your competition and establish yourself as a leader.
Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless, and president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer Inc., gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or [email protected]

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