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Tips for Getting Ahead in Sales

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SellingCrossing has just made improving your sales techniques easier. We’ve done the work for you by reading through countless tip books, websites, and technique manuals to bring the best sales tips to you in one easy source: us! Read on for valuable sales tips from the nation’s sales experts, and stay tuned in the coming weeks as we bring you more tips to further expand your selling skill set.

If you are the kind of salesperson who truly excels at what he or she does, chances are you are also the kind of salesperson who is always looking to improve. That, after all, is how you became the mogul you are today. And if you are not at the top of your game, then pay attention, because unless you are selling more than anyone you know, you have no business ignoring advice.

To make it simple, we've compiled the most straightforward, meaningful, and constructive sales tips into an acronym. Just like those day-of-the-week undies that helped you remember how close you were to the weekend back in grade school, our easy tips only require you to know your ABCs. We went with the vowels but mixed up the end a little bit. Instead of A-E-I-O-U-and-sometimes-Y, we bring you A-A-E-E-I-I-O-O-U-U-and-always-PP. Each of our tips builds upon the last and is interrelated with the others.

Now for the explanation:

A is for ACTION. Successful salespeople take action! While this may seem like a simple concept, it is very important to understand the difference between action and reaction. To put it simply, a reaction is what you have when something happens to you. To be reactive rather than active means that everything you do is dictated by outside forces. Unlike the life of a reactor, the life of an actor is guided by the actor himself or herself.

The actions taken start with the active person, and the active person decides what happens in his or her career or personal life. And since the active person chooses his or her own path, he or she is bound to be more successful. So be active when it comes to selling. Be a go-getter. Chase down the prospects that you want to sell to—not just the ones you think you will get a check from. At the end of each day, you should be able to say that you did x, y, and z. You should never have a day during which x, y, and z happened.

A is for ATTITUDE. People who have positive attitudes are usually more successful than people who think negatively. But we all have negative thoughts now and then. It is difficult not to have negative thoughts whenever something doesn't go one's way. When we experience rejection or someone else sells to a prospective client that we've been working hard to get for some time, we may think negatively about ourselves, our peers, and even our clients. Failure and rejection can be motivating, but only if we focus on what we plan to do better or differently the next time around. Dwelling on negative attitudes is not only unproductive but also counterproductive.

Let's consider the kind of negativity that we feel when things don't go our way in terms of our first A, action. If someone allows a setback to change his or her attitude from one of positive thinking to one of negative thinking, he or she is being reactive. To be active in this case would be to decide ahead of time that, whether or not things go your way in any given situation, you will maintain a positive attitude. A positive attitude makes all the difference between letting failure happen to you and using failure as a motivation to try harder.

Negativity is like a virus; it consumes, and it becomes exponentially more intrusive each time it is given attention. When you let negativity in, it often becomes impossible to extricate. It's like a weed that has to be pulled out at the root. So every time you feel negative attitudes germinating in your cerebral garden, take action and uproot them!

E is for ENVISION. Envision is very similar to attitude. Envisioning yourself as a successful salesperson may be just the thing that will make you so. The action of envisioning yourself as a success starts with a positive attitude and takes it even further. Envisioning is more specific than having the right attitude because the idea is to envision yourself as the person you will become once you have used your positive attitude to achieve the things you want.

Envisioning is all about making it real. Thoughts become realities, so envisioning yourself as a success is an important step toward becoming a success. You wouldn't take off for a vacation without some sense of where you are going, and chances are you have chosen your destination because you have envisioned the fabulous things you will do once you get there. Your sales career is subject to the same rules. Envision the sale and you will be more likely to make it. Conversely, if you envision yourself as a failure, then you have already given up, and you are very unlikely to ever succeed.

E is for EXCEED. Once you envision yourself as a successful salesperson, you will have a launching pad for even more success. Exceeding your own expectations is, perhaps, even more thrilling than exceeding those of your clients or your boss. In any profession where the amount of money you make is determined by the amount of effort you put forth, such as a commission-based profession like sales, there is always pressure to do more. But there is a difference between feeling like what you have done is not enough and feeling like you want to do more. These feelings do not necessarily go hand in hand.

When your internal dialogue includes the phrase "not enough," you are in danger of forgetting any successes you may have already had and, therefore, of cheating yourself out of some well-deserved pride. It takes a truly savvy salesperson to simultaneously pat himself or herself on the back and continue to reach higher. This is what is meant by exceeding. Every time you succeed, there is an opportunity to exceed.

I is for IMPETUS. Your success as a salesperson starts with you. You are the source of your own energy, the impetus for your own progress. There is absolutely no stronger motivation than what you can give yourself. You did not become a salesperson to please your boss. You did not become a salesperson to provide people with a product. Like most professionals, you became a salesperson to make money! That is why we work!

We do not simply hang around feeling privileged to toil away, thinking of our paychecks as side effects of our efforts. Even if we enjoy the daily tasks and assignments of our jobs, the reason we complete them is to get the green. It all starts with the individual. There may be things in our lives that we have to pay for, like cars or mortgages or even kids. But we pay for them because we want them, right?

We make the money so that we can put it toward the things in our lives that cost money but that we enjoy. So even when we don't spend the money on ourselves, in a roundabout way, we are still doing things for ourselves! This is not a bad thing, and it only needs to be pointed out in order to demonstrate that we are the impetuses for everything we do. So be the impetus for your own success. You will only achieve as much as you attempt, and you will only attempt as much as you are driven to achieve.

I is for INFLUENCE. Influencing is a nicer way of taking control. We want to influence our clients in a way that will make them want to do what we want them to do, which is buy the product we are selling. We cannot force them to buy, so we make them want to buy. The best way of getting people to do what you want is to make them want it, too. If this were not true, then any amount of pitiful begging would make a sale. But checkbooks will not open simply because you ask. It just doesn't work that way. And (hopefully!) the last thing we want to do is bamboozle people into buying. The way to get your clients in the buying mood is to influence them—to gently control them by convincing them that they want what you are selling.

Influence also applies to dealing with oneself. In this sense, influence is tied up with attitude and action. When we think of influence as an issue of friendly control, it may become obvious that the one thing over which we do not have control is the outside world. We cannot control what happens to us, but we can control how we experience the things that happen to us. In other words, you cannot influence a rejection by a potential client, but you can influence your experience of that rejection. You are in control of the way you feel about what happens, and you can influence yourself in terms of the way you deal with events in your life.

O is for OPEN MIND. Keeping an open mind about your career as a salesperson will have simple yet impactful effects on your success. Open-mindedness is something that you can apply to every aspect of your sales career, from the way that you think about the product you are selling to the way you interact with your clients to the way you handle rejection. Having an open mind is not the same as being indecisive. It is imperative that you make decisions, particularly if you ever intend to accomplish anything. But a decision becomes a setback when it is made without consideration of all other options.

An informed decision is one made after all the best options have been weighed. And an open-minded decision is one that makes headway while leaving the playing field open for newer and better options. At the very least, open-mindedness manifests itself in the successful salesperson as a way to cope with rejection. Very little about the world is actually personal, and it is futile to take things personally when they have nothing to do with us. Be open-minded in your approach to every aspect of your sales career and you are unlikely to find yourself at a professional impasse.

O is for OBJECTIVES. This is basically the same thing as setting goals. People who achieve success do so because they set and meet objectives. As a salesperson, you have undoubtedly heard a lot about the importance of being "goal-oriented." Having objectives and a strategy by which you plan to achieve them is the foundation of success. Everyone, even the unsuccessful person, sets objectives for himself or herself. The difference between successful and unsuccessful objectiveness is following through. An objective is useless if, once the going gets tough, you move on without reaching it.

Write down a list of progressive objectives that you would like to achieve, and do not move on to pursuing the next until you have achieved the first. What is the point of setting objectives for yourself if you are complacent about reaching them? Though it may be difficult to resist the urge to try to meet the next objective when you find yourself struggling with the first, doing so will be an essential lesson in patience and perseverance.

U is for UNDERSTAND. Understanding your product and your client is crucial to making a sale. Most of us know this. But understanding is about more than simply learning or knowing something. Understanding something means that you can explain it to yourself. If you truly understand something, you think about it in relation to yourself—you do not consider it to be external.

Therefore, to understand the value of your product means to know why and how it would be valuable to you. To truly understand your client means to think as he or she would think. You cannot influence your client to buy your product unless you understand him or her and understand what would make him or her want to buy your product.

U is for UTILIZE. Develop, operate, and exploit every possible resource for success that you can find. You can never be too good at what you do. Read books, go to workshops, speak with and learn from coworkers. Use every experience and every contact to your advantage. Use and BE USEFUL. You want to be indispensable to your boss and to your clients.

Successful salespeople are experts, or at least they present themselves that way. The tickets to success are to recognize resources, use resources, and be a resource yourself. When you do these things, you are always improving by using every available resource and, therefore, developing an ever-growing repertoire to offer to those for whom you are a resource.

P is for PREPARATION. This one is simple. If you are not prepared, don't go! You must always be practicing and preparing to make a sale. Knowing your product's weaknesses is actually a strength. When you are prepared to answer even the toughest questions, nothing can catch you off guard.

Make a list of all the pros and cons your client might consider; then, come up with one great thing to say about every pro and two solutions to every con. This may be time-consuming, but if your client points out one of the cons on your list, at least you will have an answer. Never cross your fingers that your client won't think to ask about drawbacks. This is avoidance, not preparation.

P is for PERSISTENCE. You've all heard the saying "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." Well, take this to the next level. If you get turned down, then try harder. Maintain your energy and your positive attitude. The last client you see doesn't care if it's the end of the day for you. You should bring the same energy to every client. The more people you see, the more nos you will get but the more yeses, too. Be persistent and consistent. Be consistently persistent!

Well, that concludes our little acrostic for now. Stay tuned to SellingCrossing for upcoming articles, advice, and information.
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