Some athletes are amazing individuals. Many develop a skill set, and let their skills take them to the top of their craft. If they are fortunate enough, they get a chance in college, or even the professional ranks.
In this process they learn something during that journey that many other individuals don’t get the opportunity to experience. From the time that you show some mastery of your craft, and even become accomplished, the coach is searching for your replacement! Yes…someone to knock you off of your perch.
It is natural, and taken for granted. For example, if you are a sophomore college athlete in basketball, you will be asked to show other athletes around campus in hopes that they will attend. Any one of these athletes can be your competition for your position…Yes, your potential replacement! You do it willingly and accept it, as that is how you initially became acquainted with the campus and met the players; that is just the way it is.
Be keen on this issue as in the light of competition, you will recognize the need to do something to get better or be concerned about being replaced, regardless of your color!
Let’s Be Systematic
The sales process for an individual is complicated but simple. Simple from the standpoint of the components:
- Territory Management/Situational Assessment
- Prospecting/Prospect Management
- Sales Skills/ Training/Development
Underlying each of these is the last portion of the professional process:
- Continuous Improvement
Each of these has its particular role and we should examine them, as each professional needs to govern their own improvement.
Territory Management – Situational Assessments – Black sales professionals need to know and manage their territories just like any other professional. Knowing the clientele, the buying habits, and the effects of external stimuli such as the economy. Just as important is being strong at doing situational assessments, which is the ability to ‘read’ sales situations correctly. Is this buyer ready to buy, and will he/she buy from me? Am I being played and at what cost? What proof sources or references do I need to increase my credibility? What do I need to do to get the edge? Assessing the situation and recognition of special circumstances are important.
Improving the activities around territory management and situational analysis makes a difference. Some improvement comes with experience, and some with good analysis.
Prospecting/Prospect Management – Improvement here is one that some veterans might not feel is as important, but many others will see the need to get markedly better. The act of prospecting, and pipeline management should never be neglected, and any attempts to improve are well worth it. From knowing your formulas to the actual pitches that you use, prospect sourcing is that one area that demands continuous improvement, and continuous attention. Get better at the act of prospecting, and know your numbers to a ‘fault’. Regarding actual technique you might read Black Sales Journal 11/28/11 Tuning Up Your Cold Calling and Phone Etiquette or Black Sales Journal 3/22/12, Are You Playing Roulette or Working Smart?
Sales Skills/Training/Development – Have you ever thought about whether a sales training course or seminar will help you? Have you ever pondered buying that paperback about sales but just did not want to pay the steep $16.00 price? Well, at least you have thought about these items…now do it! Courses and seminars are not for everyone, but you would be wrong to count them all out. Whether it is for skills development or motivation, investigate them well and take the plunge. The ‘morsel’ that you need to improve might be right there waiting. Other sales professionals can help by making suggestions, but whether it is a good book or an informative seminar, try it, you may like it.
Continuous Improvement – Easier than You Think!
Continuous improvement includes activities from self-study course work to getting an advanced degree. It can include anything from changing your sales methods to learning a new method of closing sales. There are sales professionals working on all aspects of their skills with seminars, college coursework, professional sales skills coursework, and a multitude of other types of self-improvement.
Determine the areas that can use improvement, and just …do something! I can’t think of one sales professional who would not benefit from a seriously good negotiation course. If it is not new material, it can serve as a refreshing.
Remember, there is always someone who wants to take your place, no matter what you think of the rigors of your sales position, and they may be sharpening their skills.
Always be the best.
Your comments are welcome. You can reach me at Michael.Parker@blacksalesjournal.com.