12 Lessons Learned From the Best!

Man Prospecting

There are always gambits and tactics that you could learn from the best sales professionals.  Some of these useful tools might present ways to become more effective and some might be ways to be more persuasive.  Whatever the thrust is, there are procedures that are working for some of the highest earning sales professionals out there, and you would be missing something not to try them.


The best sales professionals have benefited from learning these things from others as well, although some of them have worked hard to construct the tactics.  I am a believer that the tactics are “fair game”, and the best will feel flattered that they are being ‘copied’.

12 Lessons You Can Learn and Benefit From

We all have certain tricks of the trade.  The best sales professionals have some rather simple ones that they brag about.  I think that the ease is in knowing them, and that they can be effective. You will need to remember and practice them, as they don’t necessarily come naturally.

Remember that you are not without your own time-proven gambits, yet these can supplement anything that you have been doing.

  • Before You Leave – Secure the Next Appointment
  • Each Meeting Have an “Action” in Mind
  • Be an Effective Listener
  • Know When to Say “I don’t know”
  • Be an Expert
  • Recognize that Rejection is Part of Sales
  • Show a Personality
  • Always be Dressed for Business
  • Have multiple “touch points” at Each Customer
  • Prospect Every Single Day
  • Develop Deep Enduring Relationships
  • Be Responsive

Before You Leave – Secure the Next Appointment – Never walk out without the next chapter being planned.  One of my favorite sales authors, Stephan Schiffman (101 Successful Sales Strategies, 2005 Adams Media), makes this suggestion about the first call.  I certainly suggest it for a first appointment, yet suggest as well for much of the early going with a customer.  End each session setting up the next encounter.

Each Meeting Have an “Action” in Mind – Know your end game for each session.  Make sure that you have an action step in each meeting.  Your update to the customer keeps you in contact, and keeps things moving along

Be an Effective Listener - The best sales professionals let the client talk.  They ask open-ended questions that generate complete thoughts and answers.  They let the client completely finish those answers before giving their input.  Then…they listen! Customers know when you are listening, and they appreciate it.

Know When to Say “I don’t know” – No customer expects that you will have an answer for every problem during your call or meeting.  It is safe to say that you don’t know.  Follow-up is the key, be responsive and do your research.

Be an Expert – You all know my sentiments about being an expert.  It is that angle that you can take which can define you in the future.  Everyone needs expertise in some particular area, and once they have it, the recognition and acclaim begins to flow.  Whether it is an industry, geography, or a product, you should recognize that “expert power” is effective and can mesmerize a customer in addition to giving the requisite value.

Recognize that Rejection is Part of Sales – A sales professional does not take rejection personally.  The Black sales professional needs to be able to separate rejection in the sales process from preference and prejudice.  They are different!  Rejection is part of the process, and the more you have rejection, the more you are able to determine its common nuances,  Don’t sweat it.

Show a Personality – Don’t put on a show, but show that you are a human being.  If the only thing the customer/prospect thinks is that you want his check, you have missed an opportunity.  Remember to be personable, not personal.

Always be Dressed for Business – Dress as if you are serious, and always dress for the part.  Business dress is your “uniform”.  Don’t find yourself being lulled into dressing down as you are on a mission.

Have multiple “touch points” at Each Customer – The “deeper” your contact points go into a customer, the more assured that you can be of having an “ear” in an organization.  When there is change in your customer’s organization, you will appreciate this suggestion.  Know more than one solid contact in each of your customer’s organization.

Prospect Every Single Day – Every single day you should be preparing for the future.  Prospecting is not the sole source of new business prospects, but it is most effective use of your time on a daily basis.  It needs to be a planned routine and it needs to consistently be executed.  Only then can the “law of large numbers” work for you.  Religiously execute the prospecting plan.

Develop Deep Enduring Relationships – Everyone that most of us sell to is a current customer and a potential repeat customer.  Relationships “rule” in the end and can change “preference” as two whom one prefers to do business with.  Develop relationships with a purpose, and work at them.  If you are truthful, and give value, they will start to increase in depth.

Be Responsive – The best sales professionals are responsive to the highest degree.  They answer their phones, return missed calls methodically, respond to questions and do all follow-ups against the clock.  Responsiveness does not mean that you grant all wishes, but it gets answers so people can move to the next important item.  It is always appreciated, and creates an expectation that many sales professionals cannot match.

I know that there are probably more things that could be learned, yet if you live by these simple rules you can generate more success.  If you are good at internalizing them, the difference will be reflected in a professional demeanor and the success should follow.

Maybe you are doing many of these, although maybe not all.  Try them and let me know the results.

We welcome your comments. You can reach me Michael.Parker@blacksalesjournal.com.

First Deliver Solutions…. Then Sell!

Even the number one business in its field has problems in need of solutions.  The best of breed businesses and industry leaders struggle to find solutions so that they can stay on top.

As a sales professional, implicitly what your customer pays you to deliver solutions.  Many times those solutions are underpinned by your own product or service, and sometimes it is the packaging and perception that gives them value.


If you are the sales professional for a firm, and you are ignorant about hat they need, you cannot produce solutions.  You have to ask.  You must gather from them enough information to “make a difference.”  Know how to make your product and services convenient for them.  It is called “ease of doing business.”  If you give the customers an easy way to interface with you, you will make a difference.

Diagnose The Issues

The only way to know what would provide ease of business is to listen and probe deeply and frequently.  Communication is at the root of this diagnosis, and action is the result.

  • Investigate – Seize every opportunity to ask your customer what are their greatest opportunities and threats from a business standpoint.  As companies determine these in their SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis you can focus on what your organization can do.
  • Strengthen Your Knowledge – Know your company’s industry, and have a strong knowledge of the customer’s industry.  Know how you can use your current product offerings packaged differently to satisfy needs.
  • Record – Keep a good record of customer’s problems, and take time to group problems of like-customers together.  If you do this well you can pick where to spend your time trying to develop superior solutions.
  • Research – Spend time researching the best way to solve problems, once you have determined what can efficiently be solved.  Use your competitor’s ideas, your imagination, and yourexpertise as you research how to solve.

Stand and Deliver

Once you have determined what can be solved efficiently and have researched the solutions that can be used, you have an excellent opportunity to be a “star” if you deliver it correctly.

I am going to give a practical example of how this works:

An office products sales professional recognizes that his list of clients includes a large number of non-profits.  Much of his customer list had similar needs, and similar restrictions from the standpoint of finances.  Non-profits are similar, although not the same.  Knowing this market segment, he began to structure a program that had some unique offerings.

Realizing that many of these non-profits buy many of the same products, he began the process of packaging them.  He came up with unique “offerings” that were mainly packaging that satisfied a need regarding the products purchased, and the way they were consumed.

He then lobbied for unique credit terms (trade terms) that he could offer, knowing that they would need to stretch out payments for a longer period based on them being funded by governmental agencies and donations.  Once he got them, he made that a part of his “Non-Prof-Pak”.

He then worked to do that which you can only do if you know the buying habits of your customers.  He worked to do a separate mailing to his customers (“Non-Prof-Pak) with the most frequently purchased products in it.  This was based on his research of what products were being purchased by all of them.  His mailing amounted to a specialized catalog of items that were most used by non-profits including some items that his organization did not carry; yet he knew they needed.  He arranged for those items to come from a “friendly” competitor that allowed those items in the mailing.  It was “win-win”.

The result was that his customers did not have to search for their most common items.  Someone who “specialized” in non-profits sent them to them!  We know that it was the way it was packaged, and received.  They did not have to hunt through a long catalog; someone had marketed directly to them.

This sales professional picked up business from this sector, and attained a certain stature in the business community.  This individual has retired since then, and there are not catalogs for the most part with on-line marketing, yet the example is solid.  Packaging is important, marketing is important, and specialization is important.

Product and Promotion

That is a question only you can answer.  There is a possibility that you can identify a group of customers who have a similar need and operating pattern.  Examples are storefront merchants, Black churches and religious organizations, truckers, printers, publishers, and a host of other semi-homogeneous groups.  You want groups with more in common, than differences.

Structure them with an eye toward what solutions they need, then deliver it.  Your research is important, so do it correctly.  You can figure out what makes them the same, and market to them with the application of some of the steps above.

Remember the 5Ps of Marketing:

  • People
  • Place
  • Product
  • Promotion
  • Price

In this effort, you are concentrating on the product, or perceived product and promotion.  Your packaging of the product promotion makes all of the difference in the world in this case.

You can only do what your organization lets you do; yet there is some latitude here.  Remember some of the discussions in Black Sales Journal 12/20 – Your Customer Needs an Expert- Let it be You.  We are not talking about you being a sophisticated expert here, yet your ability to package and promote will be the ultimate asset.

By doing this you can provide an ease of doing business that others might have missed.  You can orchestrate the designing of product packages that hit the mark.  We all have seen it, known what it is, and still purchased because it had “perceived” value.

I think you can provide more solutions than you think.  You might be surprised.

Your comments are appreciated.