How to Be a Sales Leader in Any Economy

How to market oneself and one's services to maximum levels in any economy.

Depending on what you are marketing and a number of other factors you might find yourself facing more resistance from the current marketplace than usual. Most will chalk this up to the economy. However anyone who has been in sales knows our business is always up and down but that's why we are in sales. If we wanted a consistent paying job, we'd take an hourly or salaried position and not worry about our pay. It's the potential for untold wealth and rewards that motivate us to higher levels.

I have been successful in sales since I was a very little kid selling seeds and greeting cards from the company that advertised in the comics I read. It's been very rare for me not to win whatever prize incentive or trip was offered wherever I worked. I have done various types of telemarketing, sold new and used vehicles, advertising, and insurance. The majority of my sales background is in insurance which I enjoy most for a number of reasons but I'll save that for another article.

The biggest key for any salesperson in any field is enthusiasm. This shouldn't be phony or forced. You should be excited. You have a great product and a great prospect. It's a well-known scientific fact that people want to do business with sucessful people. If you appear depressed or down-trodden or deperate who would want to do business with you. There are several factors involved in making a sale and obviously no one, even Zig Ziglar, bats 1000 but personality and likability is at least 70% key to making any sale. The other 30% will be dependent on cost, suitability, and affordability of the product you offer. I have made many sales without having the lowest-priced product but having the customer's trust. I have also lost many sales because I didn't have the lowest-cost product.

The one thing I have found is there is always someone cheaper but I always believe there is NO ONE better. To sell this, you have to stress your service before, during, and after the sale and mean it. Words without follow-through are empty words and make you appear dishonest. Too many salespeople have given those of us that do care and are honest a bad rap. As I said, there is always someone cheaper, there is also always someone more expensive.

You need to find out how to target the competition's customers. How to do that will depend on the product you are selling and the guidelines you must follow. In the financial services industry there are a lot of rules to follow regarding competition and replacement selling that doesn't exist in other industries. If you are selling automobiles right now, it is a given there are many challenges. There are lots of special incentives however, problems with competitors, and many people trying to cut expenses so to me, that spells a lot of opportunity. I was one of the few car salespeople that would call classified ads where people were selling a car the dealership might be interested in and made several sales that way. If you are just sitting around for hours waiting for people to come in and take turns with other salespeople, you are losing a lot of money. You're stuck at the dealership anyhow. Bring in some people who will be asking for you. You may or may not make a sale but you have generating activity and everyone knows, the more people you see the more you sell.

Recently I have started hiring telemarketers to set appointments for me so I can spend my time in front of prospects instead of spending time lining up prospects. In my field, I need to see most clients at night which is also when they are home to be called. It's difficult to do both at once and I have been in the business long enough to want to work smarter not harder. Let's say you are in the home improvement business, find local contractors who can complement your services and work out some type of equitable arrangement. If you sell windows and they buy windows from you then you give them a discount, etc.

In automobile sales, check out your fleet program and see if you are allowed to make fleet sales. There are always business needing new vehicles. Some dealerships will pay you if you find good cars for them to resell. Once again the classifieds are a great source. Right now, many business are looking to cut costs so it's a good time if you sell insurance like I do to save them money on their health coverage and then add payroll deduction products. Many people have had poor investment returns with their mutual funds or CDs. Annuities have never looked better. This is a phenomenonal opportunity. If you aren't selling annuities, you're doing yourself and your clients a big diservice. Perhaps your company doesn't offer annuities or some of the other opportunities I discussed. That's what's great about sales. Companies always need to sell their products and always need great salespeople so you might decide now is the time to look for a different company that gives you the products you need for success. I have worked for a few companies myself until I finally found the right fit or products and compensation for my needs.

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Irene Nevins
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Posted on Feb 7, 2011