Every once in a while I notice some b2b sales people who believe they have arrived and no longer need to go to any form of training, sales development or even be coached.
This is a common issue and one you need to watch out for assuming you want to truly be the one of the best b2b sales people in your company or in your industry.
These are higher standards of performance and require a different mindset for sales success. One of the most important elements for your long term b2b sales success, is to constantly improve your selling skills – and I am not referring to product knowledge or objection handling here.
It takes practice and continuous learning to move into the upper level of b2b sales superstars. Development is the key to move to the next level. Yet, a large number of sales people have a habit of avoiding opportunities to improve their skills and competencies.
Then there are the four signs you are in serious need of re-energizing your sales skills. Here are the four signs you will need to watch for in your daily sales routines…
- You tend to work at getting better at what you are already good at doing.
This is what I refer to as a perfectionist or in some cases an extremist who keeps improving in areas they are already very good at doing – while ignoring the areas currently limiting their success. These are the same people who skip or avoid sales development events or processes – telling others they don’t need to be wasting their time. The truth is – the best sales people are the continuous and lifelong learners. They are the first ones to sign up for sales development when offered and they are usually at the top of the list for Self Development. Do you have a plan for regular upgrading of your sales skills?
- Bad Habits rise up
Usually your customers or prospects will not tell you if or how you are making mistakes with them. If you are accidentally lucky while making a boat load of errors, you may develop some bad habits while all the time thinking you are doing great. These bad habits can ruin a sales career faster than any thing else. Be aware of the routines you use, check with others from time to time about your habits. A good sales coach will spot them quickly and have you avoid self-destruction by habits.
- The Customer dictates your b2b sales process and methodology
This crosses the line between being customer focused and letting the customer dictate terms and conditions relative to what and how you do things. I can say this has happened to me in the past and I paid a huge price for it every time I allowed it go on. Collaboration is the ultimate goal when working with a customer in today’s environment, however, if you lose your confidence or courage the customer will take whatever you give them. Include some personal self development work in your continuous learning plan to build your confidence and self-esteem. You will need both to be successful.
- You Lack a Network of High Performing Peers
This is where the lone wolf can lose their edge. When you have no peers to relate with about sales, trends, industry issues, and economic environments – no to mention changes in the way customers are buying or the best sales people are winning regardless of conditions, you are at risk. The more contacts and peers you have the better your opportunities to stay at the top of your sales game. Today, no one is on an island – you need to keep in the know with other high performers sharing tips and success stories for learning best practices in b2b sales. Networking is not a dirty word, use it and win more business.
These four are major in slowing down or even limiting your potential as a true high performer. Watch out for these signs and create a proactive process to counter these signs. A regular plan of developmental work, including possibly being coached by an experienced and knowledge sales person can separate you for the average. (Notice I did not say be coached by a trainer – you need to be coached by someone who sales AND knows how to teach or coach someone else to higher levels of performance.)
One last thought regarding continuous improvement in your profession of b2b sales. Knowledge is doubling at an ever increasing rate. When I started selling, knowledge only doubled every five years, so it was a little easier to keep up to date. Today, the rules have changed – knowledge is doubling in general every two years and in some categories knowledge and information is doubling every six months! Therefore, in the general knowledge arena, up to half of what you know could become obsolete. In other words, you must be on a very serious continuous improvement plan JUST TO MAINTAIN YOUR LEVEL OF KNOWLEDGE.
Your key for long term success is to have a continuous improvement plan ( do not rely upon your company to do this for you. Use books, audios and workshops to stay ahead of the curve. ), network with high performing peers to gain a fast insight into critical issues, and finally, specialize or focus as much as you can so you can stay ahead in the knowledge and information avalanche. Do these things well and you will win more business.