19 November 2009

So who is the Sales king?

Sales are the driving force in a competitive market. So how do you stack up in the space where getting that next deal is not as easy as it once may have been? Maybe there are more people competing for business in your area of expertise, maybe the products on offer are more limited than before, maybe the customer is looking elsewhere and your product does not seem as appealing.

"Nothing happens until the sale is made," is a quote often heard around sales team meetings. While this comment is somewhat accurate, there's

  • preparation before the sale - promoting yourself to your target market by advertising, researching potential customers, observing what is happening in your local area where business opportunities may present themselves, attending functions, networking, sponsorship, just seeing most people as potential customers
  • delivering the sale - keep your promise of service and deliver on time, at a level that meets and exceeds the needs of your customer, and
  • work after the sale - make sure that the customer has not been forgotten once the sale goes through. Evaluate what worked and didn't work to make sure sales keep recurring

Picture a chess board and see where the salesperson fits in. A salesperson is every piece EXCEPT the king.

But like any chess master, salespeople have to be versatile, think three moves in advance, and watch out for their competition. They have to be willing to make bold moves within a certain time limit, know when to strike, and when to be defensive - especially when the king is exposed.

In order to win the match, salespeople have to study the game and, when playing, concentrate on each single move and opportunity. Not just by 'taking a punt', but using strategy and psychology. Winners study and practise. Winners love to play the game. Winners are passionate players. Winners play to win, and are focused on every move, whether they make it, or the competition makes it.

And whether they are wiling to admit it or not, they are also painfully aware of the potential consequences of every move, including losing their king.

Have you prepared for the game? Do you have a strategy to win? Do you know who you are playing against? Do you have an opening move? How confident are you that you'll win? Do you have alternate moves? How many 'punts' do you have at your disposal? Are you willing to risk the consequences of your moves in order to get the king?

Just like all the great chess masters, every great salesperson was once a beginner. Think about your beginnings - you were a lot of things, and wore a lot of hats. You probably made a lot of mistakes. It's unlikely you became king on day one. You were enthusiastic, eager to learn, willing, and humble. You were open to new ideas. Your mind was a sponge for all kinds of knowledge and information. The best salespeople still think the same way. Don't worry about your title, just keep doing it like it was your first day, and make a ton of sales.

So who is the king? The king is your existing and prospective customers.

Like a king on the chessboard, they can only move slowly, one space at a time, and must be protected at all costs. Every chess player, every salesperson, must know the king's presence and what his options are for survival.

Oh, and by the way, for the 'real' chess players - the queen is the most powerful and the most versatile piece. Maybe that's why much of the time women outsell men.

Best regards
Iain Pepper


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Iain Pepper
Head of Lending

Iain Pepper is a Vice-President and the Head of Lending for the La Trobe Group.Read full profile here.

La Trobe is one of Australia's leading independent specialist mortgage Financiers. Its business includes residential mortgages, commercial mortgages, and investment services operating one of Australia's largest Mortgage Funds under AFSL 222213. It employs over 145 staff and has raised over AUD$10Billion to assist over 100,000 customers since inception in 1952.

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