Significantly Increase Sales by Practicing
By: John Chapin
Every sports team practices. Not just the pros. College, high school, pee-wee, shoot I remember my Pony League baseball team practicing when I was five years old. Add to this the fact that many, if not most, professionals practice. Would you want a heart surgeon who hasn’t practiced on cadavers, and in many other ways, shapes, and forms, doing open-heart surgery on you? Of course not. Actually, in that case, you’d hope that they not only had tons of practice before their first surgery and between the others, but you’d also hope that they got lots of game experience too.
As a salesperson, practice can have a significant, positive impact on sales numbers. In an article a few years back I referenced an old sales book: Secrets of Closing Sales by Charles B. Roth. In the book he talked about a group of salespeople in Detroit who roleplayed various sales situations with each other and their manager. In a year they increased their sales by 100%. He then talked about another group in NYC that used this idea of roleplaying and increased sales by 150%. Finally, he cited several examples of individual salespeople who increased their sales by as much as 400% using this idea.
I’ve had the same results in my sales career and with the individuals and companies I’ve worked with as a trainer. As a brand-new stockbroker, I remember walking around with a large tape recorder recording the top brokers in the office. I recorded their cold calls, presentations, answers to objections, closes, and everything else that they said to prospects and clients. Sure enough, when I started saying the same things, the same way, in the same situations, I started to get similar results until I too was one of the top brokers. With clients, I find the most effective word tracks for all sales situations, and then have the salespeople practice these until they are embedded in their subconscious and come out of their mouths as automatic responses. The result? Sales go up almost immediately and skyrocket long term.
All that considered, why do the majority of salespeople not practice? In my experience, it happens for one or more of three reasons. First, they haven’t been properly trained. In other words, no one ever taught them the process or required them to practice, and the thought never occurred to them. Second, many salespeople are simply lazy, and practice is extra work. Finally, the third reason salespeople don’t practice it that they’d rather sound inept in front of the prospect, who is a stranger, than in front of their peers. It’s true. If they come off as a blathering idiot in front of a prospect, that’s okay because they don’t ever have to see or talk to that person ever again if they don’t want to. On the other hand, if they trip over their tongue and look bad in front of their peers, they have to see those people again, also, the ridicule is likely to be worse than in front of a prospect. A prospect is much less likely to laugh out loud or make fun of you than your peers. And while most of the time peers making fun of you isn’t the case, most salespeople believe it will be and they imagine it will be much worse than it is. Bottom line, no one wants to be embarrassed in front of their tribe or made to feel singled out or less than.
90% of the time when I begin roleplaying with even veteran salespeople, and I give them a standard objection they’ve been getting since their third week in the business, the first sound out of their mouth is usually ‘ahhhh,’ followed by some off-the-cuff, made-up response. The lack of practice is immediately and painfully obvious. If you want to be a great salesperson, you simply must practice. Ideally, practice will be with other salespeople and your manager, but it can also be with your spouse, one of your kids, your dog, in the mirror by yourself, or in the car driving. And while you’ll get the most constructive feedback in front of your peers and manager, the most important piece is that you practice the right things, in any way you can, until they become second nature. If you correctly and consistently practice all the sales situations you’re going to run into during the day, this one exercise alone will have a significant, positive impact on your sales numbers.
#1 Sales Rep w 34+ years’ experience, Author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia (Axiom Book Awards) – also the largest sales book on the planet (678 pages).
John Chapin is a motivational sales speaker, coach, and trainer. For his free eBook: 30 Ideas to Double Sales and monthly article, or to have him speak at your next event, go to www.completeselling.com. John has over 34 years of sales experience as a number one sales rep and is the author of the 2010 sales book of the year, Sales Encyclopedia (Axiom Book Awards). You can reprint provided you keep contact information in place.