Corporations as well as high profile individuals live and die by the messages they are sending. From a shocking scandal to a new fragrance, it is the job of a Pr (Public Relations) firm to spray the right message to its intended audience. In short, a great Pr firm monitors the heartbeat of its targeted audience. Sadly, salespeople’s careers are cut short every day because they have lost the pulse and abandoned the Pr's that once made them successful: Preparation, Practice, and Production.
- Preparation: Preparation is the process of knowing how to perform a specific skill. Begin with the end in mind- the measurements of preparation being visualization and planning. High stakes professions see their desired ending before they have even acted. The Navy’s Blue Angels visualize their death-defying maneuvers, public speakers receive a standing ovation, and athletes make the game winning shot in front of millions of people. These high-stakes professions begin with the end in mind. As sales consultants, we practice visualization as well- the only problem is we visualize the wrong outcome. Why do we visualize worst-case scenarios instead of “Holy Cow!” moments? When a customer drives up in an old beater or another one is not wearing clothing conducive to our dealership's culture, why do we wrongfully visualize not making a sale? Whatever you visualize, your subconscious mind accepts it as truth; your subconscious cannot distinguish reality from fiction. If that's the case, trick your mind by visualizing yourself handing the keys over to your new customer. Pessimistic minds reap puny wages; optimistic ones reap a harvest of commissions.
- The second measurement of preparation is planning. We sales consultants certainly have no trouble planning. We plan lunch, ice cream runs; and after hour drinking spots. We also plan to do better from the 15th until the end of the month- swearing to ourselves and whoever will listen, to work bell to bell to pull out another average month. We spend more time planning events that cost us money and little toward the skills that will make us rich. Planning is the blueprint of your career; it is the written results of what you have visualized. Do contractors begin building a house without a blueprint? Then why are we building our sales careers like a house of cards; insisting on winging it out on the lot? Winging it is why customers say “all salespeople are just alike.” Few salespeople take the time to work on planning such as calculating the number of ups required to reach their monthly goal or strengthening product knowledge and negotiating skills. Don’t build your career as a house of cards; the winds of circumstances will always blow down your carded efforts-visualization and blueprints are the roadmaps that will take you from mediocrity to greatness.
- Practice: Practicing is the art of putting all of your preparation into action. Just as the PBS artist Bob Ross (the painter with the afro) dabs different colors of paint onto a blank canvas, so too do great salespeople. Bob didn't just show up in front of a camera; instead he visualized and planned the outcome of the painting way before the red light of the camera flicked on. With the audience watching, his renderings went from globs of paint, to recognizable shapes, emerging into a beautiful painting by the show's end. Great salespeople artfully put their preparation into practice; with brilliant strokes of questioning and listening, great salespeople have the ability to render a masterpiece-transforming once shoppers into long-term, loyal customers. A word of caution; practice will not make the actual game look easy, only purposeful practice can. You must deliberately practice answering objections correctly or performing a great walk around; in short, whatever needs work in your career, deliberately work on it. NFL receiver Jerry Rice played for 20 seasons due to his relentless pursuit to perfection. Undersized and overlooked he put 80% of his efforts into his preparation and practices, the other 20%, known as games, got him a first ballot hall of fame spot. PGA golfers are known for burying golf balls deep in a sand trap only to begin the purposeful practice of hitting them out. Although they may practice the shot hundreds of times, they may only have it occur once in a tournament-when they do, they are ready. Researcher Steve Kerr explained we operate out of 1 of 3 zones: Comfort, Learning, or Panic zones. It is in our nature to migrate toward things that are familiar, affectionately known as the comfort zone, but true growth only occurs in the learning zone. In sales, we tend to omit the learning zone altogether, skipping from the comfort to the panic zone as our month diminishes.
- Production: Production is the tangible, measurable, cashable results of preparation and practicing. Actors don’t win Academy Awards by just wanting to be good actors, nor do athletes win a championship only by practicing; the results are measured in your production. If you want to be known as a great salesperson, you have to blend of the right mixture of preparation and practice in order to produce and drink from the fountain of success.
Farmers don’t believe in miracles of agricultural production; it takes preparation and practice to produce a bountiful crop. Battleships are not made to be dry-docked; they are built to receive punishment yet have to remain unsinkable to produce a victory. The USS U has prepared and practiced maneuvering through stormy seas of adversity while handling an onslaught of customers' fiery objections. With one victorious sale after another, you are on your way to becoming known as unsinkable in a tumultuous profession. It's time to get out of dry-dock; push from the enbankment of your fears and become the ultimate Pr... Pro.
I'll see you next time on the Black Top