Complacency Kills Sales

More sales. More customer growth and more success. That’s what everyone wants and how we have traditionally defined success as sales professionals. If you are selling more, then you must be successful – right? Perhaps…or maybe not so much anymore. This is true by conventional measures. But the changing face of HOW people do business teaches us that the old measures of success are now only part of the measure of success we have traditionally held ourselves to. Let’s be clear – the rules have changed and how we differentiate ourselves and our offerings is the reason why we will see more success. Personal and professional complacency kills sales.

Here are the six reasons why great sales professionals achieve differentiation and subsequently create and retain success:

  1. Know your personal value proposition (PVP). This is one of my favorite topics to speak about. In five words or less, can you tell people what you do (not what your title is)? People buy from people not titles, and people make the difference, not titles or position. How exactly do you bring value to your client?
  2. Embrace the client’s agenda. Do you know how your clients and prospects make money? Do you know how they measure success and see you and your offering as part of how they attain success? If you are assuming you know this, you are taking your business for granted and are putting a big target on your back.
  3. Constantly create business conversations, not price conversations. In the “old days” when I worked for Xerox and sold copiers, we talked about “speeds and feeds” as a way to create differentiation and close more sales. Today’s sales professionals are experts at creating and managing long-term business conversations that by their very nature imply a thorough business knowledge of their clients’ business.
  4. Have the courage to be vulnerable. This is one area I am most passionate about, and it will be the focus of my next book on sales culture. Great professionals – sales and everyone – are brave enough to know their value proposition, stick to it, and be very focused on what they do. Taking on more responsibility than you can manage makes you mediocre at everything – and mediocre in your clients’ eyes. Trying to convince your clients and coworkers that you can do it all costs sales.
  5. Stay ahead of your client. Do you ever have the opportunity to proactively educate and inform your clients before they ask? Nothing makes more things happen when you are first to know, inform, and educate. This makes you a business professional and not a sales rep. How can you differentiate if you don’t know their business and the drivers of future growth?
  6. Present and speak well. If you want to sell more, then present better. Take a presentation skills seminar, or check out Toastmasters. You will sell more when you present and speak with confidence and from a place of authority. As a professional speaker, I have always been taught that I am the expert until I “give away the microphone.” You ARE the expert in your field, so don’t give that up. Ever.

There you have it – six not so simple steps to avoid complacency and create more success and more sales. These apply to everyone, regardless of your job or your title. As I have spoken about for my entire professional career – we are all in sales, and these steps are vital to us all to differentiate and beat the competition. It does not matter how much success you have had or the money you have made. The rules have changed and these steps will help you avoid complacency, differentiate, and enjoy more success.

4 thoughts on “Complacency Kills Sales”

  1. Todd, excellent comments. This has been my sales bible for many years. I was taken by point 3. In my IBM days when a customer said “I need a 100 MIP computer, how much?” I usually responded that nobody needs a 100MIP computer. They may need a better payroll system or billing system but nobody needs to spend $5 mil. for 10 tons of useless iron. Great piece

  2. Great job! The one thing I would add is that complacency leads to arrogance, which is really the thing that causes lost business. Arrogant sales people are unfortunately not that uncommon, and often are found in market leading companies.
    Early in my sales career I worked for a very small tech company competing with a giant in the industry. My counterpart there was successful and extremely arrogant, and I set a trap for him that he set off as I planned, and consequently he lost the order. When his executive management tried to re-capture it, they only made things worse when their President called the customer’s President to tell him what a big mistake they were making.

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