When people think of the smartest professions, they probably don’t think of salespeople. Scientists, doctors, economists, mathematicians, software entrepreneurs, that’s who most people think of. But contrary to popular belief, there are plenty of highly intelligent salespeople out there. Many of them even have advanced degrees and moved into sales from another profession. And that’s not to mention emotional intelligence, which many of the best salespeople have in droves.
Smart salespeople tend to be able to control one aspect of their intellect: the propensity to overthink situations. Many salespeople cost themselves opportunities and deals because they needlessly complicate an otherwise uncomplicated situation. But smart salespeople also know what to say and what not to say, knowledge that benefits them tremendously. Taking that into account, here are seven things that only the smartest salespeople say:
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1. “I have to prepare for this”
Some salespeople go through their careers completely winging it, and some do fine going that route. But smart salespeople believe in preparation. This ranges from learning more about their profession and their product to spending time researching a prospect before a call or meeting, and then going over everything that was discussed in order to get ready for the next appointment. Of course, preparedness isn’t everything as there are lots of moving parts in sales, but taking the time to actually get yourself ready so that nothing is a surprise and you’re seen as a competent and reliable professional will always give you an edge.
2. “This is what I can control”
Let’s be clear: sometimes it isn’t your fault that a deal didn’t close. Maybe quite a bit of the time. You can’t control your company’s value, the price, or market forces. But that doesn’t matter when it comes to your mental state. Smart salespeople always take responsibility for what they can control. If you’re so busy focusing on everything that’s wrong with where you work or with the prospect or with your sales manager, you’re not going to be successful in sales. You’re just not. You need to figure out what it is that you can control: things like your effort, your enthusiasm, your preparedness and your creativity, and focus all of your energies on improving these things rather than thinking about why everything is so messed up.
3. “Tell me more about this please”
You might assume that smart salespeople spend their time talking and educating themselves, but the truth of the matter is that they spend much more time listening and asking follow-up questions so that they can better understand their prospect’s situation and needs. The best way to make a sale isn’t to cram your offer down somebody’s throat, but to become a trusted problem-solver. Make sure you ask open ended questions that take the conversation in the direction that’s going to provide you with the most useful information. If you do this, the road-map for how to close the sale will appear before you.
4. “Let’s schedule our next appointment now”
What usually happens after a conversation with a prospect? Very often, it ends with them telling you to check back in with them or that they’ll take some time and think about it or run it by somebody else. It makes sense that most people want to be polite and not cross boundaries, but smart salespeople know to get a concrete commitment for a next step at the end of each call or meeting. Make sure that solidify something and get it on the calendar each time, that way you minimize the possibility of losing touch and the deal floating off into the ether forever.
5. “What could I have done differently?”
Dumb people think they already know everything and are perfect. Smart people know that they don’t and that they constantly need to keep learning and evolving in order to excel. Smart people ask themselves, and sometimes ask their failed deals what they could have done differently and then internalize and learn from that information so that they can do it better next time. If you think of the last deal that you weren’t able to close and consider what you could have done differently, even if it wasn’t the main reason why it didn’t work out, you’ll be better prepared for your next at-bat.
6. “Are you ready to move forward today?”
Ok, I’ll admit that dumb salespeople say this too, but it’s so critical that it can’t be left out. So many salespeople, year after year, build great rapport, go through the entire sales process, get everything right, and then when it comes down to it don’t ask for the business. Sometimes it really is that simple, and all it takes is to come right out and ask for the business. If you’re guilty of this, whatever mental block is stopping you, get rid of it immediately. Once asking for the business becomes second nature for you, you’ll never have to worry about losing a deal for such a simple reason.