Lessons learned: A little extra time

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October 28/November 4, 2019: Volume 35, Issue 9

By Tom Jennings

 

When asked to compare the difference in performance characteristics between a top-producing sales professional and an average performer, I always respond that a common trait the professionals exhibit is they are willing to invest an extra few minutes per day toward their goal of being successful. By this I mean the minutes they are willing to prepare prior to their sales shift beginning.

Does this following scenario sounds vaguely familiar? One minute before he “has to be at work,” Sorry Salesman comes gliding through the front door with his breakfast sack in one hand and his ever-present cell phone clinched in the other. He appears as if he has been out of bed for about 10 minutes. His hair is still damp, his tie is draped over his shoulder and his shirt tail is untucked. His rationale is he doesn’t need to be dressed up yet. He’ll have time to finish getting ready when he gets to work. He proceeds to drape his coat on the back of his chair, drop his car keys on the desktop and announce, “I’m here!” like he has accomplished something.

While this may seem exaggerated to some, I have witnessed similar behavior far too many times. The sad reality is that those who are only willing to give such marginal efforts are allowed to get by with such non-productive performance. Even if Sorry Salesman is not concerned about his nonchalant behavior, management should be. As a manager, you will always get the minimum behavior that you are willing to accept.

Can you imagine a pro golfer stepping to the first tee with no warm-up session on the driving range? How about the bus unloading a football team in uniform at kickoff time? No mental warm-ups. No physical warm-ups. Just toss the coin and kickoff. You can’t imagine a great singer not going through the scales before a concert. A talented musician would not perform without ensuring that his or her instrument was in tune. Why would we strive to be any less professional in our chosen field?

Spend a few minutes each morning walking your showroom to make sure everything is in order. Are there new items displayed? If so, do you fully understand them? Are all prices clearly marked? Are all of the lights on and in working order? Is the music playing at a pleasant volume? Are the design tables clean and ready for the first customer in the door? Are your demonstration supplies restocked and freshened? Do you have sufficient collateral materials ready for distribution? Have you checked and returned any messages that may have been received since you last worked?

While these may seem like trivial details, professionals realize they are not. Any unnecessary time spent fumbling and stumbling in a customer’s presence reduces her perception of your professionalism and concern. As this perception declines so, too, does your chance of making this sale.

Spend a couple of minutes in front of a mirror. Recheck the appearance of your clothing. Touch up your grooming. Make sure your breath is fresh. Check your attitude. Give yourself a little pep talk. Visualize what is important to you and what your plan is to achieve it. Vow not to let outside problems affect your performance today.

If you want to be successful at sales, the first person that you need to sell is yourself. Create a mindset and working atmosphere that is conducive to your success. Invest a few minutes each day being prepared to succeed. Your customers—and your wallet—will be rewarded.

 

Tom Jennings is vice president of professional development for the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA). Jennings, a former retailer and sales training guru, has served in various capacities within the WFCA.

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