Farquharson/Tedesco on Business Development: Trick-or-Treating for Salespeople
Back when your authors were young whippersnappers, Halloween was one of our favorite holidays. We especially loved trick-or-treating, the only activity other than sales in which it's acceptable to go door-to-door with an agenda.
As adults, we usually spend Halloween at home, giving out candy and crossing our fingers that we don't run out before the teenagers with eggs and shaving cream show up. Watching trick-or-treaters from this vantage point, we've realized something: these little buggers would make great salespeople. They've got excellent attitudes, lots of energy, the ability to efficiently plan their night's routes..and they always find a way to get what they want.
Effective trick-or-treaters and salespeople both possess four key attributes, which form the acronym APTT: Attitude, Plan, Think and Tact. With just these four simple sales tools, you're "APTT" to win more business and lock in customers for the long haul. Or get more candy, if you'd prefer that.
Attitude. Does anyone have a stronger "can-do" spirit than the trick-or-treater who charges out the door right after dinner and doesn't stop until his parents drag him back inside after dark? Does anyone get more candy?
Take a page from this kiddo's playbook. If you don't think you can, or you don't want to, you won't. Attitude is the foundation upon which every successful sales career is built. A good attitude means taking advantage of every opportunity to get in front of clients and prospects—and knowing exactly what to do when you do. It's making that last call at 4:45 p.m. instead of skipping out early, or catching a later train back home so you have time to make a few important calls.
Plan. Ever witness a group of kiddies plotting their trick-or-treating paths through the neighborhood? Their level of strategic planning puts many sales professionals to shame. Somehow they intuitively know how to make best use of their limited time.
Similarly, you need a realistic, actionable plan to guide you to success! Every successful plan should have two characteristics: efficiency and effectiveness. Efficiency can be something as simple as how you schedule appointments and manage your sales territory. Take yourself through a territory-planning exercise and determine which stops you can make along the way. Then, extend that exercise to plan how many stops you can make per week and per month.
Now that you have a plan for making sales calls, make sure you know what you're going to say when you get to each client. Tailor your presentations and your solutions to the needs and desires of your ever-changing audience.
Think. Trick-or-treaters quickly learn to think on their feet. Is this neighborhood dead? Cross the street and move onto another one. Teenagers approaching, looking to steal your candy? Better find a new route, and quick.
Effective salespeople think about what their customers are saying and quickly adjust accordingly. Your prospects will usually tell you exactly what you need to do to win their business. If you're smart (and we know you are, since you're reading this column), you'll be ready to change your plan on-the-fly based on what you hear.
Tact. Tact is important for trick-or-treaters. If a kid gets a lousy piece of fruit at one house, he knows to keep his mouth shut about it. Otherwise, the adult might remember his outburst next year, when she's giving out king-size Kit-Kat bars.
APTT salespeople will always keep a "Tact" tool in their hip pockets and exhibit composure and calm in situations that call for it. A little tact and consideration can go a long way toward securing new business.
Remember that you're in business for the long haul, not the quick job. That's why it's worth it to hang in with good prospects and wait for the right opportunity to win their trust, their confidence and their work.
If 10-year-old trick-or-treaters can intuitively master the "APTT" program, how hard can it be? Just by having read this article, you're well on your way to becoming an APTT salesperson. With a little extra effort, you can make the action items outlined here second nature, allowing you to focus on creating long-lasting, profitable relationships from your best prospects. Get APTT, good luck and Happy Halloween! PI
—T.J. Tedesco, Bill Farquharson
About the Authors
T.J. Tedesco is team leader of Grow Sales, a marketing and PR services company that has served graphic arts companies since 1996. He wrote "Direct Mail Pal 2012" and seven other books. Contact Tedesco at (301) 294-9900 or e-mail email@example.com. Bill Farquharson is the president of Aspire For. Through his Sales Challenge and Tuesday eWorkshop training programs, Farquharson can help drive your sales. Visit his Website at www.aspirefor.com or call him at (781) 934-7036.
For further information, please visit BillFarquharson.com