By William Blades

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new,” said Albert Einstein. I know you would agree that if a salesperson isn’t trying out six new skills per quarter (or more), the salesperson is drifting and has probably become stale. Here are five ideas for making mistakes…and more H2O sales.

Most buyers feel that salespeople primarily bring product knowledge. If that is all you bring to the table, you’re hearing your price is too high much more than you should. Bring benefits to clients and you will depart from commodity selling to value-based selling. You will often need to present value to someone other than the buyer, whose job is just to save money for the company. A smarter move is to call on the executives who want a more effective company. Water industry suppliers can offer sales and service training to dealers and treatment companies. Differentiate your offerings with value if you want to rapidly grow sales. Develop compelling reasons, one client at a time, for them to switch to a consulting-type salesperson.

Be a student
Your clients want a salesperson who is knowledgeable on hundreds of subjects. Do you want a consultant working with you that stopped reading because he thought he knew it all? Read the New York Times Sunday edition just once a month, read your daily and business newspapers regularly and if you’re a man, read women’s magazines. Subscribe to 10 free trade magazines outside of your own industry. Being worldly enables you to communicate with all levels of people on just about any topic. Go to for free magazine subscriptions on just about any topic. Be a great student so you become more knowledgeable in new areas. Serious students get serious results. Mark Twain said, “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” Don’t participate in dumbing down. If you try to fail and succeed, what have you done?

Brain power
As a consultant, when I say use it or lose it, I am talking about the brain. For most of us, what we become in two years is based on the people we meet and what we read. Invest more time with people who are more knowledgeable in certain areas than you are. To bring superlative value to clients, learn from the best, hang with the best and pay for it. I’m talking about the people who create your need to think…and to act. If Wally’s Water sells five times more than you do, befriend Wally and learn what he is doing. Then do something nice for Wally. After receiving valuable input, take ample time to reflect on what you are going to do with these ideas. Don’t put the meeting notes aside. Don’t delay improving yourself. When someone tries to help you, a thank-you note and gift is necessary. Don’t be a taker.

The number one reason for people losing their jobs in any field is poor communication. Communication is also the number one reason for people not getting hired. Robert Half Finance and Accounting surveyed 1,440 CFOs to find out where applicants made the most mistakes. Far and away, it was poor communication during the interview (32 percent).

Great selling habits consist of 90 percent asking great questions, listening intently to every word and taking great notes and only 10 percent presenting (talking). Listening intently means you must not think about what you are going to say when the client stops talking. You cannot effectively listen and think at the same time. Three mistakes are most prevalent:

  • While the client is talking, the salesperson’s mouth opens as if to speak.
  • Salespeople often interrupt clients unconsciously. It’s rude.
  • Many salespeople don’t just miss key words: they miss complete sentences.

Listening displays respect for the client. Our brain processes words at a rate of 500-600 per minute and we talk at a rate of 150 words per minute, so a determined effort at brain-dumping is crucial. When clients speak, listen and listen only. When the client finishes an important statement, don’t step on his last word with your first word. Being a great listener keeps your foot out of your mouth. It is more professional to communicate one of these messages:

  • Pause and reflect.
  • Offer great/important point.
  • Ask Brian Tracey’s question, “How do you mean?”
  • State, “Mary, you’re giving me great data. Can I take a minute to make some notes?”

The next time you call for a pizza delivery order, try one (or all) of these ideas. Ask specifically for the person who took your order the last time. Ask to see a menu. Ask if you can trade water for pizza. Ask if you can rent the pizza. Terminate the call with, “Remember, we never had this conversation”.

Creative people are usually much more fun to be with than those who look at the world logically. Clients almost always prefer vendors who can blend creativity and fun. In a Harvey Mackey article published recently, Stanford University reached the conclusion that we use as little as six percent of our overall brain capacity as conscious brain energy. It can rise to 17 percent when you factor in what occurs in the subconscious. To think creatively, you must be careful of the thoughts you put into your subconscious. Psychologist Jeff Magee says that most individuals never allow their minds the opportunity to succeed by overwhelming themselves with negative and pessimistic experiences and thoughts. Think positively and you will think more creatively.

Studies have shown that only one percent of the population is innately creative. If you are not, go out for an afternoon with the ducks at your local lake or a similar place that is peaceful. No cell phones allowed. Brain-dump all work and personal thoughts to have a totally receptive mind. Ask yourself questions like, “What great service can I offer or provide to every client?” and “What have I not done creatively to land other accounts?” Then replay movies in your mind of everything you have heard, seen, observed or touched over time with the client’s organization. Repeat the cycle. The creative answers may or may not come out that day. If not, they will later because of all the data that you placed into your subconscious (if you listened well). Remember, if we are all thinking alike, we’re not thinking.

Ask your boss or mentor to evaluate you in the above five areas and if you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own.

About the author
William Blades, C.M.C., C.P.S. is a professional speaker, consultant and author in sales and leadership. For more information, visit; call (480) 563-5355; fax (480) 563-0515; or e-mail [email protected]



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