How about you? How good are your selling skills? When was the last time you read a book on selling or attended a seminar? Brian Tracy says, “The average salesperson never reads a book on selling, that’s why he’s average.” What about you? Are you average? Are you a rookie or are you a pro? In any occupation, in sports and in life, there are rookies and there are pros. The pros are those consummate professionals who produce eighty percent of the results. Pros are easy to identify. They produce in weak territories, in weak economies and in difficult circumstances. They don’t make excuses. They don’t blame others. They quietly go about producing results. In sales, pros believe, think and act differently than rookies. First of all, rookies believe in price. “Give me the best product and the lowest price, I can sell anything!” What do I need him for? Any dummy can sell at a lower price than the competition. It takes a professional to sell at prices higher than the competition and make the customer feel good about it. Let’s look at what pros believe in. Pros believe in themselves. They are quietly confident in their abilities because they have paid the price. They study and learn and work to improve their own competencies. They learn everything about their product so they will not be blind-sided by any questions they may be asked by the customer. “It’s not the will to win that counts, but the will to prepare to win that counts,” said Coach Bear Bryant. They also believe in their companies and the products they sell. They would never sell anything that would not be in the best interest of the customer. That quiet confidence translates into an emotional state that gives them the ability to transfer their belief and convey it to the customer. “The emotional state that you are in with the customer will influence her more than anything you say.” Professional love what they do. You’ll never be a pro unless you are excited about going to work everyday. “The number one standard by which a customer judges a store – does the salesperson look like he/she wants to be at work.” These beliefs give the pro personal power. “Power, whether you have it or not is in your own mind.” This power is the quiet confidence in your abilities to find the right product for the customer without using “price as a crutch.” The rookie uses price for everything. “Have I got a deal for you!” This power helps the pro be patient, to listen intently to the customer’s needs and find the added-value product the customer is looking for. Questions help the pro understand the customer. More importantly, questions help the customer feel understood and so, they become more open to influence. The ability to formulate great questions is a hallmark of the professional. If you’re able to formulate good questions, then you must also be adept at listening. Rookies got into sales because they like to talk. So rookies do most of the talking. Pros spend most of the time listening. In fact, they have mastered the art of listening: “The ability to keep the customer talking.” “They pretend that everything they hear is fascinating.” When rookies are ready to make the presentation on a certain product, they tend to “throw-up” everything they know about the product on the customer. They overload the customer with all the features they know. Rarely do they tie features to a carefully articulated benefit statement, a benefit the customer values. The professional has listened so well that he only tells the customer what she needs to know to make a decision. He knows what to say because he listened well as he asked great questions. He never answers an unasked question. When the customer objects, “Your price is too high!” The rookie lowers the price. The pro, however raises the value. He looks the customer in the eye and proudly acknowledges the price difference. “Yes, our price is higher, but it’s not the same.” (Admitting sameness is giving away your competitive advantage). He then goes on to tell the customer why his product and service is worth the additional price. The pro understands that if the customer truly wanted the cheaper price, she would not have come back. He understands that when she says his price is too high, she’s telling him that the price he has given is greater than the value he has built. He now builds value, so that the perceived value becomes greater than the price. Value is anything that you can do or say to get the customer to by from you. With all other objections, like, “I want to think about it”, or “I want to talk it over with my husband,” the rookie quits. “I can understand why you feel that way, here’s my card, call me if you have any more questions.” The pro doesn’t quit when he hears an objection, he asks “why?” “I understand why it’s important for you to be sure. To help me understand better, you must have a reason for feeling the way you do, may I ask what it is?” He knows he can’t answer an objection he doesn’t understand or that is not clear to him. Finally, the rookie then hopes for the order. He assumes that if the customer wants to buy, she’ll give him the order. Pros know that only part of the time, when the customer is ready to buy, will she voluntarily give the order. Pros ask for the order. They only ask, though, only when they hear or perceive a buying signal. So, which are you, a rookie or a pro? Are you sure? Remember, arrogance is a sure sign of incompetence. May be you just need to keep working on your conditioning. Pros like Karl Malone and Jerry Rice never stop preparing. Even the late Pablo Causals, the worlds greatest cellist, at 88 years of age was practicing 8 hours a day. A friend challenged him, “Pablo, your 88 years old and you’re practicing 8 hours a day, why? Pablo replied, “I think I’m getting better.” What about you? Are you getting better? Pros keep raising the bar on themselves. Are you raising your bar?