The competitive nature of selling can be a double-edged sword. On one side competition can turn up ones motivation and on the other side it can distract you from being your best. The chase becomes more important than what needs to be done to win sales consistently. Gregg Popovich, future Hall of Fame head coach of the NBA San Antonio Spurs, was recently asked about the 2017 upcoming playoffs. He was asked about his team’s second place playoff position and chasing the Golden State Warriors who occupied the number one spot. He was quoted as saying “We don’t try to catch anybody.” “We just play. Where we end up, we end up.” It’s hard to argue with his approach when you consider his teams have reached the playoffs 20 consecutive years, which include five championships. Let’s break down coach Popovich’s approach so we can apply it to win sales.
There are two key components to this approach that make it work. The first, is that his teams’ focus on what they can control as they work toward a win. Secondly, they strive to be excellent with what is within their control. In basketball, some of the things a team controls and focuses improvement on include ball skills, communication, attitude, athleticism, preparation, and game planning to list a few. They understand they can’t control how the other team plays, decisions referees make, the environment and ultimately the result of the game. They focus on being their best in the areas they control, then they just play. This same approach, when applied in selling situations will help you win sales.
Every selling situation includes what you can control and what you can’t. You can’t control which competitors a buyer might choose to consider. You can’t control how the competitors perform. You have no control over the economic environment your selling into, nor the culture of the prospects’ company. Most importantly, you have no control over the buying decision. Rather than worrying or using up energy on things you can’t control, it’s best to identify and be your very best at what you can control.
Here are six areas of control to focus on.
- Product knowledge and the VALUE it delivers to customers – You need to understand every capability of your product and services. Even more important is exposing and helping your customer discover the value your products and services deliver. What I’m saying is don’t be stuck on what you believe is valuable to your customer. Together you and your buyer should discover what is valuable to them.
- Communication/Conversation skills – Never stop improving in this area because it’s your most important skill and one that most people stop working on. Asking better questions, listening with all your attention, and delivering messages that help buyers make decisions are all skills you can improve. Work on improving your conversations so buyers will trust and open-up about their situations with you. PRACTICE to improve these skills. Here is an excellent Ted Talk on conversation tips.
- Preparation – Always show up to a prospects conversation knowing enough about them, their company and situation so you can ask questions that take you to a deeper understanding. Go beyond the obvious web site info that anyone can find and might be outdated. Do your homework. This is in your control but it will require more work and dedication to be your best.
- Working your sales process consistently – Stick to your process from finding new prospects and referrals to receiving orders. The steps and activities you have determined to be your process are important. Trust them and stick to them. Play your game.
- Maintain a positive attitude – Attitude does make a difference but it’s not always easy to be your best. It takes a commitment to not allow your attitude to drop or become negative. This is in your control. You can’t control life but you can control and manager your attitude. Be aware of your attitude state so you can adjust it as needed and learn what you can do to make those adjustments. Part of attitude is your intention. Keep the intention of all your actions with your customer in mind. Maintain a service minded approach.
- Don’t sweat what is out of your control – Coach Popovich’s team is not chasing another team because they can’t control what other teams do. They don’t worry. Worry is a choice and it usually is associated with what is out of our control. All the things listed earlier that are out of your selling control should be let go of.
When you stop worrying and trying to work on what you can’t control you will be left with more energy and time to work on what you can control. It’s simple. Be your best at what you control, then just play and win sales.