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5 rules to break as a salesperson

By: Shaun Urista, Regional Sales Manager, Gulf Coast & South Central Regions

Sales is a challenging field with multiple paths to the desired outcome (the sale). That’s why I’m a little hesitant to take most sales tips as gospel. I’ve seen so many articles that list 2, 4, even 5 tips that are sure to increase your sales and they just haven’t made much sense to me. What success I have had has been, in part, because I didn’t always follow the typical rules for selling. There are certainly some good ones to follow, but it’s also good to know when to break those rules. Below are five examples:

1. Sales is a numbers game

The philosophy that sales is a numbers game has a kernel of truth, but it isn’t always the most effective way to sell. Oftentimes, and especially in the world of voluntary benefits, you can find success by emphasizing quality over quantity. The right relationships, if cultivated over years and founded in trust, can offer stronger results than quickly making a sale and moving on to the next. It’s easier to maintain the relationships you have than build new ones, so focusing on the clients you have is oftentimes more important than playing the numbers game.

2. Do whatever it takes to make the sale 

It all comes down to how you interpret this rule. Some people see it as suggesting you be someone who has to accommodate a client’s needs at all costs.  I don’t think it’s good to be a “yes” person. Sometimes customers respect and appreciate hearing “no”.

Whether it’s because what they’re suggesting isn’t in their best interest or it isn’t feasible for your organization to accommodate their requests, you shouldn’t simply do whatever it takes for the sale. It’s sometimes better to play the long game, tell a client “no” in the short-term and leave the door open to future success rather than sour a relationship by setting yourself up for failure with unrealistic expectations.

3. Timing is everything

Traditional thinking would have you believe that you have to make the sale with a client when they are ready to make a purchase. But making a sale isn’t a one-time event with an all-or-nothing final decision- sales is a process. The goal isn’t necessarily to convince, but to influence. You do this by earning the right to a client’s business over time by being a constant source of advice, by finding ways to communicate your value proposition and by doing what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it. That way, when the client is ready to make a purchase, you have already proven yourself with many other “moments of impact” prior to the actual sale.

4. Be professional

I won’t advocate for showing up at meetings with mustard stains on your shirt, but there is a line where professionalism crosses over into coldness. You need to be responsive, you need to be polite and you need to be timely, but on top of these, you need to be yourself as well. People can tell when you’re being genuine and that goes a long way to forging a relationship with clients.  Be different, be significant, be memorable: be somebody!

5. Don’t take it personally

Working in sales means you get rejected; a lot. Sometimes people simply aren’t buying what you’re selling or they feel they’ve found a better solution or the solution you’ve presented just isn’t right for them. At times like this, you’re often told as a salesperson to not take it personally, but I disagree. 

I do take it personally, I do care about what my clients think and I do genuinely want to help them find the best possible solution. You can’t really do that, fully, if your heart isn’t in it. As I mentioned above, people respond to sincerity and that means sincerely caring as well. It means taking each sale personally even if it does end in rejection. Sometimes it’s frustrating, but it makes the times where it works out that much more rewarding and the relationship with the client that much stronger when they know you’re invested.  

At Trustmark, we emphasize caring and building deep relationships. Too often, I read sales advice that emphasizes a sort of scorched earth approach where it’s all about numbers and a “do whatever it takes” approach. In the long run, I believe that a more personal, caring approach is more effective and many of the classic rules for selling just don’t hold up. 

Shaun Urista joined Trustmark in 2011. As a regional sales manager, he is responsible for developing and managing voluntary group and worksite distribution in the South Central and Gulf Coast regions, as well as leading, developing and mentoring the regional sales representatives in his regions. Shaun has more than 14 years of experience in the employee benefits marketplace. Prior to joining Trustmark, Shaun worked at Assurant Employee Benefits and The Canada Life Assurance Company. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in marketing from Arizona State University.

Posted on September 20, 2017 in Industry Sales

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