Finish this statement: “If I could go back in time, I would tell my younger self…” I bet your mind is flooded with regrets - bad decisions you wish you could change. Make that left instead of right, learn to play guitar instead of the clarinet, never mention that idea you had for Qwikster.
If I had a plutonium-powered Delorean, I’d go back and tell myself to pay more attention in Mr. Cornell’s calculus class, skip that matinee of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and put some money on the Giants to win the 2010 World Series.
But what if you had the opportunity to give yourself advice that would help you succeed in sales right at the start of your career? Think of the butterfly effect learning crucial best practices years ahead of time could have on your future.
That’s one question covered in the new podcast Stories from the Sales Floor hosted by Datanyze co-founder and CRO, Ben Sardella, and PersistIQ’s Head of Growth, Brandon Redlinger. In one episode, Ben and Brandon ask some of today’s top sales professionals what advice they’d give their younger selves. The responses range from finding a mentor right away to implementing A/B testing to refine messaging. Their hindsight could be your foresight. Here’s what they had to say:
“...start recording your own calls...take notes on what it is you’re hearing...different areas where you could have asked a better question because that’s a way to really rapidly learn from everything. In the beginning it’s going to be painful. No one likes to listen to how they sound and it’s kind of awkward and maybe embarrassing, but that’s when the magic happens and that’s when you really start to grow.”
The concept of recording sales calls isn’t anything new, but there are still teams out there that don’t do it. It’s the simplest way to hear what’s working and what’s not. Are you asking questions and truly listening to the answers? Are your stories capturing the prospect’s attention? Are you even telling the right stories?
Founder and CEO of RingDNA, Howard Brown, says “...successful sales reps tend to be great storytellers. But one of the biggest reasons salespeople fail is that they waste time telling the wrong stories....if underperforming reps are having a lot of long calls, it could mean they are spending too much time talking and not enough time listening and learning from prospects. Luckily, this is one of the easiest problems to correct. Simply coaching a rep to avoid tangents can transform an underperforming salesperson into a top closer.”
“...the #1 thing that came into my head was split testing...A/B split testing...because as sales evolves, the more it needs to become a science instead of an art.”
Let’s say your outbound messaging is killing it. Your open and reply rates are phenomenal, subject lines are on point and your fellow reps call you Captain Conversion. You couldn’t possibly improve your process, right? Wrong. Without comparison, there can’t be true evaluation. How do you really know your way is the best way?
That’s where A/B testing comes in. Sometimes minor tweaks can produce big results. By creating multiple email campaigns and reviewing the response, you now have access to potentially valuable data that could vastly improve conversion. And even if you find something that gives you a little boost, don’t stop there. Joanna Jones with Kuno Creative writes: “...remember that it’s not set in stone; tweak and iterate as you go...if one tactic gets traction, optimize it and see how far it goes. The idea is to keep stretching your imagination with novel ways to get your messaging across and engage your audience.”
“...worry is endemic to sales, right? ‘Cause the clock goes back to zero every month, but you have to find a way to elevate your way above that because if you become too fixated on month-to-month, you’re not going to perform up to your potential.”
Let’s face it - you’re not your best when you’re stressed. I’m not saying a little pressure won’t push you to perform, but it’s easy to let the worrying take control and ruin your results. Worrying is stress, and excessive stress sets off a physiological response known as Fight or Flight. And that triggers all sorts of changes in our bodies. If the Fight or Flight response lasts all month, it can do some real damage. According to Psychology Today, “Chronic stress reduces your ability to form some new memories, and recall others. At high levels, stress literally dumbs you down.” So if you’re feeling about as sharp as a marble, how are you going to crush your quota this month?
Consider famed motivator Zig Ziglar’s approach to worrying: “I can honestly tell you that I don’t worry about anything—period!” He goes on to say “...worry is the most significant factor that relates to the root of negative thinking. As a matter of fact, worry just might be the engine that starts negative thinking, and if you are involved in negative thinking, you will not expect to win. If you spend an excessive amount of time imagining all the bad things that can happen in your life, you will become a person who is problem-conscious, not solution-conscious.”
I’d love to hear what advice you would give your younger self? Feel free to share in the comments section. And be sure to check out Stories from the Sales Floor for more great content from today’s top sales professionals.
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