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Is Selling Really Harder and Tougher Than Ever?

Talk to sales managers about their jobs, and chances are you’ll hear four common complaints about how they perceive today’s selling climate:

1. Selling is tougher than it has ever been.

2. Selling is more competitive than it has ever been.

3. Selling is more complex than it has ever been.

4. Selling is more stressful and not as much fun as it used to be.

How true are these statements?

That’s really a trick question. These four responses are not a true reflection of the state of the economy. More accurately, they reflect the state of mind of the responder. I know a number of successful sales executives who say, “Selling has become more exciting than it has ever been.” These are the top performers who make things happen, no matter how difficult the economy. While average performers are better at worrying way past closing time and into the night, top performers close each day with the knowledge that they did the best they could and enjoy their free time, recharging their batteries.

Top performers think and act differently because they see things differently. They know that it takes only a small shift in perception to achieve a big shift in performance.

Managing perception is what good selling is all about. Great salespeople are able to offer customers new perspectives on old problems. That, in turn, leads to a shift in attitude, a shift in their decision-making processes, and a shift in their sales processes. And that leads to a shift in each great salesperson’s performance curve.

Top performers seem to be more effective when it comes to managing the inner game of selling. While average salespeople unconsciously allow their fears to grow, top performers consciously challenge themselves to outgrow their fears.

Top performers don’t wish for less complexity, they learn to master more complex challenges. Like mountain climbers, they know that they won’t get better by seeking out gentler slopes. They have to find new ways to master greater degrees of difficulty.

Great sales leaders don’t complain about the tough competition. They revel in the challenges that confront them. They meet those challenges head-on, no holds barred.

Top sales leaders don’t wish for easier customers, but they build a better process for hiring more “A” players and helping them develop greater skills.

While average sales achievers automatically think that selling is getting harder (or hopeless), top achievers habitually take a harder look at reality and discover new ways to make selling more authentic and meaningful for their customers. One top performer told me that he dialed 50 prospects on a Saturday and reached seven of them sitting in their offices, catching up on work. He said, “There was an instant bond with them. They were glad to speak to someone who understands that we all need to go the extra mile to create new business.”

When there is a crisis with a customer, the top performers rely on their inner reserves to see the opportunity within the difficulty, and they use the crisis to develop a more rewarding relationship with the client. How do top performers stay calm in a crisis? They take half a step back and tune in to their productive-awareness zone.

Top sales performers do not strive to perform one task 100 percent better; they focus on performing 100 tasks 1 percent better. Where average performers give up on learning and improving, top performers extract lessons from every experience and apply what they’ve learned on every call.

Top performers know that we can’t change reality, but we can choose to change our perception of reality. While average achievers know this as a fact, top performers live by this fact. Top performers are always aware of the secret to high achievement: As soon as we change our perception, we will change our performance and be rewarded by better results.

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Michael Pedone

It's not tougher to sell today, you just need to be better at doing it. The low hanging fruit may be gone, but there's still fruit on the tree.

But if you don't improve your climbing skills, you just may starve.

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