Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks

… Especially if the dog is you and you want to earn more money.

We’re in the dog days of summer, so it is the perfect time to write about “teaching an old sales dog new skills.” 

Do you ever find yourself thinking these thoughts?

  • “Change is great ... as long as everything stays the same.”
  • “My customers will think I’m weird if I change my style of selling.”
  • “I would like to close more sales, but it will feel funny asking for the order more often.”
  • “I’m earning pretty good money the way I’m doing it now.”
  • “A leopard can’t change its spots.”

Well, my response to each of these thoughts or statements would be:

  • This is just negative self-talk; get over yourself and try something new. It will make your day more interesting, increase your sales call interest, and make you more money.
  • Why would they think you are weird if you’re doing your job and serving them better?
  • You will feel even funnier with more money in your pocket.
  • Would you like a 10- or 15-percent raise? Just do what you’re doing … but better.
  • Then never ever try a new hobby, a new sport, a better golf swing, or driving a cool new car.

The big change we are shooting for today is increasing the number of times per week you stop at the bank to make deposits.

Ever hear of Dustin Johnson? Johnson is one of the best golfers on the PGA tour, earning millions of dollars each year. Yet, for several hours each day, Johnson tries new swing tweaks to be proactive and get even better. There is no reason on earth why, with an hour per week of sales improvement, thought, and practice, you can’t substantially improve your earnings, too.

Two more careers we often consider to be “big money earners” are doctors and lawyers. They practice medicine or practice law. Do you practice sales? Members of those professions invest many hours per week in reading and studying what’s new in their fields. When was the last time you read a book or anything on sales skills?

My suggestion: get on Amazon and order “The One Minute Salesperson” by Spencer Johnson. It is only 112 pages and is the best sales book I ever read. I guarantee you will find something in it to increase your earnings.

Do some research

Sit down and make a list of the technicians’ facilities you call on who purchase nothing or almost nothing from you. They are buying from someone, why not you? If there is some “hard stop” reason, like their brother is the competitive mobile jobber, then scratch them off the list. With the others, try to figure out the answer. Did you tick them off in the past? Did they not like your financial terms? Do they feel you have ignored them? Do you have no logical idea why?

Whatever the reason, develop a plan to get them on your side. Maybe it will work and maybe not, but if one out of ten starts buying from you it will be a nice income boost. Success with three out of ten will mean some nice money. If you have an active customer list of 300 and you add just 15, that’s a 5 percent boost in customers, and that means more income, too.

So what do you do? Simply talk to them. Yes, yes, I know it may feel really funny doing this, but tough beans — do it anyway. Take this customer aside in the shop or on your truck and just talk to them. It might sound something like this: 

“Joe, I would like your help. I call on your location every week at the same time on the same day and enjoy excellent business with most of your coworkers. I’m curious, is there something I have done that turns you off about buying from me? If I can figure out what I did to turn you off to buying from me, and I can learn my lesson, I will be sure not to do it to someone else.”

Let him answer. And no matter what he says, do not be defensive. Thank him for his thoughts. Then hand him your latest promo brochure and let him know you are there for him anytime he needs something.

Sometimes you will find out that there is some minor issue, like a broken tool or some other thing, that you can correct on the spot and get him (back) on your books.

Now be sure to at least say “hi” to this customer on every stop in the future and personally hand him your literature. You will be surprised how many times simply speaking with a non-customer will turn them around.

Try this for 30 days. Pick a closing style and work it hard.

The yes/yes close is the easiest and a good place to start. Always give your prospect a choice between yes and yes. “Do you want the ratchet and the sockets, or just the sockets?” “Do you want the screwdrivers and the nutdrivers, or just the screwdrivers?” “Will you finance this for six months or one year?” As discussed in previous articles, yes/yes works much better than yes/no.

After you have that ingrained in your presentations, move on to the “referral close,” also called the “get on the bandwagon close.” Simply say something like, “The guys over at XYZ Chevrolet are using this tool very successfully to quickly fix the __________ (fill in the blank). I think this would work well for you too. Don’t you?” 

Well, it’s summer … time to get out and try out some new tricks.

Go sell something.

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