Help Making the Numbers

TravelingsalesmanAs cause marketers we call ourselves development officers, fundraisers and marketers.  But none of these names describe what we do as well as "salesperson" does. 

I began my nonprofit career 12 years ago with the Muscular Dystrophy Association.  At a regional training seminar my first year, I met a sales trainer that would shape my approach to selling in the years to come. 

Even then Jack Falvey had been "carrying a bag" for a generation and was teaching some of the best sales people how to sell better.

It's hard to say what exactly made Jack so memorable.  I had some sales training before I met him and a lot more afterwards.  All largely forgotten.  But Jack's advice stuck.  I think I knew--even then with my limited sales experience--that Jack really knew how to sell.  That he was indeed a Socrates of sales.  So I listened and learned.

Some of the pearls of wisdom I've repeated hundreds--if not thousands--of times since that day include:

  • SW3=N.  Translation: Some will, some won't, so what, next!  A salesperson need only concern herself with two types of prospects: the one who says yes and the one she hasn't met.
  • Know, see, sell.  Know your product, know your customer, see a lot of people, ask all to buy.  Is there really a better summary than this of how to be a successful salesperson?
  • Nothing happens in this world until somebody sells something.  Few start life wanting to be a salesperson.  But don't knock it.  Sales is an important, challenging, rewarding profession that keeps the world moving.  Think about it.

After that brief training session with Jack, I took his advice but didn't run across him again until I saw an article he wrote last year and checked out his web site, Makingthenumbers.com.  Since then, I hear from Jack almost every day.  Monday through Friday he emails me a sales tip that keeps me focused on good habits and intelligent selling. 

My three favorite tips are stapled to my office wall.

  • People need more to be reminded than informed.  Persuasion is incremental.  We sometimes wait for what seems an eternity for the cosmic tumblers to click into place.  In the meantime, don't let Mr. Prospect forget who you are and the problem you can solve.
  • Want more sales?  Make more calls. So much of sales is a numbers game.  How many deals have you really closed with prospects you've never met or spoken?  Replace worry with work and get busy.
  • What do you do best?  How can you do more of it?  I'm good at presenting and building relationships but not at making 50 calls a day to drum up new business.  Fortunately, my colleagues are. They work the phones and then we work together on next steps. 

The sales tips are free, but Jack also offers a subscription-only discussion of each tip that will drive home the learning.  You can check out examples of both here.

Jack would be the first to say that selling is hard work, but it isn't brain surgery.  It's more perspiration than inspiration.  But it's easy to forget the basics and make selling a lot harder than it is.  That's why it's helpful to have Jack leaning over your shoulder each morning to remind you that sales is part hard work, part listening, part common sense.  Like the Socrates of old, this sage of sales has much to teach, if we will only listen. 

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