The Sales Success Stories Book – 60 Stories from 20 Top 1% Sales Professionals was published October 16, 2018. Learn more: http://top1.fm/book
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In between the regular interview episodes, we’ll continue to release sample stories from the book like this one. You can either listen to the episode and hear Paul read his story, or read the full text below.
“People to People Sales”
By: Paul DiVincenzo
Being successful in sales really should not be hard. Most books and theories I have seen love to overcomplicate and create many technical frameworks around sales. Almost all of them are highly valuable and great tools to keep yourself motivated and push forward to become better as a sales professional. It’s great to hear annual updates, new ways to communicate and market to people. I endorsed many of them and utilize them on a day to day basis. Nevertheless, the cornerstone of sales success will always be the people.
At this point. I’ve been in sales for over 20 years. I started when I was 19 years old after reading the book, Selling for Dummies, written by Tom Hopkins. After reading Tom Hopkins Story, I decided to follow in his footsteps and get my real estate license to sell my way out of my lower blue-collar background. I studied hard for two weeks by locking myself in the house, reading books three inches thick to study for the state exam in California. I took a crash course at a real estate firm, studied overnight and drove down to San Diego, California at six in the morning to take my real estate exam. Everyone, said most people take it a few times, but I pass it on the First try. I found some small success quickly in real estate. I went to work for a company called first Team Real Estate and sold my one and only real estate deal to Mark Kozac, the Prior Marketing Manager for Entrepreneur magazine in Orange County in California when I was 19 years old.
Little did I know at that time I had uncovered a key component to sales success that I’ve since forgotten about and come back to many times throughout my career. On my first day in the real estate office, I was handed a list of potential clients that had called in to the firms and I proceeded to cold call them every evening to set appointments. I was setting appointments with potential buyers to present our firm and why would they should sign an exclusive agent agreement with me, a 19-year-old kid and not shop around with every agent in the marketplace. One night I secured a meeting with Mark and his wife for me to present to them. I was so nervous. I completely forgot my whole script, but I simply talk to them about their career, their family and what the house would mean to them. I nervously asked them for the exclusive rights to help them find this home and I started a blurred out why they should go with me versus signing with a more experienced agent. Mark stopped me and he told me they were going to go with me because of our conversation that their belief that I wasn’t a salesperson like many of the agents they had met, of course as ecstatic, completely unprepared, and I had already run out of money and the real estate game is a hundred percent commission job. I had to take a side sales job at a cellular phone company to make some money for gas to continue to hunt for the home for Mark and his wife. Ultimately, I was successful in finding that house, closing that one real estate transaction. However, I was unprepared for the financial hit that it had taken me to get there. I decided to put my real estate dream on hold and focus on what looked like it could be a promising corporate sales position. My cellular phone sales career took off from that point, I was in business to consumer sales, initially. After about a year, I moved over to the corporate wireless at AT&T and had a multi-year presidents club selling career at the company. When I initially moved over to AT&T. I found that they had a great training program. I learned all about question-based selling, the 10 steps sales process for wireless sales. We had training scripts, roleplays, leaderboards, trackers, KPI’s, and all the other trappings of a traditional sales environment. It was exciting. It was technical and I absorbed every piece of it. However, my first three months at AT&T were a disaster. I had a horrible first quarter at AT&T corporate and my manager was subsequently questioning his hiring decision. I wondered what had happened and I felt more empowered than ever with all the sales tools and tactics. I thought back to why I was able to win Mark and his wife over versus any other agent that they could have gone with, I realized that I must truly engage in each encounter and my product or solution this would be self-evident the next quarter I was number one in the western region, continue to be one of the top sellers for three years running at AT&T and the western group. You can take serious effort not to let your training quota, your personal situations or any other stress be in your mind at the time you were excelling. What I’ve found is the secret was to focus on the person in front of me and nothing else. I have now been to president’s club and diamond level over 13 times across two fortune 500 companies selling upwards of $13 million in contracted revenue and my best year. The interesting part of my sales career in the corporate environment, whether it be business to business, business to consumer or real estate, has been the fact that my success in any and sales engagement has been dependent on how I engage with the person in front of me. It’s simply is the difference to winning consistently over time. In other words, I focused on them and truly come to know them at all levels of professional sale. This may sound obvious, but when you have KPIs, quotas, increased projections, managers asking for more numbers along with everything else in life coming and you at the same time, it’s easy to get buried in a technical sales process. Just follow the 10 steps. Remember your objection handling, etc. Most of the time when you do this, you’ll look back on how you lost the sale and it will be because you didn’t focus on the people. The reality of sales long term is how positively you engaged and how much you can get the person selling to you to engage with you. That’s the key to success. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t know your product and be an expert in it to provide value. However, many times you are the difference to the customer. They can buy many other products and services that are going to be similar to what you’re offering. How you engage with that prospect is going to be more important than all of your features and benefits.
Lessons learned. Number one, focus on the person you were selling to. Number two, clear your mind of all hurdles in your life or your KPI’s while truly trying to engage somebody. Number three, inject enough for your true personality into the sale at all times to ensure consistent sales success. Number four, know that you are the reason that people will buy from you. Number five, don’t be lazy. Of course, prepare yourself. Be an expert. Know your business sales process and competition and have the ability to articulate your value.
Want more from Paul DiVincenzo? He was the star of episode 40: Top Cintas Sales Executive – Paul DiVincenzo – Relationships, Focus, Action