As published in Scotsman Guide's Residential Edition, November 2006.
Some say that blackjack is the only casino game in which the odds are not decidedly in the house's favor. With the right skill and training, players might just walk away with more money than they had when they came to the table.
The same can be said of strategic and skilled salespeople. If the world of prospective leads is our casino and selling mortgages is our game of blackjack, what hope do we have of success without skill and training? How will we walk away from the table with more money than we had going in?
Research shows that salespeople can never reach their performance potential without a well-defined sales procedure in place. Winging it in sales, like in blackjack, has grim consequences. In the sales world, it translates to lost sales, extended sell cycles, new-user erosion and no clear path to improvement. Your entire sales career will be mediocre -- even dismal -- in slow market conditions.
Do your homework
The first step to getting the advantage in the sales world is to start your research. Look at your market, your competition and your customers; don't guess. Most salespeople spin their wheels and make the same mistakes repeatedly without realizing it.
Staying up-to-date on trends and local economic conditions can help you build a sales strategy that will work in good times and bad. It must be a part of how you conduct your daily business.
The best approach is to go back to the basics. Look at each stage of your sales process. Do your lead-generating activities bring quality, interested clients or mere "tire-kickers"? How well do you understand your customers' needs? Are your programs' features and benefits tied to specific problems facing customers? Can you close sales effectively in a smooth, well-timed manner? Answer these questions honestly.
Re-examine your prospecting
One of the first mistakes salespeople make is to confuse prospecting with sales. They are distinct but related disciplines, similar to the relationship between sales and marketing. Prospecting is merely removing all the unqualified leads from your database and retaining those who may buy a mortgage with you. Selling begins after this.
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