Let’s be honest:
There’s nothing like the feeling of flying high after closing a massive deal.
But if you’re like most salespeople out there, you’ll also face times where every lead you touch feels colder than a Siberian winter (brrr!).
However, there are sales pros out there who are absolutely shattering their sales goals.
So to find out what keeps them going, I got in touch with 70 of these experts and asked each one:
What’s the single top sales advice you’ve ever received or shared?
Let me tell you, the responses I received were nothing short of amazing.
So whether you’re looking for instantly actionable sales tips or career-altering advice, here are all 70 of their responses – in their own words:
1. Sales is a life skill you need everyday
You can’t accomplish anything in life, whether closing a deal, starting a company, raising money for a non-profit, asking for a promotion or getting a new job, without being able to sell a product, an idea or yourself.
Bestselling Author and Consultant
2. Don’t give up, no matter the cost
I’ve received so much advice over the years in my professional selling and sales management career – if I had to cite one thing I would focus on being gritty and having tenacity.
So many people move on once they hear that something is hard, or they call someone a couple times and figure they are not interested.
More times than not, I’ve won opportunities simply because I stuck it out until the end.
I didn’t give up, no matter the cost.
Inside Sales Speaker, Author, and Social Selling Consultant
3. Never Believe in Never
Years ago, a stranger handed me a business card that simply said:
When I got back to the office, I put it up on the wall in front of my phone. Every day as I stared at it, the message wormed its way into my thinking: Never believe in Never!
Instead of getting down when I faced tough situations, I simply accepted the reality of them. This mindset was my impetus for learning something new – information or skills – that were vital to my future success.
This saying keeps me growing and learning. It focuses my thinking and it inspires me to be better today than I was yesterday.
I still have this saying tacked up in my office. It’s tattered and battle-scarred after so many years. After all, it’s been with me my entire career and informs everything I do.
Sales Keynote Speaker
4. Listen with the intent to truly and deeply understand your customer
The best sales advice I ever received came from the late Stephen Covey in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to respond.
I realized that during my own sales presentations, while the customer was talking I was thinking to myself, “You know, when you shut up I’ve got something really powerful to say. It’s gonna blow your mind.”
Since then, I’ve tried my best to listen with the intent to truly and deeply understand my customer.
Sales Keynote Speaker
5. We can afford to lose clients, deals and money, but not our reputation
The most impactful advice I ever got related to the importance of reputation.
The individual involved impressed on me that we will all make mistakes and bad choices, part of the growth and learning process.
But given that our reputation is the only thing we have when we start out, it is the one thing we need to cherish and protect.
We can afford to lose clients, deals and money, all can be recovered. But once we lose our reputation, we are forever behind.
Speaker, Author, and Sales Execution Specialist
6. The goal isn’t to make a sale…
Doug Macdonald, veteran sales manager for Mass Mutual, told me in 1977 that the goal was not to make a sale.
The goal is to make a difference.
And if I couldn’t make a positive difference for my customer then I shouldn’t make that sale to him or her.
Ever since then I’ve seen the value of selling more clearly. That was the beginning of my discovery of what today I call “Relationship Selling.”
Strategic Advisor, Sales & Marketing Expert
7. Never back down…
“Never back down…”
It’s something I remind myself almost every day.
And every morning I start the day by repeating 4 simple statements:
1. If I want something I have never had, I must do something I have never done.
2. I refuse to waste time worrying about things that I can not control.
3. Everyday, in every way, I am getting better and better by the choices that I make and the work that I do.
4. I’m tough enough to do whatever needs to be done for as long as that takes.
Business Strategist & Popular Speaker
8. Make one more call…
When you are tired, hungry, worn out, burned out, and ready to go home, make one more call.
Those words are the best advice I ever received and are my mantra.
That “one more call” has returned millions in additional sales.
Author, Speaker and CEO
9. People don’t buy Legos. They buy the ability to build the Millennium Falcon.
People don’t buy Legos. They buy the ability to build the Millennium Falcon.
That quote came from Stephanie Buscemi formerly of SAP and now at Salesforce.com. It has stuck with me for years.
I try to help sales work with buyers to find out what their Millennium Falcon looks like, what happens when they get the Millenium Falcon, and what happens if they don’t.
Legos = little deals. Millennium Falcons are the big deals.
10. Sometimes it pays more to come second!
Our first reaction on learning that our bid has been unsuccessful is to feel let down, disappointed, even resentful, particularly if we have worked on this opportunity for weeks, possibly months.
However, we must immediately contact our prospect and break down that invisible psychological barrier that may have been erected, since we received the news. They are probably feeling guilty, because they know how much cost and effort we invested.
One simple phone call, expressing our thanks for being given the opportunity to bid in the first place, confirming that we would welcome the opportunity to work together again, and… that we are ready to step in, should anything go wrong.
That last part is significant, because obtaining the order is just the beginning of a sale, and so many things can fall over during installation and implementation. We want to be there to pick up the pieces and charge premium rate for doing so.
I cannot possibly count the number of times I have won business like this.
Sometimes it pays more to come second!
11. Let your personality come through
Let your personality come through in a manner that allows you to truly connect with your customer.
Yes, this means being passionate about the customers and considering it a privilege to work with them. I was fortunate to learn this early in my sales career from my sales manager.
This simple, yet profound, advice turned me from being technical in my sales approach to being understanding.
And it allowed me to connect with customers at an entirely different level.
Keynote Speaker, Executive Consultant
12. Sell the hole, not the drill.
Best sales advice ever?
“Sell the hole, not the drill.”
It was actually the CEO of Black & Decker (the maker of drills!) who said this in a presentation once. I quote it all the time.
You aren’t going to be successful selling what your product does, but rather what it does for your customers.
Sell outcomes, not tools.
Founder and President
13. It’s about the customer; their issues, their goals, their problems…
It’s not about you. No one cares what you want.
It’s about the customer; their issues, their goals, their problems and their business.
They couldn’t give a shit about your quota, your product, your needs, your anything.
It’s all about the client, and once you get that into your head, everything about selling changes.
CEO and Keynote Speaker
14. Just because it’s never been done before, is the best reason I know for doing it.
Just because it’s never been done before, is the best reason I know for doing it.
That wisdom was from my manager at my first job out of college.
I was 22 years old, and her words have become a guiding principle in my business and in my life.
Sales Consultant and Author
15. Become known as an Action-Taker
I have come to value these three pillars in my 30+ year career as salesman, sales leader and company owner:
1. Be an Action-taker.
Everyone has many brilliant ideas throughout their career. Assume you are not the only one with your idea.
The rewards and riches will only be realized by those that take action on those ideas. Bring them out into the open, apply them, test them and measure the results and then try them again.
You have been meaning to get that personal website/blog up, but just don’t get around to it. You want to learn a new skill but don’t make the investment of time or money to learn it.
It is a lock-down 100% guarantee – No Action- No Rewards.
Become known as an action-taker.
2. Always be learning.
The challenge of change is ever present. The pace of this change is on an acceleration curve that will not slow down.
Approach each day and each opportunity with an open mind, ready to explore, discover and learn new ideas, approaches and thinking on everything around you.
Clinging on to something that worked a year ago can prevent you from arriving on a new, higher plateau.
3. Develop deep, mentor-level relationships throughout your career.
Seek out those who have achieved the success that you are striving towards. Spend time with them, ask questions, and listen intently to their answers to your questions and to their guidance.
This group of mentors should not be static, rather growing as your career does. Look at these people as your personal board of directors. They will be able to hold you accountable for the actions you commit to take.
Work hard to maintain these relationships over the long-term.
Sales and Marketing Technologist and Speaker
16. The #1 thing you need to be successful in sales…
The best sales advice was actually some business advice I got from Jack Welch.
When I was young and growing my first company, I asked him how I could instill my passion on other people to get them as excited about my company as I was.
He said I was looking at it the wrong way, and that I could never instill my passion on someone else; I needed to hire passion and teach them skills.
This changed my mindset on what it took to be successful in sales and in business.
I now know that the #1 thing you need to be successful in business and more specifically sales is passion and a true belief in what you do.
Sales is the transfer of enthusiasm and you need to truly believe in what you do to make that happen.
Sales Trainer and Owner
17. Ask for the budget…
Always ask for the budget before discussing price.
18. Always give 10 times more value than someone asks, expects or pays for…
There are 5 pieces of advice I remember from 3 different sales managers over my journey:
#1 Ask one more question before you leave a sales conversation.
#2 Set a target for phone calls and don’t physically put the phone down until all those calls have been made, in order to stop procrastination and prevent distractions.
#3 Start your day by calling or seeing your best customer first and you will start the day with a spring in your step, and that energy will create momentum.
#4 Always give 10 times more value than someone asks, expects or pays for.
#5 Be yourself.
Sales Leadership Speaker & Consultant
19. It’s not about you. It’s about the other person.
Best-Selling Author and Keynote Speaker
20. Understand what problems you solve, and where you excel at delivering results.
My research shows that the first two questions executives ask when approving decisions are:
A) “What Problem Does It Solve / Why Do We Need It?” and
B) “What Is Our Likely Outcome If We Proceed?”
With that in mind, understand what problems you solve, and where you excel at delivering results. Then, seek out potential customers facing those very issues.
Your customers have to convince you that the problem is worth solving.
If you are more passionate about solving the problem than your customer, then bring your wallet – because you’ll have to pay for it.
Keynote Speaker, Bestselling Author, Executive Consultant
21. The happiest day in the life of a sales person…
The happiest day in the life of a sales person is not when they realize who they are, but rather, what they’re not.
Because the moment they understand what they’re not, they stop focusing on the wrong prospect and leads. They stop trying to be everything to everybody.
And they only get involved with those that are truly a “good fit” for their business.
22. Just when your big deal looks like it’s falling apart…
Just when your big deal looks like it’s falling apart that’s often when you’re close to closing.
When the rubber hits the road is when people make last minute demands or seem to panic a little. So take a deep breath and buckle in for the ride.
You’re about to get your long awaited deal.
Sales Productivity Tool Expert
23. People who serve more, sell more…
To be interesting, be interested in something other than yourself.
People who serve more, sell more.
Alway be Listening. Always be Learning. Always be Curious. .
Social Selling Evangelist and Startup Advisor
24. You know what to do, so just do what you know.
When I started my consulting practice, it took off like a bottle rocket. I was insanely busy for the first 18 months doing delivery.
Then, I hit a lull.
I had not been filling the top of my funnel and had spent all of my time doing “the work”.
I totally panicked and called my friend Kristin Lembo who owns Beyond Real Estate. She met me for lunch and said the following:
You know what to do so just do what you know.
Wow… that resonated with me. I went back to the office and dedicated part of every day to making outbound calls.
My funnel filled quickly and the rest is history. That was 17 years ago and to this day I still try to hit my quota of 10 outbound calls.
I just keeping doing what I know.
President and Chief Strategist
25. Our industry demands genuine belief in yourself, your employer, and your product.
Our industry demands genuine belief in yourself, your employer, and your product.
Selling is the transference of that belief.
CEO and Founder
26. You don’t have to present anything…
The best sales advice I ever received was from Bob Jiguere, my regional sales manager back in 1974, who said:
You don’t have to present anything. If they like you, and you ask the right questions and thoroughly qualify, the presentation will be unnecessary.
The gist of that message still applies 40 years later.
Keynote Speaker, Bestselling Author and CEO
27. Walk tall, and you provide THEM best practices.
When I was 25, I worked at a corporate real estate company. I was nervous calling CFO’s and CEO’s in my first year.
Our CEO once approached me and said, ‘how many real estate deals have you done this year?’
I said “15 or so…”
He then changed my life with: “Did you know that the average CFO only does 1 real estate deal in their lifetime? That means you’re 15x more knowledgeable. Walk tall, and you provide THEM best practices.”
Social Selling Consultant
28. Interest is driven by the search for advantage…
Interest is driven by the search for advantage, choice is driven by fear.
29. It’s harder to sell inside your company than it is to sell to the customer.
1. When I was starting my first sales job with a very large company, a mentor told me:
It’s harder to sell inside your company than it is to sell to the customer.
I didn’t understand the importance until about a year later. The sales person has to get a lot of things done for their customers within the company, whether it’s getting support for a sales effort, getting special terms, or whatever. In larger companies, it’s sometimes harder getting what you want done than it is to sell to the customer.
2. Something I tell people:
Sales is pretty simple, it’s really about knowing what problems your company is the best in the world at solving, then finding customers that have those problems.
There’s a lot within that statement about differentiation, value creation, developing and communicating insight, etc. I’ll leave it for your readers to figure that out.
30. The true goal for a salesperson is to help the customer win.
The best sales advice I ever received came from my dad.
He drilled into me at a young age that the true goal for a salesperson is to help the customer win.
My dad taught me that if you’re motivated by helping your customer win then you will always come out on top. That advice permeates much of my sales coaching today and is why I spend so much time helping my clients sharpen their messaging so it’s focused on the outcomes they help their customers achieve, instead of focusing on their offerings.
When we show prospects how we help our customer’s win, they are much more likely to let down their guard and invite us in for further conversation.
Consultant, Speaker and Bestselling Author
31. People buy first on emotion; justified by logic.
My father was the source. He shared these 2 buying rules many years ago:
“People buy from people they know and trust.”
“People buy first on emotion; justified by logic.”
Dad said like was subject to change and he qualified like as “would I bring them home for dinner.”
I have since added a third “People buy on value unique to them.” This is why salespeople cannot create value, only add or connect to the value drivers of the buyers. IMHO.
Leanne Hoagland Smith
Sales Consultant and Coach
32. Have a point of view…but get it across respectfully.
The most impactful sales advice I ever got was from Charles H. Green, author of Trust Based Selling.
I asked him what was the fastest way to earn trust with a new potential client, especially a senior one, and his answer was:
Have a point of view…but get it across respectfully.
I’d expected him to tell me all the usual stuff about relationship building and listening and following up.
But Charlie pointed out that if you haven’t got anything new, different or challenging to say to a senior client or potential client, then you’re wasting their time.
You’re adding no value.
Bringing something new and useful to the table is the fastest way to add trust.
Of course, he added that you have to get it across respectfully so that the potntial client will do something with it rather than just reject it out of hand. A lot of sales people struggle with that side too 🙂
Management Coach and Consultant
33. Sometimes you oversell the right solution when the prospect wants to buy the real solution.
Years ago, the best sales manager I have ever worked for (recently deceased) told me that:
Sometimes you oversell the right solution when the prospect wants to buy the real solution.
Another very good sales manager told me that:
In order to get from Chicago to Atlanta you have to leave Chicago.
These are related thoughts because sometimes a buyer cannot visualize the full (“right”) solution – and will only buy what they perceive as the first step (or “real”) solution.
In other words, if the prospect will at least go from Chicago to Louisville on the way to Atlanta, you are better off than if they never left Chicago.
President and Founder
34. Serve the customer and you’ll do fine.
The best sales advice I ever got? Easy – “It’s not about you.”
What’s tricky is recalling who first told me. I honestly don’t recall, but once I “got” it, I started hearing variations:
“Keep the commitment, detach from the outcome.” Anonymous
“People buy what they need from those who understand what they want.” Brooks & Travesano
“People listen to those who have listened to them.” Robert Cialdini
“The biggest mistake in sales is trying to solve the problem before they’ve finished telling you what it is.” Neil Rackham.
They’re all variations: serve the customer, and you’ll do fine.
It’s not about you.
35. I don’t care what reason you come up with, just show up there!
Advice my Sales Director gave me in the final days of a competitive battle to win a multi-million dollar data networking deal.
I scuttled my travel plans, flew to visit the prospect that night, and won a seven-figure deal within the week.
Speaker, Trainer, and Founder
36. Terrible prospects are not like fine wine…
Terrible prospects are not like fine wine. They do not grow old gracefully. If they are awful to deal before they have given you money, just imagine how bad they will be after they pay you, and figure you owe them!
That was given to me by David Gibbard, President of the former PSSoftware and my first boss in technology sales.
Corporate Sales Consultant, Author and Speaker
37. Always ask questions.
They may not have intended to, but my parents gave me the best sales advice I’ve ever received.
Their advice was to always ask questions.
Dad seldom accepted “I don’t know” as a legitimate answer. Instead, he pushed me to find out by asking questions of people who did know.
Similarly, Mom encouraged my natural curiosity and supported my pursuits that put question-asking skills to good use.
Asking thought-provoking questions is the secret of my success in sales and the bedrock of my strong relationships with clients. For me, every pursuit starts with a quality question.
38. If it isn’t fun, it isn’t selling…
My mentor Joe Mooney always told me:
Don’t try be someone you aren’t. Be real, be warm, build a relationship.
I also recommend to everyone to ‘have fun.’
Because: “If it isn’t fun, it isn’t selling.”
Sales Leadership Consultant, Speaker, and President
40. If you want a prospect to respect you, you can’t be afraid of him…
The best advice I ever received was passed on by Robert Trudeau, the man I worked for before going into business for myself:
To be successful, a salesperson must have the prospect’s respect and be seen as his equal. And if you want a prospect to respect you, you can’t be afraid of him. He puts his pants on one leg at a time, just like you do. He sits down on the toilet the same way you do. He’s just another human being, not a deity; he has no power over you except to say no, and if he exercises that power, so what? In the overall scheme of things, his “no” is meaningless: you knew going in that you weren’t going to sell them all. The losses don’t matter, only the victories count. You have to get the no’s out of the way to get to the yesses.
Author, Speaker, and Founder
41. Advice about how to figure out what’s right for you, is far better than advice about what to do.
Asking for the single best piece of sales advice is like asking which finger on your hand is your favorite…
Over many years in the field of sales performance, I finally figured out that tips, tricks and advice can be really dangerous when advice-givers are basing them on their experience rather than an analysis of your situation.
I had a sense of this from my own experience, but the person who really crystallized it for me, was Dave Stein, who’s written some excellent posts on the dangers of out-of-context tips and tricks.
Based on my experience and what I’ve culled from Dave, my motto has become:
Advice about how to figure out what’s right for you, is far better than advice about what to do.
Sales Training and Development Leader
42. It’s all about the customer’s wants and needs.
My dad, Steve Heiman gave me that advice. It doesn’t matter what you want, it only matters what you can do to help the customer reach their goals.
Founder and CSO
43. Sweeten the deal, gain the sale…
“Sweeten the deal, gain the sale.” Literally.
Upon beginning my sales career and learning I was to knock on every door of my territory, my Sales Manager provided the following advice that paid off huge dividends:
Purchase giant bags of miniature candy bars to hand out to each gatekeeper, on every holiday.
Following his advice enabled my entry into Fortune 100 and 500 corporations.
One guard, with guns at his hips, originally threatened I was to never return. Ignoring that, I returned to give him a candy bar.
It took me literally 15 minutes to talk myself into getting out of the car. When I did, adrenaline took over.
I swung door open with all my might, and wound up my right arm as if I were pitching a ball not too him but at him, and threw the candy bar yelling “Happy Halloween!”
Instantly, tears rolled down his cheeks, and I heard him mumble, “No one ever gave me anything before.”
Then he handed me his secretive black book containing names of everyone in the company!
Best-selling Author and CEO
44. People only remember the #1 and the #2 in any industry…
The sales advice that had a huge impact on me early in my career came from Larry Ellison in the early days at Oracle, before Larry became a billionaire and an industry icon.
I never intended to pursue a career in sales, so I had a lot to learn. I had graduated with a human biology degree, intending to go into a socially responsible field: medicine or public health.
As the company’s first inside sales leader, I just didn’t understand Oracle’s “must win” sales culture – why we had to be so competitive in every customer opportunity.
Larry’s response was clear and simple:
He told me that people only remember the #1 and the #2 in any industry – like Coke and Pepsi.
If we didn’t strive to be #1, we might not make it at all as a company. Larry personally taught me many things in those start-up days – not only about business and sales but also how to program in SQL!
CEO and Founder
45. Don’t tell people how good you are, let your actions show it…
The single best piece of sales advice I have ever received was not actually when I was in a sales role…
I was a Regional Manager for a restaurant chain and while working with a group of potential franchisees, I “beat my chest” to tell them how much experience I had, that they were in good hands, etc.
I wanted to show them that they were making a wise decision buying our franchise. Unfortunately, my comments were not received as I planned.
One franchisee said to my boss (the VP Operations), “If this guy doesn’t get off his high horse, we’re not signing the deal.”
After my boss dressed me down he said:
Don’t tell people how good you are, let your actions show it.
That advice has stuck with me for more than 20 years and I keep it in mind during every sales call.
Sales Keynote Speaker and Senior Sales Trainer
46. Treat everyone equally and with respect…
The best advice I ever received was to treat people as I wanted to be treated. Treat everyone equally and with respect is my motto.
You never know when the tiny business will develop into a major player or the major player unexpectedly goes bankrupt.
One of my best customers initially bought a $6 computer cable from me. He later said that unlike other reps, I treated him as if his order was in the thousands – not less than ten dollars.
As his business grew, he pretty much sent every order my way. As for those for who couldn’t be bothered to help him when his business was small, he didn’t give them the time of day when his business grew into the millions.
Co-author of The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media
47. People buy from people
People buy from people.
This is so often forgotten but is crucial to success, at least in big healthy deals.
Sell to the individual, then the employee, then the company.
By doing this you create an internal hero that works for you and actively helps move the deal along.
Entrepeneur, Sales Hacker, and Founder
48. Your clients are entitled to the very best meal…
The best sales advice wasn’t directly sales advice. It was teaching advice and it was from my father.
When I was a new teacher preparing for a class, he said:
Remember you are not just teaching English, you are teaching children.
And that sentiment stuck with me for sales.
As for pure sales advice, when I first started Richardson I was on an airplane and the man next to noticed I was reviewing a proposal. He was a sales executive and we got talking.
I expressed that I had a very small company and that I was going up against one of the giants of the industry.
Your clients are entitled to the very best meal, talk about that and not the kitchen.
It made me more confident about what I would deliver and not defensive about being as small as my company was at that time.
Sales Leader and Consultatnt
49. If someone simply doesn’t want to buy from you…
A managing director of a manufacturing company gave me this advice more than twenty years ago:
If someone simply doesn’t want to buy from you, you cannot sell him anything.
In complex B2B, a buying decision often has a much bigger impact on the buyer than on the salesperson. For the buyer, it’s not only about business results and risks that have to be considered. Also their intangible, personal wins and risks come into play, especially if the decision covers a topic that’s a new approach to the organization.
Salespeople cannot control the customers’ decision dynamics. What they can do is to decode those decision dynamics along the customer’s journey and to adjust their activities and behaviors accordingly.
That’s all about providing valuable perspectives that enable them to master their challenges in a measurable and tangible way.
Sales Enablement Leader & Analyst
50. Have a ‘valid business reason’ for making every call…
I think the best piece of sales advice I ever received was from the book Conceptual Selling, by Robert Miller and Stephen Heiman.
That was way back in the 80s, but it did more to shape my sales career than anything else. That book (and Strategic Selling, also Miller/Heiman) introduced me to several critical sales concepts that really helped me succeed in the sales profession.
One of the concepts was the idea of having a ‘valid business reason’ for making every call.
I came to understand it more fully years later when I owned a business and had salespeople calling on me without any sense of my business or the challenges I was facing.
Bringing value to each call – in a way that is useful for the customer, not you – is a part of the sales process every salesperson must master to be successful.
Sales Strategist & Leadership Coach
51. Ask better questions…
Twenty years ago, my Branch Manager at IBM, Scott, did a “ride-along” with me.
I was terrified, but as the meeting got closer I got excited. The prospect liked me and liked IBM.
It would be great to show Scott my relationship skills.
The meeting went well, and I was pumped… until I got into the car with Scott.
He said (in a very nice way): “Craig, how do you think that went?”
Me: “Well! I thought he was engaged, and listening to what we could do for him.”
Scott: “I agree. How do you feel about what you did?”
Me (getting a bit more nervous): “Great!”
Scott (sternly): What kinds of questions did you ask?”
Me (clueless): “Huh?”
Scott (nice, but firm): “Craig, every single question you asked….you should have known the answer to. You asked questions like; ‘How long has this company been in existence?’ and ‘How many people do you have?’ You should have known these answers, and you could have asked better questions. It takes a tiny bit of preparation, but just think how much more insight we could have gotten if you had prepared some good questions.”
Craig (trying not to drive off the road): “Uh huh…”
I never forgot that. Scott gave me GREAT advice that day:
High-performing salespeople get better, more actionable information from their prospects.
Because they ask better questions. Scott taught me to take questions seriously as a tool, and that was a great gift I received that day.
Founder and CEO
52. Part of a watermelon is better than all of a grape.
Early in my career, the president of the company I worked for introduced me to a great expression.
This expression has become a foundation principle I use in my practice and share with clients:
Part of a watermelon is better than all of a grape.
It encouraged the team to always look at the big picture and drove the growth of our company.
Sales Management Strategist and Founder
53. A lead is still a lead…
Perhaps the sales advice that has stuck with me over the years is that a lead is often still a lead six months later.
The prospect may have purchased something that didn’t work out. Or, they may have made no decision at all.
So, if for whatever reason you didn’t pursue it then, get to it now and see what’s happening.
Author, Speaker and President
54. Resist the itch to pitch…
My most memorable piece of sales advice was the advice I received from one of my original sales managers at HP back in the 80s, but still relevant today:
Many sales people are so anxious to pursue an apparently qualified opportunity that the moment they uncover a prospect with a problem they know they can solve, they rush to pitch their solution.
This habit of “premature elaboration” invariably messes up the deal – they would be far better off sticking with the problem, and trying to really understand its consequences, who else is affected and if and how the prospect has been already trying to solve it.
Only once you’ve really understood the problem can you propose a credible solution. You’ve got to resist the itch to pitch!
Founder and Partner
55. Desire without discipline leads to disillusionment and disappointment.
The single best piece of sales advice I’ve ever received came from my mentor, J. Douglas Edwards, the Father of American Selling. I had been struggling in my sales career.
After telling Doug how much desire I had to succeed, he said:
Desire without discipline leads to disillusionment and disappointment.
He helped me to realize that the big “D” to work on developing was DISCIPLINE.
When you’re disciplined, you keep going where others stop. You know what steps to take next, and you work harder on yourself than you do on your job.
Sales Speaker and Trainer
56. If you can customize your message, you can double your fee…
A CEO who hired me in my early speaking career wrote me a letter that said:
Your presentation was wonderful and very well received. A few months ago we hired another speaker who was not nearly as good as you as a presenter. However, her message was more customized. She charged us double what you did. If you can customize your message more you can double your fee.
I learned to customize from George Morrisey CSP, CPAE.
President and Executive Speech Coach
57. B2B sales is all about money
No question in my mind that this piece of advice earned me a lot of money:
B2B sales is all about money.
When you can talk to your customer’s executive(s) about how your product/service will contribute to improving their business situation, by when, and at what risk, you’re on your way to differentiating yourself from the competition and winning the sale.
I got that from Mack Hanan’s book Consultative Selling. I’ve never turned back.
B2B Sales Consultant, Speaker, Author
58. Forget about yourself…
I like to define closing as “creating an environment where an act of faith can take place.”
My father Bill Gibson gave me some great advice on how to create that faith through deep needs assessment and value identification and here’s what he said:
“Really take the time to truly find out what the client needs. Focus on defining and delivering value before focusing on price, products or even specific solutions. Forget about yourself and getting the business, focus on what the ultimate solution would look like for the client. Don’t even ask about their budget, stay focused on their core needs, values and outcomes… Sometimes the solution ends up being over budget but they go find the additional money because you have truly defined the path to the business success they are looking for.”
International Author, Speaker, and Sales Trainer
59. Never prejudge a prospect
Never prejudge a prospect. Never make the buying decision for them. Let them tell you no.
That was given to me by my first sales manager, Mike Radney
Speaker, Sales Trainer, Author
60. If you take care of the people, the business takes care of itself
The single best piece of sales leadership advice I received was from an old boss who was the president of a company I worked for.
If you take care of the people, the business takes care of itself.
That applies to sales reps and customers. Sales is still and will always be about the people!
Steven A. Rosen
Executive Sales Coach, Author, Speaker
61. Prepare and Ask Great Questions
I used to be a news producer and conducted countless interviews where I went into the conversation knowing that I needed to get the person to say certain things.
The same is true in sales.
If you want to tie your solution to a high level problem, you need your prospect to articulate his/her business pain. You uncover that information by asking great questions.
Conducting a good interview or effective discovery session is a skill. You develop that skill through preparation.
Before your conversation, ask yourself – what do I need from this conversation? What are the outcomes I need?
Then, prepare a question track that will get you there. Start broad and then get specific.
Most importantly, don’t forget to listen.
Rachel Clapp Miller
Director of Digital Engagement
62. Get 100 Nos as fast as you can…
The best advice I was ever received came from John Rosso, a fellow sales trainer, who was a good mentor in my early years of this business.
He told me to get to a 100 no’s as fast as I could.
As John explained:
Once you hear 100 no’s, you have encountered every stall, excuse and objection from your prospects. Now you know how to avoid or deal with them in order to close business.
It immediately changed my paradigm on failing, knowing that hearing a no helped me achieve success. Thanks John!
President and Chief Selling Officer
63. Be curious about people
The best, most impactful sales advice I ever received:
Be curious about people.
For a guy like me who goes to market and connects with prospects through podcasting, this advice might seem obvious.But this applies to anyone in sales, no matter how you approach your market.
Too many salespeople are focused on effectively delivering their product specs, or perfectly assessing a prospect’s buying signals (or lack thereof), or making the proper amount of cold calls and getting the expected amount of opportunities cataloged into their CRM system.
No. The focus is on the wrong thing.
Instead, care about the person you are talking to. Be curious about what moves them. Be curious about what is going on in their life.
And I promise, everything else follows from there…
64. Never sell your integrity for any price…
My first manager told me this:
Never sell your integrity for any price or any client of yours. Always stay true to who you are and build on your strengths.
President and CEO
65. Put Away Your Sales Hammer
You know the story. You meet a client for the first time, and they ask a couple questions, and BAM! Your sales hammer goes off, hitting them with a product slick or an order form.
You feel helpful, but you’re client is wondering how they can get you out of their office.
So slow down and ask more questions:
How do you know this is a problem?
What would happen if you didn’t fix it?
Are you responsible for solving this problem?
What have you tried so far?
When you follow this route, you’re likely to uncover the “real” problem they need help with, the problem that comes with a much deeper solution.
National Sales Director and Coach
66. Don’t let people pay you in compliments or promises…
In the spirit of “showing value” during the sales process, I often gave a lot of time, services, and expertise away to prospects and clients without firm agreement on ever getting paid.
I thought by showing what I would do for them, I would get the business. What I found is that I had a handful of people who never would make a commitment to “paid work” because they were getting hours of my time, documents, and consulting free whenever they called.
My mentor told me, “Don’t let people pay you in compliments or promises.”
President and Chief Sales Officer
67. If you fall down, you are doing it wrong…
The best piece of sales advice I ever received came from a ballet teacher.
My first career was as a dancer and I still take dance classes. I was taking a class recently with Finis Jhung, an internationally known master teacher.
We were working on pirouettes. You have to turn multiple times on one foot, not lose your balance, not fall down and you must land the turn smoothly. The expectation is that you can execute at least 4 or 5 pirouettes.
This is what Finis had to say: “If you fall down, you are doing it wrong.”
Well… duh… but he was right. Finis was saying that if you’re not able to consistently and easily execute multiple pirouettes then the way you are approaching the pirouettes doesn’t work and you need to do something else.
The same thing actually applies to prospecting and to sales: If you are not generating the number of opportunities you need to be generating and if you are not closing enough sales than what you are doing isn’t working and it’s time to do something else.
It is important to evaluate what’s working and what’s not working. Keep what’s working—change the rest.
The Queen of Cold Calling™
68. You have two ears and one mouth…
The best advice I ever got was from my father:
You have two ears and one mouth, use them in that proportion.
My own advice to young sales people is simple:
“You need to help your prospect realize there is a cost to doing nothing. Pain continues if you don’t do something about it.”
Author, President and Founder
69. Make sure you can answer these 3 questions…
As a young, recently promoted, sales manager I was pretty successful in inspiring the team, driving activity, but hitting my forecast was more than lousy.
Deals were slipping, or we had to end up giving huge discounts. I really struggled to get a feeling on the deals when my sales were driving the opportunities.
On a coaching session with my manager, he gave me the following advice:
If you cannot be with your reps, make sure they can answer these 3 questions on the opportunity:
Why should your prospect buy any thing?
Why from you?
Why should he buy now?
As simple as they are, they are very powerful, as they give you insight on how much the sales rep is into the deal.
When your reps cannot answer them, the story doesn’t make sense or they are full of assumptions, their deal is at high risk, because these questions will be asked by the board to the prospects so you better make sure you and your allies in the account know the answers.
CEO and Co-Founder
70. Be accountable to the plan, not the results
I’d been extremely successful in sales and was already nurturing the consulting idea as my next endeavor and this phrase articulated one of the keys to my success that I have employed for many clients:
Be accountable to the plan, not the results.
My VP of Sales at Regus, Sean Deaton, said that in one of his infamous sales calls.
If you create a strategy and actions that execute your strategy, and stick to executing that strategy, the results will come.
If you don’t get results, go back to executing strategy.
Shawn Karol Sandy
Chief Revenue Officer and Founder
Pretty epic advice, right?
HUGE thanks to all the experts who contributed to this epic post. If this was at all useful to you, please share!
So, what’s the best piece of sales advice you’ve ever received or shared? Let us know in the comments below!
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