The idea for this month’s column comes from a co-worker of mine named Donny Drennan. He has developed what I call the “Up Philosophy to Sales,” and he stresses this to his team at every opportunity. Drennan believes great salespeople Show Up, Listen Up, Follow Up, and Live Up. I’ve put my own spin on it, and hope you find it useful.

Show Up: It’s often said that showing up is half the battle. Showing up means work hard every day, seek new business opportunities every day, work efficiently every day. And when things inevitably go sideways from time to time, “Show Up” also means don’t hide from a negative situation. Get out in front of it, attack it head on, get it fixed and move on. Nobody likes bad news, but people generally deal with bad news better when they know about it early and can plan for it. Working through bad news is also easier when the customer knows the salesperson is not hiding from it, but instead is working diligently to fix it. The word “Hustler” can have both positive and negative meanings, but I’ve often heard that word to describe a good salesperson. “He/She Hustles” is a phrase often attached to salespeople who “Show Up” every day. Be a HUSTLER…in the positive sense.

Listen Up: Listening is easily the most overlooked skill that salespeople need to excel at, and spend time developing. Many salespeople though, believe they listen very well and are not in need of improvement. When meeting with customers, salespeople spend an inordinate amount of time talking versus listening. People will tell you what to sell them and how to sell them, if you will ask the right types of questions and keenly listen to their responses. That’s easier said than done though. As salespeople we have our own agenda, and we listen through our own filters, which are obstacles to true listening. When speaking to people, try to clear your mind and focus on understanding the message. Humans have a natural desire to be understood, and when we, as salespeople, let people know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we seek to understand them, it draws people nearer to you. It builds trust and deepens connections that make the rest of the selling process easier.

Follow Up: Many skills are needed in order to be a successful salesperson. At the top of that list are a person’s organizational skills. Most of the people who I see struggling for success in this business do so because of a lack of organizational skills, and that issue will follow them from job to job, until they get it figured out. Following up is all about an individual’s organizational skills, and it’s all encompassing. Notes taken during sales calls – updating task lists – calendar management – territory management… basically, getting things done. When you agree to do something for a customer, how do you document it in order to insure it gets completed? People like to deal with people who can get things done. When customers know that when you say something will be taken care of, it will be, and that makes you valuable to their business. This also puts you in a strong position to fend off any of your Scum Sucking Riff Raff Competitors who are out there selling against you.

Live Up: Working every day to improve your aptitude on the first three “Ups” will be all you need to accomplish “Live Up.” The challenge is not being satisfied with the status quo, to understand that you can always improve, to know that your Scum Sucking Riff Raff Competitor is not satisfied either. It’s a mindset that you’ve not only reached the mountain top, but now have to fight like heck to stay there. Happy Selling!!