While watching the recent box office hit “The Hunger Games” several messages struck me as being applicable to my career in sales. The movie dramatically shows the importance of skills needed to be successful in sales. In today’s economy, I know many salespeople feel like one of the tributes fighting in a winner take all competition.
To stay true to the story, I will list the skills in order of their appearance in the movie.
You know how to hunt
In a scene shortly after Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her sister, Primrose’s place in the 74th annual Hunger Games, Gale Hawthorne visits her and provides Katniss with this advice. “Listen to me! Your stronger than they are, you are, get to a bow.” “If they don’t have a bow, then make one, o.k., you know how to hunt.”
To be successful in sales, you need to always be prospecting or hunting. New business is a key to continued growth. The phone is many salespeople’s bow and actually picking up the handset and dialing is the arrow. To be stronger than the competition you need to take action and keep your sales funnel full. Never forget the importance of hunting.
There are a handful of keys to success when it comes to prospecting and they are
- Stay organized
- Have a game plan
- Have your prospect list ready before the start of every new day
- Have prospecting time in your calendar and no matter what prospect during that time
- Have a set number of prospecting calls you need to make
- Don’t take rejection personally.
To win in the hunting role, you must not give up. The National Sales Executive Association States 80% of new customers are won after five or more calls. They also show that 48% of salespeople will only call on a prospect once before crossing them off their prospect list. Only 10% of salespeople will actually call a prospect five or more times and they win the vast majority of sales. So remember that if you want to hit the bull’s eye more often, you must take many shots.
Get people to like you
In a scene while traveling by train to the Hunger Games, Haymitch Abernathy tells Katniss and Peeta how to stay alive. “Do you really know how to stay alive? You get people to like you”. “To get sponsors, you have to make people like you”. In sales your customers are like the sponsors in the Hunger Games.
Likability is often referenced when speaking about highly successful salespeople. People tend to buy from people they like; we all hear this comment regularly. To prove this point think of the last time you bought from a person you didn’t like. Most people will not buy from salespeople they don’t like unless no other options are available.
Though this trait comes natural to many, there are things everyone can do to be more likable. Research shows that a smile or a welcoming face is the number one reason people will find another person likable. The same research shows that the tones of your voice, or the way you say things are more important in likability than what you actually say. Your goal should be to connect with people on an emotional level. Some of the best communicators make people feel like they are the only person in the room, even if the room is full.
Some other components of likability are making your prospects and customers feel they can trust you and you have their best interest at heart. No salesperson should ever underestimate the importance of this lesson.
Caesar Flickerman, the master of ceremony, announces the entrance of the tributes into the stadium in their chariots. “The sponsors get to see the tributes for the first time, the importance of this moment cannot be overstated.” Like the flaming outfits Katniss and Peeta were wearing during the introductions that grabbed the audience’s attention. Your companies 30 second to 2 minute elevator speech must grab the prospects attention.
With first impressions you need to possess the same skills as in the get people to like you section with the addition of a solid elevator speech. This is an area where I have seen many salespeople struggle at first. They did not put themselves in the prospects position. They did not think of what’s important to them. So every business owner or sales manager needs to ask each salesperson individually to give me your elevator pitch. You may be surprised what you hear. But with a little effort your salespeople will get more appointments.
The goal of the elevator speech is to Intrigue the prospect enough to invite you back for another, longer meeting. Every elevator speech should include who you are, what your company can provide and how you can be of service right now. So now let me share a few tips on how to craft a solid elevator speech.
- Develop an introduction designed to grab their attention
- Develop two or three main points that are based on questions, arguments, ideas or your value proposition. Think about how your product or service addresses common industry pains or needs. Don’t go too far in-depth since this is meant to be a teaser. It is often effective to structure these in a format that makes the prospect think about their current situation.
- Develop a conclusion to wrap up your elevator speech that ties everything you’ve already stated together.
- Finish with a close or call to action. In many cases this will be asking for the next appointment.
Many businesses develop the elevator speech for their salespeople and let them adjust it to fit their individual personality and style. This often keeps it from sounding like a canned presentation.
Arrogance can be a big problem
When Haymitch is at dinner with Katniss and Peeta he speaks about the competition “District 1 and 2 train at a special academy until they are 18, then they volunteer” “They can be arrogant, and arrogance can be a big problem.”
Many of the sales representatives you will compete against will be arrogant. These are the type of salespeople who will not listen to what the customer is saying; because they are so sure they have the only answer.
Confidence in sales is very important. Salespeople must be confident in their product, service and themselves. If they are lacking in confidence in any of these categories, they will not be successful. You can be very successful in sales showing confidence as long as you don’t cross the line of being a know it all. You must always be probing and listening for the customer’s needs and pains. How else can you show them how your product or service will fit their needs better than the competition?
Make sure they remember you
At the same dinner Haymitch shares this advice. “Tomorrow they will bring you in one by one and evaluate you. This is important because higher ratings will mean sponsors; this is the time to show them everything.” “I don’t know how else to put this, make sure they remember you.”
Some salespeople tend to show up and throw up. Be more strategic than that. Think about the one key message you want them to remember. Instead of trying to get them to remember thirty different things, get them to remember your key message or value preposition. You can still tie other items in as long as they are supporting your key message.
Another component to making them remember you is being a consultative salesperson. If you are doing a thorough needs analysis and focusing on the customer, you will stand out.
Katniss Everdeen and Cinna her handler – “I don’t know how to make people like me, how do you make people like you?” “I wasn’t trying,” “exactly, just be yourself and people will like you.”
As cliché as this may sound, this is another building block of getting people to like you and making a good first impression. In sales it’s important to be yourself and true to whom you are. If you are trying to be someone you are not, you will be focused on trying to be that person and not on what the prospect is saying or what questions you should ask. I know both introverts and extroverts that are very successful in sales and the primary reason for this is that they are themselves and focused on the success of both parties.
Avoid the bloodbath by finding higher ground
Haymitch describes what to expect to Katniss once the Hunger Games begin. “They’ll put all kinds of stuff right in front, right In the mouth of the cornucopia they’ll even be a bow there, don’t go for it, it is a blood bath, their trying to pull you in, that’s not your game, you turn, run find high ground. Look for water, water is your new best friend.”
Many salespeople spend their entire sales career right in the middle of the cornucopia. They focus on price, features or benefits. When they discuss these items, they do nothing to differentiate themselves from the competition. Our product does this or that, but the competitions product has exactly the same features. The higher ground in sales is finding your niche; the water is how your product or service is better or different.
Every organization must define for their salespeople what makes their company different. Your closing ratio will increase if you can show your prospects how your product or service better meets their needs. Follow the advice of Haymitch and stay away from the bloodbath.
Happy Hunger Games
In most business sectors the competition has intensified over customers and available wallet share. Implementing these lessons along with continuing to improve your sales skills can ensure your sales survival. “Happy Hunger Games, May the odds be ever in your favor”.
Let me know how else these traits are important in your sales career? I look forward to hearing your feedback.
David Domos developed WhyBuyFromYou.com to provide content to help small businesses develop their branding, marketing and sales systems. In the past he held key leadership positions for a fortune 500 company. That company led the market in both sales and brand awareness and David was a significant contributor to its growth. David has been on the Amazon.com best seller list in their Direct Marketing, Communications and Entrepreneurship categories. He is a student of sales, marketing, branding & small business growth, continually focusing on the reason people buy. Follow him on Twitter @WhyBuyFromYou or visit www.whybuyfromyou.com.