Observation Deck

Take it from Mom

Some motherly advice that can benefit any home medical equipment sales professional.

Whether you are a seasoned veteran or rookie HME sales professional, how you approach your everyday sales efforts with referral partners and patients has been impacted by many factorsin your life. Possibly none more influential than that of your Mom.

Our moms shaped us, disciplined us, and encouraged each of us to be the best we could be. I recently wrote and published a book, “25 Sales Tips you Can Learn from your Mother,” and I mean it when I say that we can find timeless truths that apply to our personal and professional lives straight from the motherly advice we’ve picked up along the way. I’ve enlisted my mother’s advice over more than 30 years in the military, sales,leadership and coaching, and I want to share some key lessons with you:

Stand tall and sit up straight

Mom was always fussing over my posture. She insisted on a head held high with shoulders back. I was never allowed to slouch. This posture of confidence followed me in the service where I was expected to stand tall and sit up straight every waking moment. And, naturally, it followed me intoprofessional life and fatherhood, as well.

As sales people, we need to exude professionalism. This applies to our appearance, our manner of dress, our diction and vocabulary, and our posture. First impressions can be lasting. When a potential customer sees a sales representative hunched over or slouching, it gives the impression that the sales rep simply doesn’t care that much about what they are doing. The representative is labeled “unfocused” or “unprofessional.” A sale is not simply made from exchanged words and needs. Perception is reality and a wrong impression can influence the quality of interactions between salespersonand referral source. Poor interactions lead to poor sales.

As sales professionals, we are trained to interpret body language. We understand what constitutes an open or closed position and we can usually cater our conversations based on this knowledge. Referral sources and customers can be pretty adept at “people reading,” as well. Body languagecan scream either “I’m a professional,” or “I’m a slouch.” So remember to:

  • Stand tall, slouching conveys disinterest or disrespect.
  • Refrain from crossing your arms, this promotes a closed position.
  • Maintain eye contact.
  • Use hand gestures to keep interest.
  • Moderate your gestures and don’t over-do it, balance is good.

Play nice with your siblings

I was an only child, but I had a lot of cousins. Playing nice isn’t just for siblings. Whether you are a part of a sales team or an independent sales rep, playing nice is the right thing to do. The Golden Rule applies here too-dounto others as you would have done to you.

Personality differences can be a major cause when people don’t “play nice.” Some people simply don’t see you as part of their team; it is an everyman-for-himself mentality in the field. People lie, they cheat, and they steal. I would want to play dirty, too. But Mom would always say, “I don’t care what they did. It’s how you respond that matters.” Mom’s advice,though hard to swallow in some instances, is applicable.

How do you respond when another isn’t playing nice? Avoid kneejerk reactions. Take a step back from the situation. Remember, even as colleagues or competitors-we are all in this together. People on your sales team (or in your field) are part of a bigger team. We aren’t always in the same sandbox 24/7. You may not know what has transpired in the last week, day, or even the last few hours. A gentle response will turn awaywrath. (And truthfully, nice guys don’t finish last!)

Playing nice is an attitude. It is not how you do things but the why behind it. You do this because it is right. That, and because Mom said so. Remember what basketball titan Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said: “One mancan be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one man cannot make a team.”

Clean your room and make your bed

At Mom’s house, this was her desire for me-but I had a choice. When I joined the Air Force, it was a direct order with consequences if I didn’t. My wife, Barb, and I tried to instill this habit in our boys. I have no regrets asking (and sometimes ordering) Joe and Chris to clean up their rooms and make their beds. I will probably help do the same thing with mygrandchildren because this discipline is a good one to have.

Most sales representatives could stand to adopt more disciplines. Too many have untapped potential leading to weaker customer relationships and loss of sales. When mom tried to instill good habits into each of us, she did so knowing that we would have to learn the fine art of selfdiscipline for our adult years. Sales managers will agree; autonomous salesprofessionals make excellent employees.

If sales representatives would practice self discipline, sales would escalate exponentially. Each rep needs to develop an efficient sales route (and stick to it), routinely study the changes and developments in the industry as a whole, investigate competitor products, incorporate different salestechniques, practice communication skills and listening skills.

If a sales representative would have the discipline to set aside 30 minutes a day on any of these activities, I guarantee their sales would increase and their day to day interactions would be more satisfying. I have found one thing: there are no secrets to getting more business- just bemore disciplined.

This article originally appeared in the December 2012 issue of HME Business.

About the Author

Ty Bello, RCC is the president and founder of Team@Work LLC, which offers more than 50 years’ combined experience in assessing, developing, and coaching sole proprietorships, sales teams, C-suite executives, individuals and teams in a variety of industry settings. Bello is an author, communicator and registered coach, and can be reached at ty@teamatworkcoaching.com for sales, customer call center, and management coaching needs. Please like Ty on LinkedIn and visit www.teamatworkcoaching.com for more information and join The Coaches Corner at teamatworkcoaching.com/coaches-corner.

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