Chair Flying: Winning Sales through Mission Rehearsal

Today’s guest post comes from Rob “Waldo” Waldman, The Wing Man.  This best-selling author of Never Fly Solo is known for his high-energy presentations that inspire real change. Waldman — an optimist to the core — brilliantly  combines his military experience and business experience to deliver messages that stick.  Boost your sales motivation with Waldman’s valuable lessons:

I remember my first job interview after leaving the military for a business career. It was for a financial advisor position with an exclusive financial services firm, and the VP of HR asked me a critical question:  “How did I expect to be successful at selling financial services with absolutely no sales experience?”

My answer was simple: If I could lead men and women into combat and have them trust me with their lives, then I could inspire that same level of trust with my clients. I told her I would prepare for every client meeting and sales proposal with the same attention to detail, discipline, and passion that I used in preparing for my combat missions.  If my clients trusted me, then I could sell almost anything.

Fortunately, she liked my answer and I was offered the position. While I turned it down for another opportunity, it reinforced a valuable lesson I learned while flying fighters that I applied to every job interview (and every future sales call) I ever made – preparing answers to tough questions and contingency planning objections before a mission helped me to win!  By mission rehearsing answers both in my mind (and to business associates and friends) I gained confidence to execute each and every job interview with success.

The tremendously powerful mission preparation technique is what fighter pilots call “Chair Flying.” Before every combat mission, fighter pilots mentally fly the mission while sitting down in a chair and review every detail of the mission in our minds.  We plan for contingencies (“what-ifs”) prior to the flight and know exactly what to do if/when the missiles and emergencies strike. While this takes time, energy, and focus, it almost guarantees mission success.

So the question is — What are you doing before every sales call to prepare for your success? Are you chair flying your sales missions and contingency planning the emergencies, objections, and rejections?

To better prepare you for your next sales mission, cold call or presentation, here are a few wingtips to use when chair flying for success:

Gather up-to-date and relevant intelligence on your prospect’s business model, clients, and competitors.

Practice different delivery styles and opening/closing statements based on the personality and background of the individual you are briefing.

Contingency plan objections to price, features, services, etc. Make sure you bounce ideas and suggestions off of other experienced sales pros.

Have customized questions prepared prior to the call that demonstrate your focus on service and adding value.

Detail ways in which you differentiate yourself from your competition.

Envision success and win in your mind before you execute the plan.

Chair flying is all about disciplined preparation. Preparation builds confidence which eventually leads to trust. And trust sells. It builds sales confidence as it reduces your fear of failure and gives you more courage to take risks.

Trust is intimately correlated to sales success.

So, stop “selling by the seat of your pants” and start “chair flying.” Get focused and commit the time and effort necessary to mission rehearse every sales call. Not only will your clients grow to trust you, but you’ll also build trust in the most important wingman in your business and life — yourself!

Rob “Waldo” Waldman, The Wingman, is a former combat-decorated fighter pilot with corporate sales experience. He brings an exciting and valuable message to organizations by using fighter pilot strategies as building blocks for peak performance, teamwork, leadership and trust. His clients include Bank of America, Aflac, Hewlett-Packard, Nokia, and New York Life. To download Waldo’s Top Gun Sales Motivation briefing, visit www.YourWingman.com, e-mail info@yourwingman.com or call 1-866-925-3616.

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