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I don’t think there’s anyone out there who doesn’t like Sir Richard Branson – maybe the exception being Willie Walsh perhaps.

We love an under-dog don’t we, especially if they’re successful, sun-tanned and look great in corduroy – if 007 was a pacifist, Branson would get the part and it would be pure box-office. Type “Branson’s tips for success” into Google and you’ll get more hits than Stock Aitken and Waterman.

There are so many similarities between Sir Richard’s epic rise to fame and really effective sales professionals. I’m passionate about helping people improve the way they help their customers buy their service or product and just by following a few of the great man’s lessons in life, we can fire ourselves up for sales success;

1. Get Attention

The single biggest problem most sales people have is obscurity, not enough customers know you. How can you help them buy what you offer if they don’t know you exist?

If you’re a forty-something, most of your late teens were dominated by Branson crossing the Atlantic by boat and hot air balloon. He didn’t do this for kicks; this premeditated ‘dicing with death’ was designed specifically to get his brand onto the global stage. Who knows whether Thorn EMI would have paid the $1bn they did in 1992 for his Virgin Records business if he hadn’t been so visibly active in the 5 years leading up to the deal…….stuntman or genius noise-maker, you decide.

It’s exactly the same in sales; you have to get attention if you want to attract revenue and be successful. I’ve tried the ‘sitting waiting for the phone to ring’ experiment and it doesn’t work. The more constructive and purposeful sales activity you employ, the fuller your pipeline gets and that one single fundamental action will help you steer well clear of what comes next……


2. Handle Rejection

Despite his phenomenal success over the last 50 years, Branson like all serial entrepreneurs has had the occasional ‘pig of an idea’.

We all remember Virgin Cola, but how many tried it on the rocks with Virgin Vodka? You may recall Virgin Cars, Virgin Brides and Virgin Vie which all tanked as the bearded one explored multiple revenue streams in his mission to conquer the world. Failure is part of the game, but its how we bounce back and deal with the consequences that defines us and shapes our next move.

Rejection is an emotion, it is created by our thoughts and whilst we may not be able to control the customer, we do have more control than we realise over how we think about their actions. Adopting a “why do I always screw-up” mentality following a lost sale or missed opportunity will do nothing to improve your level of self-esteem and self-belief. However, adopting constructive thoughts like “what can I learn from this?” is a far more productive way to address sales challenges and will keep you moving forward with solid, well-planned and well-executed sales behaviour. So what if something you try fails, as Jon Sinclair put it, “Failure is a bruise not a tattoo”…learn from it, let go and move forward.


3. Commit

The man nicknamed ‘Dr Yes’ with the “Screw it, just do it” mantra is not one to enter into anything halfheartedly, when he goes, he goes all-in.

Whether he’s driving a tank into Time Square or kitesurfing across the English Chanel, Branson exhibits total commitment to everything Virgin – he believes in himself and he believes in his product and by doing it so publically and with such conviction, we feel confident that what he offers is of value and we buy!

It’s the same for sales professionals, “if you aren’t convinced, you can’t convince” it’s that simple!

Do you really believe in yourself and in your ability?

Are you totally sold on the company you work for and would you buy their product or service?

If there’s was an element of doubt when you read those last words then my encouragement to you is take action before your customers pick up on it and take a very different kind of action for you! Master the art of commitment and I believe that very little will stop you in your quest to enjoy significant sales success.

So that’s that –  Sir Richard Branson, 50 years in business and arguably Britain’s favourite entrepreneur, self-made billionaire with a net-worth of $5bn and now, accomplished sales guru. I’m looking forward to Virgin entering into the stationary business because if anyone can “sell me this pen”, Sir Richard Branson can.


About the author: Matt Sykes is founder of Sales Training company Salescadence. He works predominantly with Personality-led Business Owners to help them convert more of their leads into customers via transformational products which improve their Sales Mindset, Sales Ability & Sales Process.


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