By Paul Reilly

Cicadas are everywhere. I’ll admit, it’s entertaining to watch people freak out when assailed by these prehistoric pests. And my dog is certainly enjoying the extra protein. But I’m ready for this noisy nuisance to go dormant. Before they go underground again, salespeople can learn from these temporary visitors. Here are three questions to determine if you’re a cicada-seller.

Are you present in your territory?

Cicadas show up every 13 or 17 years. How often do you show up at your customers’? If you need to re-introduce yourself at every customer visit, you’re waiting too long. Once you identify your high-value targets, show up early and show up often. Cicadas also spend 99% of their time underground. How much of your selling time do you spend “underground”? If most of your selling time is spent handling administrative tasks, combing through e-mails, or non-selling activities, you are a cicada-seller.

Do you listen more than you speak?

Cicadas are annoying, and their most annoying quality is their mind-numbing noise. Their constant buzz is louder than a chainsaw, and it’s unrelenting. My dad was recently sitting poolside, and he had to replace his hearing aid…with an earplug. Are you constantly “buzzing” on the sales call? Our research shows that top-achieving salespeople spend 60% of their selling time listening versus speaking. You’re given two ears and one mouth. Try to use them in that proportion.

Do you have a purpose?

Is it just me or do cicadas seemingly have no purpose? What do they do? Cicadas emerge every 13 years, party with their mate, and then die. How often do salespeople approach their profession with no purpose? For value-added salespeople, their purpose is to make a difference, not just deals. Their purpose is to solve problems and serve people, not just sell products. Purpose drives passion and excitement. What’s your deeper purpose?

If you answered “no” to these questions, you are a cicada-seller. And just like these cicadas, you probably won’t be around for long.

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