After years in enterprise sales roles, your sales tactics are an accumulation of lessons and behaviors learned that determine your selling style and sales success. You can only hope that evolution has created the right cocktail of attributes.
Determining whether it has – or hasn’t – is easy, because you can measure sales success. You easily know when a sales professional performs badly, but it’s much more difficult to identify what makes someone a great salesperson. The good news is, everyone can become a great sales representative through learning, coaching and mentorship.
Start with the Fundamentals
Great sales professionals are purpose-driven; they focus on the success and happiness of their prospective clients. This means they want, and are able, to see the world through the eyes of the other party. They are naturally curious and want to serve their clients.
Another fundamental building block to becoming a great sales rep is consistent, ethical behavior. That behavior provides predictable and desirable outcomes for those you interact with over long periods of time. In other words, create trust! It has a monetary value. The best-selling The Speed of Trust, by Stephen M. R. Covey, provides more detailed insights on this topic. Covey explains the value of trustworthy interactions and relationships, which are based on always saying what you mean, meaning what you say, and doing what you commit to do.
Once you have learned these essential principles, you have some of the key ingredients you need to become a great salesperson. Yet you still have not sold anything. So how do you generate sales?
The Challenger Sales Perspective
Establishing rapport is a key aspect of successful sales. Some people immediately say, “Yes, the effective relationship builder is the winner,” while others may say, “Selling is a numbers game. To outperform you must work hard and increase your touch points.” Both statements may be true, but neither is the X factor that determines the difference between good and great sales professionals. One determining factor is to be a salesperson who challenges clients. The bestseller The Challenger Sale, by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson, bolsters this theory.
While there are different approaches to sales, many of the most successful salespeople fall into the “Challengers” sales personality category. These individuals 1) teach their clients and earn the right to respectfully challenge their prospects during the sales process, 2) tailor their value propositions and meet their clients’ needs to drive positive impact, and 3) take control of the sales cycle by driving each step forward without fear and with client buy-in. You will only achieve this if you are purpose-driven with a high focus on building trust.
These Challenger sales reps earn the proverbial seat at the table. Before the first call, and any other following call, sales professionals must learn all they can about their customers. They can use these insights to guide clients to see that the solution has a natural need and fit. To do this, you have to develop understanding on multiple levels:
1) The business environment: A car manufacturer works in a different business environment than a consulting firm or a pharmaceutical company. Understanding what the macro challenges are, and with which value chain your client deals, is important so you can position your product or service as the logical solution to your client’s specific situation.
2) The company: Knowing the unique characteristics, goals, aspirations, challenges and current affairs of your client’s company helps you determine how your solution can address existing needs and priorities.
3) The person: No two clients are the same, so you must personalize each sale. Find out your client’s specific role, what makes the client successful, what keeps the client busy and what makes the client tick. By trying to find answers to these questions, you’ll uncover what really matters to your client, with speed and accuracy.
“You lost me at hello”
The opening statement or question is most critical. It will kick off the dialogue and set the sales process on a certain track (strategic or tactical, personal or mechanical). Clearly demonstrate that you are passionately interested in your clients’ success. Remember, you’re not the only one doing research. Today, customers are more educated than ever. Gauge your clients’ level of understanding of your business and of your solution, and ask what they are looking for in a business relationship with a company like yours.
Make sure that you always leave them with a good impression of your company. Ask for permission to explain what you, your company, and your solution are all about. What does it all mean to them? Wait until you have earned the right to do so, and be sure to explain it in your own words; the last thing you want is to sound canned. Before the end of any meeting or call, agree upon the next action item, or else your sales cycle is dead.
Great salespeople never give up. They build a consistent message of awareness about their company and each touch point delivers value. They are purpose-driven, and they focus on the success and happiness of their prospective client. If you do your research and establish a trustworthy rapport, you are one step closer to becoming a great salesperson.
Michel Koopman is the CEO of getAbstract, Inc. getAbstract’s mission is to find, expertly compress and provide universal access to critical business knowledge in a format that learners can absorb quickly and easily. This allows our customers to stay current and competitive and to become leaders who can make better decisions. Today, our solutions include a library of more than 8,000 business book summaries, in text and audio format, which more than 10 million subscribers use, including 20% of the Fortune 500 companies.