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4 Tips to Improve Your Sales Technique and Selling Performance

How do the top sales people earn so much yet look so relaxed?

Well, it’s because they get great results, earn great rewards, develop lasting relationships with their clients, are respected in their industry, and have selling skills that are transferrable across multiple industries.

In the past, great Key Account Managers were considered to be ‘relationship farmers’ who could develop a strong commercial relationship with one (or a few) complex key account(s).

Meanwhile, New Business Development Specialists have traditionally been considered to be ‘sales hunters’ who grow business fast but typically fail to nurture the longer term client relationship during the sales process…If you ask a hunter to tend to crops, they will simply get bored and look for something to shoot – they may even take a few shots at the crops!

Today’s business-savvy buyers and employers expect their top sales people to be a hybrid of a ‘key account manager’ (farmer) and a ‘new business development specialist’ (hunter). Sales professionals who want to earn those great rewards, develop long-lasting relationships, earn respect and develop sales techniques which are easily transferrable across industries must therefore be able to win new business while also nurturing and developing their existing relationships with clients.

But what makes a great sales person? Well the answer to this question is:

  • They develop insight.
  • They demonstrate great sales techniques and selling skills.
  • They display the right attitude & behaviour.
  • They show great application.

Now let’s look at each of these in turn….

Developing Your Insight

By this we mean that great sales people should develop an insight into their target customers and the industry as a whole.

Believe it or not this can be gained very quickly and to a level that makes you better than 90% of other sales people out there. Most sales people absorb insight over a period of years as a whole heap of facts that eventually, through experience and many hundreds of discussions, makes them ‘insightful’ or ‘wise’.

To achieve this you are going to have do some research into the client and industry in terms of:

  • The external pressures, trends and compelling events that are facing the client/industry. For example, retailers may be facing a downturn in consumer spending, increased online competition and/or an increase in sales taxes.
  • Their internal ‘pain-points’. External pressures, either individually or in combination, result in internal problems or ‘pain points’ which top sales people exploit to win business. For example, retailers might be seeing their sales falling, their margins squeezed and their profits declining due to the external pressures mentioned above.
  • Their main objectives (i.e. their ‘desires and needs’) to improve their performance. For example, a retailer’s objective might be to reach more customers, reduce their costs, and/or reducing their overheads.

Once you know the top 3 to 5 factors in each of the above categories, you can hold a great sales conversation with any decision maker and can start to develop a consultative sale… and you’ll be better than 90% of your competitors!

Developing Your Sales Techniques and Selling Skills

To become a successful sales person, you need to become a hybrid of a ‘key account manager’ and a ‘new business development specialist’ by developing a wide range of sales techniques and selling skills. You need to be great at:

  • Generating instant credibility, perceived value and interest in new contacts.
  • Consultative selling techniques i.e. leading the client’s thinking and business direction (and sometimes challenging and disrupting the client’s existing plans and commercial relationships).
  • Influencing decision makers in the buying AND selling organisations.
  • Out-selling even the most capable competitor organisations.
  • Avoiding and handling senior sales objections (and even complaints!).
  • Closing complex solution sales.
  • Up-selling and growing existing relationships.

Again, all of these are easy much easier to develop than you might think. Click on the above links for further details of these sales techniques.

Getting the Right Attitude & Behaviour

Attitude is the perspective that sales people have about the world and about themselves, while behaviour is how they actually act. Along with the aforementioned sales techniques, attitude will tend to determine a sales person’s behaviour. To be a great sales person you need to use the right attitudes and behaviours together. You need to:

  • Have and maintain a positive outlook, even in the face of adversity.
  • Be confident in your own ability but never arrogant.
  • Treat the customer with respect. But remember, don’t put yourself down. You and the client are both specialists – your customer has specific needs and you can provide a tailored solution. If you both work together in an adult-to-adult relationship, you will reap great rewards.
  • Act professionally at all times – without fail and act smart.
  • Be driven by, and focused on, the results (for both the selling and buying organisations) rather than the effort involved.
  • Learn something new and important every day!

Again, all of this is much easier to develop than you might think. This is about personal leadership and mastery of your own thoughts. Just always think about the good aspects of a situation and seek to solve problems you are presented with – they’re not problems, just new opportunities to learn! Think of the desired outcome and put positive energy into making it happen.

Great Application

For great application of the aforementioned sales techniques and to acquire the right attidue and behaviour you need to:

  • Practise, observe the results and learn quickly– learn from your successes and learn from your failures.
  • Be effective and efficient – have a plan, make your actions count and make sure every action contributes to your desired outcome.
  • Deliver results for your customer decision makers as well as for your own company.
  • Apply consultative selling in your customer and in your own organisation to develop your influence – sell in your own company as well as your customers … and sell yourself!
  • Make sure your boss (and his/her boss) knows about your progress and results – and its great if the publicity comes from your customers!

If you think about these sales tips every day along with the other attributes of a great sales person, you’ll be superior at selling in today’s new world. You’ll get time to enjoy your selling and you’ll get to reap the rewards which can be huge!

Written by: Steve Eungblut, Managing Director of Sterling Chase