These days, great sales people are not the pushy, overconfident stereotype that most people think of when they hear the word ‘sales person’ or ‘salesman’. The male-orientated, winner-takes-all environment that many associate with sales is dead for any organisation that wants to be successful, no matter what industry they sell into.
In today’s world, purchasing decisions and responsibilities have also become polarised between commodity purchases (which are dealt with by transactional procurement teams and based on price with low margins) and strategic purchases (which are dealt with by senior business sponsors and multi-discipline business improvement teams and based on value with high margins).
All of this means that, unless selling organisations are confident that they can win high-volume, low-price contracts by having the lowest cost base, they must establish capable business development teams that work together and use best-practice consultative selling skills to consistently win high-margin strategic sales.
Traditional sales techniques are no longer enough
Many sales people believe that a good knowledge of the buying organisation’s world and the selling organisation’s products are critical success factors when it comes to selling. Indeed, these attributes have formed the basis of many recruitment policies for organisations developing a sales capability in their target sector.
But successful sales organisations are now realising that a good knowledge of the target client (and sector) and the selling organisation’s capabilities is just one dimension needed for successful selling.
Best-practice selling in today’s world requires consultative sales techniques, professional selling attitudes and behaviours, the ambition and poise to be seen as a trusted advisor, and innovation at the decision-making level.
Develop consultative selling skills
To successfully develop strategic business, you need a consistent consultative selling methodology that enables the selling organisation to:
a) Rapidly develop unique insight into the implicit and explicit needs of the buying organisation and the individual members of the decision-making unit (DMU); and
b) Build trust and a perception of value.
This is because consultative selling skills are highly effective and transferrable across any industry.
By applying a consultative selling methodology and the right business development framework, a high level of knowledge of the target client’s world and the selling organisation’s capabilities can be rapidly developed and aligned to the point where competitors using traditional sales techniques, such as ‘Feature Advantage Benefit‘ (FAB) selling, become redundant and ineffective.
Individuals and organisations that are able to develop best-practice consultative selling skills (along with professional business and relationship development methodologies) and realise a positive shift in their attitudes and ambitions can therefore quickly achieve success in any (existing or new) target sector.
The emergence of Sales Academies
In the current climate, many selling organisations are failing because they miss the fact that the selling skills, behaviours and attitudes of their customer-facing people represent a major part of the proposition that differentiates the great selling organisations from the “also-rans” in the industry.
This is why forward-thinking selling organisations are establishing Sales Academies to develop the right behaviours and attitudes in their sales people, in addition to the right knowledge, skills and techniques that will enable them to consistently beat the competition and win the trust of senior decision makers in target markets.
By putting their people through a Sales Academy, sales organisations working with Sterling Chase are experiencing a significant, positive shift in the selling skills, behaviours and attitudes of the sales force. By developing consultative selling skills that are transferrable across any industry and refining the attitudes and behaviours of their people, these organisations are realising huge benefits that are enabling them to drive consistently high performance despite the difficult economic conditions.
Written by: Steve Eungblut, Managing Director of Sterling Chase