Traditionally, people have believed that you are either born to be good at selling or you are not.
This traditional “wisdom” holds that selling skills can be honed over time, but they need to be based on a highly confident personality, a dogged determination, and a desire to be successful that drives every action.
Meanwhile, sales leaders have traditionally been thought of as “alpha” individuals who command the respect of their sales forces and drive income growth at any cost.
Times have changed
While these observations may have held true in the past, times have changed and many are now challenging such conventional views.
In recent years, buyers have become more “business-savvy” and have a much greater choice of suppliers than was previously the case. Legal and ethical concerns have been raised towards best sales practices in the media. Technological advances and social trends, such as an explosion in the use of social media, now ensure that brand-damaging news can travel around the world in a matter of seconds. Furthermore, the economic downturn has resulted in most purchases having to be supported by a clear commitment to deliver a return on investment.
In this challenging new world, such external pressures have made the sales process more complex. This has encouraged many companies to rethink fundamental questions, such as “What makes a great sales person?” and “How do we make our sales people great without overhauling the entire sales force?”
A structured and continuous approach is needed
Successful selling organisations are now realising that, to gain a competitive advantage in today’s marketplace, they need to develop a structured and continuous approach to developing best practice consultative selling skills, world-class sales techniques and processes, consistently professional behaviours, and role-model attitudes that will drive organisational performance and reputation.
These organisations are finding that successful selling does not simply come from excellent individual sales performances. Rather, they realise that true success is achieved only when their sales people perform well together, in a collaborative and consistent manner.
Successful selling organisations are also realising that, to become world-class, their sales leaders must: be able to plan and lead the execution of a compelling sales strategy; have the behavioural agility to adapt their leadership style to different situations; have the self-motivation required to constantly learn from others; and both lead and manage any change with the courage, conviction and determination that befits the term “hero”.
The route to successful selling for organisations in the new world is a joint commitment to the continuous professional development of their sales forces, sales management teams, and sales leadership teams across the organisation. Selling organisations we are working with that share this vision are currently investing in – and reaping the rewards from – organisational sales development strategies to embed the necessary changes at the heart of their culture, systems and processes.
Written by: Steve Eungblut, Managing Director of Sterling Chase