sales attributes

Why are so many of us in sales still spewing out product garbage, too soon and too often?

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It’s crazy to me that we still need to coach sales people not to sell on product. I was just reviewing some old books on my shelf and came across the gem, The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. This book sold millions and has been talked about for decades. It was published in 1989 by Simon and Schuster, 30 years ago.

Here you go, page 244, “An effective sales person first seeks to understand the needs, the concerns, the situation of the customer. The amateur salesman sells products; the professional sells solutions to needs and problems. It’s a totally different approach. The professional learns how to diagnose, how to understand.”

“It’s a totally different approach” – Yah  30 years ago it was!!

I realize that today we are also striving to advance the conversation to insights and value creation, and helping customers with ideas and scenario’s that they perhaps havn’t even thought of.

We still need to help customers solve their business problems by developing outcomes for them that resonate and are meaningful for their business and for them personally.

It’s curious to me that many sales consultants and thought leaders talk about this as if its new thinking.

I remember a family friend who sold for a paint manufacturer, yes paint. He traveled all over Canada selling paint. He was a good friend of my dad, and I was just a kid at the time. So this was 40 plus years ago.

I’ll never forget him talking about selling in our living room, smoking his pipe (yes he was smoking a pipe-not very popular these days). He talked about helping his customers, he never talked about the product.

Why are we still even having this conversation?

Because reps astonishingly, are still doing it.

Lets make 2019 the year we pause, think, ask questions, sincerely care about the outcome, and listen, I mean, really, actively, listen.

I help coach professionals on this topic among others on a continual basis, yes its still an issue.

It’s very rewarding to see them make the shift into outcomes and how they see very quickly that it changes the whole dynamic of the conversation they have with their clients in a positive way.

Please feel free to comment on this topic and join the conversation.

For more information and insights in regards to coaching and other sales organization thoughts refer to my website, www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com, you can also order my book, The Street Savvy Sales Leader, A Guide To Building Teams That Consistently Win New Business.

 

Mark Welch

Founder

Street Savvy Sales Leadership

www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com

For individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, part time sales leadership or contract work, advising, or speaking engagements contact me directly;

mark@streetsavvysalesleadership.com

The Top Three Challenges Facing Sales Organizations Today And What To Do About It !

Photo by Shane Rounce

Photo by Shane Rounce

This is definitely my most important post so far.

While companies all face different challenges, there are three universal ones plaguing the sales industry today:

1. The buyer’s journey has changed dramatically. There are now more decision makers in every sales situation; the buyer is busier, more knowledgeable and more risk-averse; the buyer’s expectations of the sales profession are much higher; and the decision process is more complex. Thus, it is harder than ever to move a buyer to make a change.

2. It is tougher than ever before to differentiate your offering. Companies and salespeople are struggling to stand out and truly offer something of sincere value in every step of the sales process to their customers in a very crowded market. Even if you have a product or service that can be differentiated it’s still tough to get buyer mindshare.

3. Sales reps are facing increasingly complex and time-challenging demands. Companies want more data (typically through CRM platforms), reps need to be more knowledgeable about their product and more prepared for every sales interaction than they ever have and there is greater pressure on reps to provide consistently higher sales. The reps may not receive sufficient support, so they need to work harder to balance increased internal demands against winning more sales.

 

So, here we have the perfect storm: a more complex and challenging customer environment, where more time is essential to properly prepare for each customer interaction; a proliferation of products and competitors that makes differentiation more challenging; and increased expectations for both sales achievements and non-selling activities.

 

My strident message to senior sales leaders and B to B executives and owners;

You absolutely cannot have your cake and eat it, too. Sales needs the time to focus on selling and, at the same time, the sales organization needs to close the gap between buyers’ expectations and the sales community’s skills and expertise.

So if you want to be a world class sales organization, give your team the tools and support they need and let your sales people sell. Do not overburden them with non selling stuff !!!

 

Creating a Best-in-Class Sales Team

I have witnessed firsthand these increased challenges in the marketplace and in the customer mindset, yet I believe sales remains an exciting and rewarding career. Despite what others may suggest, sales is not dead, it is evolving. And we in the field must adapt.

In order to meet business growth objectives, you need to overcome today’s challenges. The only way to do that is to build a best-in-class sales team. By best-in-class, I mean a sales organization built on a solid foundation that’s composed of a winning, supportive and collaborative sales culture; caring leadership; an effective hiring process; a strong sales process with robust analytics; proven execution; a customer-driven philosophy; and a mindset of continuous improvement and learning.

 

Below are the 10 imperatives that I believe are critical for developing a sales organization that will help you win in the marketplace and meet your revenue goals.

 

1. A well-thought-out, customized hiring process to find the candidates with the most potential to succeed.

2. A defined onboarding program and talent management system that will get your new hires firing on all cylinders as quickly as possible and keep them that way.

3. A finely tuned sales process and funnel management.

4. Appropriate key performance indicators, metrics and analytics to measure success.

5. Sales planning to ensure you are calling on the right targets and that your salespeople are focused.

6. Sales methodology to ensure consistency and effectiveness in the sales process.

7. Effective real-time coaching to help your salespeople be their best.

8. Compensation and reward and recognition programs that are aligned with what you need to achieve.

9. Change management, because change is here to stay.

10. A caring, high-performance culture where sales employees feel they are a part of something of value and where they can express themselves and collaborate freely in a team environment.

 

These imperatives will enable your sales leadership to create a best-in-class sales team, which will provide your organization with the best possible opportunity to win in the marketplace.

 

It is these 10 imperatives that my book, The Street Savvy Sales Leader is all about.

 

For more information and insights into sales organization imperatives see my website,  www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com , or to pre order my upcoming book, The Street Savvy Sales Leader, A Guide to Building Teams that Consistently Win New Business.

Street Savvy Sales Leadership offers individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, advising, and speaking engagements.

If you have any questions or comments, please email me at mark@streetsavvysalesleadership.com

 

Mark Welch

Founder

Street Savvy Sales Leadership

www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com

My Take On the Key Hallmarks of Top Sales Professionals-Heads up ! there's more than 5

Photo by Joshua Earle

Photo by Joshua Earle

Sorry, it’s more than 5 !

I have had the privilege of working alongside some of the best salespeople in the business. The most successful salespeople I have worked with have a mixture of some of these qualities:

1. They are the most focused. They know what they needed to accomplish. They are organized. There are always issues that can distract you. The best reps acknowledge the issues, work on solving them or bringing them to management’s attention, and then they move on and get back to their plan.

2. They always think about what the customer is thinking. This canny ability allows the rep to determine what the customer’s challenges are, understand the problems and thus see the opportunities.

3. They have a sincere desire to achieve. This means they are tenacious and confident, and possess willpower, courage and determination. They sell with passion. I often ask customers the question “Why did you choose us to do business with?” You might be surprised to learn that the answer is sometimes dead simple: the relationship, trust, service, price, references, et cetera. But one answer that stands out because I heard it more often was this: “The account team wanted it more than any other team. They worked for it; they were tenacious.”

4. They are persuasive and are aware of the behavioral buying patterns of customers. Eighty percent of decisions are made on emotions. The top salespeople are attuned to the emotions or emotional states of their buyers.

5. They are superb listeners. They sincerely care and are empathetic (high on the emotional intelligence scale

6. They are responsive. They deal with problems quickly, and they honor their commitments and promises to their support team and their customers.

7. They are positive and enthusiastic. Enthusiasm spreads, as you know. A person walks into a room with that special kind of energy that can change the dynamic in the room. The same goes for the reverse. Enthusiasm is contagious, but it’s a balancing act—don’t overdo it. It may not come across as sincere.

8. They are naturally curious. They read voraciously. I always suggest to reps that they stay up to date with what’s going on in the world around them, as this helps tremendously when meeting with and talking to clients. Natural curiosity then extends to a sincere desire to question and inquire and to learn more about their customers.

9. They have goals and they make plans for the day, week, month, quarter and year ahead.

10. They do their homework and prepare, and then prepare some more. I’m not sure I can emphasize enough how important preparation is. Preparation for a sales call, for a bid, an overall account strategic plan—the person who has a plan is in control. Remember the words from the great John Wooden, one of the greatest college basketball coaches in history: “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.”

11. They know their company, its products and its services, and they have the ability to communicate a compelling story to their prospects.

12. They are great at building rapport and relationships, and so they are quick to gain credibility and win trust.

13. They are the hardest-working and the most committed. Sales success does not come without effort. Salespeople acquire knowledge through hard work and a burning desire to succeed.

14. They have the ability to call on the right people at the right time, with the right message. This sounds easy, but it takes a lot of the skills described above to make this happen.

15. They are highly adaptable to change and technologically literate. They know the power of the internet, social media (especially LinkedIn) and computer technology and apps that help them communicate with customers. New tools will continue to impact the way we relate.

16. They understand collaboration and are never afraid to get help when and where they need it. Selling today is about team selling more than ever. You typically can’t win opportunities by yourself. You need help.

17. They are trustworthy and guided by integrity. They do what they say they are going to do, and they stand up for what is right. I believe that if you are honest and do the right thing, you will win business and be rewarded.

In the highly demanding business world of today, sales professionals are expected to be financially literate (e.g., know how to read a balance sheet and income statement) and to be industry experts, relationship builders and company collaborators. Their customers expect the rep to be their voice and to have that voice be respected. There is no limit to the variety of challenges, people and opportunities the sales profession offers, with both financial and professional awards beckoning.

I believe that selling is an honorable vocation and is attracting different and new talent because of the challenges, varied experience and rewards it offers. It’s important to me to keep evangelizing the caring nature of the role, the code of ethics it needs to abide by and the fact that it’s a profession that exists, primarily, to help people and organizations make good business decisions that will help their business thrive.

I would love to hear your viewpoint on the top selling hallmarks, please feel free to comment.

To read about other sales leadership topics or to increase your sales productivity check out my website www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com .

Mark Welch

Founder

Street Savvy Sales Leadership

www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com

For individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, or advising feel free to contact me by email mark@streetsavvysalesleadership.com