For many years I even have struggled and beaten off my competition through diligence and failures. I even have read many books and lots of articles on the way to be the simplest Salesperson or the simplest Marketer and have tried implementing all the recommendation . i’m sick to death of all of those How-To guides and therefore the lack of actual real-life samples of when the following pointers actually worked!
A bit about me first so you’ll understand my frustrations. I left British Army in 1995 and having no actual trade to fall back on (well not one that might be of use in Civvy Street) I stumbled into Sales. I found that I had a aptitude to concentrate to people, identify opportunities and shut business, so did quite well. for 3 years I worked for alittle Sales and Marketing company that sold products and services on behalf of developing companies. I managed to save lots of enough money to place myself through University and in 1999 started a 3 year Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Systems. I graduated in 2002 and having no real interest in sitting behind a desk for the foreseeable future analysing computer systems, I veered towards sales again and gained employment with British Telecom. I started at British Telecom; working for the BT Phone Book/Yellow Pages, as a Field Sales Consultant.
British Telecom has a longtime pedigree for Sales Training; having previously started and subsequently sold the telephone book , and that i undertook the 2 week residential sales training course in Milton Keynes. Not the simplest city within the world and too many roundabouts! This was an eye-opener as I had previously never received any official Sales training, but insightful nonetheless.
I excelled in sales and was quickly promoted into management – not always the route successful salespeople take, but one that suited my motivations. I excelled in Management too and transferred to the technology side of BT, managing teams of Technical Sales consultants. This was a replacement challenge because the needs and support required by Technical consultants was completely different to those required by Media Advertising Executives.
Again, through our successes, i used to be promoted to Regional Director Level, managing the P&L for varied departments that supplied my Region.
After 6 fantastic years with BT I moved to a different Blue Chip company, DSGi, to require on a replacement challenge as their Sales Director for the Mobile and Data arm of their business. Originally a 12 month contract, our successes extended this contract for a further 12 months in preparation for the sale of the corporate . This brought with it the exposure to Lean Transformation and Marketing. The import of aligning Sales and Marketing and the way the resultant output far exceeded any previous endeavours by the prevailing teams, was of giant interest to me.
This experience prompted me to undertake a Master’s degree in Strategic Marketing Management to completely understand the potential opportunities that the strategic alignment of those two key functions could seriously increase the output, and resultant revenue generation of any business!
I even have a touch of a bone to select with Universities too, therein their course content isn’t only archaic but irrelevant in today’s marketplace, but that moan is for an additional time.
We have sales trainers across the planet that teach us about questioning techniques, objection handling and shutting techniques and hooked in to who you ask, the solution and importance of 1 technique over another will vary. But the answers should NEVER vary, no matter product or lead time!
When you continue a date with a woman (or man) that lady (or man) has already considered sleeping with you. The date is to check the water and to ascertain if you’re compatible for the future! they’re not brooding about the superb prawn cocktail starter or the (medium done) fillet steak, they’re thinking; will they be good in bed? Will our youngsters look good? Will I be financially secure and can I even have his/her support once I need it?
A business sale is strictly an equivalent thing! It doesn’t matter whether your product has whistles and bells thereon , or is gold plated, if the person selling it can’t fulfil the standards of the date, then he/she won’t sell! Let me elaborate because to form an analogy of a date and a purchase may be a bit vague lol!
Prawn cocktail starter: Your Introduction to the corporate and yourself
Fillet steak: Your product and what you offer
Eton Mess desert: Your close/proposal
Coffee and Liquors: Objection handling
Yes you’ve got questions in between to determine needs and opportunities, yes you’ve got your marketing literature, yes you’ve got objection handling techniques, but that’s just not enough these days!
Your customers are trying to find more! they’re more discerning in these economic times; that provide additional choice and competition galore! they need their first date to be special, they need to seek out ‘The One’.
The Questions your date is brooding about
Are they good in Bed? – Can we work together? Do i prefer this person sitting ahead of me? Do I trust the person sitting ahead of me? Does he/she share my vision, outlook and ethics?
Will our youngsters look good? – am i able to see my company aligning with his/her company? Will his/her company add value to mine? Does he/she bring anything attractive to the mix? Will there be an impression on my business to use his/her product/service?
Will I be financially secure? – Is his/her company large enough to support mine? Do they need a pedigree of fulfilment success? Are they getting to be breaking my balls for money? Is their sole focus money? Are they flexible with their pricing?
Will I even have their support once I need it? – What sales support am i able to expect? Is he/she just getting to sell me a widget then disappear? What if something goes wrong? What if i want a cuddle or i want to vent frustrations? What if I grow really quickly or need immediate help?
Price and Brand do play an enormous part within the date but that’s not of these days. It’s not about this fantastic sales technique or tip or that objection handling tool any longer . We are reverting back to the old adage ‘People buy from People’! actually we never left that adage behind, but the newer generation of sales people forget that or aren’t taught that! An all singing iPad for presentations and great marketing literature isn’t enough to win business!
I often read articles about utilising your CRM effectively, Ideal social media marketing tips, how having an excellent website will bring you fortunes, blah blah blah…. When did we stop being good at Marketing? When did we stop being good at working our data? When did we ditch our Brand?
The majority of adverts I see for all of the above are, for the bulk , scare tactics! we’ve never neglected our businesses; we never rest on our laurels and that we always remember marketing!
Ok it’s difficult to adapt quickly and sometimes it’s difficult to ascertain the advantages , but it’s necessary. Sometimes there are barriers to vary and that we need a hand to beat these barriers, but we always want our businesses to be profitable!
The focus of any business will always get on sales and the way to get revenue! Telesales isn’t dead, Field sales remains expensive but works, customer services still create sales opportunities and marketing supports all of the above.
You don’t need an all singing CRM or an enormous Data Services or a Social Media Guru or flashy tools for your staff. you would like a spreadsheet or Access database, a telephone and dedicated and enthusiastic people to support your journey. the remainder are just luxuries!
You have reached your current status by absorbing and developing your own style and approach. This has obviously worked and you’ve got grown as a business and as an individual . You don’t got to change your whole approach or character to be continually successful! Yes you would like to adapt to plug changes, but generally they’re not that significant that they require you to change your whole approach. You don’t got to do all of the highest 10 tips to achieve success , you don’t need all the flamboyant tools to achieve success and you don’t got to spend to be successful! you’re already successful!
For many years I even have been a business coach, working with some large Blue Chips and much of SME’s. I even have never suggested a Top 10 anything, or that they invest huge sums in new technology. the bulk of the time my role is guided discovery! My clients already know the answers, but have forgotten the importance and my role is to open their eyes and obtain them thinking. they need achieved success without me, but have developed barriers to growing that tiny bit extra they desire. I just give them options. I tell them the uncomfortable truth because i’m their objectionable friend.
Whilst I acknowledge the advertising tactics employed by these companies that scare the living daylights out of CEO’s and MD’s, I don’t accept as true with them. People only need the fundamentals and an absolute conviction to achieve success , the remainder may be a luxury and not that cost-saving in reality!
We all hate recruitment agencies because they cost us money and time (sorting through the crappy CV’s they send us) but they serve a purpose. the larger question is why does one require them within the first place? Are your Sales teams churning too quickly? Are your staff not achieving targets? Are your staff not happy in their roles?
The recruitment of the proper staff is one among the key elements to achieving the expansion you need! That and being realistic together with your expectations! Utilise psychometric evaluation in your recruitment process.
Yes a number of you’ll think these things is mumbo jumbo but trust me, for several years i used to be of an equivalent opinion! However, i do know my very own company culture, i do know my company strengths and weaknesses, and that i know my very own company’s management and the way they manage. So using psychometrics I can assess the reality about any potential candidate and see through any bullsh*t they feed me on an interview. These sales people are getting to cost me £30k in salaries and therefore the additional on-cost of another £20k, £5k in recruitment and time, so i would like to form damn sure the person I recruit isn’t getting to leave in 12 months! a part of ensuring this is often by being honest within the interview. I tell them it’s tough, I tell them my expectations and that i tell them what is going to happen if they don’t achieve. This generally thins the herd a touch so I can consider the important candidates.
When measuring my Sales teams and therefore the numbers of individuals achieving or under achieving, I identify areas of development. If my teams aren’t achieving their goals then this might be a sign that they’re either not being managed effectively or that my targets could also be unrealistic. If my sales teams aren’t happy then i will be able to lose them and that they won’t generate the specified revenue. If they’re consistently not achieving across the board then i’ll need to address my expectations. I don’t need fancy technology or new sales tools, i want to re-motivate my teams and achieving teams are happy teams.
I aware of the very fact that I haven’t addressed any Sales fallacies and that i have just ranted a few sort of subjects. So in short here are the common sales fallacies:
1) Success in selling is all about having the “gift of the gab”
Most salespeople believe that having the gift of the gab is the qualification required to be successful in sales. To some extent this is true – a sales professional should have a natural ability to express ideas fluently and persuasively. However, at times our eloquence turns out to be the major hurdle in understanding and connecting with the prospect. WHY? Simply because we emphasise more on our sales pitch rather than lending an ear to understand the needs of the other person. The desire to talk more than to listen renders a salesperson ineffective.
In this context, you will realise that communication skills are often misunderstood. When I ask my clients to define communication, the most common reply is “getting your message across”. This may be so, but this is just a small part of communication. What about the receiver and his/her comprehension of the message?
Communication is all about connecting with the other person at an intellectual and emotional level. “Gift of the gab” is talking impressively, and this in itself is not enough. Empathetic listening and our ability to understand and feel the real need in what is said, is of the essence.
2) Sales is A Numbers Game
Do you really believe that doing more of something will get you better results?
More often than not, we’re doing more of the things that aren’t working.
More often than not we get caught up in some “persistence” thing or our inner competitor takes over and so does “smiling and dialling”
I’m saying that less might be more if it leads to a higher quality effort!
A higher quality effort is one where you actually did some research, mapped your communication on both the messaging side and the inclusion of a good, healthy sales mix.
For people new to selling, mastering the basics is a numbers game (repetition is key to developing new skills). But once they’ve done that, using those skills in a smart, flexible way is key. “Less might be more if it leads to a higher quality effort!”
3) Experience fallacy – Hiring salespeople based on their experience at large corporations or hiring salespeople based on ‘feelings’
These common mistakes often are the reason businesses fail to meet sales goals… It’s neither fair nor logical to exclude someone based merely on the amount of work experience, and the assumption that the number of years of work experience is a good indicator of one’s ability to do the job.
Well; maybe just a ‘experience fallacy’…; companies need to sit down and figure out a map of the behaviours (e.g., salesperson and customer…) that drive success before doing any hiring… If you’ve got a profile of the behaviours to drive success, then you’ll make sure that people are more likely to be aligned.
But when all else fails, you may have to come to grips with trimming the sales team of dead weight. Data I’ve collected shows that companies tend to spend too much time coaching the top 20% of performers and not trying to improve the bottom 20%.
But focusing on the core middle 60% of the sales team it is the best way to improve sales!
4) “Relationships Just Happen”
When I ask why relationships are important to sales success, the answer is almost universal: “Because people buy from people they know and people they like.” Really? The reason goes beyond that standard answer, and people know that!
Relationship-building is about more than just the opportunities an individual throws your way. If you’re working with a big client, it’s likely there won’t be a single unique buyer. There may be dozens of people on the client side that will influence the outcome in some way–dozens of people with information and insight. You may have that many people on the seller’s side as well. It’s very rare that any one person will be able to make a unilateral decision.
Even the best-laid roads develop cracks, and the bigger the deal the bigger the risk. Without solid relationships to help you survive the inevitable bumps in the road, today’s mega-deal—the one that’s going to feed you for the next decade — could easily become next year’s biggest nightmare and cost you your job.
5) The way to increase sales and motivate salespeople is to offer “incentives” in money and gifts
Poorly designed incentives create a temporary mask for incompetence, and no matter how cleverly disguised, any carrot-and-stick process produces questionable long-term, sustainable results.
Manipulating behaviour by offering reinforcements rarely brings out the best in salespeople. There is current, sound, and factual supporting evidence.
A better approach is to focus on the fundamentals of the sales profession.
Oh my god I just created a Top 5 and I have spent the best part of 10 minutes of your time berating those that create Top 10 lists! I apologise profusely and will self-flagellate until suitably chastised!
I know this is a rambling article, but I hope that it provides clarity and honesty in the stereotypically deceitful role of a Salesperson.