How to leverage sales techniques and future-proof success in any business area
Gordon Tredgold is an expert in business and information technology, author of several books on business leadership. He argues that when it comes to doing business, there is a big difference – being an expert in a particular field or being an entrepreneur.
As an expert you can develop stunning products or solutions, but without sales skills, your business will not survive, let alone prosper.
At some point in your career, even if you are not a sales rep, you will have to sell something.
So how do you pump out your sales skills, especially if you do not have any salesmanship in your job description or personality pattern?
Sales have a bad reputation
Thomas Steenburgh, a professor at the School of Business at the University of Virginia, says, “Only a few parents say they want to see their children as salespeople in the future. His students from the magistracy are no exception.”
Many of them say that sales is something they never want to do during their careers. However, sales is a paramount skill.
Scott Edinger, the founder of the Edinger Consulting Group and the author of the book “The Hidden Leader,” says that the reluctance to sell comes from the outdated notion. Sales is pushing people to buy what they do not want, do not need or simply cannot afford. But this statement is no longer relevant. From meetings with colleagues to calling customers, practically all your actions during the workday intersect with “selling ideas”.
The reluctance to sell comes from the outdated notion that sales are pushing people to buy what they do not want, do not need or simply cannot afford.
How can you get better at this?
Mastering the art of sales requires understanding of its essense. This goes beyond the cliches of the car-sellers examples. Sales are not about constant pressure and talk non-stop. Sales are “inspiration and persuasion”. Your task is to work in collaboration with clients and colleagues to achieve change. To tune into the right mindset, Steenburgh recommends that you build on your own positive experience as a client. Think about your best interactions with a sales rep, the moment when a salesman “showed a genuine interest in solving your problem and helped cope with it.”
Become a “natural born salesman”
Some sales techniques can be easily applied to teamwork, project management, or content planning. How do you encourage colleagues to join you on a mission of a new task/strategy/concept? It is research and communication with people you want to “conquer”, and much less with people who are ready to accept your proposal, according to Edinger. Think about what information should be disclosed. Be sensitive. Concentrate on understanding the other side – what do they need and how they measure success.
Submitting a proposal (or any idea for that matter) should not be limited to a one-time attempt. Edinger suggests to involve a seasoned colleague or manager in the so-called “role-playing game” in order to clearly understand what works and what does not. Your task is to learn how the dialogue flows in advance to build your argument. Your colleague can teach you to overcome difficulties and improve.
Steenburgh also recommends training for beginners. Talk with those who are not experts in your field, for example, with your grandmother. Her questions will help you learn the solution to most obvious problems and formulate the concise answers. However, people spend so much time thinking internally about their idea that they can not understand how a product can improve someone’s life. That is why most likely, your first attempt will be unsuccessful, says Steenburgh. To succeed you just have to keep thinking on how’s your “client” can benefit from your proposal.
Keep calm and close deals
Sales skill is a must for an entrepreneur. Gordon Tredgold found that underdeveloped sales skills teach any entrepreneur a bitter lesson. At some point, you just need to take the phone and dial the number. So, despite the fact that many believe that cold calls became extinct, with the help of Chris Bill, the Connect and Sell director in San Jose, they’ve conducted an experiment on cold calls in April 2017. And it was an excellent experience, which he actively shares on the Internet.
It took an average of 17 calls before talking to someone (based on 2,000 calls he made). If you need 17 calls to get through, you need a tool to cope with this hard boring job, otherwise the whole process will be very frustrating, time-consuming and unproductive for you.
Only 6 percent of calls led to a conversation, so perseverance and persistence are the key signs of success in sales.
The most important of this experience was the fact, that the calls were answered and that the people from the management spoke to Tredgold. His list consisted of executives, vice presidents and directors from Fortune 500, and he managed to talk to 6% of them.
About 50% of calls were sent directly to voicemail. Strategy for voice mail? There’s no such thing. Do not bother with it, since less than 1% of people respond to voicemail.
Proceed to the next steps immediately. Immediately. Do not postpone it for tomorrow or later, otherwise the result of your call can be written off.
Real meetings are possible. In one case out of ten, the negotiations led to a follow-up meeting.
To make 2,000 calls, you need a list with approximately 600 numbers of potential customers. Otherwise, it will negatively affect your correlation of calls to conversations. Approaching this with a suitable tool and easily making 2,000 calls a month, your business will need approximately 7,200 contacts of potential customers per year for each salesperson.
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