Any entrepreneur will tell you that the ability to sell lies at the heart of success, however the term frightens the life out of many as it conjures images of unethical smooth talking individuals manipulating others so as to get their own way. This is not the case; great selling is grounded in ethical behaviour fused to a mindset of offering real value through a passionate belief in the proposition offered. Over the years the shelves have become crowded with books teaching the art of sales and more specifically, how to close a deal or overcome objections. Whilst these have their place in the world of business there is a much more spiritual side to selling – one that is based on win-win, give before you receive and indeed if the product or service is not right then walk away. Selling is not about imposing a product or service on someone at any cost; this old school view provides a strong basis for failure and mistrust. Such behaviour ultimately results in the demise of both personal reputations and a company’s brand.
The function of selling does not sit in isolation, it is inextricably linked to the functions and processes that help to build a great business – in other words you can be the best sales person in the world but if you can’t produce or deliver on time then orders quickly dry up. Great sales-led organisations are built on solid foundations, in particular they have
- Strategic clarity and strong customer-focused leadership – they know where they are going
- Memorable propositions commonly referred to as unique selling points (USP)
- Embraced a culture of innovation
- Spent time living in the customer’s world, so the products and services are aligned to their needs
- Well-managed systems and processes
- Strong values and culture along with a brand synonymous with quality and integrity
These building blocks provide an effective platform for frontline sales staff because customers feel comforted in the knowledge that they are working with a credible and reliable supplier. It makes the sales process far easier when the customer-facing individual operates within the robust framework of a sound business model. With this in place the sales role becomes one of having sensible conversations that deliver a win-win for both parties.
Entrepreneurial selling – three pillars of excellence
Effective selling is built on the three pillars of Functional Mastery, Customer Connectivity and an ability to build Momentum. So how do these work?
The sales process starts with exploring real customers needs, very often looking for problems that can be solved. Functional Mastery, the first pillar of great selling relates to product knowledge; as the cliché goes if you can’t explain it you cant sell it. Personal credibility is built on a sound understanding of products and services and every sales person must be armed with the ability to talk confidently about what’s on offer. Articulating propositions with passion, evidence and impact contributes massively to an engaging conversation.
The second pillar, Customer Connectivity is the art of empathizing with the customer’s situation, exploring options and suggesting most appropriate solutions. All great sales people build rapport and ooze credibility, their personal brands help to support one of the most important aspects of selling – trust- a key contributor to long-term sustainable relationships that build profitable lifetime value.
Finally, Momentum is a trait exhibited by the most successful sales individuals. They are focused, mentally resilient and maintain high energy levels. More importantly they are able to bounce back and when they fail, they do it fast and move on. Great sales people don’t just turn up to meetings, they prepare mentally and professionally – they avoid complacency and come across with passion and energy, they excite customers and leave them with a memorable experience.
When a sound and robust business model comes together with the three pillars of sales effectiveness a truly superior revenue performance is consistently delivered.