Any business owner 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 coupled with 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. However, selling is not about imposing a product or service on someone at any cost; this fairly old-fashioned view provides a strong basis for failure and mistrust, which can damage your company reputation. Here are my rules to ensure sales success:
Rule 1 – Your business must be in good shape
Selling is inextricably linked to all of the other functions and processes that help to build a great business. You could be the best sales person in the world, but if you can’t produce or deliver on time, then orders will quickly dry up. Ensure all of your team understand how your internal processes are linked, and how they impact on order fulfillment. That way they will realize how they fit into the overall sales process, even if their role doesn’t sit within that function
Rule 2 – Know what makes you different
Everyone wants to stand out, whatever market you’re in. However, it is important that everyone within your team understands what your unique selling points (USP) are, as opinions can vary. When talking to customers, or simply having conversations with suppliers, partners, or other members of the team, your USP should remain at the back of everyone’s mind to ensure you’re always positioned as you want to be. With this in mind it’s also crucial that your whole team keep an eye on competitors and the market place so your USP remains competitive. For example, if another company launches a product just like yours, your sales team will need to understand why yours is better, and explain this clearly to your customers.
Rule 3 – Behave like a customer
Ensure your sales team truly understands the value of aligning products and services to customer needs. If there is an opportunity for them to spend time in a customer’s world, then they should take it. The art of empathizing with a customer allows you to explore options and suggest the most appropriate solution, not just the one you want to provide. By really getting under the skin of your target audience, your sales team will be able to highlight what your products or services can do for the customer and tailor their approach, rather than listing a series of features which may not be relevant or interesting to the person buying. Remember the importance of service/product impact and be able to evidence it – be specific!
Rule 4 – Never stop innovating
At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be an obvious link between sales and innovation, but in fact every sales person should be innovative in their approach. As your business grows and evolves, your sales team will need to think of new ways of doing things. Those businesses, which are growing the fastest, aren’t just those who invest in product innovation- they focus on keeping everything fresh, including the way they sell. If your sales team make customers feel excited by what you have to offer then you are already half way there
Rule 5 – Be energetic and passionate
Sales people generally have to be focused and mentally resilient to deal with a sale falling through, or targets potentially not being met. They don’t just turn up for meetings, they prepare mentally and professionally and are never complacent. If you are just beginning to build a sales team, you should look for passion and energy as much as you should product knowledge, as this positive approach will prove invaluable to nurturing client relationships and getting the best results. Likewise, you must show how passionate you are about helping them succeed, as motivation and drive are key.