Sales Skills for Growth

05/06/2013

A re occurring theme and one I regularly blog about – high growth means being great at selling!

For many of the businesses I have worked with, recruiting and retaining high performing sales talent seems to be a constant challenge. I can recite many horror stories of businesses who have fell foul of the smooth talking sales person who in the job interview appeared to be a gift from heaven but rapidly turned into a missile of destruction – leaving a trail of bad feelings with customers, staff and other stakeholders. The resultant effect being senior management spending six months after their departure repairing the damage and groveling to customers in order to get the brand out of intensive care.

In the UK sales remains to be a taboo word that many professionals like to dissociate from, you would be amazed how many entrepreneurs I work with still feel uncomfortable with selling. It is a real problem and the truth is business growth means, “selling loads more stuff”. The fear of picking up the phone and the pedestrian approach to getting out and about, wearing down the shoe leather is a common inhibitor to accelerated performance.  The high growth businesses and successful start-ups I have come across have one common denominator (apart from a great product/idea) – they have a well-tuned sales engine and sales centric culture totally aligned to making the customer jump for joy. Winning businesses of the future will be the ones who can sell or at least have someone in the team who excels at selling. Whilst business strategy and all those other topics our fantastic management schools teach are important – personal and business growth happens only when a sales mindset is embraced.

In line with my observations on the paucity of sales skills and the urgent need for employers to access high performing talent, I will be launching a Sales Academy in autumn – an accredited sales qualification and a raft of related practical personal and organizational development tools will underpin the Academy. This new entity will bring to life the fact that great sales skills drive growth. It will become the incubator for the next generation of stars employers want on their payroll. It will also help those ambitious entrepreneurs to fine tune how they go about winning more new business.

Whilst traditional sales skills have their place, we also need a new breed of sales person, those who exhibit entrepreneurial flair and “sell from within”, they don’t hide behind the enablers of emails or social media. The enlightened sales person will: live in the customers world, have a great understanding of their employers strategy vision and values, articulate value with clarity, will recognize the mental imprint they leave with customers, exhibit passion & energy, be able to have a grown up conversation, walk away if its not right, exhibit creativity & innovation, build confidence and trust, demonstrate personal momentum, have a positive mental attitude, make doing business fun, cultivate their personal branding, recognize relationships are about win –win, caring, this list goes on.

It was great to meet with Jurek Sikorski this morning at London University Business School (LUBS), a successful life sciences entrepreneur who preaches all of the above and who’s mantra is successful business is down to selling, a statement of the obvious, however, the obvious is often very deceptive.  As a passionate ambassador for “sales”, it was a breath of fresh to hear that selling skills are embedded and taught within the LUBS entrepreneurship courses. It’s not dressed up as customer relationship management, business development, customer service or key account management – it’s about selling!

Jurek’s newly formed Sales Club at LUBS and the first Sales Academy in Manchester will have a lot to talk about going forward.

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