Are you a professional sales rep? You’re here to make money in sales. You’re a “natural born salesman,” right? People have said it your whole life.
I’m here to tell you that they don’t exist! There isn’t one, any more than someone is a natural-born brain surgeon. Talent will make a good living some of the time, but it’s only part of a long-term plan. Effective salesmanship is a group of skills – learned behaviors. There are folks who are naturally persuasive in conversation. That doesn’t mean they possess the skills to find new business, close a sale, and maintain a customer relationship. Professional sales is a combination of techniques and creative application of those techniques.
What are the nuts and bolts?
Prospecting and closing are the basis for all sales, but they are not the key. Solution selling, challenger selling, trusted adviser selling, SMART selling – each one is a set of disciplines that keeps the customer talking about his needs, and each in a different way. That’s the only “trick” in the book! Keep your prospect talking about the trouble caused by not having their solution or your product. When you want to make money in sales, you need the customer to tell you what they want and need, and how to sell it to them. If your current sales call plan isn’t opening up the conversation, change tactics. Talking about their pain keeps a prospect’s interest and urgency to buy up. The only way you can keep them on topic is to have dozens of tools in your toolbox.
How do you keep skills current?
What, exactly, works? Tactics that work well in Des Moines may not work in L.A.. What works for everyone is this: read everything! Keep notes of every objection and see what’s changing! Read sales blogs, follow sales influencers on Twitter, and go to sales workshops. At least twice a year, buy a sales book, and get learning. Compare what you’re learning with the changes you’re seeing in your market. Why? Because your market is evolving every day, and you need to evolve right along with it. Each technique you learn is another useful tool in your toolbox. Relationship selling may be the ticket in your area right now, but will not necessarily work tomorrow.
How it makes you money
Doing this groundwork is key to financial success in professional sales. Focusing on the buyer’s needs does several things: it teaches you how the prospect does business; it shows you what solutions they are shopping for; it demonstrates what solution has failed; if properly handled, it brings up the urgency of the buyer to solve the problem. Urgency is what tips the scales from conversation to sale. More closes = more money.If your only tool is a wrench, you’d better hope every prospect is a bolt. Otherwise, build your toolbox. Read, role-play, and continually sharpen your skills. You’ll close more business, and make more money!
(Suggested reading: Jill Konrath, Zig Ziglar, Paco Underhill, Jeffrey Gitomer, Meridith Elliot Powell, Stephen Schiffman, etc.)