I get the chance to work with sales folks from all walks of life. On a recent journey I was able to connect with a group of very seasoned and polished professionals who serve clients with way too much money. Let’s say that life has smiled broadly upon this customer base. Selling to clients like this requires a relationship sale where the primary ingredient to success is one thing – TRUST.
But there are other aspects to selling that are relevant to everyone. I continue to be encouraged by some of the following observations about sales people that can and will translate to better results:
1. Regardless of how complex your sales process might be, the development of certain human skills are the universal keys to new performance levels. Seasoned professionals need to work on the same fundamental skills as newer reps, and they realize this once you open their heads a bit. Most obvious are: listening skills, probing and questioning, and not constantly “selling.” Yes, you read that right. People “sell” too much, and we all hate being sold to. I finished a session yesterday, and over 20 people stopped me on my way out and said, “I really need to work on my listening skills, and man, do I sound like I sell too much.” Meanwhile, the President stopped me and said, “You really unlocked their ability to probe further and listen. It’s critically important and separates us from our competition.”
2. The “fun factor” – Life is hard enough. If we can find ways to laugh at ourselves and at our sales errors, it gets easier to improve. Sales professionals are real people who like to laugh. So, smile, relax, and try new things. Even the starchy veterans tell me, “This was a refreshing way to do this.” What does this tell me? Make sessions fun and safe, and you can help people even faster.
3. Practice makes better… but not perfect. Perfect is unrealistic. Build exercises that people connect with. For example, simple statements that customers/prospects make during calls lead to effective drills for probing, handling sales resistance, and listening. Guess what? When you show sales people customer statements and ask them what they should do next, 99% of them will apply more pressure, sell, trial close, and defend their position. What does this cause? You push the opportunity further away from closing.
What is the moral of this story? Do not quit on what people may think are “the basics.” They are NOT the basics. They are advanced human skills that time and experience squash, and these skills need constant development.
Your tenured reps will say, “I guess you can teach on old dog new tricks.”
Your newer reps will say, “This is the first time someone has taught me how to do this.”
Go have some fun helping people.