By Paul Wallis, Sales Director - Strategic Accounts
My sales career started at the young age of 15 – when I started a Saturday job in a UK shoe shop. On a pitiful wage, the way we built our salary was on the sale of extra’s polish, insoles etc.
Of course, over time we learnt the tricks of the trade and indeed after a few months it was possible to hit the maximum commission 😊 – this was managed through often some under hand techniques such as selling larger shoes with insoles. Of course, with the benefit of experience, you realize the best way to sell solutions is having passion, integrity, honesty and transparency.
What I also see is technology has vastly improved. Digital presence become our shop window to the world and whilst this is all very good – if the shop salespeople give a bad experience business will not happen.
So, it’s essential that salespeople today add the human element required to ensure large value systems are sold correctly and customers are happy – this cannot be done via the internet.
After working in sales and commercial roles for the last 30 plus years here are the habit’s I see in the most successful salespeople.
The best salespeople have a passion for everything they do – this translates to confidence and trust in front of the customer. Customers rarely buy from people who are not passionate about what they sell.
- Passion enables us to go after the best possible outcome
- Passion creates persistence and drive to close deals
- Passion reflects on the rest of the team and drives momentum with everybody
A great network of people and advocates willing to recommend are vital to a salesperson. I always rely on my network to open doors and expose me to new opportunities.
Maintaining your network is a skill in itself – remembering small things like birthdays and anniversaries all have importance in your long-term relationship strategy.
Salespeople are self-motivated to learn all they can about the solutions we sell. Without the knowledge, how can they respond and identify opportunity?
Whilst playbooks and information can provide support, a successful salesperson must learn the solutions inside and out in order to close the perfect sale.
Knowledge of the Sales Cycle
The best salespeople will always know where their customer sits within the sales cycle and constantly look for ways to close out and get to the next stage – they will also not be deterred if they must go back 3 steps to move forwards.
There is nothing worse than a weak sales call. The best salespeople prepare and plan for the outcome before going on a sales call.
The best salespeople use the correct questioning in order to uncover needs – they will adopt open, closed, socratic, linear techniques to extract as much information as they can in order to deliver the right solutions each time.
The best salespeople must handle objections, in fact most good salespeople will welcome objections as they can then distinguish between fact and feeling. This then gives the opportunity to acknowledge real objections and check for any smokescreens
The best salespeople are the ones that are not afraid to ask for the order – providing they have followed the process!
Why customers change suppliers?
A great salesperson can understand very quickly why a customer is looking to change supplier, this normally falls into:
- Business needs – Conceptual
- Delivery – Practical
- Relationship – Emotional
Where do we stand in the relationship?
We need to get to the stage with our clients where we are regarded as a high value business partner. Customers need to have confidence in our engagements with them and see us a truly adding to their business.
True relationships enable us to build and up-sell within the account, create the perfect solutions, enable our contacts within the account look good. Over time we become the go to person and recognised expert within our field to provide trusted advice that helps the common business grow in the right way.
People always use to say never get too close to your customer as it can also develop negative behaviors – I disagree a true customer relationship is one where both partners understand the business relationship and if a deeper personal relationship develops then so be it but it should never be to the detriment of being able to deliver on your business objective.
My first large scale corporate accounts I sold to in 1993 are still my contacts today. We still discuss a number of business areas and provide each other with advice even though our business today have nothing in common.