I detest Generational Stereotyping so I do not find myself entitled to give advice to incoming or outgoing professionals. We live in a complex time when anyone can publish a strategic plan thus clouding the relevance of any publication.
I've been selling Human Capital Management software and supporting services for a decade. The space once crowded is now less-crowded due to the number of companies who have failed to understand the difference between Employee Engagement and Employee Recognition.
I have worked with the largest companies in the world in my 20 years of sales. With every year in the sales profession come new strategies and new ideas.
There is social selling and lead generation and CRM and strong mail.
It can be incredibly intimidating for a sales professional to understand the tools that have been created to expedite the sales process.
So, whether you are 80 and trying to stay relevant or 20 and trying to break in, allow me to introduce a few points of consideration:
- Be Informed
- Be Insightful
- Be Polite
I went to every sales training class offered to me. I networked with the top sales reps in our company. I read every sales blog and e-newsletter and went to seminars on how to sell.
I stood in booths at trade shows for a decade: scanning badges, demoing technology, referring those with impressive titles to subject matter experts. We who were called upon to "man the booth" did so with pride.
The average sales professional receives negative feedback over 100 times a day. If you make 12 call connects an hour and work 10 hours a day, that means more than 80% of people with whom you actually interact will hang up on you. A minimal percentage of those people will also threaten your children's lives.
Still Want To Try It?
Still think the Salespeople get all the credit?
The Element of Surprise
I was at a trade show when my boss handed me a badge and told me to attend a conference presentation. I got there 30 minutes early to get a good seat. I sat down and the girl next to me immediately started conversing with me about a competitor of ours, their platforms and how bad she assumed the presentation would suck. I met 10 other people who gave me feedback with similar candor before the presentation even began.
In the 100 hours I had worked at booths on trade show floors, I had very few genuine conversations. By "sitting with our audience" I learned more in 30 minutes than I had in the five years prior of attending sales seminars.
"You Are Not Like Most Sales People"
Turns out, our buyers perspective doesn't always align with the sales training ethos. I didn't have to overcome objections, I was merely telling a story about a business I knew inside and out. Suddenly, they started taking notes... and asking questions... and requesting follow up meetings.
The single most important element of selling is providing Commercial Insight. This means you have to do your research: by meeting people with the intent of intimately understanding business strategy (and how your solution can improve upon it).
In the time you spent memorizing your pitch, did you forget how to be reasonable?
More than knowing how your widget works, how to advance to the proposal stage or what you can do to "control the sales cycle"... here are 6 simple concepts:
- Call people by their name
- When asked a Yes/No questions answer "Yes" or "No"
- If you do not know something, admit it
- Be compulsively responsive
- Be a person that other people would not mind being around
We tend to want to show off our expertise by knowing more than anyone. Sometimes all you have to say if "I know what you mean".
Many will tell you your sales career will not endure the shift in the workplace if you are not up on technology and social selling. Said tools will never replace human interaction.
You can have all the industry knowledge in the world, but if you cannot explain why your solution works, your research is wasted.
Don't "go sell something", Go Make a Difference!
Don't Forget to Remember,