In my last post I began my exploration of the core sales skills which separate good sales people from great sales people, looking at communication, pitching, negotiating and closing. These core sales skills present as strengths when executed effectively, but can easily become weaknesses when not.
It’s easy, in any role, to become a little complacent when you become more familiar and comfortable in that role, but for sales people this can lead to a reduction in new prospects, win rates and overall deal values. It’s useful, therefore, to regularly review your performance against these sales skills, especially when you’re experiencing a bad spell – rather than attributing it to outside factors, be honest – are there things you could be doing better?
Prospecting – The impact of poor prospecting is a delayed one and because of this, it often doesn’t get the focus it requires until after the damage is done. Consistency is key when it comes to prospecting and maintaining a healthy pipeline. To achieve this, make prospecting part of your daily activities, rather than “if and when I get the time” (because you’ll always find something ‘more important’ to do!).
Effective prospecting not only boosts your pipeline but it builds and strengthens your position as Trusted Advisor and, in keeping you up to date with everything going in with your prospects, their company and industry, it also gives you a competitive advantage. CRM systems make it easy to keep track of prospecting activity, so there really is no excuse. Sales people who are great at prospecting know this, they stop procrastinating and get on with it. For tips on prospecting, take a look at:
Maximising Sales Opportunities – Success in sales is as much about maximising opportunities with your existing customers, as it is about identifying new ones. Applying a Deal Clinic approach to your big deals will enable you to maximise the opportunities within the account, as well as closing the deal quicker.
In addition to cross and up-selling within existing accounts, sales people strong in this area tend to be those who are also great at asking for referrals (which should form part of your prospecting activities). However, having introduced the idea of referrals to hundreds of sales people, I’ve found that the majority either don’t know how, or are too scared what their customer’s response might be, to ask. Positioning the referral request at the start of the process can help, as can explaining that the majority of your new business comes from referrals. For more on referrals, read our quick tips guide:
Time Management – You can be the best prospector, pitcher, negotiator and closer in the world but if you can’t manage your time effectively, you’ll never be successful in sales. In sales, you do not have the luxury of choosing to spend three days on prospecting activities, followed by 3 days preparing quotations and so on, rather you must learn to skilfully balance the many and varied responsibilities required of you.
As well as progressing your open deals and all that’s involved; you must find and develop relationships with new prospects; look after existing customers; complete reports, forecasts and account plans; attend and contribute to sales meetings; keep CRM and other databases up to date – the list is endless. The only way you can possibly do all of these things well is to become highly proficient in managing your time; setting tasks, goals and deadlines and learning how to prioritise these. For more help on managing your time, take a look at:
A Winning Mindset – A winning mindset sets great sales people apart. Until now, I have focused on sales skills – those techniques and processes which can be learnt, practiced and developed. Mindset, whilst absolutely something you can develop and improve upon, is more about attitude and the way you approach situations and deal with their outcomes.
Our mindset determines how successful we are. Sales people with a winning mindset are driven, they learn from their mistakes and from the deals they don’t win, using that information to adapt and become more successful. They are tenacious, resilient, self-motivated and great at setting personal goals. The best sales people are those who look to learn from others and who know that they can always be better.
For more on mindset, take a look at:
The way our customers and prospects buy is constantly evolving and so the sales skills we employ must evolve too. The sales skills I’ve outlined across these two posts are not likely to disappear from the sales process, but the way we approach them has changed and will continue to change. Therefore, in order to become and remain a successful sales person, you must develop these sales skills, all the while remaining open to new ways of doing things whilst employing a mindset that drives personal development and performance improvement.
If you’d like to find out how we can accelerate sales skills and results, give our team a call on 01778 382733, or head to our contact form and leave us your details there.