Selling is harder today. Let’s face it, the world as we know it has changed. With technology progressing at lightning speed, today’s customers are inundated with information and choices. The internet has increased competition and forever changed the way customers buy. Prospects and customers try to commoditize everything we sell. You must find a way to differentiate yourself.
Many of the selling strategies that were effective just a decade ago no longer work today. In order to grow sales today, a business and its salespeople must do more than simply communicate the value of their products and services, they must add value. Today, customers expect customized solutions from your sales staff and superior customer service from your entire organization. Today, how you sell is more important than what you sell. Sales organizations must become more consultative or run the risk of becoming obsolete.
To succeed in today’s selling environment, companies and professional service firms need three things:
Your salespeople and rainmakers need the right mix of skills and strengths. Skills can be taught, but a person’s strengths determine whether they are able to execute on those skills. Consequently, when evaluating sales potential we look for the following:
- Strong Sales DNA – Selling strengths and weaknesses (Buy Cycle, Self-limiting Beliefs, Money Issues, Emotionality, and Need for Approval);
- Motivation Level;
- Capability for Building Rapport and Trust with Customers;
- Selling Skills; and
- Willingness to Grow and Improve.
In addition, studies show that sales success in one company or industry does not necessarily translate into success in a different company or industry. Therefore, when selecting salespeople you must tailor your sales hiring process to fit your specific products and services inside your specific company within your specific industry.
Effective Sales Leadership and Management
As your sales managers go, so go your salespeople. Salespeople will generally not do more than sales managers ask them to do and sales managers cannot coach them beyond their own personal abilities to sell. To be effective, sales managers must be able to:
- Recruit effectively
- Motivate the sales team
- Coach and develop salespeople
- Hold salespeople accountable.
Systems and Processes that Support the Sales Effort
Systems and processes are an important part of a sales organization’s success. They must direct and guide salespeople, support their efforts, and accurately collect the information leaders need to manage, coach and hold salespeople accountable to the required metrics and results.
Successful sales organizations and professional service firms start with a unified, easy-to-follow, client-focused system for prospecting and selling. Once the sales process is established, the other systems and processes that support a high performance sales organization include:
- Clearly defined strategy, target market, goals and expectations
- The establishment of key metrics
- A compensation plan that rewards the right behaviors
- A pipeline management tool
- An effective sales coaching process
- Sales-specific recruiting process and hiring tools
- An effective onboarding program and ramp-up for new salespeople
- Regular sales meetings
Ongoing sales training focused on both skills and the conceptual barriers that impede sales performance. This training should include role-play.