While many companies are busy blaming the economy for their reduction in sales, smart companies are reassessing their sales teams and focusing their money and attention on top performers. Why? They often sell more – exponentially – than others.
For the past decade, many products and services were sold to non-discriminating buyers. Sales people did not need to learn the art of selling to make sales. Buyers often bought without first validating the functionality, legality, integration or longevity of their purchase. (Think electronics, mortgages, bank loans, lease-options, etc.) They relied upon the sales person to tell them what they wanted to hear. Now, limited budgets are spawning much more selective consumers.
Successful sales people first learn how to deal with a buyer’s first impression, and effectively handle fear of new products or services. They understand how to work with busy people who rely upon yesterday’s experiences and overlook the value of today’s new products or services.
These top performers sell up to six times more than average sales people who do not incorporate objective data into their repertoire to facilitate the buyer’s decision making process.
What does it take to sell more?
First and foremost: Get real about who is a top performer. We hire for job skills and fire for poor job fit. Many sales executives and business owners still rely upon their gut and other antiquated methods for determining one’s ability to sell their product or service. Unfortunately, they falsely believe that a person’s verbal ability to talk the talk will ensure sales ability. As a result, they miss out on hiring top performers who could have made the difference between an adequate bottom line and a great financial outcome.
Use scientifically qualified assessment products and it will make all the difference in hiring the right person who can sell. You cannot fix and change someone who does not possess the right job fit skills for your sales requirements. Thinking style accounts for over 50% of a person’s success; core behaviors (can they close?) and occupational interests (do they possess up-to-date info?) round out the other 50%.
Another falsehood: We believe that high energy type people make better sales people. This myth can create many problems.
- High energy is not just “younger employees”
- This type person can actually deter potential buyers, particularly in a long sales cycle or in developing a long-term relationship
- This belief is discriminatory and focuses on personality issues that statistically don’t make a difference!
Focus on sales results. Traditionally, poor sales people have relied upon brochures, websites, credentials or social network data to sell their products or services. For many products and services, this didn’t work then, and certainly does not work now, even with the increase in web-based purchases. Buyers have become more selective, and rely upon their “relationship” with their sales rep.
Pay attention to your sales team’s communication style.
- Will the person listen to the buyer’s needs and provide value-add solutions?
- Can they quantify the product or service details vs. their competition?
- Will they close the sale? Can they up-sell and cross-sell to address future needs?
Additional communications basics that are often missed:
- Say please and thank you – still works.
- Learn proper email etiquette – it’s not hard.
- Follow-up and follow-through — still required to get and keep customers.
- Greet someone with the proper handshake — makes a difference.
- Talk voice-to-voice — still required for many purchases.
- Pronounce people’s names correctly — it’s still a must!
Do it now. Objectively assess your sales team’s ability to sell. Focus your attention and money on your top performers. Train those who have the potential, based upon the right job fit. Sales will naturally – and exponentially – escalate.
©Jeannette Seibly, 2010