It’s all too easy in this fast-paced business world to forget the basic requirements in the sales process. We’re all moving at 100 miles an hour with demands coming at us from all sides. Have a read through my list below as a sanity-check to ensure that you are performing in all of the essential areas. Can you identify any aspects where you could improve your success rate or where your knowledge is lacking?
The eight things a salesperson needs to be successful are as follows:
1. Their Customers – One of the most powerful tools a salesperson can use is a reference story (click here to access my whitepaper on this subject). This allows the seller to demonstrate how their solution was used to solve a real life problem or business issue in one of their customer’s businesses. To be able to credibly articulate a reference story a salesperson needs to really know not just who their customers are but what their company and their solution have done for that customer’s business. In short you need knowledge of a customer’s business not just of the customer.
2. Their Products And Services – The most frustrating thing a potential customer can encounter is a salesperson who only knows the features and benefits of their products. Potential customers want to really understand what you can do for them and how your product or service can help them solve a problem or achieve a goal. So they expect their sellers to explain and demonstrate how their solution will work for the customer and in the customer’s business. To do this you will need to build a solution presentation that is personal to the customer, not a standard product demonstration.
3. Their Markets – Whether you are selling to a geographic territory or a vertical market, your knowledge of your territory or market place in crucially important. It’s essential to know the unique trends and pressures in your market. Furthermore, do you know who are the important movers and shakers you should be meeting? How are changes in the economy, the budget and the political landscape going to impact your market? These comprise both opportunities and threats to your customer and prospects. Both of these are selling opportunities for the professional salesperson.
4. Their Company – As a salesperson you’re representing your company to both customers and the wider market. There is nothing more embarrassing that a salesperson who is unaware of their company’s current marketing campaigns. What’s absolutely criminal is being unaware of a customer’s outstanding technical support issue when meeting with them. As a successful salesperson you will need to be properly prepared for each and every possible meeting and that means you need to really know your company inside out!
5. The Economy – A successful salesperson needs to be knowledgeable about the business climate their customers operate in. If your customers sell throughout Europe how could the Euro crisis impact their business? What are the wider critical economic issues impacting them? This knowledge comes from reading broad sheet newspapers, watching serious business news and surfing business or economy- centric websites.
6. The Right Attitude To Be Successful – For years I have had the following motto on my office wall: “It’s your desire NOT your ability that determines your success”. To be successful as a salesperson you need to really want that success and be prepared to invest your time and your own money in making a success of your job. Buy business and selling books. Invest in CD & DVDs. Attend seminars and webinars. In short develop your skills to ensure your success.
7. Winning Sales Skills – No one should ever stop learning and that’s particularly true of sales skills. In the last ten years we have seen some dramatic changes in the business climate including social media, fast broadband, webinars, Skype etc. Each of these has had a dramatic impact on how we sell. As a successful salesperson I know you will have invested your time in getting to grips with these new opportunities to make your selling much more effective.
8. Great Internal Systems - Salespeople need to keep themselves informed of customer activity and their history. Superb internal systems including a CRM system such as salesforce.com would make salespeople as productive as possible both in the office and on the road.