Alex Lazarus, Lumina Learning practitioner, Lazarus & Maverick
We asked a number of successful sales managers and executives what sales tips they could give to colleagues who are at an early stage of their career in sales. Here’s the great sales tips they shared with us:
- Know yourself to improve sales. – Harvard Business School lists self-awareness as one of the key attributes of its applicants and research links it directly to improved performance. Don’t be modest. Invest in self-awareness, learn about differing personality types, learn how to speed read the room and how to create a rapport with your clients. Find out how you are being perceived; are you convincing or, perhaps unknowingly pressurising? Be brave and tackle your blindspots – they impact your bottom line. The old aphorism “know thyself” is back in fashion!
- Always up your game. – Get comfortable with exposure to high calibre clients; according to a series of experiments by Princeton psychologists, all it takes is a tenth of a second (!) to form a relatively lasting impression of you. Master your social, interpersonal and emotional intelligence skills. Become an active listener (70/30 listening vs talking), work on conversational, questioning and pitching skills. Join networking groups and industry events. Be yourself but adapt to subtle rules of social groups: notice the dress code, understand the focus of the conversations, tune in to the humour and the informal dialogue, but choose behaviours which reveal your professional competencies and sufficient gravitas to influence the decision makers.
- Stop selling. Start earning. – Focus first on earning your reputation, respect and trust. Reflect on – what are the critical success behaviours which will enable you to create a compelling personal brand? This can take time so give it time. “Transaction” means “sales” as well as “interaction between people”, consequently, create meaningful business relationships, become the “go to” person with an unparalleled service. In today’s buyer’s market, it’s not about the chase and pushy sales but, rather, choice and partnership.
- Don’t oversell. – When I see the late Steve Jobs’s quote “customers don’t care about products or service but (…) about themselves and their dreams” being used to inspire sales, I want to add a word of caution: provide solutions and sell responsibly and ethically. Using manipulative sales techniques leaves behind a trail of regret and uncomfortableness which erode customers’ trust and brand affinity.
- Sales cycle. Buyers cycle. – Avoid chaos and missed opportunities, and stick to an easy six stage sales process, as seen in Lumina Sales:
- Research the Market
- Prospect & Engage Clients
- Understand Clients’ Needs
- Recommend Solutions
- Get Commitment
- Support & Develop Accounts.
If you own the entire sales cycle, be brutally honest with yourself – which are your weakest competencies that can trip you up? If you’re a part of a team, are your collective strengths used in the right way? (The data guy might not be best placed at galvanising relationships…)
- Relax. Desperation in sales is deadly. – Cognitive neuroscientists at New York’s Stony Brook University proved that our scent of fear is not only registered by the brains of other people but it changes their behaviour too. Your beliefs about selling and your ability to do it impact your success. Some of the interviewees dramatically improved their performance after reframing the concept of sales favourably, for example: as a process of sharing, serving others, creating value and being able to help. As these ideas resonated with their core values, they gained self-confidence, and their networking and communication skills have improved and business relationships flourished.
To summarise these helpful sales tips – business is relational so enjoy it or the clients will smell a rat…
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