Improve Your Business with Professional Selling Skills

When you start work as a professional salesperson you will soon know that your income is driven from your success rate.  Over time the success rate must be established and driven.  There is no room for salespeople that cannot sell.  It can also be said that salespeople that are constantly struggling are of little use to a business.

In the average business today, the sales team is at the front line of building market share and customer satisfaction.  Without those two things working well, the business fails to survive and those employed in the business will lose their jobs.

So everything hinges on the salesperson and the team in getting their act together and bringing the business some solid results.  There is a simple process to producing the new business and the market share that you need.  Every part of the simple process has to be optimised and practiced.  When you understand the elements of this you can soon see the things that are critical to building your business.

Selling anything is a simple process of communication.  That is communication in stages.  Here are those stages:

  1. Researching the right people to talk to.  When you get the research correct, every other stage of the process is quite easy.
  2. Prospecting in a consistent way so that you can find more customers and clients that need your services.  Prospecting has to occur every day.
  3. Qualifying those clients and customers so you know the value that they can bring you and just how you could service them.
  4. Creating meetings should be a daily event.  From your prospecting model you should be generating one or two new meetings per week.
  5. Categorising the customers into groups such as Key Accounts, Ordinary Accounts, and Basic Accounts.  Each level will receive differing levels of attention and service.  Key accounts are of the highest value to you over the long term.
  6. Presenting your services is something quite special.  Your presentational style and sales pitch should be of high quality and relevant to the customers that you approach.
  7. Handling objections is a special process.  There will always be some objections and you have to be ready for the common ones.
  8. Closing the order should not be hard if you have done everything else correctly.  Be prepared to close at the right time and in the right way.
  9. Servicing the customer through the order and to final supply is really important.  You want the client to stay with you for the long haul.
  10. Referral business has to be asked for.  It is always available if you have done a good job on the sale and the supply.

Every salesperson should consider just how effective they are in each of these stages.  Practice is required to improve the overall result.  Professional selling is today one of the most exciting professions to pursue.

Networking Tips for Sales Teams

In sales today you must build relationships.  It is those relationships that will bring you long term business rather than short term gain.

If you put a networking process into your prospecting model, you will see better results from a customer and sales perspective.  So how do you build a networking process?  What do you need to do?  Here are some ideas to help you.

  1. Encourage friendship and common interests.  Find out what the prospective client likes to do and what sport or interest they may have.  Providing their interests are legal and ethical, get involved and do something with that prospect through that common interest.  Ask them to join you at the golf course, a sports game or theatre event; whatever may be of interest to them. Involve their partner in the process if that seems appropriate.
  2. Keep the prospect up to date with market or product updates that can help their business.  Invite them to product or service information workshop and industry briefing.  Let them test out some of your latest products or services.
  3. Get some other people in your team involved with the client so that the relationships broaden.  Have your most experienced people touch base with your prospect.
  4. Have frequent coffee meetings or go to lunch.  Keep those meetings of high value but not overly long to interfere with the client’s business day.  Show respect for time and the client.
  5. Introduce the client or prospect to other like-minded clients of yours that you have worked with for some time.  In this way the friendships can be built.
  6. Show interest in the clients business and put one of your experienced team members into the clients business for a few days or a week (at no cost to the client), so the systems and processes that the client operates with can be fully understood.
  7. Give the client some samples of your latest products to use and test.  Ask them to give you feedback ‘as an industry based response’ for your head office team.

A lot of this may seem common sense, although experience says that much of it is not done enough today.  When you get really involved with your prospect or client by giving them some tips and ideas to save them money or time, your long term client relationship will start to thrive.  Good relationships and networking in business today are built from valuable contact.

Harness the Power of Technology in Your Sales Team

Today we are seeing the ever increasing influence on technology as it applies to the role of a salesperson.  It makes sense to integrate some technology tools into your sales processes and client interaction.  The traditional ways of networking and prospecting still apply, but we have another layer of tools and systems to utilize.

It should be said that the use of technology is now very much a personal process for the sales person.  In only that way can you get the required focus and also the personality into the connection with your market and clients.

So what tools do we have to use?  Here are some of the bigger and more common ones that are (or should be) used in business and sales teams today:

  • Database software has been around for some time, however today most of the databases are stored and accessed on the internet.  That is a wise process and will protect you in times of computer crash or network damage.
  • Email newsletters are a direct contact tool that is integrated with your database.  The question always arises as to just how many newsletters you should send.  It depends on your industry, but at least monthly is the answer.  You can create a weekly newsletter if you have something of importance to say.  The client should see value in the newsletter so don’t fill it with low value content.  Make sure you have the clients consent to be on your database and email newsletter.
  • Auto responders are a great way to streamline your newsletter despatch.  It is in fact a newsletter on automatic settings and it will remove the pressure from you as other things arise.
  • Websites have been with us for years.  The fact of the matter is that you can now get a website running in just a matter of hours and for almost (and in some cases) zero cost.
  • Blogs will help you show your experience to the market, as well as spread your personal profile across the internet.  A good blog writer will post daily information about their product or service.  The search engines soon see that information and start to follow you for relevance and information.
  • Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are all regarded as great business tools.  You can cross link them to your Blog and Website activity.  They help you spread your experience across your contact base of clients and prospects.  The key to the process is in providing regular and relevant information.  Do not let bias and negative personality problems enter the system.  You are a business person and that profile should be encouraged at every opportunity.

Choose the right technology and take action with it every day.  Merge the traditional methods of client contact with the newer ones.  Don’t get left behind in the race to capture the client.

Personal Appearance in Sales is Really Important

The personal appearance of sales people today is just as important as it has ever been.  Unfortunately there are huge variances in the way sales people appear.

Those sales people that do not look ‘smart’ are actually destroying their reputation and wallet.  They are not showing the client the respect and professionalism that is required.

Like it or not, and in these days of mobile phones and ‘casual’ business, how you look still matters ‘big time’.  If you are in sales or customer service of any type you cannot avoid the issue.

Most of our customers will judge us on how we look first and foremost.  If you cannot pass that test, you will fail in the client connection.

Here is an example for you of this problem:

We will call this person ‘Max’; the name is false but the situation is real.  Max works in a very competitive sales active office in a capital city.  There are 8 other salespeople in the same office.

Max is aged in his late 20’s and regards himself as a ‘top salesperson’.  Whilst he may be the top performer in his team, he is earning less than 50% of a top operator in his market.

So why is this?

Max has a big attitude of himself, and yet a real appearance problem.  His moderate levels of success give him some ‘ego’ in the market place.  He believes he is the best salesperson in the area and market; whilst that may be partially true in his team, his visual appearance destroys his credibility with any new clients.

From an outsider’s perspective, Max always looks like he ‘fell off a bus’.  His clothes are scruffy, and his personal appearance is unkempt.  He lives a rough life and the customers can see it.

Ask yourself this question.  Why would a client trust their valuable business to someone that cannot even manage themselves?

Max has placed limitations on his income and client base because he sends the wrong signals with his appearance and business style.

Here are some other facts about Max:

  1. Most of the time his desk looks like a ‘bomb site’
  2. The standards of his documentation are poor
  3. His diary and time management processes are terrible
  4. He is late for most appointments
  5. His organisation with business materials in a client’s office are weak

So why is Max somewhat ‘successful’?   He knows a lot of people.  Would those people he knows trust Max to do a deal?  Perhaps, although there are some real limitations when it comes to getting new customers to know and trust him.

New customers cannot help but see him as poorly presented and unorganised; like it or not, Max will not win much new business regardless of how good he thinks he is as a salesperson.  If he is outside of his ‘customer group’ and pitching against a sharply presented competitor, Max comes from a base of significant disadvantage; he created that entire problem for himself.

Will Max change his ways?  Maybe or maybe not, but it’s a hard way to learn.  He is doing himself out of money and sales.  There is a level of maturity in business and Max doesn’t yet know what that is.  He has placed limitations on his professional career.  Pretty dumb, don’t you think?

Focus Your Appearance

If you work in sales or customer service, strive to look your best every working day at all times in the presence of clients and customers.  Send the right message.

Every new meeting with clients and customers should be a top ‘visual’ experience for the client well before you say anything.  Set the scene for a great business relationship.  Show that you respect the client and yourself through a top personal appearance and presentation.  In sales, it is a test that you must ‘pass’ with flying colours.

Sales Excellence – Countering Objections and Providing Solutions

When you have been selling your product or service for some time you will soon see a pattern in responses and objections that you get from your clients and prospects.  Some of those objections will be common to many people and could include:

  • Price
  • Availability
  • Service
  • Suitability
  • Competitors product or service

On average most customers or prospects will have 3 or 4 objections that they will raise as part of considering your offering.  It is the process of sale and negotiation that many clients and customers are experienced with today, and therefore will test the supplier or salesperson.  The client wants to have a gain or win in purchasing the goods or services, or placing the order.  You should record those objections and practice the responses to the most common ones.

Top salespeople expect objections and have a selection of tools and systems to respond to the most common of problems that the client could raise.  Your advantage that you have in your industry is that you can prepare for the common situations that could arise.

Here are some ideas to help you with this all too common event.

  1. Each day as you meet with more clients and customers, list the common objections and problems that you come across.  Take those issues into the sales team meeting each week and practice the teams approach to the challenges.
  2. Objections are moved through or neutralised with questions.  Determine what questions would work for each situation.  Role play those questions within your team to see how each team member would handle the situation.
  3. Tools and research will help you with you counter offer or proposal.  You should have a selection of tools and displays to move the problem forward.
  4. When it comes to selling anything today, you should be testing and measuring all interactions with customers and prospects.  You will soon see what works and what does not.
  5. Personal improvement is a tool of top salespeople.  They know that momentum and skills improvement are the basic facts of improvement when it comes to their sales career.
  6. Most clients will give you 3 or 4 objections as part of considering and placing the order.  Your skills here can help you with orders and conversions.

When it comes to a career in sales, the relationship between the salesperson and the client is not adversarial; it is just connecting and relevant.  Top sales people know how to be relevant in all respects.  It is very hard for a client to ignore the offering of a top salesperson.

Punctuality in Professional Selling Today

When it comes to business and sales today, punctuality is an important part of customer contact and customer service.  Punctuality relates not just to the times of any meetings that are established, but also to the provision of services and products.  If something is to be delivered on time then such should be the case.  The same principle applies when it comes to undertaking repairs or replacements.  Lack of punctuality reflects on the salesperson.

A salesperson must be punctual in every sense of the word.  If the client or prospect sets aside time to meet with you, then you need to respect the arrangement and be available at the set time.  Wherever possible, you should be at the client’s office at least 10 minutes early.  That will then allow you to quietly prepare your thinking and presentational issues ready for the discussion or meeting with the client.

Punctuality allows you to prepare, think, and plan.  A client can soon see if you are disorganised or disturbed due to this organization, excessive workload, or late appointments.  The best salespeople are highly organised and will work to a strict diary regime.

Here are some rules that can apply to the punctuality process.

  1. Develop a basic to a plan that you stick to wherever possible.  Half of your day should be devoted to client connections and prospecting, the other half of the day should be devoted to client service and follow through.
  2. With advances in technology, there is no excuse for confusion when it comes to diaries and appointments.  A computer diary will keep you organized for months in advance.  A written diary will help you organise the particular day as you move through it.
  3. Contact the client the day before any appointment to confirm your times with them and their availability.
  4. After the meeting, follow through with any information and other detail that has been promised.

Top salespeople make sure that they are on time every time.  They protect their professional brand and service in this way.  Whilst these are simple things, they have a massive impact on the way the client sees us and how we provide our professional skills.