As part of my coaching and training work, I see sales culture problems everywhere. Yes, we train sales people. Yes, we coach leaders. And little of that has any impact on culture.
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I was asked recently what skills I would look for in a sales person. That got me thinking of “who” I would hire if I had to hire bunches of sales people. Here is my list of skills:
“Why” you say? Easy. Email is the most underused tool you have. How you write subject lines matters. How you craft a sales email matters. How you invite people into your tribe matters. How you share your expertise matters. All can be done via email. Learn aweber.com – an autorespond service that helps you drip on your prospects.
Yes, I would want you to learn WordPress. Ever heard of it? Didn’t think so. Learn it. Go to Youtube.com and watch some videos on how to use it. It is a blogging platform that helps you establish your expertise by writing pertinent, valuable articles for your tribe (prospects.) It gives you a publishing tool right at your fingertips. $200 and you’re a publisher. You can then send your prospects to your blog where you will share great stuff.
You can always hire this out, but in my org, every sales person needs to know how to produce solid video (put on your blog). Interview clients…happy ones, presumably. Put it online. Have your own vignettes that you produce on trends in the industry. Take a class on video editing. It’ll take you no more than a couple of hours to figure it out. You can even do all of this with your iPhone. No need for thousand dollar cameras. So….no excuses.
LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter…yes all the usual suspects. But do you know how to REALLY use them? You will as part of my team. Plenty of great sources online to learn how to maximize your use of this avenue. This is especially good for inside sales, but works for all. If you haven’t read a book on how to use LinkedIn, stop what you’re doing right now and read one. Oh, that’s right, you’re not on my team yet. Read it anyway.
Get good at diagnosing problems. The more problems you find (at your prospect) the more you’ll sell. Stop selling and start solving. Take a class on analysis. Make a list of the problems you solve and go find those problems. Most sales people stop before they make that list.
I know, I’ve use the word “chops” too many times already. But, you get the idea. Most people are disgusted at composing and writing but not you. You’ll take an online class in it. And just write. Even if you can’t. Write and rewrite. It’s how you’ll get noticed (on Google ) and how you’ll populate your blog. A person who can craft their thoughts on paper is the same person who will be skilled at communicating their message verbally.
I paraphrase but Rolf Jensen, The Dream Society, said “Story telling is the #1 skill for the fu
ture.” He was much more eloquent than that but being able to tell your story – and your company’s story – is vital in differentiating yourself from all others. Nothing connects with your buyers quite like a good story. Tell them how you got where you are. What mountains and valleys you’ve traversed. Give them a peak inside yourself. That’s something they won’t forget – unlike your features and benefits.
Every thing you do on my sales team will be a “Project.” Your goals. Your territory plan. Your key account targeting. Most sales people are woeful at project planning. If you’re lousy at it, go hire someone at $50/hour to spend 4 hours with you and plan your major projects. Then, time activate it and watch great things happen. (I would prefer you spend time here rather than on goal setting. Anyone can set goals. Not anyone can create the plan to accomplish them.
As you’re doing your job, you will have ideas. Make sure you have a place to capture them. It could be a folder (physical) or a Notes on your phone. We live in an ‘idea society.’ And sales is a place where ideas come fast. But most fail to capture them…and miss the rewards from them. Your brain is an idea machine. Don’t fail it by letting them slip.
We have a problem now – too much information coming in. too many things you could work on. you can’t do it all-and shouldn’t. So you must have a “system” for producing results. A system for handling prospects. System for handling inbound communication. System for following up with people who owe you actions. David Allen (Getting Things Done) has some magical stuff here. Go watch some YT videos of him. But you need to be productive if you’re to be on my team.
So that’s it. Not bad, huh? I didn’t say anything about closing skills, probing skills, handling objections or any of that stuff. Yes, it’s important, but if you do the things above correctly, opportunities will flow to you – and you’ll be able to select who you want to work with. And if they don’t behave properly, cut them and move on.
As sales development specialists, we get asked all the time “how” we go about training a sales team. We’d like to think there is some secret sauce we have access to, but we begin most engagements the same way – by understanding the 9 points in this video.
If you’re exploring ways for Caskey to help you grow your business by developing the skills of your team, then this video shares our philosophy and how we go about the work. It’s divided into two section:
I got a call from a client last week. She had just begun our program with her company and had heard us talk about “changing how you think” in order to get better results. We hadn’t yet gotten into the details of that, but since she called, I shared with her the five areas of change needed to radically change results.
I hope you can use this information to achiever better sales/business results for yourself. We’ll probably do a podcast (The Advanced Selling Podcast) on it soon.
=1 Change how you think about yourself. Most of us see ourselves as victims in a big economy–held hostage by market forces and company forces. We are quick to blame others for our malaise. That’s what’s so cool about sales–it’s up to you. It’s your accountability that is THE factor in whether you’re a success or not. See yourself as an abundant being on a mission to bring value to your customers. Whether they buy or not–or whether they buy on your time line–is irrelevant. All that matters is that you’re in the present moment with them while in conversation about their pains/issues/matters of the heart. The greatest sales strategies in the world won’t work if you aren’t thinking correctly about your self in the sales process.
=2 Change how you think about your market potential. Most markets are abundant. Yet, when I hear salespeople talk about their sales funnel, it appalls me at how scarcely they see things. Your market is in a lot of pain that they need you to fix for them. Never forget that. And because there is an abundance of pain–and an abundance of money available to fix that pain–then you are in an abundant market. Period. Never let the scarcity of another (even a prospect) effect you.
=3 Change how you think about your roles as a sales professional. This is cool and very simple. Your role in the sales process is to create an environment for the truth to occur. You have to create a safe atmosphere where your prospect is so comfortable telling you the truth, that it’s easier to do that than to lie to you. You’ve heard the expression “buyers are liars.” Well, it’s only because amateur sales people drop into “convince and persuade” mode and make them lie. If you’re creating the right environment, buyers won’t lie.
=4 Change how you think about your value. The value you bring to customers hovers around the intersection of THEIR PAIN and YOUR SOLUTION. Stop thinking your value is all about your benefits and features. Your benefits are only relevant if they have a pain and they believe you have a solution for it. NEVER LEAD WITH YOUR VALUE. Lead with them telling you their problems–and you determining if you can help them. Most corporate selling strategies lead with how great they are for the client. If your a prospect, do you want to hear that?
=5 Change how you think about the sales process. “OK class, who should control the sales process? The one with the money?” NO. THe one wtih the solution. Most sales people get this wrong. But you can only control the sales process to the extent you change your thinking on #1-4. If you merely try to exert control of the sales process without work on #1-4, then you’ll appear crass and amateurish.
So that was my answer to my client. Obviously, in training, I go into much more detail, but thought you’d maybe get a little something from that.
Any comments? I know someone will take me to task for something I said (or didnt’ say), so have at it. And recognize that a change in sales results starts in the mind–not in the market.
This is from my very own Trainer Rule Book. Over the next few days, I’ll give you some of the rules we teach our clients who ask us to help them grow their business.
[NEVER COERCE PEOPLE PSYCHOLOGICALLY.]
Our freedom is most dear to us. When you, as a sales professional, begin to encroach on that freedom, you become the pain and you won’t make a sale. But the problem is that you won’t make it…not based upon the product or pain…but based on your approach.
Tell people upfront, ”It’s ok if you decide not to pursue this….let me know and I’ll be gone.” Give them an out. They’ll find you’re the only safe person they have to talk to. Stop being a master persuader and start being a master communicator and qualifier. That’s what separates the wannabees from the super achievers. No more persuading and defending.
How is this relevant to me and my business? Take a moment and examine your language in the last customer encounter you had. Was it full of platitudes, claims and opinions? Was it self serving? Or, better, was it real communication–not trying to convince or persuade–but trying to have an honest conversation.