Monthly Archives: March 2015

Is ‘selling’ a dirty word?

Our CEO, Matt Somers, has recently returned from Atlanta, US, where he was attending a Miller Heiman Group conference and sharing best practice with other offices from around the world. Whilst Matt was there he sampled our brand new sales program, our flagship program Professional Selling Skills, which has been updated and revamped for the benefit of our clients. It gave him some things to think about…

We all have an idea of what a salesperson does, and it's not always positive. Image courtesy of ddpavumba on freedigitalphotos.net

We all have an idea of what a salesperson does, and it’s not always positive. Image courtesy of ddpavumba on freedigitalphotos.net

‘No business was ever done without a sale being made.’

I believe that sales are the life blood of any business. No matter how wonderful the product or service, no matter how sophisticated the policies and processes, a business is doomed if it cannot win new work. Even in the government and not for profit sectors there is an element of sales or selling. Charity fundraisers have to persuade their local contacts to choose their charity. Government agencies pitch for funding and to win assignments. This is all selling.

Selling covers a multitude of activity. For some it is rooted in the image of the door to door salesman with a briefcase full of vacuum cleaner accessories. Others take a much wider view and include activities concerned with public relations, brand awareness, exhibitions and the things more commonly thought of as marketing than sales. For the purposes of this post however I’ll focus on the conversation between customer and salesperson.

I lived through the often painful experience of introducing selling to the stuffy old world of high street banking in the early 1990s. Did everyone want to go from being a bank clerk to a sales person? Definitely not. Did everyone have the potential to do so assuming the desire was there? Without a doubt. Selling is a world full of myths and obfuscation perhaps the most common of which is the limiting belief that in order to be a successful sales person one must have ‘the gift of the gab’. The primitive Celtic word for mouth was Gab; the expression is used to describe those who talk a lot. Anyone who knows anything about sales however will tell you that it’s much more important to listen than to speak and consequently even the most introverted soul can make a great salesperson should they wish to.

The work of the sales professional on the other hand is a complex thing. It can be pressurised, lonely and exhausting. There are deadlines and targets which no sooner are they accomplished than they’re replaced with fresh and more challenging versions. There is the law of averages to contend with that says however effective your approach you’ll inevitably encounter a lot of rejection. This requires a strength of character and a tolerance for the word No, that does not feature in any other sphere of work that I’ve experienced.

I recently had the opportunity to think on all of this anew when I attended a pilot of our revised Professional Selling Skills course in Atlanta, Georgia. This program is a flagship product for us, has won a multitude of awards and was something that the team charged with updating it were very nervous about doing.

They needn’t have worried because the new, slimmer 2-day version retains all of the key concepts from earlier versions but delivers them in much more punchy and contemporary ways. Although I was there essentially to evaluate the changes. I soon found myself thinking about how I personally go about the business of selling and focusing on the key skills I need to develop to get better at it.

Without getting too technical, our program is founded on the needs satisfaction approach to selling which means it’s all about finding out what customers are trying to fix, avoid or accomplish and then setting out in simple terms how one’s products or services can help them do that.

With a process to follow, and the listening skills to match, the old-fashioned hard sell turns into a productive meeting between business professionals both of whom can leave the meeting feeling as if they’ve ‘won’ and achieved what they want to.

I’m looking forward to building these skills personally and please do let us know if you’d like to find out how our programs could enable you to develop your sales organization too.

Matt

 

If you would indeed like to find out how our programs can help you, or have an enquiry regarding our newly polished sales program, then take the first step today and contact us: