Can you learn to be a better sales person?
I am a sales person because I mucked around at school, rather than studied. I thought for a while that it was because I couldn’t study, however I’ve since learnt that to be wrong.
It seemed to me in the early days of my career that being a sales person was for those who are good with people, those who can talk a good game and those who can persuade others to buy.
While these are part of being a sales person, it turns out there is a lot lot more to it. Being a good sales person requires more skills than the obvious. These skills include having a certain type of mind-set, developing techniques, importantly understanding how other people and businesses make decisions.
Since accepting that I can learn to be a better sales person, I have worked really hard at developing myself and I hope that I can share my experiences with young sales people so they can move much quicker to success in selling than I did.
Get a grip of yourself!
If you have never studied how to be a better sales person because you think books and seminars on the subjects are for people much worse at it than you, then you are a moron!
Don’t worry, I was a moron too. Great news is ‘moronism’ (just made that up) is curable. The best way to cure it, is to stop being a moron and learn how to be something else.
This is about self-acceptance.
In sales, it is so easy to measure whether we are doing it well. If you open your payslip every month and say ‘YES, I am going to buy everything I want’ and others around you are complaining they don’t have enough money, you are doing good.
When you open your payslip and think ‘well at least I’ve got credit cards’ and others are splashing out on nice things, you have room for improvement.
It wasn’t until I accepted this that I started to go out of my way to learn more, work harder and sell more stuff. The below 2 books helped me realise, you should start there:
Know more about your customer than you do your product
This should probably be my first recommendation, your customer or prospect is much more important in a sales situation than you or your product. However if you do not accept that you need to be better too, then you won’t get to this point.
My biggest mistake in the early days was that I was way too technical. I started out as a trainee engineer, while I wasn’t particularly good at it, my technical routes held strong. I cared for too much about what features and benefits my product had and would spew them up as much as possible to customers, hoping they appreciated them as much as me.
I do admit I’m still very technical, I know what I sell inside out, probably better than most in my industry. However, what I know now is more important is to know my customer even better. A business will only buy something for one of two reasons.
1) They want to make a problem go away and need a solution to do so.
2) They want to take advantage of an opportunity in their market, and need something to help them.
Our role as sales people is to understand what our customer wants to do, understand what the impact will be and help them achieve what they need.
Your product or service might have a list of features and benefits as long as your arm, and only one of them might help the customer. By understanding exactly what the customer needs you can position your product or service specifically to help them.
This is a massive subject, there is loads to learn about business and people, these books are a good place to start to help you, don’t worry about the titles.
Never, ever, ever. Stop
Tenacity is an important characteristic of a good sales person. This is not only the case in specific sales endeavours like prospecting, presenting and following up to clients, you should consider it essential in learning too.
I have been in sales for nearly 20 years. The first 10 I didn’t bother learning anything, I thought tenacity and effort would reward….. and I was poor. The last 10 years I’ve dedicated lots of time and money to learning….. and I am rich.
The thing is I’m not rich enough, so while I’ve seen my salary quadruple and I directly relate it to learning, I’m going to make it quadruple again in the next 10 years and I can only see this happening by learning more.
Whether its learning about myself or my customers, I know the key is to never, ever stop.
I absolutely love sales as a career, it is interesting and rewarding on a number of levels and during the next few years I really want to help young people get in to the profession and do well…… if you are a young sales person please drop me a line, we can learn from each other.