Sales skills aren’t just the domain of the salespeople. They help everyone to get ahead in life. Whether you’re selling the benefits of your perspective to a child, a colleague or your partner it’s just another valuable feather in the cap. I’m not meaning manipulation, control or any of the other negative connotations of selling. Instead what I mean is taking self-belief to the next level, while also having some humility. Learn to love and respect yourself first. After this the next logical step is selling to others what you have to offer.
Ask People Who Know You
When you go for a new job, don’t simply measure yourself against a position description or the company in question. Instead ask those who know you well about your unique strengths, something that you do without even realising it, that’s immensely beneficial to you. Employers will jump at the chance to employ someone with a distinctive skill set, rather than someone who simply lives up to a standard.
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
In terms of traditional sales and winning new business, you should follow these guidelines in the early stages. In your project notes or simply in your mind’s eye, make an objective for a particular meeting with the client. Having a clear goal in mind when you have meetings, will avoid the pitfalls of vague communications and interactions. Some examples of goals for meetings include: 1. Getting a description of the customer’s problem. 2. Getting the contact details of the decision maker. 3 Asking for the customer’s business.
Listen to the Customer
This one may sound obvious, but it’s often forgotten in the hubris of other sales advice. One critical aspect of selling is intimately knowing the customer’s needs, motivations and perspective. Otherwise your efforts will be pointless. This is perfectly articulated in a Ted Talk by Amy Lockwood. She explained a situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where charity and NGO organisations were distributing huge numbers of condoms in the region to prevent the spread of HIV. However these charity condoms were incredibly unpopular, as they were marketed in the wrong way to their target audience. Pictures on the packaging depicted images of fidelity and the HIV ribbon symbol. They found that condom brands from the West depicting erotic imagery were the biggest sellers in the Congo.
The key message we can take from this, is that any customer solution that you offer must be fine-tuned and customised to the individual or group in question. Otherwise it will fall on deaf ears.
Watch the TED talk here:
Dense Versus Sparse Networks
Dense business networks of people contain individuals who know each other closely and have a lot of interconnected relationships. Dense networks are ideal for people working on the same project, such as researchers or project teams.
However in terms of sales, dispersed networks work better. Dispersed networks occur when individuals that you know, don’t know each other. This is the ideal situation for getting fresh or unique information that others don’t know about, for example a sales lead. To attempt to utilise your sales network, try and build a network of key decision makers in prospect organisations. Also, keep a network of existing customers, who often comprise of fans and brand advocates. These people will actively promote your brand on your behalf, and give you new sales leads on a plate without you even asking.
Do you have a sales success story or a hot tip that you felt wasn’t covered here? Please by all means, let us know below!
A different version of this article was written by Athena Dennis for Wentworth People Business Consultants.