People are not born elite sales professionals. While it is true that some may have a predisposition for becoming an elite sales professional, it is a learned set of skills that will allow you to perform at the highest level. To be blunt and set the tone for this article, if you believe that you are elite at sales and you disagree with the “learned” aspect of it, you are likely not dealing with higher level sales. Personality and likability go a long way at a certain level. Elite sales is different. While it may include the charismatic persona, it is not dependent on it, nor is that why deals are closed. True elite sales isn’t really sales at all. It is the illustration and execution upon strategy. Conveying a vision and turning it into beneficial results is what an elite sales professional and their execution team deliver.
If execution of strategy is the deliverable of elite sales, it is understandable why this skill has to be learned. No one is born with great strategy, though some minds are more inclined in this area than others. Regardless, educating yourself on this front will pay dividends long term for your career in business development.
So why strategy? Why not a service or product? A service or product, by design, is aimed to improve the business or life of your end user. We’ll explore this for a minute to obtain a clearer picture on what this means.
- If you were a B to C sales professional selling skincare cream, you are not selling the “cream” per se, but younger looking skin along with an improved lifestyle and sense of self to your clientele. The aim is youthful skin, the strategy is a formula within the cream and regimen that achieves that end.
- If you are a B to B sales professional selling computers, you are not selling the computer for the sake of selling a computer. You are selling a tool that allows a business to function more optimally, reduce turnaround times, manage important financial data, create presentations to further sales and you’re providing a communication tool that will improve the efficiency of their business. The company’s ability to function optimally is the aim, the computer capabilities lean toward that goal.
- If you are B to B sales professional selling PEO services, you are not selling HR, Safety, Payroll, Benefits, Workers’ Comp and Benefits. You are selling a solution that allows a business to function more profitably, guide and scale their organization, have a macro vantage point on industry, understand how human capital influences profitability, ensuring this capital is safe to perform, minimizing compliance disruptions and ultimately improving overhead expense which will trickle down to additional net profit. The vitality of the business is the aim, the PEO deliverables are the vehicle.
Moreover, if we can agree that the strategy and the execution thereof is what distinguishes elite sales professionals, then becoming strategic in mind is essential to professional growth.
Strategic Personal Growth
Becoming a strategic thinker is not to be taken lightly. It will take years, maybe even a lifetime to fully understand this dimension. That being said, as a result of pursuing knowledge and wisdom in your field of practice, you will continually drive more insight and strategic advice to your current and prospective clientele. This journey will equip you with the tools, thought process and resources to become a true asset to your external partners. So, the question is, how do we start this journey?
- Internal Knowledge: What do you know about the products or services that your firm delivers? Do you know them well enough to sell it or do you know it well enough to own it? The more information that you obtain pertaining your organizational capabilities, the better you can illustrate the value. This knowledge will also allow you to identify gaps in the offering that can be remedied with future initiatives, thus improving the whole of the organization and your ability to sell its products or services. Longevity of client retention is dependent on the value driven to the customer. Remember, you should only sell what your company can deliver.
- External Knowledge: What is the market yielding and what variables play a part in your client being successful? How do these variables integrate with the product or service you are selling? Without a broad knowledge and scope of your industry, clientele and the variables that affect each, you will have tunnel vision on your end goal. Broadening your horizon will allow you to view the situation from a macro vantage point and as a result, you will be able to dispel hurdles or issues before they arise through innovation, insight and awareness.
- Client Knowledge: It is no secret that you should listen to your clientele. That is sales 101. The question is, are you solely listening to facilitate a close or are you listening to understand what is in the best interest of your perspective clientele? There is a difference between the two, though I believe that you can do both concurrently. Obviously you are paid based on production, but don’t make production solely your goal. If you improve the personal or business lives of your clientele, production will ride shotgun. Don’t make your sole goal in meetings to close the deal. Make a goal to identify if your product or service is right for your client. Once you know that it is, it will be easier to illustrate this point sucinctly with confidence becuase you fully believe it.
Massive deals are not sold. They are carefully evaluated and then executed with a strategy in mind. Personality and charisma are disregarded if you don’t know what you are talking about. I’m not suggesting that if you are selling a small account that you should lay out a 5 year strategy plan if the aim doesn’t call for it. However, having a strategic mindset will benefit your process. As you escalate up the ladder with larger and larger deals, strategy and execution will become a catalyst to success.
The main takeaways from this brief article are relatively simple.
- Strive to know your product/service better than anyone in the company.
- Know your environment. What variables in the market can impact the success of your deliverable to your client? How does your offering improve the path to your client’s goals?
- Know your clientele. Understand their aim and objective and clearly illustrate how your offering will play a part in achieving their goals.
- Be inquisitive. Don’t listen solely for the sake of closing. It may cloud your judgement and can be obvious to your clientele. They know you need to make money, there is nothing wrong with that. However, if your end game is solely to close the client, and your client recognizes that goal, your closing ratio will suffer.
- Look at sales from the perspective of being an informing & educational guide. If your product or service is valuable, guide them through the process of understanding how that value will enrich their lives and contribute toward their goals.
There is so much more that we could cover but for the sake of keeping blog posts short, we’ll end here for now. Hopefully this information got your wheels turning as to how you may improve your approach. Remember, we have never “arrived” in sales. We are constantly growing, our surroundings and industry variables are always shifting and client needs evolve. Stay on top of your game and your clients, and your numbers, will be the better for it. Good luck and have fun driving value!