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How to be great at sales without seeming sleazy

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can you tell us the back story about what brought you to this career path yeah first job was in sales when i was eight years old i working for the family business on the boxing day sale which is the day after christmas here in the uk where i was allowed to go and help them by going and standing in the tile store in this massive orange polo shirt and big brown wire house coat by helping people select tile albums basically it was really good fun and i did lots of other kind of small jobs like that as i was growing up and ultimately went to university of birmingham where i studied commerce and spanish from there i went and worked for an organization in a mixture of jobs from sales into marketing as a product manager a business development role and going around western europe helping our distributors and our subsidiaries and key accounts and yeah i enjoyed the commercial aspect of that the training aspect of that which encouraged me to go and get a job with a sales training company as a full-time trainer with them and as a result of running a large opportunity with a customer the coroner academy it let me go and set up and do my do my own thing can you show interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far can you share the lesson or takeaway that you took out of that story yeah okay so i ran the academ for a beer company for kronor extra which involved flying around europe and helping teams to understand how to make you can bear that already was a lot of fun particularly when you looked at the curriculum which involved us taking people out and showing them some of the promotions we were talking about as you can imagine there there were some quite amusing things there which probably aren’t appropriate to share had quite a lot of good things going on there in my career i’ve traveled a lot as well and the travel is often a good story um i don’t know if it’s amusing but once i was traveling from sao paulo from brazil to bogota colombia turned up to the airport plenty of time all good to go and i realized i have a yellow fever certificate which i actually got but it wasn’t with me and they wouldn’t have a copy or a picture or anything so story short i had to go via chile which i’ve always wanted to visit just not under those circumstances adding an extra eight hours to the trip and only actually being in chile for an hour which is going out the airport coming back in uh so yeah i i guess the more of the story as many of these are is planning planning do your research work out what it is that you need to do to be effective are you working on any exciting new projects now how do you think that’ll help people i’m actually writing my second book at the moment that’s a book around hybrid selling so given the way that sales is evolving and certainly some of the modern occurrences or things which we’re experiencing at the time at the moment it should help people because it’s going to give them a really complete approach to the way in which a modern sales people a person needs to do something so it’s really looking at the different elements of the essentials they need to build on how they’re going to sell using virtual sales video sales social sales techniques how they can manage opportunities so properly drive through projects that’s going to win business how they can add value as customers value selling is still an important part how they can lead customers so you know how they can become sort of a servant leader and add value by guiding customers through their own process through understanding the buying process and those challenges and how they can expand business how they can account manage for one of a better word so lots of elements one salesperson needs to really bring lots of parts to what they do and and i think that is going to be the way that sales will evolve so i’m trying to put some thoughts together i am putting some thoughts together in how people can practically do that none of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way is there a particular person who you’re grateful towards who helped you get where you are can you share a story about that um i guess the person that springs to mind would be a guy called alan link who was the person that really gave me the first opportunity this essentially gave me my first job and the story behind it is that i actually haven’t applied for anything when i was at university i thought it was probably too much fun but one day i was in a rugby club and i was talking to a guy after the game having a beer and he asked me a couple of questions about what i was doing i answered and and i was well and good couple of days later i got a phone call from my father actually who this guy knew and had got in touch with and said that he wanted to speak to me because they had a project that was absolutely ideal for me the the company was launching a product in spain they wanted someone who understood marketing and spoke spanish and that’s pretty much what we’ve been talking about so yeah he gave me the first opportunity in that first job and then as that organization was expanding there was a business development role and he took a chance in giving me that rather than probably someone who is the most favored or people thought would get it yeah i owe a lot to him for being in the position that i am now can you tell us a bit why you’re the authority on the topic of sale yeah i’ve been around the world 14 times worked in 36 countries worked with over 10 000 sales people and that’s given me opportunity to identify what are the challenges they face and i believe we can summarize these very broadly in three different sorts which is busy oldie worldly and muddled mindset busy is when sales people are rushing around being incredibly uh active doing lots of stuff but the stuff they’re doing is ineffective and so this is something that needs to be done i recognize that oldie worldly is another challenge sales people have they’re stuck in the past they’re doing things that don’t work anymore and because they’re doing this again they’re not being effective they’re not getting results and potentially they’re annoying customers so again it’s something we need to deal with model mindset is that sales people sometimes aren’t sure what it is they’re actually trying to do and often this is from an organizational level they profess to be consultative they’re pressed to be solution sales people and they act this way we’re encouraged to act this way until we get near the end of the month or end of the quarter and pressure is put on people to sell transactionally so a poor salesperson doesn’t really know what’s what’s going on so i’ve identified these challenges and then what i’ve done is taken my experience and my own research and understanding of sales to develop ways in which they can overcome those challenges that’s gone into my first book selling through partnering skills and it’s something that i base my training around that i now share with with sales people all over the world as nearly any business a person will enter will involve some form of sales at the same time most sales most people have never received any formal education about how to be effective at selling why do you think our education system teaches nearly every other arcane subject but sales one of the most useful versatile topics is totally ignored don’t start me on this i don’t know what you have i feel really strongly about it i really do and that is where i actually give my time to the student sales academy which is something i’m running in conjunction with nottingham trent university to help prepare students that aren’t you know even business students that aren’t being developed in this area so we open it up to a lot of different the premise is that sales skills are life skills and they absolutely are if we’re talking about influencing we’re talking about persuading we’re trying to move people then everybody will need that even if not going into a business the doctor needs to do that a nurse needs to do that yeah it is something that i do feel strongly about why they ignored maybe it’s not considered academic enough which is crazy when you consider the amount of time and effort and research into what really works in sales is it that sales is considered a bit sleazy and so we don’t want to train people that and then maybe we’re stuck in the 80s or even back to the 1890s or the old snake oil sales person again why aren’t we educating people in it not quite on the reasons and maybe it’s too difficult maybe it’s too difficult to train people you know sales is a complex thing there are some basics and really that is what we should be training people in as people develop a career yes they will go into a more sophisticated sale and yes that’s where professional development development takes place so yeah maybe it’s just too hard you know marketing we can break down into the four ps well it was what i was there i believe it’s nine ps now or maybe the specialism is digital marketing or seo whatever and for sales maybe people just find it too hard to do that it’s not for the lack of people who understand this that can simplify it yeah i think that there’s a whole bunch of reasons i’m doing my little bit to try and overcome some of that this discussion entitled how to be great at sales without seeming salesy is making the assumption that seeming salesy or pushy is something to be avoided do you agree with this assumption whether yes or no can you articulate why you feel the way you do okay do i agree with it i probably do the people often do think this but more importantly i’ve got a problem with salespeople being pushy if it’s done with the right intent yeah so let’s put that out there it’s not a bad thing to be pushy and why do i say that making decisions is hard and so sometimes as a salesperson we need to push encourage assist guide lead whatever word you want to use for the sake of the customer and that’s the important part it’s about the intent of why somebody’s been pushing now a good salesperson should have a good relationship with a customer they will know why it’s happening they’ll understand that they’re being pushed if you want to use that word for their own and it’s actually something that the sales person is probably finding as difficult as they are so yeah maybe sales people should be salesy is their job and if people understood better why they’re doing it great if we’re using salesy as a bit of a derogatory word in the manipulative and poor tactics yeah unfortunately some people do still do that which is a shame for me sales is all about collaboration and if we make it very clear that is what we’re trying to do as a professional salesperson or somebody in a selling role then how we do that becomes far easier the seven stages of a sales cycle are usually broken down to versions of prospecting preparation approach presentation handling objections closing follow-up which stage do you feel that you’re best at which is your unique approach or secret source to that particular skill i i wouldn’t pick one i don’t think you can pick one i don’t think it makes any sense to pick one i think it needs the holistic approach and i’ve already alluded to that with collaboration and that we need to be more collaborative and if we do all of these things with a collaborative mindset that’s the secret source that’s how sales people can be successful and how they don’t come across a sales league now the way that i help people get their heads around that and do something practical to collaborate is by understanding pq or partnering intelligence partnering skills so it’s a concept that a guy called steve dent developed in the late 80s early 90s and when he was looking at bigger broader collaborations so imagine airlines collaborating together and what he found is to cut a long story short organizations don’t partner people do and he looked at the skills that the people have to be able to partner better and these were then validated they’re verified in pq like eq is something that we can measure we can understand pq involves trust that makes sense for any salesperson to have that it involves having a win-win focus they look at a mutually beneficial outcome it involves being inter-dependent so understanding our success is based on other people’s success involves elements of transparency so it’s giving information about yourself also giving feedback to customers to people you’re working with about what they’re doing or not to help you it involves being comfortable with change now sales people are change agents we’re trying to get people to do things differently so we need to be comfortable ourselves and it involves a future orientation so we’re looking towards a shared goal looking towards the vision we’re making decisions based on that i think if we bring those and that thinking into every part of the sales cycle all of them can be developed can be delivered far more effectively so lead generation or prospecting is one of the basic steps of the sales cycle obviously every industry will be different but can you share some of the fundamental strategies you use to generate good qualified leads okay if i look what i do i share information i try to share great information try to be generous with it it’s about bringing customers onto you rather than forcing yourself from customers that’s how i see it so personally i like to use a scorecard so a series of questions which customers can use to assess where they are about a certain thing so they could be collaborative selling and so the information that i can then provide is based on their responses it can be immediately useful to them it can start to warm to what it is that i can do now i can also use that information to see who’s the best fit for working with me so not everyone is going to be and then can have meaningful conversations with the right people based on information that’s going to be relevant to that so that’s how i think many cause companies can use a similar type of thinking it’s give good information out there and make customers want to work with you capture some information about them while still giving them stuff then have far warmer conversations rather than playing the whole numbers game thing which in my opinion just doesn’t really work anymore in my experience i think the final stage of handling objections closing and follow-up are the most difficult parts for many people why do you think handling objections is so hard for people what would you recommend for one to do to be better at handling objections stop calling it handling objections for a start would be my first piece of advice that doesn’t help it gets the psychology all wrong an objection is something that we try to handle we try to bat it back at people so really we want to treat concerns with concern so really that’s what objection is someone’s concerned they haven’t understood something they want more information and so if we can recognize that that’s actually what we’re doing we can understand all the things that i’m not quite sure about so i’m trying to bash things back we’ll say what else do you need to know what else do you need to know anything else that’s important and then deal with those effects it’s not the 1980s anymore we’re selling with an arm wrestle and we’re trying to manipulate people and prove ourselves become a battle of wills and we don’t want to work like that we want to have people feeling comfortable feeling safe giving them the right information so if we achieve if we’re experiencing lots of objections concerns whatever you want to call them it’s probably because we’ve not sold right not done the earlier parts of the sales process effectively people aren’t ready to move ahead so yeah sell better it’s probably a piece of advice and then get the mentality of the psychology to deal with that part of the sale so closing is of course a proverbial holy grail claims to suggest five things one can do successfully to close the sale without being perceived as pushy well okay asking isn’t being pushy if you’ve done a good job and it is the next logical step again i would suggest a change of language so closing feels quite final it’s like you close the door it’s finished if we change the language to gain commitment to the next logical step i think that immediately starts to help yeah so i i don’t think we need five closing techniques you know that’s again it’s 80 sales it’s learning that ben franklin is leaving the boomerang the trial the alternative look their ways of asking questions but if you’re getting the mindset right and people understand that we want to work together we want to collaborate there’s something in it for both of us it’s about making the advancements that next logical step to get us the point that we can both benefit from so yeah one thing to do is ask i came across a great way of doing this a guy called james muir has written a book called the perfect clothes where he’s understood or he’s researched a number of areas forward he’s researched how to ask the question so it’s based on data and the way to ask the question is i’m sure you won’t mind me sharing this does it make sense for us to and put in the next thing it’s interesting did you get a yes on our answer yes brilliant let’s move on no okay what do you think is the next way it’s really very clever and proven in the science in his book you’ll talk about far more ways of doing this why it works so well a lot of neuroscience but for me i’m sorry i’m going one one thing and that is ask questions but do it well having established that that is the point that we are genuinely at we’ve sold well what are your thoughts about follow-up many businesses get leads who might be interested but things never seem to close what are some good tips for a business leader to successfully follow up and bring things to a conclusion without appearing overly pushy or over-eager um okay so again slightly different answer perhaps but i would say qualify out by that what i mean is that many leads aren’t actually real opportunities we get this thing that we think oh yeah this is brilliant this is something i might be able to make a sale but actually it’s not going to happen it’s not the right fit it’s not the right match it’s unlikely to happen but people keep these because it makes the pipeline look brilliant it looks like lots of things that we can potentially do but it’s fantasy so be very strict on what is a great opportunity so when something comes along we can compare it to that yes this is the sort of stuff we should throw our time and effort at we need to get involved in this if it’s not looking like that get rid of it it’s not going to turn itself you’re going to waste time and effort doing it when we get to the point that we’re moving this forward the follow-up kind of happens naturally because we’re working with people who want to work with us that we’re going to make a difference with and that it just makes sense to continue so it starts at the beginning yeah qualify out best piece of advice actually there are many modes of communications date for example in personal phone calls video calls emails text messages in your opinion which of these communication methods should be avoided when attempting to close the sale or follow up which are the best ones so i wouldn’t avoid any per se at all are valid but it depends on the person that you’re working with depends on the circumstances depends on the time and that’s the sales skill is picking the right way to communicate with somebody just as if we’re face to face and we’re going to flex how we behave to do things which fits best with them as an individual once we kind of adapt into their personal style we can do this in choosing the media of communication so i think all goes if that’s what they want to do they want to do not what’s most convenient for us well then yeah go with it if it makes sense one thing i would say that is worth looking at is video messaging so rather than video calls which is in time or synchronous i’m talking about asynchronous communication so it’s recording a video and sending it to somebody this is a powerful way to work it’s really just starting to take off but it works really well because it can make sure it can help us get the message in quite a a clear way across to people it’s an interesting way it’s still quite a little bit different so again bit different but interesting we can start to share elements of emotion it’s a person speaking so swinging is key something’s important we can emphasize that it’s also something that’s a bit more interesting for people to share so they can pass the video on to other people all the time we’re bringing that personal element to it some people think that technology is taking away the person’s element i think it’s the opposite i think we can all mend the human for once for a better word because we can make sure that we put ourselves in front of customers more perhaps than when we were only visiting them face to face only talking on the phone so video is a very powerful way of achieving that but add that as a hint he should inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people what would that be partnering skills pq use partnering skills and i’m not just talking for selling i’m just talking in general if we think of these things as a means for better collaboration then we can work on them so we can work together better and that’s no bad thing so i use them because i’m talking about sales person working with the customer and if they can do that better happy days but organizations internally people collaborating better people partnering with their colleagues fantastic if we can just generate this mindset we can when we come together achieve so much more we can make a difference i think that that is the movement that i would want to i don’t want to champion is get people thinking about partnering and deliberately partnering and working together better collaboration rocks how can our readers find you online linkedin would be the best place to find me and pretty active on there i’ve got various websites company website personal website a book website social media go to the job but if you go to linkedin you know it can be go down any of those rabbit holes as applicable you


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How to be great at sales without seeming sleazy
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