EGM's On A Mission: Let’s Build Better Companies.
- Perhaps your company is struggling in the current business environment.
- Perhaps your senior team would like more sales and revenue to breathe a little easier?
What’s the point of a great product, marketing and branding if there are no sales?
Philip Delves Broughton in his excellent book ‘The Art of the Sale’ has no doubt about the root of the problem.
‘Many supposedly well-educated people in the business world are clueless about one of its most vital functions, the means by which you actually generate revenue.’
How many start-up entrepreneurs struggle because they have no idea on how to take their product to market? They have a great business idea, use great technology and develop a fantastic product (or software) then don’t know how to sell it.
And how vital is it, in the current economic climate, to have a steady pipeline of sales?
One thing is for certain. There are enough sales people about.
In fact, it’s estimated that one in nine workers in the USA are involved in sales – more working in sales than in government.
So, what separates those who are good at sales – and those who aren’t?
There was a famous study published by the ‘Harvard Business Review.’ A leading psychologist named McMurray studied the performance of sales people over a number of years. He analysed their sales techniques and personality traits – and then compared these to their long-term sales performance.
So, which of these lists gives the factors McMurray came up with for long-term success in sales?
The ability to get appointments.
Extensive product knowledge.
First class PowerPoint skills – so the prospect is impressed by ‘professional’ slides.
The ability to deal with objections.
A firm understanding of the finance side of the deal – so the price can be reduced if needed.
Effectives sales close technique.
Accuracy at filling out the order forms.
Self-discipline and capacity for hard work.
Energy and optimism.
A state of mind that sees rejection or obstacles as challenges that can be overcome.
High degrees of personal empathy and compatibility with others.
The ability to truly listen – and understand someone’s point of view.
The ability to hold the affection of clients and build long-term relationships.
Being the kind of person others trust.
Of course, the answer is ‘List B.’
Success in sales is more about nebulous factors: relationship building, delivering value, doing what one says, being flexible, likeability, putting things right when things go wrong and generally going the extra mile.
Interestingly, if you were to attend your company sales course, there is more chance that the factors on List A would be covered on the training agenda.
Not only are the traits that make a great sales person difficult to find in the same person, but none of them are really trainable.
McMurray points out that what can be trained are the procedural aspects of selling; product details, time management and identifying customers.
The qualities that count are those that cannot be trained.
A short recent story
In the run up to Christmas, the kids and me decided to go shopping to get our dog, Wolfie, his present.
Now Wolfie is quite a big dog and we did think about getting him a new scooter or motor bike (joke). In the end, however, we decided to get him a dog toy – so off we went to the pet shop.
Looking at the dog toys in the shop, I turned to the shop assistant and asked, ‘do dogs really like these things? Honestly?
‘I am sorry,’ replied the shop assistant. ‘In the eleven years I have worked here, I have never sold a dog toy to a dog.’
The reality dawned.
The first and indisputable law of sales:
People sell to people.
And that’s worth remembering – because all too often we forget.
You actually need your best ‘people’ people in sales – not the ones who are great at completing the forms or strong at administration.
The business you are in is about relationships.