Do you take your business seriously?
By and large, all businesses are dependent upon the sale of their products or services. But when you compare that to the business’s other processes and areas of competence, it unfortunately often turns out that the sales process is haphazard and unstructured.
At the same time, the sales force (especially in smaller businesses and start-ups) is often self-taught and consists of persons who have taken the role of themselves, just because they were there.
That would be unthinkable in other parts of the organization. Could you, for example, present yourself as a finance manager without a background in finance? In all likelihood, no.
Selling is a craft that must be learned, developed, trained and maintained. And it is a concern that you must have the desire to carry on. When you first understand the structure, the technique, the mathematics and the processes behind sales, then you can develop yourself as a salesperson.
Fortunately, there is lots of help to get in the form of courses and training in the field. Through structured development, the skillful salesperson can even become a value-creating and indispensable sparring partner for his or her customers.
And that, I dare say, can be one of the keys to the good sale. That it actually deals much more with helping a customer with an actual problem and with establishing a good and transparent relationship than with just positioning your own excellence.
Nothing comes from nothing – apart from fluff. And, likewise, a product or a service seldom sells itself. So it is important that you use the time necessary to plan the sales effort.
You must set direction and goals for your own effort and for your sales organization. In other words, there must be the development of a sales strategy that provides answers to some really basic questions, and it doesn’t have to be rocket science:
- For whom does your business create value and why?
- What are your overall sales goals (budgets, total desired customers, the allocation between new biz and repeat sales, total efforts with additional)?
- Which customers/prospects will you work with to reach these goals?
- How will you contact these and how frequently?
- How will you present your business and its products/services and with which core story?
- What do you need to know as a salesperson to become a success with your customers?
- Can you perhaps automate parts of the sales process?
Once you have answered these or similar questions, you have a good idea of whether you have the right people in the business (that also applies to yourself), or whether you need to look for outside help.
Don’t hide behind your computer
We live in a time when those of us in sales are busy moving contact between people to digital platforms and social media. I will insist, however, that physical contact between people is still the channel to a good relationship and long-term cooperation.
Every week, I experience that many actually believe that a relationship is built up by sending a long e-mail or an “invite” on LinkedIn, in which you shoot off your whole sales pitch and afterward expect that you have hit the target and can welcome the new customer to the shop with confetti and champagne.
As a salesperson, do you need to consider whether the first contact with your possible commercial future should be a scripted, one-way communication that is super-easy to ignore and that makes it impossible to ask the questions that can prove to be worth their weight in gold for your sales process?
My experience is that it is better to get away from the desk and meet with people one-on-one, at an event, in a network, or perhaps pick up the telephone receiver and have a qualified chat with a person at a company that you have prepared yourself to discuss.
You always meet twice
At the business college, now many years ago, I had a gifted teacher who had a steadfast tenet: “You always meet twice!”
- The people you meet in one connection you will, as a general rule, meet again at a later time in another connection. So please behave so that you can put up with meeting again. And help people. Even though there is no immediate business transaction in it right here and now, he elaborated.
In sales (and in many other aspects of life), this simple, almost biblical principle is worth its weight in gold, and as far as I am concerned, it has helped to lay the foundation for my career. So let me pass on the advice to all who work with sales:
Behave so that you can always meet again, also help people without thinking about your own gain, give something of yourself, cultivate the relationship, and enjoy it while you do it – otherwise, you should totally leave it alone.