How to be successful in sales
In this article, you will learn the top seven traits and characteristics to succeed in sales.
Let’s jump right into the topic and clear up some prejudices about salespeople.
Specific skills, attributes, and technical support are required by companies to be successful in sales.
We’ll now go through the top seven features and discuss each in depth below.
The necessity of expertise at the level of an engineering degree is usually overestimated. Gradually, salespeople can also acquire the product knowledge required to answer customer queries in a matter of few weeks.
For example, let’s take a complex product, an automobile. Most salespeople in this field are not trained as car mechanics/auto mechanics/mechatronics or engineers but have a commercial education. The “expertise” that the salesperson needs to be successful comes from the guidelines and training provided by the manufacturer.
You see a similar thing in the software area; no one is likely to use a programmer to sell SAP or a Data Scientist to sell AI solutions. In areas where an engineer’s knowledge is required, they usually work in the background preparing offers.
2. Technical understanding
In most cases, technical understanding is mandatory. The salesperson must understand the product, even if they can’t or won’t design it. Also, the salesperson must understand and, in most cases, answer the customer’s questions. In addition, the salesperson today must be able to operate modern communication technology and understand its operation and background.
This also includes having a thorough understanding of CRM systems and AI systems to support sales. A salesperson should recognize technical sales support systems and use them to their advantage. Of course, this also requires the systems to be tailored to sales-related tasks and not rely exclusively to marketing-related tasks.
A salesperson must be able to approach people openly regardless of their background. This applies to people from different cultural backgrounds and ethnicities in international sales. They must be able to recognize and overcome prejudices.
4. Credibility, trust and respectability
A salesperson who does not earn the customer’s trust or cannot establish a relationship of trust with the customer does not possess one of the fundamental attributes to be successful.
5. Conversation technique/persuasion technique
Experts say that the skill to converse effectively is a skill that every salesperson should learn. However, in my experience, a salesperson should not only be a strong talker but also an active listener. In fact, the most important skill is active listening.
One of the best and most successful salesmen I ever met was a silent type of person. His most significant advantage: he listened to the customer! If you want to learn something, you have to listen to customer demands frequently to understand their perceptions rather than solely relying on persuading them to buy your product or service.
Furthermore, another critical point in the conversation technique is the questioning technique. A salesperson should lead the conversation with the customer by asking questions. The salesperson should take the initiative to ask questions as it is an essential part to active listening.
6. Recognizing and using signals
The salesperson must be able to recognize the customer’s signals during the conversation and possibly amplify them. Among the most important signs, which are unfortunately often overlooked, are the closing signals. If you don’t recognize them, the conversation will continue endlessly. A sale is missed or talked to pieces. One can often experience it in the advisory retail trade, the customer signals its purchase desire, and the salesman does not stop to further argument for the product.
7. Technical support/equipment
This is something the vendor usually has little to no control over. Good technical support that the salespeople also accept can make their lives easier and make them more successful.
Today’s equipment certainly includes a laptop or tablet PC and a modern smartphone on the hardware side. The company should ensure that the laptop screen is not a visual obstacle between the conversation partners.
On the software side, where things get a bit more complex, mistakes happen more frequently. There are many errors which are made when using CRM systems. A CRM system should be a matter of course today. Nevertheless, the sales department often rejects the system. Among the most common reasons for rejection are:
1. The CRM system is configured so that its primary purpose is to monitor sales and determine key performance indicators (KPIs).
2. The CRM system is configured to serve data collection for the marketing department mainly.
3. The CRM system is not used by all employees with customer contact, e.g. inside sales or management do not enter customer contacts and their contents.
An example of a company that did not use CRM systems effectively was with a company in Switzerland that expected the sales force to fill in 7 screen pages of mandatory fields after each visit. The data was essential for marketing, not sales. Its not surprising that there was almost nothing useful in that field of work.
Another example was with a larger engineering company where I was invited to present the CRM system I was selling at the time. It turned out that it was already the fourth attempt to introduce a CRM system. For the previous three attempts, the systems had already failed. Not a single employee from the sales department was present at the meeting, only employees from IT were present. When asked, the response from the company was that the introduction of a CRM system was thought to be an IT project only and other departments involvement was not deemed as necessary. Surprisingly, the IT manager was somewhat confused when I told him that we would only take on the project if the sales department had the lead the CRM system and IT department would only act as a service provider.
A CRM system serves to support sales; all other requirements are secondary.
A CRM system must also be able to handle unstructured data and data from the ERP system. That is where modern AI systems come into play. The strengths of an AI system lie in pattern recognition, especially with large amounts of data that we as humans can no longer process in a meaningful way. A well-configured AI system can, for example, signal to the sales department when a customer may be leaving due to the change in the ordering behaviour. It is also possible to detect the price limits for different customers to individually adapt the price points according to how much customers are willing to pay. Also, don’t underestimate your hidden cross-selling or upselling opportunities. If used correctly, it may become a crucial tool for sales.
A short and sweet Conclusion
To be successful in sales, a mix of soft skills is essentially required and appropriate technical support from the company. With the suitable essential attitude, you can learn all the necessary skills.