We all work in sales, yet the word “sales” make us uncomfortable because we’ve had a bad experiences being sold to, or someone sold to us and it was awful.
If we have one or two bad experiences in business and quit, you wouldn’t have a business anymore, so why do we give up quickly in sales?
I spent 23 years in sales working in one of the toughest places, corporate London. For 5 of those years I was lucky because I travelled the world running shipping events. I had to sell sponsorship, delegate places, and manage a team. The way people do business in New York is different to Egypt which is so different to Shanghai which is different to Belfast which is different to Tampa and Miami.
Let’s challenge some of the myths people have about sales
× Sales is awful and make you queasy
× Sales is for people who are qualified to do nothing else
× Sales is spamming as many people as possible and crossing your fingers for results
× Sales is telling lies to get what you want
The people I’ve worked with who are successful at sales do none of the above. This is their attitude
✓ Sales is helping your clients get results
✓ Sales is opening a deal
✓ Sales is overcoming objections
✓ Sales is taking care of your clients when they sign a contract
✓ Sales is helping people
There’s many hard skills people incorporate including different closing techniques, prospecting over the phone, and time management.
Post pandemic, it’s not good enough to have hard skills only.
Soft skills are needed too.
What are soft skills and how do they help?
1. Be Kind
I was at a networking event last week and saw a business owner standing by himself, staring at his mobile and awkwardly looking up from time to time. My daughter is an introvert and 40% of my clients are introverts so I understand their behaviours. People often think the quiet/shy ones have nothing to say. I respectfully disagree. If you’re introvert, you’re an excellent listener and thoughtful. So I invited him to join my friends knowing how difficult it can be to approach a group.
The next day he told his client what I did and the client looked me up on Google. Then hired me for LinkedIn training.
Karma exists. Whatever you put out into the world comes back to you.
Kindness makes everything better. Spread it as much as you can.
It’s not what happens, it’s how you react. In the course of a sales call you can be interrupted, deal with a passive aggressive client, have them make unreasonable requests and of course, ask for discounts.
The biggest mistakes people make are reacting to this by being defensive, raising your voice slightly higher, speaking faster and displaying awkward body language.
When someone asks for a discount, ask if they understand all the benefits they’ll be getting and mention those benefits again. If they say you’re too expensive, ask compared to whom. If you immediately start defending yourself, you lose the deal. Now it not the time to talk about why you’re great. It’s time to ask better questions and undercover what the client hasn’t told you.
3. Ask Great Questions
Some say this is a hard skill, others say it’s a soft skill.
Either way, it’s a vital skill.
Too many times I’m observing a demo or in a client meeting and they rush into the pitch. Business takes time. Relationships take time. Making a statement and asking a question is powerful. This shows you know what’s going on and you’re also seeking advice from the client. “The world has changed so much in the last 6 month. What are the biggest changes you see in your industry in the next 6 months?”
The same rule applies at networking events or conferences, where people immediately ask, “What do you do?” Don’t start with this, it’s unoriginal and sales is about standing out. Ask “What brought you here today?” and “Who do you want to meet?”
You learn a lot about people by asking great questions and listening.
4. Mental Health and Focus
1 in 5 people before 2020 lockdown had mental health problems.
During lockdown 2 in 5 had mental health challenges and now it’s 3 in 5. That’s a serious problem.
We live in a world of constant distraction and problems. This affects business performance, with reduced sales, reduced profits and increased staff turnover.
So what can you do?
Create a vision board. Men and women often have different vision boards.
- Women talk about family, loved ones, dream holidays, things that deeply matter.
- Men have Aston Martins, £50m yachts and at least 1 Kardashian.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t dream big. By all means be ambitious, but make it achievable. Create images of what you want to achieve. Keep them on your laptop screensaver, mobile lockscreen, fridge and bedside table, so you see it all day long and are reminded of your purpose. When you have a great purpose, you can achieve faster.
5. Review Your Day
Business can too intense sometimes. We often work on autopilot, from meeting to meeting, or even worse, we have meetings about meetings. From the decade I’ve invested at events from Tony Robbins, Jack Canfield, Robin Sharma and the thousands of books I’ve read, it’s important to review your day, see what worked and what didn’t work. Do this with your phone off. Go old school with a pen and notepad. It calms you down and stops you getting overwhelmed.
Niraj Kapur is a LinkedIn Top Voice, Trusted Coach and a Salesforce Influencer to Follow. In his free time, he plays drums in a rock band and raises money for several charities like Movember and Milton Keynes Hospital Cancer Unit.