Selling is one of those areas of business that no one really wants to work in. Often seen as a lowly profession and shunned by many, it is the key to any business; after all no sales = no business.
You so often hear companies complain about their sales teams. Complaints like: “they don’t sell enough,” “they over sell and leave production with a problem – the service or product can’t be provided,” or even “They just don’t do their administration!”
And I also often get told that you either know how to sell or you don’t. People believe that either you are a born sales person or not.
I believe sales is one of the most under-rated and misunderstood areas of business. No business can succeed unless sales are made. Selling produces the income, so the product or service can be produced.
When any of us starts a business we do so with a passion for the product we are supplying. This passion leads to sales. Why? Because we really believe in what we are doing so we are able to convince people to buy. Yet many a business owner – whether in a two person business or a medium-sized company with 300 staff – tell me that they are not a sales person. When this happens I know it either won’t succeed or it will start to fail. These people don’t understand the fundamentals of sales.
Sales is a process
Fact: any process can be learnt by anyone. I’ve taught a retired doctor of 70 plus years of age to sell and youngsters out of school or college. You need to be driven and have a passion for what you are doing. There has to be a reason behind what you are doing that is about more than just your salary cheque. You also need to be supported by a team. So let’s have a look at two different angles of sales.
1. Sales and marketing work hand in hand
The important relationship between marketing and sales cannot go without mention. The key here is to ensure that they work together. Many times in larger companies marketing ‘forgets’ to talk to sales and let them know about a great article in a magazine that the sales team could use to increase sales.
Or worse, the marketing team forgets that the sales team are those that know how prospects and customers react to the marketing messages. They know what works, and what does not. The collateral that marketing produces in larger companies is essential to the sales team. As long as these two areas of a business work together success is inevitable. However I don’t find that this happens very often.
2. Practice techniques and be accountable
These are two key areas that most sales people either forget, or their managers and directors haven’t implemented proper systems. They are also two areas the sales department is expected to just get right
There is a big difference between ‘event training and ‘implementation and coaching’. Event training has a purpose, but unless it is implemented it has a high abandon rate and hence is not successful as a way to increase sales or the productivity of a sales team.
Anyone can go on a training course, come back with a book after a day or two and implement a couple of learnings, but after a week they are often back to their old habits. Why? It takes practice to change the way you do things. How are great athletes or academics successful? Practice. Sales is a profession and unless the sales representative practices their skills, they will never be truly successful.
Accountability is making sure that you understand the numbers behind the sales you need to achieve. What key things do you need to do to get where you are going? Do you know? If not, getting there is unlikely. The ultimate sales process is all about knowing your market, practice and accountability. If these ingredients are not there, the sales team simply won’t sell as much as you would like.