Are You an expert Salesperson?

It may not be the oldest profession in the world but it is probably the least appreciated. Most of you scoff at selling as a profession. Let us face it: What image comes to mind when you hear the word “salesperson”? Some guy in a white shirt and a loud tie, trying to sell a used car that a lady doctor drove only to the school for dropping her kids? A fast-talking insurance salesman you do your best to avoid? A door-to-door sales lady selling some coffee table book for kids at half the price, only for that day? Probably nothing you would consider professional, right? Anybody can be a salesperson in this era of social media. If you went out right now and began knocking on the doors of businesses, within 24 hours you would have a job as a salesperson. Government and opposition can ague on jobs created vs jobs lost, but there are enough sales opportunities around that can make a potential job seeker find his livelihood. You probably might be on straight commission with no salary or expense account and you would have to write in your name on the business cards, but you would be able to say that you were employed as a salesperson.

There is a world of difference between “being in sales” and being a professional salesperson, a knowledgeable expert and consultant, who brings business-building ideas to his or her clients. Those professionals know there are a few traits that differentiate the pros from the average.

First, selling is a skill, not a talent. You may have thought of someone as a natural salesperson, but professional selling is a learned skill, not a natural talent. It starts with knowledge and expertise about your product or service, your customers and their needs, your competition, and your industry.

Professional salespeople have developed effective communication skills, including the ability to ask questions and to listen, to identify customer needs, and to address product benefits that will satisfy those needs.

In sales, you are the most important product of all. If a customer is not sold on you, chances are that he or she will buy from someone else. Professional salespeople accept personal responsibility for themselves and their lives, committing themselves to personal development and an effective, organised personal management style.

Relationships, emotions and feelings are three key factors in sales success.

People buy from salespeople they like and trust, and though we often justify our decisions with facts and logic, the trigger to sales success are often vivid images and emotions. Professional salespeople not only have all the facts, but also they create positive emotions about themselves and their products.

You must effectively identify and develop prospects. That means having an organised system for locating qualified decision makers, the discipline to contact those people to request appointments, and the skills to persuade them to see you in person. In my life, I have learnt one thing very early: Never rely on anyone. Do not forget to provide proper service and follow-up to your current customers to help build repeat business and referrals.

A sales call is a performance. Make sure you have handled all meeting room arrangements and double-check to be sure all your equipment is working properly. You must also ensure that all the necessary items are there in the room, which your prospect also may require. When you open your presentation, begin with a bang to get your prospect’s undivided attention and interest. Get the prospect to participate in your demonstration to discover the truth from him.

Develop the skills of effective negotiation. Anyone can make a sale by cutting the price, but the professional salesperson closes a profitable sale by developing and using negotiation skills that identify all points of agreement to weave them together into a mutually beneficial package. Remember also that objections are your friends. By encouraging the prospect to express objections you uncover concerns, benefits and buying motives that can help make the sale. The professional salesperson loves objections and has the skill to move every content-based objection directly toward a closing scenario. Practise, practise and practise.

Finally, remember to ensure a proper closing always. The professional salesperson begins closing at the outset of the presentation by building an agreement and helping the prospect decide how, not whether, to buy.

Through the judicious use of closing questions, this professional helps the prospect complete all the points of a mutually beneficial transaction.

Now that you have the highlights that differentiate the average salesperson from a super salesperson, make a commitment to develop those skills, and graduate to a super salesperson.

The writer spearheadsexecution and innovation for clients @CustomerLab

M Muneer