The sales strategies of organisations around the world have changed dramatically over the last decade.
For the better, sales efforts are more strategic and focused, and there’s a closer alignment between the marketing and sales teams. Workstar’s Head of Sales Sue Fell says, “Nowadays, cold calling generally doesn’t work, simply because people don’t want to be pestered. Clients want to talk to salespeople because they have researched your content, product and organisation. There is a lot more planning by organisations who are considering investing in new products, and the entire process definitely has a more consultative approach.”
Sales strategies of organisations have also changed because buyers’ expectations have changed. Sue says, “The buyer’s journey is completely different to what it used to be because of the internet and technology. The buyer can now educate themselves on what they want through websites, research, testimonials and case studies.”
Clients also expect products to be customised, so instead of buying off-the-shelf products, they want solutions that will genuinely add value to their organisation. They also want the salesperson to understand their business and how their problems can be solved. As a result, sales teams now need to possess a lot more in-depth knowledge about the organisations they’re speaking with.
Likewise, the refinement of sales-related software has affected sales strategies, as it has helped salespeople be more focused and disciplined, simply because everything can be intelligently managed with a CRM.
While selling is more streamlined in some circumstances, although more challenging in others, there are three key attributes that every salesperson should consistently demonstrate.
“Passion is absolutely critical, and you need to be passionate about what you believe and about what you’re selling. If you’re selling something you don’t care about, you’re not going to be successful. I think the difference between successful salespeople and their less successful counterparts is their interest in the industry that they’re selling into. If I was selling a car, and I didn’t really care how you went from A to B, then my lack of passion would definitely translate. However, since my industry, Learning & Development, is so fascinating and because technology is constantly driving change, my passion is infectious and ensures each of my conversations are genuine. You really have to find what you’re passionate about and align your work to that.”
Sue Fell, Workstar
Knowledge is vital, because if you don’t know about the market needs for your industry, as well as completely embracing the future trends, how can you help people grow their organisation? With that in mind, does your organisation spend time developing and nurturing each team member through continuous, engaging learning opportunities?
Every team member in your organisation must be disciplined. Sue believes, “It’s really easy to be reactive as a salesperson. If a call comes in, some salespeople will prioritise that and put off things they were currently working on. It’s important to put time into your diary to be proactive; whether it’s research about a company or research on a product, organising your calendar, using your sales software, arranging various stages of meetings and presentations to different stakeholders, writing proposals and obtaining approvals. It’s critical to forward-plan, especially when considering lead times. Also, in every stage of your sales process, you cannot communicate enough. When communication breaks down, so does the process.”
A key component of discipline is patience. Sue believes, “It’s important to gauge your client appropriately. If they mention that it’s not the right time to talk to them now and if they advise you to reconnect in June, don’t go back on June 1st. Perhaps contact them in mid-June. Give your clients some breathing space. I will say to clients, ‘If I’m hassling, please tell me.’ I don’t want to hassle people.”
Every salesperson now has their own personal brand, and this is closely connected to their integrity. With this in mind, organisations that encourage their teams to over-promise and under-deliver will generally not be as successful as those that empower their people to develop relationships based on real results and trust.
Sue says, “Everything you do should be transparent. If, for example, I was selling a product to a client but a key component isn’t ready by the time I promised, then the client would not be impressed. It gives you and the client heartache. Also, you have to be really honest with your client and let them know what the product does and let them know if it doesn’t do what they want it to do. They might walk away, and you have to be prepared to say ‘this isn’t a good fit for us’”.
Everything you do affects your integrity and reputation, and if you’re damaging your personal brand, imagine what your clients are telling their wider professional network?
Every sales organisation should empower and nurture individuals who possess passion, discipline and integrity. Sales professionals who possess these three attributes also discover a balance between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Sue says, “A lot of salespeople are primarily motivated by their commission. They have to make their targets or they’ll be walked out the door. However, I am passionate about spending time with my clients to learn about their business, and because I’m really involved in the entire process, my intrinsic motivation is really stimulated. At the end of the day, I can say, ‘I’m responsible for driving behavioural change within that organisation right from the first conversation we had’, and that is genuinely rewarding.”
At Workstar, we all believe in helping salespeople – as well as a range of other professionals – unlock their passion, discipline and integrity through engaging learning solutions. If you’d like to discover more about our award-winning approach, please contact us for a chat with someone from our awesome team.