Selling is one of the toughest professions in the B2B world today. I think non-sales people underestimate how challenging selling really is and can be.
To keep sharp, I recently completed a Dale Carnegie Sales Success course to refresh my own selling practices. My philosophy in life is ‘student always’ and ‘continuous improvement’; despite working with sales people my entire professional career and also leading cold to close inside sales organizations, I figured it was time to really dig into the ‘how’ a sales person sells beyond my own experiences. There were several concepts I picked up to sharpen my sword and refine my own knowledge:
Lesson 1 – Attitude determines altitude. In the face of frequent rejection, a sales person needs to keep fresh and balanced. This is something I’ve seen repeatedly of sales people I’ve worked with. Those with the best attitudes, sold the most. Some really good additional ideas came from the Carnegie class about listening to podcasts from Brian Tracey to Zig Ziglar among others. While I’ve heard of both authors, I’ve begun listening to both as part of my day to day gym routine.
Lesson 2 – Giving away value – the largest lesson I learned was how infrequently as a buyer, I’m receiving value add information to help me in MY role in a company. Too many vendors keep pushing the unilateral ‘here is my widget, are you interested?’ message ineffectively. Carnegie with a partnership with Jeff Gitomer encourages to build a relationship over time from seller to buyer by the seller offering up consistent value in the relationship pre-sale. This value could be in the form of industry information that may be relevant for that buyer to succeed in their position independent of the selling process or sales person.
Lesson 3 – Sales is a structured process, it’s up to the seller to walk the buyer(s) through the process. Too often in my own situation, I’ve held off on walking through an explicit end to end structure. Listening to the philosophy of taking a step by step approach pays dividends in the end – especially in a consultative sale. This structure is somewhat proprietary to Carnegie but very logical in terms of a progression of establishing credibility, determining current state vs. future state, then pivoting toward a solution.
Lesson 4 – The power of asking – there is a direct correlation to the success of an individual and how often that person asks – asks for referrals, recommendations, more business, the business, etc. Although the timing has to be right, frequently the seller lets fear overcome the need to ask for the order or ask for the referral. Asking sincerely is critical as is the timing of that. This is no different from marketers (or any other org function) asking for promotions or additional resources.
While none of these struck me as ‘rocket science’, the sharpening of fundamentals was helpful to think through my own selling situations to continuously improve. I think as a CMO or executive, sales training at a junior marketing level should be a ‘must do’. What have you learned as part of selling your ideas or concepts to others?