By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor
Most salespeople – no matter how experienced they are – will admit that their sales skills aren’t always what they could be. While training seminars, conferences and MBAs can help, most salespeople simply don’t have the time to perfect their craft in a formal way. In many companies, particularly smaller organizations, sales people often wear many hats, and therefore engage in sales on a part-time basis. Sometimes, executives and managers need to step in and engage the sales process, and their skills and experience aren’t as deep as those of a fulltime sales professional.
Dustin Grosse, COO at ClearSlide, recently offered the Web site The American Genius a series of tips that part-time or full-time professionals can use to sharpen their sales skills. For starters, he notes that many people overemphasize luck or inborn sales skill for success.
“While luck has its place in the sales process, the silver bullet remains good, old-fashioned hard work to more successfully engage customers and prospects,” he said. “Today’s salespeople can leverage professional social networks and sales engagement platforms to better research and prepare – in fact, gathering contextual information has never been easier.”
Sales enablement material – the result of good, old-fashioned hard work – means that a sales person is never caught with a lack of a good answer during a presentation or a meeting. Relevant facts, case studies, research, peer reviews, product or service information or administrative info are always at hand in an easy-to-present format. Examine your current sales enablement materials and see where the flaws and gaps are. Engage with the marketing department to fill these gaps. Ensure you’re not using old information, rambling and irrelevant content or presentations that are applicable to very different prospects than the ones you are pitching to.
Grosse also recommends that sales professionals engage in a little bit of self-coaching on a regular basis. Skills can always be improved, and sales personnel can go a long way toward doing it themselves.
“To self-coach, examine how you’re doing on the job – look at your activity and customer engagement levels, map your day to give you time for planning, and even record sales pitches so you can hear what you sound like,” he recommended. “Some of the top sellers I know regularly practice their pitches with their manager and peers.”
Finally, he recommends that sales professionals use math to analyze where they need the most bolstering to their skills. By analyzing closure rates (and determining what closures have in common), professionals can gain insight into what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong.
“Start by compiling the number of deals you’ve closed in a given period, as well as the average deal value,” he wrote. “Then, look at conversion rates and then figure out how many prospects you needed to pitch to make your plan.”
Essentially, it’s like building a mathematical formula for successful sales. By repeating successful behavior and changing unsuccessful behavior, sales professionals can quickly build a better way to sell.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson