Many people get thrown into a sales role by happenstance. They never imagined they would need to sell anything or stand in front of a customer and help midwife a deal. But in my experience, these "accidental salespeople" often become the best at the trade. Here's how they do it.
There are people out there who always knew they would build a career in sales. But I feel this does not match most salespeople's experience.
Most of us did not dream of becoming successful salespeople when we were young. Just like other folks, we were going to become athletes, astronauts, doctors, perhaps engineers, but "sales"?
Do you mean that guy? No way!
In fact, sales is often something that happens a bit by accident. Perhaps in part because of the stained image too many salespeople give to the profession. Maybe because you never thought you could—until you learned otherwise.
Perhaps because you had no choice. Someone needs to do it!
Maybe in this economy, this is happening to you right now. And you doubt yourself. Can I make it?
Look, I won't lie to you. It can be challenging at times. But here's the secret: it is not that tough.
And forget about the stereotypical salesperson. You don't need to be him to be successful. In fact, the best of us are nothing like that image.
We know what we sell. We are passionate about what we do. We take care of customers—we do not swindle them. And we take care of our company as if it were our own.
Welcome to the brotherhood and sisterhood of sales! We are glad to have you around.
You Know Your "Stuff"? You Can Be A Good Salesperson!Expert - Free of Charge Creative Commons Handwriting image www.thebluediamondgallery.com
Those who find their way by happenstance to sales are often people with industry expertise that companies believe will give them a leg up in the market.
It is not complicated to understand why either. Just put yourself in the shoes of a prospective customer. Who would you prefer to deal with?
- The salesperson that seems to come straight out of that used sales car dealership (no offense), ready to take advantage of you through "mythical" negotiation skills and tactics;
- Or the person with whom you can discuss your problem at length and who will give you valid advice?
The best salespeople are there to create trust. Without it, selling becomes much more arduous, if not downright impossible. What better way to do this than to be able to "talk shop" with someone that could be a colleague of yours?
That is what enables you to go from "just another salesperson" to a trusted advisor.
Does it mean you absolutely need to know, say, your software solution as if you programmed it yourself? No, of course not. But the more you know, the more credible you become in the eyes of your audience, and the more successful you are likely to be discussing a viable solution to the client's problem.
That is when a client stops seeing your product or service as an expense (who wants to pay for anything?) and starts seeing it as an investment and a way forward. As something that will genuinely help the mission.
Again, try to see it from your prospect's perspective. What are they trying to do? What are the problems along the way? Can the offering you are repping be of service to them? If so, then there is likely a deal to be had.
And you won't have to rely on quasi-magical negotiation powers. These are overrated anyway.
Speaking From The Heart Earns The Trust Of Prospective Clientswoman in black long sleeve shirt holding microphone Photo by Reimond de Zuñiga on Unsplash
Now, imagine this scene. You enter a specialized store and need the help of a vendor. Someone shows up and speaks in a monotonous tone, shows neither interest nor knowledge about his or her products, and just leaves you there wondering what to take from the shelf.
Yes, I know, we see this a lot in big box stores. The question is, are you happy with this? If you know exactly what you need, perhaps—but then why even have salespeople?
In B2B and often B2C, this is not what clients want or expect. Clients need knowledgeable people that believe in what they are selling.
Interest is good, but true passion is downright contagious. Clients will sense it and react to it. It builds trust. "Whoa, if he or she feels like this, it must be good!"
Now, obviously, I am not suggesting you should fake it. Faked passion is easy to spot and a real turn-off. But you should not hesitate to identify with what you are selling as a point of pride.
What if you cannot? What if you just signed up for that job to get the paycheck and you do not believe in the company's mission or products?
Well, I understand. You have to do what you have to do. But ultimately, would you buy from someone that does not believe in his or her wares? Probably not. And that should be all the signs you need to conclude that you should be hunting...for another job.
Please note here that I am talking about passion, not perfection. No one's product or service is perfect. If perfection is your litmus test, you will never be able to find the right fit. But still, you want to represent a company you appreciate of selling products or services of which you can be proud.
Clients Are Why Salespeople Exist—And Their Success Matters!
People often hesitate before accepting a position with sales responsibilities because of the reputation of selfishness that sticks to the profession.
Where there is fire, there's smoke. Yes, there are mercenaries in sales that only see their paychecks and nothing else. But, no, you don't have to be this way to be successful. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Again, place yourself in the shoes of a client. We have all been one, one day or another. Can't you tell when someone is thinking in purely selfish terms? Of course, you can! There is some alarm going crazy in your mind, a sort of Spidey sense.
Here's a not-so-dirty secret. The best salespeople are genuinely interested in the success of their clients. And they do so for two reasons.
First, they want to be able to look at their faces in the morning. They are no different from most of the people on the planet. When they sense they are helping out, they feel happy, otherwise not.
In my position, I had the chance to contribute to some amazing projects. A nation's first probe to Mars. Advanced autonomous driving systems. Innovative communication systems aboard airlines. I even had the chance to purchase a car in which the OEM used our unit testing tool to verify the software at the heart of the hybrid drive. Cool, huh?
The second reason is what should rightly be called "enlightened self-interest." Finding new customers is often difficult. You need to identify them, then engage them somehow, and above all, earn their trust. The first time, it is always a bit tricky.
Which is why repeat sales are so important. They tend to be easier. And as trust grows, so often does the size of the deals.
Now, how do you get there? By caring about client success and acting accordingly, that's how! Sales are the voice of clients inside the company. It is both a pleasure and an amazing responsibility.
Excellent Salespeople Treat Their Organizations As Ownerswoman holding white mug while standing Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash
The best salespeople are driven. Do they like to earn money? Absolutely!
But there is more. They are builders at heart. Whether they are hunters, farmers, or anything in between, they pride themselves on making it happen.
One thing they don't do? Put their number one client, their employers, in trouble.
The beta salespeople will do this in spades. Any deal goes! Impossible to deliver? Not profitable? That is their COMPANY'S problem, not theirs! These folks usually end up causing significant damage before moving on and causing the same damage elsewhere.
On the contrary, the gems of salespeople treat their organization as if they were the owner. They take pride in what they do and achieve win-win deals—for their clients, the company, and themselves in the process.
That prompts them to go out of their way to become the best salesperson they can be by learning a lot about their products.
They also know—or learn—when a deal is better left unmade. When inking a contract will lead the organization into trouble. They pride themselves on their ability to say no, even when it comes at a short-term loss for them personally, because they know where this leads.
Of course, some organizations value the short-term profit above anything else. Again, it becomes a matter of choice. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to learn in which world of pain this will eventually land the company. The message here needs to be clear and limpid: don't join these organizations. But this is a matter for another article.
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