The archetypal salesperson is a dinosaur. Whether the picture we have in our minds is Alec Baldwin’s character in “Glengarry Glen Ross” from 1992, Vin Diesel or Giovanni Ribisi in the 2000 movie “Boiler Room,” or just about any other film or TV show with salespeople. The easy stereotype to reinforce is that of an unethical con artist focused on making the sale no matter what it takes.
Unfortunately, there can be a kernel of truth to the stereotype, as headlines revealing scandals and unethical selling practices attest to. The mistrust of those in the selling profession has always been a challenge for salespeople, but now it is more elevated than ever. Simply put:
Buyers don’t want to buy from salespeople. They want to work with executives and consultants who understand their businesses. They don’t want a short-term fix; they want long-term solutions.
Today’s ultra-informed buyer is doing more research and due diligence ahead of time before ever contacting a salesperson. Sometimes, their research is not great research, but right or wrong, they’ve done their homework and think they know what’s what. Their preparation requires salespeople to come in as consultants if they want to be part of the decision-making process. Showing up with slick sales pitches won’t work anymore.
The cumulative impact of all these factors means that if a salesperson takes a shortcut, if there is even the appearance of impropriety, it impacts more than a single deal. » Continue Reading.
As my colleague, Henri, shared in the previous blog, building trust with customers is critical in today’s selling environment. Building and maintaining trust across the full lifespan of a customer relationship takes attention and focus in the following areas:
1. Prepare with the customer in mind.
If, when you prepare, you find yourself spending more time preparing your solution or positioning points than you spend thinking about your customer and their issues and challenges, then you need to rethink your preparation strategy. You should begin and end with your customer in mind. If you prepare for your meeting by thinking about what they might want to get out of your time together, then not only will you build trust, you will also create more value in the meeting.
2. Ask great questions, not bad ones.
There is no such thing as a bad question, right? Wrong. We’ve seen bad questions asked time and time again. A bad question is one you should already know the answer to if you have done just a little bit of homework. Not doing your homework and asking questions about something you should already know not only destroys your credibility, but it also signals to the customer that they aren’t worth your effort in being well prepared to meet with them. If, as your potential customer, I am not worth your preparation, then why would I trust you to act » Continue Reading.
Selling is a people-oriented business. Sales are made in the dialogue, person-to-person. The interaction may be face-to-face or over the phone, but the very essence of a successful outcome is based on trust between seller and buyer.
This means salespeople must be at their very best, bringing value to the table and to their customers. If, instead, they just push products, they sacrifice goodwill and trust. Their sales success is likely to be short-lived, not the basis of a long and mutually productive relationship.
Many articles have been written about the parade of scandals in the financial industry: overly aggressive sales goals leading to the unauthorized opening of accounts; funneling billions of wealthy customer accounts offshore; manipulating global interest rates; the whole subprime mortgage crisis. And such bad behavior extends beyond banking into other industries and the political environment, where instability and uncertainty are causing greater distrust among customers, who are increasingly wary of salespeople and selling tactics.
I recently read an article that called for a new business model, and while the writer was referring to the financial industry specifically, the advice applies more broadly. Companies need to focus more on advocating for their customers rather than exploiting customers to move more product. They need to make sure whoever is touching their customer — whether it’s someone in sales, service, or support — provides a uniform and positive customer experience. And while this should be needless to say, I’m » Continue Reading.
Social media is ubiquitous. Look at all the bowed heads and tapping fingers as people commune with their smartphones. It doesn’t matter if they’re walking down the street, in a business meeting, or sharing a meal with others, phones are always on and socially connecting. The Twitterverse has become part of the regular news cycle as politicians, and yes, the President, make it their go-to public communication channel.
But what does this mean for sales professionals in the business world? In my guest post on InsideSales.com, When and Why Sales Professionals Should Text Clients, I suggest that there is a time and place for texting within sales relationships, just as there are times when it is appropriate to communicate with clients by sending an email, making a phone call, or scheduling an in-person meeting.
In this post, I will address the broader topic of social media — not just whether to use it for business purposes, but how one’s personal postings can make a strong impression, good and bad, on their professional persona.
True or False: Social media is all about being authentic, expressing your personal views, and sharing imagery that exposes others to what is happening in your world. Salespeople should be able to freely post and tweet what they want.
Of course, salespeople can post what they want, where they want. That’s a right of free speech. The challenge, however, is understanding that social media opens up » Continue Reading.
Highly skilled and engaged sales forces drive revenue. But, it is a challenge to get a multi-generational, global sales team operating at peak performance.
On March 7th, 2017 at 2 pm EST Chris Tiné, Richardson’s Chief Product Officer, industry expert Mike Kunkle, and Sales & Marketing Management Magazine will present a webinar on, “Galvanizing a Multi-generational Sales Force to Drive Revenue.” If you are interested in attending or think that your colleagues may be interested, you can register here.
What makes a great sales trainer?
This was the subject of my previous post, found here. In it, I discussed a number of traits that I consider table stakes for great sales trainers.
So, now the question becomes: How can sales training facilitators up their game?
To go above and beyond the basic requirements — to really stand out as an exceptional facilitator — it’s important to stay tuned to what is happening in your fields of play (sales and learning and development) and integrate that knowledge appropriately to remain credible and relevant. From a skills perspective, it is important to continue your professional growth with a focus on mastering your content so you are modeling it effectively. Listening skills and effective coaching skills are critical to a trainer’s ability to create and illuminate lightbulbs, or “aha” moments. Executing in-the-moment coaching to provide specific, accurate feedback that will equip and inspire learners to apply classroom learning in the real world is a nuanced, next-level, and important skill set.
Here are a few suggestions:
Let’s start with table stakes.
It is truly an honor to work so closely with Richardson’s facilitators, who in my humble opinion are the very best sales training professionals in our industry. When I think about our team and what it is that makes them “the very best,” a few things come to mind. They are masters of the fundamentals, or “table stakes,” of training, and they are skilled subject matter experts in Richardson’s content and in selling. Here is how I describe our team:
They are passionate about their craft, and it shows in their work. They connect quickly and easily with their learners. They create a risk-free environment for learning, and they earn the right to push participants to stretch beyond their comfort zones. They are subject matter experts, and they are skilled coaches who understand the real challenges salespeople face in the field. They model the skills that they teach while also drawing out best practices from the participants in the room. Most importantly, they tailor each classroom experience to meet learners where they are, which ensures the learning is real. Relevance is a critical success factor in the application of learning.
When a facilitator brings those characteristics together in a Richardson workshop, the result is a challenging, relevant learning experience that prepares and inspires sales reps to engage in genuine, customer-focused conversations that result in high-value, needs-based solutions. When that happens, we » Continue Reading.
It is impossible to apply knowledge that you can’t remember. That’s why Richardson works with clients to develop a robust sustainment element to their training programs. It’s all part of what I like to call the learning hug: wrapping services and support around training to make it stick. Part I of this series, Training Services Wrap Around and Support Learning, explains the concept. Part II, Preparing for Change, addresses ways to prepare both the organization and its learners for what is to come.
This post focuses on the post-training period and the tools, practices, and assets that need to be in place to reinforce learning and embed new behaviors into “the way we do things here.” We need to help people retain the knowledge they have gained, apply it in real life, and receive evidence-based feedback and coaching to continuously improve.
The first thing to acknowledge is that learning is a process, not an event. What neuroscience tells us is that it’s not the learning itself that embeds knowledge in the brain, it’s recalling that learning that does the trick. You actually have to make yourself go back, find it somewhere in your head, and bring it forward – and then the learning clicks.
Sustaining Learning on the Go
Mobile technology makes it possible to reinforce learning on the go with social learning and gamification programs. Bite-sized bits of learning are reinforced » Continue Reading.