Simply put, sales IS absolutely the key factor in driving a company’s success. Of course, it’s important to have an A+ product and sophisticated Marketing team along with the other business groups to make magic happen, but the business isn’t scalable without sales.
Since sales drive revenue, every sale matters. So, how do the top salespeople maximize the potential of an opportunity? For starters, they are experts in their field, work from a place of integrity and curiosity to solve the problems of their customers, and are product ambassadors to understand and effectively communicate the value of their product suite exceptionally well. Although I’ve worked with many people that are brilliant examples of the aforementioned characteristics, I’m going to talk about my very own personal experience with this topic.
About a year ago, Dani reached out to me to learn more about ways to amp up her sales career to get into an enterprise role. She had been crushing it as an Account Executive focusing on SMB/Mid-Market accounts with an up-and-coming startup. My first impulse was to tell her that I loved everything about the dynamic world of enterprise sales, but I realized that this subjective information wouldn’t necessarily be the most useful for her. So, I changed my approach. Keep reading to see how…
Stop and Actively Listen
My career in sales, startups and recruiting has afforded me a deep knowledge of the hiring problems companies face and how they can be solved. The modern sales landscape is so multifaceted and changing, it takes a lot of time along with some trial and error to navigate it successfully. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, time to adjust and grow…
Due to my history, I was tempted to overload her with all of the important lessons I’ve learned along the way. However, as I was about to launch into a monologue, I stopped. I realized that she didn’t need all of this information, so instead of waxing on, I simply asked her what she needed and why?
Simply put, she asked what my daily life in sales looked like and what I liked most and least in each facet of my career. From there we dug into what was important to her, why/why not, what her impression of enterprise sales was, the coaching she had received from her leadership team and what her road ahead looked like from her vantage point. This information shaped our conversation to have a meaningful conversation to provide helpful insights.
Instead of assuming what she was looking for and going on about my sales career and how fantastic it’s been, I checked my ego and took the time to understand what she needed and why to make the most out of our conversation. I paused, asked questions and adapted to ensure she truly received what she needed — an essential skill for salespeople.
Numbers Matter, Value Trumps All
Numbers are important and provide precious information, but they’re not everything. Don’t believe me? Have you ever been in a grocery store comparing two products that are seemingly the same, except for the price? Both seem to be from reputable companies and their ingredient lists are the same, but one is $1.00 more than the other is. For some reason, our minds do a funny thing in this situation, and we think that the more expensive product is superior in some way.
Although this seems like a silly mind trick, the best salespeople understand that it’s up to them to provide value and not get stuck on price or the numbers. They also realize spewing pricing information immediately is the wrong place to start.
Amy factoid, I am so not a numbers person (just ask my husband who happens to be a CPA) and have always worked from the philosophy that if you do the right things and stay focused on said right things, the success/numbers follow. I’m not here to discount the value of numbers/goals/price, but this mantra has never let me down. This is something I thought about when I was talking with Dani, as she wanted to understand how I was able to consistently exceed expectations.
If I gave her simple numerical information — like goal attainment — she would only have a small portion of the story. Instead, I painted a picture for her that helped her understand what the “right things” meant and how that translated into meaningful numbers.
Be Authentic — ‘Nuff Said
We’re all familiar with the stereotype of a used car salesperson — someone that’s somehow dishonest or deceitful. It pains me to say that this is a large misconception that many people attribute to all types of sales — regardless of the industry.
In order to overcome this stigma to create significant, lasting relationships, it’s important for anyone in sales to be genuine, honest and transparent — now more than ever before. Especially when we live in a world where information about your company/products/services is readily available online. Remember, without trust, a customer has no reason to believe in the product or service you’re selling. How do you recover from that?
When I talked to Dani about my career, I was honest and upfront. It’s hard to love anything — especially a job — all of the time, so I told her about the shortcomings of a life in sales. I was able to discuss what it’s like to be a woman in sales. Although it can seem like a “boy’s club,” I told her about how women can succeed and become industry leaders. I told her about where I’ve struggled, why, the hard lessons learned, and the pieces to my sales puzzle that have kept me in the space regardless of the “bumps in the road” along the way. It’s not just the proud moments to pay attention to, it’s the “underbelly” of sales life where I’ve learned the most to make the journey worthwhile.
You’re probably wondering how this translates back to sales aren’t you? Bottom line, it’s imperative to be authentic. The best salespeople have the ability to pinpoint what their product or service can truly do for their buyers while shooting them straight on what doesn’t make the most sense. While it seems counterproductive to closing the deal, I’ve seen more money come down the pike as a result.
Never. Stop. Refining.
In sales, the goal is to sell your product or service. This singular pursuit might seem to be constrictive, but this couldn’t be further from the case; there are many ways to sell a product or service.
From my experience, I know that the best way to seal the deal is to connect with a customer on a deeper level. You need to understand what makes them tick, their goals, likes, dislikes, and dreams before you can effectively sell anything to them. Once you understand who they are, their goals, potential roadblocks and what they truly need, you can deliver catered information that will help them understand how your product or service will make their business better.
When Dani was questioning me about everything I was sharing to understand the why’s and how’s, I was impressed with her natural ability to make the connection with me. I wanted to really help her versus have a soulless recruiting conversation that sadly I find to be the norm in my industry. In turn, I took the time to flip the script and ask her questions that helped me uncover what made her “tick.”
Although “peeling back the layers” takes more time and tactful questioning, it ultimately provides critical information that leads to closing a sale and creating a strong foundation for lasting success. After I learned more about Dani’s perspective of what she wanted out of her next role and her personal goals, we were able to have an honest conversation about what made sense and more importantly what didn’t.
Proud Amy moment, to this day, we still talk about the crazy world of enterprise sales as she found the right spot in enterprise sales to support her goals and grow the mess out of her business.
What’s Worked for You?
Now that you’ve heard about my experience and thoughts on the topic, I want to hear yours. How do you set customers up for success? Where have you had challenges to create meaningful connections and how did you overcome them? What do you do to ensure you realize success in sales?
As always, thanks for reading!
Note, this was originally featured on the Avenue Talent Partners blog.