Today’s post is by Brett Keirstead, CRO of GlobalVetLink and author of We Are All Sales, People. His book is written to celebrate what makes salespeople great throughout their lives at home, work, school, and in the community. Connect with Brett on LinkedIn and follow him on his blog, We’re All Sales People.
The headlines are everywhere:
“How to sell in a pandemic”
“Selling will never be the same”
“What lies ahead for sales?”
“Is traditional selling dead?”
Throughout my 30 years in sales, one thing has remained constant: The more complex the situation, the more important it is to focus on the fundamentals. I have observed 5 key attributes that help salespeople succeed in any situation – good or bad. These skills are especially important for the next generation of remote salespeople, who may not have access to the watercooler advice that influenced many of us at the beginning of our careers.
1. Know yourself
All great sales professionals know their product – its features and benefits, its value to customers, and the problems it solves – inside and out. But the best salespeople know themselves equally as well as they know their product. Are we aware of how we communicate and make others feel? Do we know our strengths, weaknesses, biases, and blind spots? Are we open and honest in our disclosures? Taking great care to present yourself in the most professional manner is the key to earning trust and achieving success when times are tough.
2. Sincerely understand others
The ability to truly understand your customer increases the odds of a successful sale. The world’s most delicious bread won’t sell if it’s pitched to someone who is gluten intolerant. Great salespeople use their natural curiosity and interest in others to ask the questions that help their clients achieve their goals and solve their problems. When times get tough, many people shift their focus inward. Salespeople can’t afford to make this mistake. They must take the time to meet their customers where they are – not where the salesperson wants them to be. Showing a genuine interest and curiosity in others is foundational to sales excellence.
3. Sell win-win deals
One-sided deals don’t make good salespeople. Instead, successful professionals look for mutually beneficial outcomes – a win-win for the customer and themselves. In uncertain times, it’s easy to lose this perspective and focus more on your own self-interest. Take extra time to review each proposal and request and examine whether they are truly mutually beneficial. Are you being reasonable? Is your customer also getting a fair deal? You may selfishly win a short-term proposal in a one-sided deal, but you will miss out on a potential lifetime relationship.
Even in the best of times, salespeople lose a deal 75% of the time and suffer rejection 10 times that throughout the process. Crisis situations can make customers seem even more inflexible and dogmatic. When they encounter pushback on their perspective, they might become upset or angry. Now is the time to de-escalate tension through greater flexibility. Winning a deal often means compromising on price and terms, and it’s important to accept that as a natural course of business. You must be graceful, learn from each experience, adjust your strategy, seek common ground, and push forward. People have fluid circumstances in their life and the willingness to give a little will be a refreshing experience that will help win a customer’s respect and business.
5. Persist through close
A deal is not done until it closes. Verbal commitments, handshake agreements, or spoken promises do not count. In good times, when people are more apt to take risks and the buy cycles are more stable, you can have a greater confidence in a prospect’s words. But in uncertain and volatile times, sellers must stay vigilant. Circumstances can change on a moment’s notice. Stay connected with your client, reaffirm your value proposition, and follow your close plan. Assume nothing and keep following up until the deal is done.
In hectic times, I have always found that a renewed focus on these 5 basic principles will steady the ship for you. Be self-aware, understand your clients’ needs, find mutually beneficial outcomes, be flexible, and remain vigilant until the close. If you execute these core ideas, you can weather any sales storm you encounter. Good selling everyone!
You can purchase Brett’s book “We Are All Sales, People” on Amazon.