Sales is one of the most sought after jobs in every industry. Yet companies struggle to find the right candidates to build a high performing sales team. This is mostly owing to a lack of sales people with:
- Enough customer connects and network, which is very important for sales professionals.
- The right skills and abilities.
This article will help you improve your sales skills to achieve the above, so that you could perform better in your current organization, or find a sales job elsewhere easier. The techniques mentioned in this article will also be useful to any customer facing professional.
Before we start, you need to understand that none of these tips will give you a result overnight. It has to be a journey with continuous effort and improvement. Tweak them as required, to suit your business context.
So here we go
1. Present internally before you take it to the customer
Having enough practice before you do the actual presentation is helpful in fine tuning your content and presentation, especially if you are in the early years of your career.
Even if you are a very experienced sales professional who have been making customer pitches for years, it is a good idea to get a few extra pair of eyes look at your presentation. This can be helpful in two ways:
- A few brains are always better than one. Others might be able to come up with better ideas to prepare your content.
- Different people come with different kind of experience. Some of your colleagues will have useful tips to improve your way of presentation.
So, if you find time, get your colleagues to listen to your presentation. This will sharpen the quality of your pitch.
2. Work with a mentor
This might sound very obvious, but not a lot of us do it. There is nothing better than learning things from the most experienced.
So go find a mentor for you. Some companies do have a system of allocating mentors officially to a group of people. If your company doesn’t have that system, you can proactively reach out to capable leaders and managers to mentor you.
But make sure that you showcase your enthusiasm and interest to learn new things when you approach anybody. When a person has to set apart some of his/her time for you, he/she needs to see some potential in you to become an active contributor to the company’s success.
You could also try approaching third party firms which provide sales training and mentorship programs.
3. Learn to represent your content better
Content representation is an essential skill sales people need to possess.
There are people who say that PowerPoint presentations are boring. There has been a recent trend of using more visual tools to present content. The idea is to hold the attention of your audience till the very end of the presentation.
Following are a few tips for you to excite your prospects with a different way of showcasing your products and services:
- Use visual tools like interactive screens.
- Include images, video and attractive animation in your slides.
- Use chatbots and voicebots: Try to bring in chatbots and/or voicebots (like Amazon Alexa) to break the monotony of your presentation.
- Always highlight numbers and meaningful images over text.
Also, depending on the situation and permissions you have, you could use customer testimonials in your presentation. This not only helps your content look better, but establishes your credibility in your area of work.
So always make a conscious effort to represent your content well. You will see yourself getting better every time you do it. This will not only make your sales pitch more impactful, but over a time will improve your sales skills as well.
4. Stay updated with industrial trends and developments
Businesses evolve, so do customer requirements. Hence the solutions you offer your customers also need to get better. And this process is faster in the technology industry. Being aware of the changes and latest trends in the industry helps any business to position itself better.
But how does this help an individual to improve his/her own sales skills?
Well, the answer is simple. It helps you become more aligned to innovation and do better custom selling. It establishes you as a person/business that is future ready by adopting the latest ideas and solutions. You could always make an impact by explaining how the new solutions or technologies can be leveraged in your customers‘ business.
However, being industry aware is not just about understanding new technologies and solutions. It also involves knowing what your competitors are doing, who are their customers, what are their differentiators, what type of services analyst firms suggest to businesses etc. It also means building useful connections with relevant stakeholders in customer organizations, analyst firms, partner companies etc.
All of these can act as a catalyst to fine tuning your pitch or services to a customer during a proposal stage or service/product delivery.
5. Leverage your experience to solve customer problems
There are essentially two things that decide whether a prospect would buy from you, especially if you are into the service sector: capability and experience.
Making a pitch to the prospect stating your products/offerings and differentiation is all about your capability. Experience is about whether you have delivered the actual service to somebody else. And when it comes to an individual, it is about utilizing his/her own experience to creatively solve customer’s business problems.
Let us look at a personal experience of mine to understand this better.
I was attending a sales meeting. The prospect was a water utility company based out of the UK. The topic of discussion was how to use chatbots to transform their customer experience to derive more business value. The presenter stated that we could help the company automate the complaint process by using chatbots to respond to complainants, and automatically assign a technician to visit the premises for any repair required.
The prospect responded very differently to this. One of the delegates said: “Water is a basic utility, and when our customers call us to inform water related issues, they would want to rather talk to a human than a bot. And we need to respect that sentiment”.
But the presenter went on speaking about how the automation idea he suggested could bring about cost savings. But the prospect was not happy with the response. We were literally losing them. And that’s when one of the other leaders chipped in and said:
“I have come across a similar situation in my previous role. And what I suggested there was to have human agents respond to complaints and queries, but to use chatbots to help the agents get information faster”.
The prospect was quite impressed.
Here, the second leader leveraged his experience to find a new way of approaching a business situation or need. And it is quintessential for sales people to possess this skill. Drawing from your experiences will improve your sales skills over a time, and hence the likelihood of winning a customer.
So that wraps up my top 5 tips to improve your sales skills. You may note that this is not an exhaustive list of techniques you could use. You could always find your own ways of sharpening your skills. The idea of this article is to cover the basics that will set the ball rolling for you. Start using these, and you shall see results in a few weeks time.