Sales Strategies from an Expert and Author
Barry Maher once took a position as a sales manager, only to learn that his team was last in closing deals. The top salesperson had recently left, and three members of the six-person unit were new to the selling game. To top it off, each sales rep was stuck with a desk full of problem accounts — all of which had to be dealt with in a short time frame.
Despite those challenges, Maher told his team that they would become the No. 1 sales team in the region. Within less than a year, they achieved that goal.
A Corona, California-based sales trainer with clients such as Hewlett-Packard, Lufthansa Airlines and Wells Fargo, Maher understands what makes a salesperson great, and he shares winning techniques through keynotes, workshops, and books such as “No Lie: Truth Is the Ultimate Sales Tool.”
Sourcing Top Talent
Every small business can benefit from a winning sales team. Maher gave us the scoop on how to create one that will help you achieve your business goals.
When hiring sales professionals, what should you look for? Having worked with thousands of salespeople, I have to say that the best only have three things in common: They are persistent. They are empathic. They learn a lot about their prospects and work on seeing the world through their eyes, empathizing with their needs, their problems, and their frustrations. They are constantly working to improve their skills.
People often confuse good salespeople with great salespeople. Good salespeople are often polished and professional. And just a little slick. They do have a great pitch. They might be very likeable but they make most prospects just a bit wary.
On the other hand, a great salesperson is always likeable. Since he believes in what he’s saying, it doesn’t seem to be a pitch. He just seems to make a lot of sense. And he is never slick. He’s genuine. The longer he talks, the less wary the prospect becomes. When the time comes for the great salesperson to close, buying from him is often as natural and as easy as ordering a fine meal at a favorite restaurant.
Empathy-Driven Sales Tips
Handing over the reins every once in a while and letting the customer drive the conversation is an important means of developing trust and gaining empathy. The more your customer feels in control, the more comfortable they’ll feel doing business with you.
What lesson about selling has contributed the most to your success? Never forget that it’s all about the customer, not about yourself, your product, or your company. Which means understanding your customers is far more important than anything else about your business. Ask questions and show concern. Get them talking about themselves and their issues. Make sure that potential buyers feel they are in control. Improve your empathy. Work on seeing the world through their eyes, empathizing with their needs, their problems and their frustrations.
What lesson about the art of making the sale do you wish someone would have shared with you at an earlier age? Never let your sales goals get in the way of success. If they’re too high, they can be discouraging and after struggling for a while, you’ll be tempted to simply give up. On the other hand, I’ve seen just as many people slack off because they’ve achieved their goal for today or this week or this month, even though they’re nowhere near their long-term goal. Sales goals need to be specific and they need to be attainable. And one goal you should always have is to exceed your goals as much as possible.
When to Hire a Sales Manager
There’s a school of thought that a small business owner is his or her own best salesperson. Should new business owners immediately hire a salesperson or handle sales on their own? If you really believe in what you’re doing and can learn how to effectively share that belief with prospects, you may well be your best salesperson. On the other hand, most small businesspeople don’t turn out to be the best salesperson they could have hired. What’s more, selling may well take them away from what they really do best, and not incidentally, what they enjoy most about their business. I’d rather have the owner doing what they do best and have them hire the best people possible for other skills.
Converting Customers into Sales Channels
Your sales strategy should uncover the customer’s needs and honestly seek to satisfy those needs. Remember, the best selling is accomplished when you let the customer inform you of their needs. And, they can also help you win more sales. “Testimonials can be any business’s most powerful sales tool,” Maher says. “Always ask for testimonials and display them prominently. Ask for and generously reward referrals.” Grooming your customers with empathy and investing time to understand their issues can very well incite them to volunteer referrals your way. That’s how businesses begin to really flourish, and it’s a high source of praise that can bring your group one step closer to thriving. Still looking for more? Check out our article on more great ideas to increase sales.