The Key Sales Skills Of The Modern Sales Professional

The global situation we face means that literally everything has changed in the last few years. Change is the only constant, and businesses who have fallen by the wayside lay as epitaphs to the inability of many organisations to recognise how they have to adapt to the real world of today and the future.

The sales profession is no different. If you are still using techniques that were designed, developed or conceived more than five years ago, then prepare for some sobering news; the buyer who bought from you when you used those tactics five years ago doesn’t exist anymore!

Instead, just like a phoenix rising from the ashes, a new buyer has risen up, one who is business-savvy, knows what they want and how they want it, and has little time to debate the rights and wrongs as to whether your tired, old sales techniques and processes are still relevant.

We need to not only be up-to-speed with this new world order (which, by the way, will continue to change at an ever-increasing and faster pace); we also need to be one, two and ten steps ahead of how the new buyers are thinking, proactively driving the direction of how businesses will need to react to their competition in the future.

The modern sales professional needs to be aware of how today’s changes are affecting the way their buyers buy. If you’re not ahead of the game when it comes to how technology is driving the sales processes of the future, you’ll be floundering on the beach of poverty, scraping a living from the fossils of yesterday’s crumbs from so-called loyal customers.

So, what are the sales skills you need to thrive, not just today, but long into the future?

1. Know The World Your Customer Is Trading In

Yes, you need to be an expert in your product and services and the benefits they bring to your customers and prospects. But that’s the baseline, the minimum you need to know.

You also need to know the industries you work in better than your customers do, the competition your customer is facing daily, and the challenges your customer will be facing in the future.

Customers want a sales person who is an expert in everything there is to know about the products, services and market they are working in. The buyer also wants the sales person to educate them, to teach them where their future opportunities will be, what markets will be available to them and what they need to do to achieve growth.

Having a salesperson with this background knowledge develops a partnership instead of a transactional relationship.

2. Lead The Charge To Embrace The Digital Customer

Today, nearly 60% of B2B buying steps are completed before buyers connect with a salesperson. That’s a staggering statistic! Yet B2B companies are not leading the charge to embrace the digital customer. They are not setting up online sales channels. They are not exploring social selling solutions. They are not adopting marketing automation programs. They are not outfitting their sales teams with tablets and mobile phones. They are not implementing sales enablement solutions.

That’s why you see so many sales cultures that are stuck in a rut, and so many sales teams that are failing to meet revenue goals. You need to become social-media-savvy in every sense of the words. Buyers have shifted from being people who need to be told everything to people who know more than you!

When you call a prospect, they can have your company website, your LinkedIn profile, your Facebook Business page and your You-Tube channel up on their screens in seconds.

If you’re not thinking the way your prospects do at the technological level, stand by to be shot out of the competitive waters.

3. Don’t Talk About Your Products; Talk About How You Can Help Your Customer Build Their Future Business

The majority of people we meet don’t want to hear sales pitches anymore. They probably know what you sell, as it’s not that much different from your competitor’s anyway.

Instead of trying to blind prospects with facts and information about your products, the modern sales professional discusses the business challenges that the prospect is facing. They discuss the business world that is affecting their markets. They identify the pain points the business is experiencing. They challenge the mind-sets the prospect is working within. And they build a vision of a better future by using the salesperson’s products and services.

If the prospect’s world cannot be changed for the better by using your products and services, what are you doing there? Surely they would be better off with you as a business partner than with the company they are already using?

Then prove that point.

People make decisions based on the changes those decisions will make for them in the future. They don’t buy products; they buy the profits or benefits those products will bring them.

Modern sales professionals don’t pitch products. They discuss how the future results will be brighter if only the prospect’s business used their solutions!

4. Relentlessly Build Your Knowledge In Areas That Will Benefit You

Sales is your profession, the career you have chosen for yourself. It’s what brings home the bacon, keeps you motivated and creates your lifestyle.

Modern sales professionals know that if they are to not only survive in today’s business world, but also thrive and succeed, they need to have a comprehensive, proactive process for keeping up-to-date with the changes that are happening within their field.

Let me ask you a question; how many books, CDs or DVDs on sales have you read, listened to or watched in the last year?

If you are serious about your career, your personal development and your future earnings, you need to take researching your chosen field seriously.

Your library needs to be up-to-date. Sales books written more than five years ago will not have the necessary information on social media and technology that you need today.

You need CDs that inspire you on your car, plane and train journeys. Spending two hours a day in your car listening to the radio or music CDs is a wasted opportunity. Buy, lease, rent, download or borrow CDs or MP3s that can give your knowledge the boost to drive your performance and keep your motivation in tip-top condition.

Watch DVDs on selling from the masters of their trade. It will provide you with information and knowledge that will assist your prospects and new business partners to develop their business.

Don’t leave the building of your skills and talents to the mercy of training courses or sporadic coaching from your manager. Like successful sales professionals of today, take personal responsibility for developing your skill-sets by listening to and reading about people who have been there and succeeded.

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These sales skills will allow you to prove your worth to your prospects and customers alike. Keep yourself in shape by following them and you’ll see the opportunities open up for you now and, more specifically, in the future.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Sales Training

www.mtdsalestraining.com

(Image by Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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What Is The Difference Between A Sales Person And An Order Taker?

We have all heard the phrases; an order taker or a sales person. However, what does that mean and what is the difference between the two?

Take a look at this analogy…

The Eagle and the Vulture
The difference between a professional sales person and an order taker is similar to the difference between a vulture and an eagle. Whereas, a vulture, sits, perched and waits. Waits for a meal to develop and appear, usually by something that has died. It then meanders over and scavenges the rotting carcass, and barley survives in a state of half-starvation.

The eagle, on the other hand, does not sit and wait, but goes out, flies around and FINDS fresh food. It then swoops down and CREATES a bountiful meal and enjoys a life of opulence.

The Sales Professional and the Order Taker
Similarly, an order taker sits around and waits for someone to BUY something. The order taker waits for the incoming call. Waits for the web lead from the prospect that has a check-in-hand. The order taker waits for the buyer to say, “I’ll take it!” The order taker lives on a minimal wage, surviving in a state of half-living.

The professional sales person however, does not wait. The professional sales person goes out, flies around and FINDS opportunities. The professional sales person finds prospects who never even thought about buying anything. The sales pro then helps the prospect by uncovering problems and exposing needs and desire, and then diagnoses those problems, offers solutions and then solves those problems. Thus, the professional sales person lives a life of success and affording the joys of wealth.

Now I ask you…Which Are You?
Below are a few questions to ask you. Of course, depending on what you sell, some may not apply. However, be honest with yourself.

Order Take or Professional Sales Person?

1. What percentage of your sales come from prospects that come to YOU, verses how many are the result of outgoing prospecting efforts?

2. What percentage of your sales are from lead sources OTHER than your company’s TOP 2 normal lead sources? (In other words, how many leads are you finding out of the box?)

3. What percentage of sales volume is from add-on, up-sell, or otherwise production that is above the original lead value? (In other words, by what percentage are you able to increase the sale that the buyer already committed to spending?)

When the economy slows and a million other excuses overwhelm the order taker, the true professional sales person will always go out, reach out, call out to create and generate business.

Happy Selling!

Sean

Sean McPheat
MTD Sales Training

(Image by Master Isolated Images)

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Come On In, The Water’s Lovely! LinkedIn Is Not Just For Businesses It’s For Sales Professionals Too!

Today’s buyers are a lot more sales savvy; they conduct research online about your products and services, your company and your competitors all with a few clicks of a mouse. The internet and social media in particular are now your buyers’ best friends, as it puts them in control of the modern day sales process, so what are you doing to redress this balance of power?

Here are some scary facts and figures for you:

  • 90% of buying decisions are based on internet research – Gartner research
  • 2 out of 3 decision makers place more trust in their own research than in sales people – Market Transformations
  • 80% of sales are lost because the salesperson failed to establish an element of trust and credibility with the buyer – The Marketing Edge

The way your buyers make their purchasing decisions has changed, but are you changing the way that you sell? Social media can be a powerful sales tool when you know how to get the best from it, especially when it comes to using LinkedIn.

You’ve definitely heard of LinkedIn, you might even have a LinkedIn account and you’ve heard of the benefits and the power that LinkedIn can provide you in terms of prospecting and selling….but your LinkedIn account is just sitting there gathering dust simply because you don’t know what to do with it!

Or is it because you have yet to be convinced of the real value of the site? Well, he’s a few LinkedIn stats for you to digest:

  • 1 new member joins LinkedIn every second – LinkedIn Press Centre
  • Over 40% of LinkedIn’s users work in companies with more than 10,000 employees – LinkedIn Ads
  • Nearly 50% of the LinkedIn members are in a decision maker role (such as Manager, Director, Owner, Chief Officer or Vice President) – LinkedIn Ads

Considering this information, it’s unsurprising to find out that in a recent survey conducted by advertising agency OgilvyOne found that 93% of UK sales professionals have received no training in using social media, and 53% of these want help with learning to use social media platforms as a business tool.

As a modern day sales professional it is so important to understand how to harness the power of LinkedIn for your business, and MTD Sales Training are here to help.

We have created a complimentary report for you which will help you to understand how to get the most out of LinkedIn as a business tool.

“Ultimate LinkedIn Essentials For Sales Professionals” is free to download and will show you how to tap into the potential goldmine of prospecting resources and additional sales opportunities that LinkedIn has to offer. With a killer profile and the right approach to hunt out, prospect and engage with your target market, you will maximise your prospecting time and generate qualified leads.

Simply click the link below to download your copy:

http://www.mtdsalestraining.com/lireport.htm

If you still need convincing of the power of LinkedIn or if there’s anything you would like to ask me then leave me a comment below and I will get back to you.

Happy Selling!

Sean

Sean McPheat
MTD Sales Training

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Internet Killed The Telesales Star?

32 years ago Brit band “Buggles” released their smash hit “Video Killed The Radio Star”, which paid homage to the way that technological advantages in television had crushed the success of the radio with its modern capabilities.

In today’s modern world, could we now be seeing the start of a new revolution? Has the internet and social media killed off the more traditional ways of selling? The outdated methods of cold calling, face-to-face networking and door to door sales are failing fast in the face in the ever-blossoming rise of the internet.

In order to understand how has this come about we need to look at the way selling has evolved over the last 30 years.

The Evolution of Selling 

The way that we sell has gone through massive changes over the last few decades. Let me explain the evolution of the sales process to you:

Essentially we have moved from an era whereby sales professionals would just turn up and roll off their sales pitch to the buyer – which was nothing more than a one-way monologue in which the sales person would simply push their product or service on the client – to the realisation that in order to sell a product or service to a client, sales professionals need to pull out the problems the buyer is having during a two-way discussion and THEN show why their product or service would be a solution to these problems.

This process took an even greater leap forward with the invention of the internet, as buyers now had a world of information at their fingertips, meaning that they could “google” all about the product or service, the company and even the sales professionals themselves before they decided to enter into the sales process.

Today, the buyer is now even more informed and knowledgable about you, your company and your products and services than ever before, as they not only come prepared with vast amounts of information about the product or service, but they also engage in a dramatically high level of social media discussion – in which they can gain peer recommendations about who they should be buying from and potentially be discussing your company with past customers and even your main competitors.

The Modern Day Buyer

So the big question then: who is the modern day buyer and how do they now decide to make a purchase?

Today’s buyers are much more sales savvy than their predecessors – they conduct research online about your products and services, your company, your competitors and they can even find out information about you on a personal level as well.

They want more choice, they want more for less, they want to bash your prices down and play you off against your competitors until you are practically giving it away! Buyers today are much more ruthless than many sales professionals realise – and this is because they are far more prepared and well informed than ever, before you even get the chance to speak to them.

There are some big questions you should be asking yourself when it comes to engaging with the modern day buyer. What online tools are they using to find out about you, your company or your products and services? What discussions are they having with other potential customers, current customers or even your competitors about your products or services?

Your buyers are an upgraded version of those you have encountered before; they have changed the way that they buy…but have you changed the way that you sell?

Cold Calling R.I.P?

Cold calling as we know it is dying. Sales professionals hate making cold calls and people hate receiving them. Just look at these statistics and you will see why cold calling is fast becoming a dying art form:

  • 73% of decision makers won’t accept an inbound cold call – Market Transformations
  • 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations – Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey
  • 2 out of 3 decision makers place more trust in their own research than in sales people – Market Transformations
  • 90% of buying decisions are based on internet research – Gartner research

People want to buy; they don’t want to be sold to – so going in for that hard sale just a few lines into a cold call that your buyer didn’t even want to receive is not likely to get the desired response.

What you should be doing is “smart calling” – you need to make a connection with your prospective client first, by starting a discussion on Facebook or LinkedIn, or tweeting them an interesting link on Twitter which might help them solve a problem they are having. Once you’ve built this initial relationship with your client in the online environment they are most comfortable in, then  – and only then – do you make the call.

The Social Media Revolution

The Social Media Revolution is well and truly upon us and here are some interesting facts you that should know:

  • More than 30 billion pieces of content are shared each month on Facebook – Facebook Press Office
  • Twitter gets more than 300,000 new users every day – The Chirp Conference
  • A new member joins LinkedIn every second – LinkedIn Press Centre

There has never been a more vital time to be out there on the internet, where you can be found, interacting with potential buyers and making a proactive effort to be involved with the discussion and sharing happening in the world of social media.

You need to contribute to groups, forums and discussions. You need to position yourself online as a trusted advisor and industry expert, who can be relied upon to give good, solid and honest advice to support your buyers with whatever queries they may have.

Everyone likes to feel like they are getting something for nothing, and if your prospective clients feel like you are giving them your time and expertise without immediately demanding something in return you will be amazed at how quickly you can become the go-to-guy when they buyer decides they’re finally ready to make a purchase.

Your buyers are now in control; they know what they want, they know when they want it and they do their research.  They don’t want to be interrupted with your call and they want to buy from someone they feel like they can trust.

By using the right social media and internet-based resources, you can start to network online, build up a reputation as an industry expert, build up your personal brand and find the people who are already interested in your products and services.  Once you have established this first point of contact with them you’ll find it so much easier to make that sales call.

Happy Selling

Sean

Sean McPheat
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
MTD Sales Training

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Call Yourself A Sales Professional?

There are hundreds, no thousands of people roaming the streets today and calling themselves sales professionals!

And yes, don’t get me wrong there are some out there but in all of my travels around the world and having come into contact, trained and witnessed literally thousands of sales people in action, there are a lot of sales professionals who would be done under the trades description act if they indeed did call themselves a sales pro!

I really think there are some defining factors that make it easy to tell the difference between a “salesman” and an incredible “sales professional.”

So how can you tell an amateur from a professional?

Here are 10 thoughts to get the ball rolling:

1. Amateurs are nothing but order takers. They don’t actually HAVE to sell.

2. A sales professional has clear objectives and knows what outcome they want to achieve at each stage of the sales process.

3. Amateurs “wing it”

4. A sales professional has a plan and a proven method for success

5. True sales professionals are always well prepared for any situation. They can adapt their presentation at a moments notice and still achieve their goals

6. Sales professionals are viewed by their clients as trusted advisors

7. Amateurs talk too much

8. Amateurs think about the commission more than the need to help the next prospect

9. Sales professionals analyse their numbers, understand their numbers and refine and modify
their approach

10. Amateurs don’t listen to sales improvement cd’s or improve their knowledge

So, how many of those do you do?

Are you a pro?

Or are you “The diet coke of sales professionals?”

Happy Selling!

Sean

Sean McPheat
MTD Sales Blog
MTD Sales Training

Telephone: 0800 849 6732

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