By James Hickman and Lameez Subaya
Being an effective salesperson is a skill that can be learned and practiced with discipline. In my previous article, I discussed how to turn risk appetite into sales expertise. This article received positive feedback in sales circles because it highlights three essential elements that every salesperson or sales team must master: understanding the numbers, understanding the customer base, and appreciating sales velocity.
Think of these elements as the “what” when building a house. Before starting construction, you need solid and approved plans. With these plans, the builder can proceed to construct your dream house, using specific skills like mixing concrete, laying bricks, and installing the electrical system. The “what” and the “how” must work together to build the house successfully.
Now, let’s talk about the “why.” Why are you building a house in the first place? Let’s revisit the original article on the three non-negotiable sales fundamentals. After its publication, Lameez Subaya, an Enterprise Transformation Consultant at CoachHub, reached out to discuss the importance of these fundamentals—the “what” of selling.
During our discussions, we explored how selling has evolved and the significance of combining foundational thinking with practical steps—the “how” that builds upon the “what.” The timing for this is perfect. In the past, some believed that selling was a gift that some people were born with. However, this saying is no longer true or relevant in 2023. Selling has changed, just like the world around us has changed due to the pandemic. Understanding this “why” is crucial, similar to asking why we should build a house.
For years, people have been mystified by the secrets of successful sales, and various techniques have come and gone. Is sales a science or an art? The truth is that it is both. I have provided a basic blueprint for the science of selling, and Lameez will now share a blueprint for the art of post-Covid sales.
Lameez Subaya, an Enterprise Transformation Consultant at CoachHub, adds her insights:
I’m delighted to contribute to this series with my friend James because selling has evolved. Salespeople must evolve with the changing landscape to remain relevant, and organizations need to compete through their people. Individually, sellers must develop additional skills to advance their careers and set themselves apart.
Let’s consider the post-pandemic landscape. We all know that industries have changed, and we must recognize that selling has changed too. Perhaps the most significant shift is that organizations now conduct their own research and explore solutions before contacting a seller. While there are various statistics supporting this, the safe assumption is that the majority of buyers research before reaching out.
In this scenario, how can you differentiate yourself when you are contacted? The key is to be seen as a trusted advisor who offers value. This concept of value selling brings a new dynamic where I, as the seller, become the trusted advisor, ready to help you solve critical business issues.
Becoming proficient at value selling requires careful planning and a significant investment of time in honing interpersonal skills. Let’s delve into the three fundamental pillars of the “how” of selling in 2023 and beyond.
Value selling is a sales strategy where the seller focuses on understanding the business problem and uncovering its root causes. By doing so, sellers can position themselves as advisors and identify additional opportunities. Value selling strengthens customer relationships, fosters loyalty, and sets the company apart from competitors.
To implement value selling, follow these steps:
- Understand the business issue: Thoroughly investigate the challenges preventing the business from succeeding.
- Explore existing solutions: Determine what solutions the business has already considered and why they may not have worked.
- Assess the consequences of inaction: Highlight the potential negative outcomes if the business does not address the problem.
- Identify the stakeholders impacted: Understand who within the organization is affected by the issue and their priorities.
- Measure impact: Determine how the business measures the impact of addressing the problem.
- Building the habit of treating every call and meeting as a discovery opportunity is crucial for value selling. This approach reduces the need for price negotiations and allows sellers to focus on delivering value.
The benefits of value selling include:
- Stronger relationships with customers.
- Increased customer loyalty.
- Differentiation from competitors.
- Higher profit margins.
- Increased revenue.
- Longer, more sustainable contracts.
Effective planning is another vital aspect of successful sales. While many salespeople may not enjoy this part of the job, it is crucial for achieving consistent results. Managers should establish clear goals and objectives from the start and ensure sellers are committed to them. Regular feedback sessions help evaluate progress towards these goals.
Planning also involves prioritizing high-value clients and developing a business plan to guide strategy. Time management is essential, as not all prospects are equal. By adopting a CEO mindset, salespeople can hold themselves accountable for their actions.
The benefits of planning include:
- Clarity and focus in sales efforts.
- Improved decision-making.
- Optimal use of resources.
Interpersonal skills are fundamental to sales success. Salespeople must be equipped to handle high-pressure environments and adapt to constant change while identifying and pursuing opportunities. Effective communication and relationship-building are key skills that contribute to sales success. Managing conflict, both internally and with customers, allows salespeople to handle stress and anxiety while still achieving their goals.
To support salespeople in reaching their targets, they require:
- Support during stressful situations to approach challenges differently.
- Assistance in building confidence when facing difficulties.
- Development of resilience to bounce back from disappointment.
- Improvement of emotional intelligence to avoid taking things personally while empathizing with others.
- Support in gaining clarity and focus for effective decision-making.
The benefits of building interpersonal skills include:
- Improved sales performance.
- Increased motivation.
- Better communication and collaboration.
- Career and personal development.
- Improved employee retention.
- Competitive advantage.
About the authors.
James Hickman is the Sales Director: Digital Transformation at Altron.
Lameez Subaya, is the Enterprise Transformation Consultant at CoachHub.