Here’s an interview I did recently for Rail Champions about how to be a great salesperson in today’s economy. Thought I’d post it here as there were some interesting questions…
Inspirational Leaders Q&A.
If you’re seeking inspiration, sales motivation or sales education then you should investigate the lessons given by Mr. Gavin Ingham, one of Europe’s leading motivational speakers, sales authors and sales experts.
With his clear and focussed delivery, you will soon master all aspects of professional sales management. Gavin has helped many clients acquire valuable new skills and identify gaps in the sales process in pursuit of a sustainable sales pipeline – which is something ‘every’ salesman should know something about.
You never stop learning and with a client list to die for including; O2, Microsoft, WPA, Royal Bank of Canada, Jaguar, and Blue Fin, you’ll understand why Gavin is in such demand. So what’s his secret..
Q. How do you begin work with a client to formulate a winning sales strategy?
As with everything in sales, all solutions begin with the client. It is easy to jump to conclusions but this is wrong as every client is different and every solution needs to be unique.
Often the brief that I am approached with initially is not the right one. As an example, over the years, many clients have approached me and said that their sales teams need help with closing. It is easy to see how this conclusion can be reached… not enough sales are being made so, voila, they need closing training. But it could just as easily be lack of motivation, not enough activity, misunderstanding of client needs and wants, poor questioning… I could go on.
It’s important that all salespeople, sales speakers included, ask the right questions and truly understand their clients. Failure to do so leads to guesses and assumptions and that’s never a good thing!
Q. What’s a common mistake exhibited by sales professionals when it comes to client engagement?
Sales is a job that carries a target. Often quite a challenging one. Because of this, many salespeople feel under pressure from expectation and from their managers too. This means that most salespeople are overly focused on making the sale. When they walk into a client meeting, they “pretend” that they are interested in the client but really their main interest is in making the sale.
When you study how to be a great salesperson, you understand that sales superstars are genuinely interested in their clients. They put their clients and their needs and wants first. They ask questions, they listen and they try their best to see things from their client’s perspective. You’ve probably heard the expression “to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” and that’s exactly what great salespeople need to do.
When you focus your attention on someone else and their needs and wants, rather than your own, then their defences and barriers come down and they share their real thoughts, feelings and opinions with you. This allows you to tailor solutions and offerings that add more value than those of your competition who failed to engage as well as you.
Q. What’s the most common mistake salespeople make, even after 10 years in the profession?
Even the most experienced salespeople make mistakes as everybody does in every walk of life. Here are three common ones…
- Thinking that good enough is good enough. We are in a very competitive market these days and there are still lots of opportunities… but only for the best. Good enough is not good enough anymore. Clients want to work with the best. If you want to learn how to be a great salesperson and make sales, lots of sales, you need to give 100% and be the best that you can be.
- Lack of sales activity. Don’t get me wrong here. I am NOT saying that people are lazy. Far from it. People are busy doing all sorts of things, particularly salespeople who have been in the job for a while. But are those tasks helping sales? All salespeople should periodically consider what sales activities drive sales and ensure that they are doing enough of them.
- Not adding enough value. To be great in today’s economy you need to add massive value, more value than anyone could ever have expected you to. But value is not determined by you, it is determined by your clients and the only way you can find this out is to ask questions and genuinely care about what your client has to say.
Q. Where do you get inspiration from and how do you persuade your team (or delegates and conference attendees) to run with your ideas?
I originally became a speaker because I enjoyed helping others when I was managing them. Previously to that, I had gained great inspiration and achieved sales success from reading biographies of successful people and self-help books and listening to audios. I wanted to know how to be a great salesperson. I still do all of these things and now I also get inspiration from the amazing people that I meet, their successes, learnings and stories and from life in general. I believe that there are many ways to learn in life, you just have to be open to them.
Selling people on an idea is very similar to selling people on a product or a service. Just because you cannot see it does not mean that it’s not there! For people to benefit from my work they have to want to engage with it. They need to believe that I’m credible and that I can add value. They need to believe that I care about them, their businesses and their lives. They need to feel that I am talking to them and that my advice will work for them.
I need to help them believe that others have achieved great results and that they can too. They also need to feel that the results are worth the effort. And they are!
Q. Technology is transforming the way we work these days. With the introduction of devices such as the iPhone and iPad, how has this helped sales professional in this working far more effectively?
There are a lot of people who talk exclusively about technology and the changes that this has brought about for salespeople. Whilst I am an early adopter, a lover of technology and someone who loves and embraces change, I like to talk about everything and how it interacts together, not just technology in isolation.
Technology has brought about some huge advantages such as the ability to research clients and prospects far more easily, the ability to access documents remotely, the ability to stay in touch with clients individually and en masse simply and cost effectively, the ability to network, position yourself as an expert, create instant newsletters etc. I have just answered these questions whilst on holiday overlooking the Norfolk Broads on my iPad. I can email them, post them on a blog, disseminate them through social media etc. Amazing!
I often say that the teenage boy in me would have been terribly disappointed that we’re not all flying around on hover boards, piloting personal spacecrafts and living on the moon. We were sure these things were coming. And we’re not even close to them! But I would never have predicted a smart phone. One tiny little thing that is a phone, email, connects to every PC in the world, tracks every flight, can scan, photograph, video, get train times, take credit card payments… Amazing! All Captain Kirk’s communicator did was act as a radio. Pathetic!
But as well as the advantages, there are also disadvantages to modern technology. It can make things much easier for you and level the playing field between the individual and the huge, high-spending corporate but it also has a dark side for salespeople. Social media can eat your time for little reward if you do not know what you’re doing, email can become a master rather than a servant, and remote contact, whilst easy, quick and simple, can easily lose something to a “real” conversation. I could go on.
If you want to know how to be a great salesperson you need to make sure that you reap the benefits and avoid the pitfalls. The simple truth is that now is an exciting, amazing, fun time to be a salesperson and all salespeople, wherever they are in the world have huge opportunity but, as it always did, it requires hard work, commitment, skills and focus; a desire to help customers achieve and a hunger to be the best that you can be.
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