What defines a great salesperson?
The number of products sold and revenue generated?
No. I don’t believe so.
Products and revenue are the result of the sales effort; the more effective the sales effort, the higher the economic return to the organization and the higher bonus for the salesperson.
Here are the practices that define outstanding sales effort; salespeople should be held accountable for consistently demonstrating them:
Take a long-term view of what the customer needs, not exploiting the moment and driving to make an immediate sale.
This is a difficult situation for sales because leaders impose short-term sales targets on salespeople which influences the attention and priority they place on future client needs as opposed to what they need today.
Create an enjoyable experience for the customer. Rather than placing the focus on selling, making it a priority to ensure that the quality of the engagement process is at the level that surprises the client with the belief that more enjoyable experiences will produce higher sales.
Enhance the relationship with the customer. Use the time available to build a stronger bond with a client by taking a greater interest in them and what their priorities are. Show them that you care about what’s going on with them and that you’ll be there for them.
Try to avoid mentioning your products and just focus on bonding. This act alone will show the client what your agenda is.
Ask questions as the main conversation element. The question is the vehicle to use to explore the client’s circumstances and is an excellent tool to learn more about them and what they ‘truly desire’.
Do everything you can to not take control of the conversation by giving a speech on the solutions you provide and making a pitch about what they should buy from you. Start the conversation with a question; end it with another question. Provide information only if asked.
Respect silence in the conversation. ‘The pause’ is another component in the dialogue that is extremely strategic as it allows time for the client to process what is being discussed and reach conclusions that will influence their decisions.
Take a breath rather than filling the void with your pitch material.
Honour integrity and honesty. Intimate sustainable relationships are founded on mutual trust so the truth must dominate the client engagement rather than providing information and commentary that might be considered ‘on the edge’ of truth in an attempt to influence the client’s decision in your favour.
And above all else, never underpromise with the intent to overdeliver. It’s dishonest and entrenches the salesperson forever in the ‘sleazy’ category.
Achieve the outcome that is best for the customer even if it doesn’t fulfill the salesperson’s agenda. This can happen in situations where the client’s requirements can’t be satisfied by the salesperson’s organization.
This is a critical moment of truth for the salesperson which tests how committed they are to building their relationship. In such a circumstance, the salesperson should present all the options the client could consider, rather than trying to force-fit only their own.
How do you know if a salesperson puts in this type of effort?
It’s pretty simple: ask their clients. Here’s what the clients say:
— “I refuse to buy from anyone else.”
— “She is the only one I trust.”
— “I often go out of my way to create the sales opportunity for her.”
— “I feel guilty talking to anyone else about what I need.”
— “I don’t feel confident dealing with anyone else.”
— “I am ok to wait until she is available.”
— “I am quite willing to be inconvenienced in order to buy from her.”
— “I am thankful to have her looking out for my long-term interests.”
— “I think of her as a close friend.”
— “I honestly believe she cares about me and what my problems are.”
— “She’s in it for the long term with me.”
— “She is always there to talk to me when I need to.”
— “She never pushes products at me.”
— “She is the best listener I have ever known.”
How many salespeople can claim their customers make a handful of these statements?
In my experience, sadly, very few.