Monday, February 22, 2010

So You Think You Can Sell?

image This article was written by Barry McKinley, SCORE Orange County Management Counselor

As the owner of a business you may be thinking this topic doesn’t affect me. You would be wrong! You need to be selling to your customers, vendors, banks, landlords, employees and even family.

You are the example that your staff will follow. How would you able to hire, motivate, promote, compensate and evaluate if you don’t have the tools to measure bad, good and excellent salespeople.

My experience in business over 35 years dealing with small business owners is that they are not good salespeople. Many think that the “good conversationalist makes an excellent salesperson.” That person is normally way too busy talking about themselves and their accomplishments to ever hear or understand their customers’ needs.

Following are just a few traits that can make a top producer:

A personality that makes people want to get to know them . . . .

This is almost indefinable. It may be about a smile, an approachable attitude and excitement for what the salesperson is selling. You will sense success and confidence when the salesperson walks into the room. They show a personal energy in their walk and enthusiasm in sharing and listening.

A work ethic that allows them to function independently without constant reminders about what to do next . . . .

Being a salesperson can be lonely. They are constantly entering new and strange environments. In many cases they may be the uninvited visitor. They need to be a self starter and able to think “outside the box”.

Be able to keep their promises . . . .

They have to understand the importance of a customer and what the customers can mean in generating a positive image in the marketplace. When they tell someone they are going to do something, it will be done! Accepting or allowing anything less weakens your company and its image.

They do not work for the company but with the company . . . .

They do not see their role in the company as any more important than anybody else’s. They are part of a team. They recognize that any weak links in the team could and probably will affect sales and ultimately their earnings. They should be ready willing and able to do whatever is required to insure the customers concerns are met and company satisfaction is established. They accept responsibility and blame and do not direct it away from themselves or point the finger at other employees or departments within the company.

Rejection . . . Not the end of the road . . . .

This is probably the single biggest fear of any new salesperson. Good ones realize that this is part of the job and to understand clearly the rejection and then pursue a sales approach to overcome it. The rejection could have been caused by a bad experience with a competitor or another sales person. The strong sales person realizes the challenge of rejection and works harder to overcome. These skills can be learned and improved on through “role playing”.

Know your product/service and your competitors . . . .

The top producer is able to offer solutions by fitting the company’s products and services to the customer’s needs. They are able to professionally probe customers to establish their requirements. They will know the competition strengths and weakness. They are able to deliver the sales message to the customer without “Information Dumping”.

As the owner of the business you must constantly strive to sharpen your selling skills and be able to instill confidence and direction in your sales force. Remember you may have only ONE opportunity to impress and sell a new customer. Growth is the survival of any business!