Written by: Dan Disney
Sales is by far the single most important function of any business. Without selling a product or service ultimately there is no business!
People that work in sales are often some of the hardest working professionals out there. They often have higher amounts of motivation and focus and will go to exceptional lengths to serve their customers and the business they work for.
Why is it then that the majority of people look down on sales people?
Why do so many people/prospects/customers fear sales people…….?
The problem sits with a mixture of history, media and a poor approach to sales that still sits in many companies and sales people today, and what I would like to know is how can we change this? How can we make sales great?
Here are a few of my ideas, I’d love to hear yours as well!
1) Sales targets need to be approached differently
One of the top reasons that sales people are disliked is the pressure they put on their prospects and customers to buy. That pressure is rooted directly to their sales targets and the pressure being applied to THEM from their managers.
This is slightly tricky as sales people do need to be targeted and incentivized to sell. Businesses need targets to aim for, however perhaps the way in which sales people are targeted should be changed.
Another alternative is to for sales people and sales teams to have much larger pipelines eliminating the need to apply pressure.
2) Sales people need effective and strong leadership
Quite often some of the biggest problems with sales sits with the way sales teams and sales people are managed. Either there is a lack of proper management or there is management overkill.
It’s not easy managing sales people, they have strong personalities and are usually very good at talking the talk and telling you what you want to hear! Personally I believe the key is to keep processes simple, ensure they know what to do, how to do it and what’s expected of them and then work with them.
Sales managers and business leaders need to lead their teams the way they want their teams to engage with their customers. Set a standard that puts the customer first and ensures quality is rewarded over quantity.
3) We need to invest more into sales training
Sales is one of the few professions that doesn’t require certification or training is part of the role. To become a doctor you need to spend years studying and spend thousands to become certified before they’ll ever let you operate in that profession. In sales however anyone can get a job in sales and be called a sales professional.
The problem is there is so much more to selling around ethical selling, sales processes, customer service, account management and so on. So many companies will hire a sales person, give them a quick induction to their sales process and let them loose!
Tom Hopkins said a great line in the new Sales Reinvented Podcast:
“Sales is GOOD if sales people are GOOD at selling”
Related: How to Learn From Getting Outsold
4) Sales people need to embrace social media (properly)
I’m not going to deny that the term “Social Selling” has created a love/hate relationship for what it represents. However, what has been proven is the effectiveness for sales professionals that social media platforms have to enhance the sales process.
Social Selling allows sales people to understand their customer at a much greater level. They can build better foundations to the sales relationship by sharing and engaging in content that is relevant to them.
If we want to improve the reputation for sales people we need to put more work into understanding and engaging with our prospects and customers and social is the best tool to do that!
5) The customer must ALWAYS come first
If we are to change the way sales is seen we need to change the fact that right now the SALE is seen as the priority for sales people. Prospects and customers will believe that the only reason you are talking to them is because you want to sell something to them. That needs to change!
Imagine if when you spoke to prospects or customers that instead they knew you were only trying to help them and that they could trust you to find the best solution for them. This will only come from putting the CUSTOMER first.
I have a few more bullet point style tips to help improve the reputation of sales people include:
- Invest more time in properly understanding both your product and the industry which you are selling into.
- Surround yourself with sales leaders, writers and speakers. If you surround yourself with the best you will become the best!
- GIVE! Give more to your prospects and customers, whether it’s sharing free content on social media, giving them a trial, give them knowledge, experience or reward their custom or time etc.
- Don’t boast about how much you sell but about the strength of your customer relationships or the lengths you go to provide to your customers.
- Read sales blogs and listen to sales podcasts for the latest tips and thought leading concepts to be the best sales person you can be.
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