Build a Selling Skillset
“How to sell” can be a valuable skillset for most professionals. Are your selling skills up to par? Or do you struggle to understand the philosophy behind sales, which questions to ask, and the tools you need to drive sales effectively?
Below, you’ll learn a few of the less-often discussed elements of building a strong sales skillset and important shifts in mindsets to help get your head in the game.
Selling Skills – They’re Not Just for Salespeople!
It’s easy to write off “selling skills” as a curiosity for those who deal directly with customers. But make no mistake. More of us are in sales than we realize!
Sure, a strong sales mindset and natural curiosity are helpful for bringing in revenue, but selling skills aren’t just about moving money from a customer’s pocket into company coffers. Sales, in a broad sense, is all about learning. What actions are the foundation for success on this project? How can those actions be quantified? Can I establish a repeatable foundation to see results over time?
Curiosity is a fundamental part of selling. It leads you to understand everything necessary about your buyers. Only after that can you discover solutions that don’t just meet but pre-empt buyers’ needs to create powerful customer experiences.
Learn How to Ask the Right Questions
Curiosity is necessary, but its goal is to learn about your market constituents and how to turn them into lifelong loyalists. For that, you need to communicate in ways that drive value. In other words, ask the right questions.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that yes/no questions will be enough, but the better questions go deeper and discover the issues customer are really having, sometimes before they know they have them.
The secret to this is empathy. The better those sales reps can put themselves in a customer’s shoes, the better they’ll understand the buyer’s pain points and the more they’ll be able to ask helpful questions. This simple element is what separates great salespeople from those who are just so-so.
Of course, just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. Even empathetic reps can struggle to move the needle without having a disciplined process and the right customer service technology behind them. This is where our next element comes into play.
Stay Disciplined in Processes and Methodology
Effective sales strategy depends on a consistent, repeatable methodology a sales rep can use time and again to drive results. It’s important for the long-term viability of your program. It’s also a self-preservation tool.
Rejection is unavoidable in sales. For those just starting out, it’s easy to get discouraged by rejection and lose faith in one’s abilities. But consistency in process can carry them through these tough times and help them remember that getting one “yes” may mean enduring a hundred “no’s.”
It requires a bit of tenacity that may be hard to find, but it can pay dividends when applied to sales processes.
Joel Stevenson, CEO of sales productivity tool Yesware, recalls a time when extreme tenacity in the face of rejection paid off. As Joel recounts from his early days as a customer service rep, he was on a team that managed a large number of web assets for Wayfair, including 20-30 renovation websites and 500+ microsites.
There were many different buyers in the funnel across different industries, and Joel had the idea to reach out to several of the smaller buyers to see whether a personal touch and better customer service could generate higher revenue. With the approval of his supervisors, he began an outreach campaign to target these shoppers and connect with them directly.
The results? A total bust.
Most of these buyers didn’t want to hear from a rep and couldn’t provide an opening for a further sales opportunity. What did happen was that Joel established a more personal connection with several of the buyers who responded favorably. They weren’t ready to buy more products yet, but they appreciated the customer service outreach and began to communicate with Joel.
Joel was at these customers’ beck-and-call and provided first-rate service for whatever issues popped up. This level of long-term support and personalized service outreach was the key. Customers eventually turned to Joel when they needed to purchase new products, and this created an incremental revenue that grew over time. What started out as an off-the-cuff side project became an entire division worth $100 million—and which grew to over $500 million.
Redefining the Role of CRM in Sales
For any project, a strong Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is a must. Unfortunately, many companies struggle with their CRM functions and view them more as a necessary evil than a chief strategic tool. The problems are largely due to CRM operations born of an earlier time, when customer management was an in-person endeavor and CRM platforms were used mostly for tracking.
These days, sales are remote-first with plenty of new avenues to manage. With conventional CRM systems, this translates to bad data, inefficiency, and a system in which platforms restrict sales teams rather than enable them.
Optimizing CRM functions to support sales teams is a necessary part of the process. A salesperson could have the strongest sales skills out there, but without the technical tools to back her up, she’ll always struggle to capitalize on opportunities and close deals.
Solutions like Yesware were designed for this purpose. They address common problems and design parameters that older CRM implementations may have missed during their initial setup. By doing so, they form an important backbone to sales processes.