WANT TO UP YOUR Sales Skills?

I’ve been training a new sales team for my client Trade Nation this week. It’s made me think about the differences I see all the time between salespeople who are hitting or exceeding their targets month in, month out and those who are inconsistent. If you like, it’s the difference between sales “professionals” and sales “amateurs”.

I can always spot a sales “amateur” when I watch them at work. Often, they’ve got all the knowledge they need about prospecting tools, questioning techniques, and other “technical” aspects.

The difference between those guys and the best among us is how they apply those skills and, often, their mindset.

Let’s look at some comparisons of the actions of sales “amateurs” versus sales “professionals”:

 

Amateurs: Act too early.

Professionals: Bide their time.

Patience is a virtue, right? In sales, particularly if you’ve got stiff targets and deadlines, it can be tempting to “just go for it” all the time. Amateurs will use phrases like “strike while the iron’s hot!”. A sales pro will say “strike when the time is right”.

The best salespeople are closing wizards who can sell anything to anyone – they are people who wait until the perfect time to close, maximising their chances of winning the deal.

Be patient, and make the right moves at the right time if you want to improve your results.

 

Amateurs: Look, then talk.

Professionals: Look, then go deeper (and even deeper).

This is linked to the point above. Many salespeople I observe are too quick to identify what they think is the problem the prospect has, then try and sell a solution for it. Successful salespeople will get their shovels out and start digging!

You need to make sure that you have fully understood the nature of the prospect’s problem AND their pain points. Good salespeople can be heard asking questions that start with phrases like “Why do you say that…?”, “What does that mean to you?”, or “How is that impacting you…?”

 

Amateurs: Can misread situations.

Professionals: Have a good understanding of people.

This is the downfall of a lot of otherwise technically good salespeople. Yes, it’s an ancient cliché that you’ve heard time and time again, but that doesn’t make it any less true: “People buy people”.

And if you’re in front of someone who isn’t “getting” your pain and needs, then it’s difficult to warm to them and see them as someone who can help.

If you think you or your sales team might need help to read your prospects, drop me a line and let’s see if we might be able to work together to sharpen these skills.

 

Amateurs: Keep it superficial.

Professionals: Look beneath the surface.

This hits most amateurs where it hurts – at the closing meeting. Everything was going great, so you go in for what appears to be an “easy” sale, and suddenly it’s rejection city!

If this has ever happened to you, I bet it was because the prospect brought something up at the last moment that you weren’t aware of. I also bet on the way back home to back to the office you were cursing them for hiding something fundamental from you – usually along the lines of “we don’t have the budget for it this year”. Sound familiar? Pros will always dig down to find out what’s really happening, and what’s likely to get in the way of a successful sales outcome.

 

Amateurs: Talk, talk…and talk some more!

Professionals: Listen. Build pictures. Tell stories.

We’ve spoken about this before, but I still see it all the time. Salespeople who are frightened of silence, so they fill it with their own voice!

This isn’t just amateur behaviour it’s junior league under-7’s stuff! Despite this, talking too much is still the number one sales fault I identify when I work with businesses to increase their sales.

The real professionals know that they need to ask a question, then shut up. But more than that, they need to really listen. Active listening is hard to do without really focusing on it. Let the prospect talk, and don’t rush to fill silences.

 

Amateurs: Plough on regardless.

Professionals: Review, Assess, Qualify.

This is a tough one to learn, but sales professionals know when to stop flogging a dead horse. Pros know how to spot the dead horse in the first place and avoid it!

Always analyse how things are going with any sales process. Professionals value their time, and they don’t hesitate to stop wasting it on a prospect that isn’t going to buy. They are also honest enough to know when they’ve made a mistake and “lost” the customer.

Amateurs think qualifying is only something you do at the prospecting stage. This attitude can lead to a lot of drawn-out encounters that end with frustration rather than sales. 

 

Amateurs: Focus on themselves.

Professionals: Focus on solutions.

I hate to say this, but it’s not all about you. It’s about your prospects and clients. If you focus too much on what you want, you will be neglecting to concentrate on what the prospect wants and needs – a solution to their problem.

Focus on building the ideal solution for each prospect, and the results will come.

 

Amateurs: Get ignored.

Professionals: Get thanked!

Ouch. If you’re getting a lot of prospects fobbing you off, not returning calls and ignoring emails, then chances are you’re a sales amateur. If you have shown that you have something of value that can solve problems, then you’re never going to be ignored!

Professionals know how to build a solution that’s tailored perfectly to the prospect’s needs, addresses their pain points, and allows them to achieve their personal goals. Sales professionals have the opposite problem – they have prospects calling them all the time!

So there you go, just a few differences that mark out the sales “pros” from the “amateurs”. Do you think you meet all of the “pro” criteria? If not, where do you think your weak points are? Let me know where you need to improve your game.

You can drop me a line to [email protected], or you can connect through the usual social channels – YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter – by searching for “jameswhitesales”.

So there you go, just a few differences that mark out the sales “pros” from the “amateurs”. Do you think you meet all of the “pro” criteria? If not, where do you think your weak points are? Let me know where you need to improve your game.

You can drop me a line to [email protected], or you can connect through the usual social channels – YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter – by searching for “jameswhitesales”.

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