The first time I went on a genuine in-person sales call with my dad, I experienced what many salespeople today never do. The hours of travel. A lengthy lunch filled with conversation. A candid, in-depth discussion about product needs.
Everything took time. Naturally, the hours-long experience ended in a well-conceived sales pitch that included contextually augmented data.
My father didn’t toss out pure numbers, mind you—he enhanced them with color. He helped his prospects see beyond ones and twos into what the figures meant. As such, he became a trusted advisor and problem solver, not someone who does a quick “data dump” and leaves. Plus, everyone back at the office followed his lead when dealing with clients he converted, making it easy for customers to trust him and our company.
Your company needs a human-centered sales plan
Without an effective selling process that mirrors my dad’s practiced, thorough, and personal approach, you’ll wind up with tons of inventory and no buyers.
But rather than just whipping up a website and waiting for leads, it’s important to pull together a sales plan that goes beyond leveraging technology or making one-off presentations. Your plan has to combine the humanity of selling with all the conveniences of contemporary work.
Consider it an investment in the wellness of your organization. A complete sales strategy ensures that you can spin straw into gold over and over. Even if a customer interaction is bad at first, the right selling protocol can turn it into a positive experience with a few compassionate human-to-human touches.
What exactly does such an all-encompassing sales strategy entail? Good ones incorporate everything from client experience to proposal packages. Essentially, sales must filter through every inch of your workflow, ensuring expectations are met every step of the way. And make no mistake: Customers are picky about what they want, and they won’t hesitate to jump ship when they don’t get it.
Technology has transformed the world of business, and it’s also changed how salespeople connect with customers. Buyers now want consultative selling, not a cookie-cutter approach. At the same time, they expect their sales liaisons to meet them where they are, technically.
In fact, 78 percent of salespeople who use social media to connect with potential buyers consistently outsell those who don’t—so sales professionals must have both a ground and an online game.
How to keep the art of sales alive in your organization
Want to improve your own selling and give your corporate sales team a sort of rebirth? Follow a few simple tips to help everyone in your organization improve the way they sell—because they’re all salespeople, whether they know it or not.
1. Learn non-verbal communication skills
A full 93 percent of first impressions happen at the non-verbal level. Knowing this, focus on both the content of your sales presentation and the way you deliver your message. For instance, keep a smile on your face, whether you’re on the phone, giving a presentation through audio or video conference, or even conducting a discussion via FaceTime.
You’re being judged holistically, so make encounters count. If you really want to improve, make a video of a mock sales call and play it back to explore your non-verbal communication techniques and areas for improvement.
2. Know when to stop gabbing
Selling representatives regularly talk themselves out of sales because they don’t know when to stop flapping their gums.
My father used to remind me of this constantly, and he probably got the advice from his father, who was also a master of sales. It was true 60 years ago, and it will still be true 60 years from now.
Instead of doing all the chatter, be a good listener. After hearing the other person out, communicate using an honest give-and-take rhythm. And never overpromise and underdeliver—that’s a surefire way to lose trust in a hurry.
3. Encourage team members’ advocacy
Even if an employee on your team isn’t technically in sales, he or she should be expected to advocate for your brand. Whenever team members talk about the company’s services and products, they need to maintain a positive, forthright approach.
Those who follow this rule will start to gain a sense of ownership, which is good for morale, engagement, and bottom lines. Organizations that invest in their employee experience and company culture are around four times as profitable as those that don’t.
4. Practice makes perfect
Have you noticed that your sales team members rely too much on texts or emails to connect with prospects? They might not have learned to conduct sales any other way.
Consider practicing sales meetings and dialogue on a regular basis, or hire a consultant to help develop the people skills that might be missing in your crew. Many younger salespeople are unfamiliar with more conventional sales styles, and educating them can help move them from so-so to super performers.
It’s fine to use technology to streamline sales. At the same time, don’t give up on the notion of including face-to-face efforts in your overall sales process. Sometimes, an in-person meeting is the only way to cut through the clutter and differentiate your business from the rest.