‘Sales’ has often been perceived as a dirty word: unprofessional and unloved. Salespeople have typically brought this upon themselves by trying to follow a traditional sales model – ask the prospect lots of open ended questions, show them a value-added solution, go for the close, don’t let the prospect say ‘no’ and get the best deal you can. To be a doctor, teacher or accountant you had to spend years learning your trade – to be a salesperson you needed a yellow pages and a telephone. Anyone could do it, right? Wrong. Companies would invest in the odd sales workshop or two-day seminar but it was focused on giving the salesperson some ‘techniques’ they can use in the sales process to win a deal. We’ve all had the ‘do you want that Tuesday or Friday’? or ‘the price goes up on Monday’ close.
But buyers have learnt how to deal with all these techniques, causing extended sales cycles and many companies dropping prices too much to win a deal.
At Sandler, we teach a salesperson to ask the right questions. We believe sales is a valuable profession and salespeople should be treated as such. Think of this – when did a salesperson last turn around and say, ‘I don’t think you should buy this from us’? Because they’re targeted on hitting those all-important sales targets without giving considering the clients’ real needs. By elevating the salesperson into a peer-to-peer relationship with their prospect, it becomes much easier for both parties to say no and walk-away when it’s not right for either party. Having a healthy pipeline full of real prospects – the ones who want what you do, can afford it and have a serious buying decision to make, is much better than filling the pipeline with hundreds of false deals that are never going to close – just to look like you’re hitting your numbers.
As buying habits continue to change, companies have to adapt their messages to resonate with a different audience. Saying ‘we deliver great customer service and always believe in an honest and transparent service,’ doesn’t invoke any emotion in the buyer. Let’s face it, who ever said, ‘we deliver terrible customer service and always lie to you!’ Sales messages should focus on the prospect and answer the perennial question: ‘Is what this person does relevant to me?’ Companies stuck in the traditional sales method are going to be forced to compete on price. Companies who invest in training their sales force to uncover the real reason people buy from them will be able to grow their business in an accelerated manner with more of the better clients and fewer of the bad ones.
1999-2000 – Sales and marketing consultant, Seddon Atkinson Vehicles
2000–2002 – Mortgage Advisor, Chelsea Building Society
2002-2003 – Freight account manager, Kuehne + Nagel
2007-2008 – Business development manager, Connaught PLC
2003-2011 – Manager, Hays
2012 – 2015 – Managing Director, Cooper Vance Recruitment
2015 – Managing Director, Sandler Training