By Guy Swan (LimeTree Online)
Everyone is different. Our differences are what add color to the rich fabric of life. If we were all the same, the world we live in would be very bland indeed. But can our variations in characteristics affect our selling ability?
As Colleen Stanley mentioned in her article, a sales position may not have been your chosen profession, but there is nothing stopping you from being great at it. And I am a strong believer in knowing yourself, as it is only then you can harness your strengths, and improve your weaknesses, to optimize your sales performance.
There are many tools available in this day and age to help you improve. Yet the best starting block would be to have your existing skills assessed. People tend to be naturally competent in many of the 5 core sales skills, but not all of them. Understanding where your strengths lie can help focus your sales approach, and cognizance of your weaknesses will only help to improve on them as you progress.
A brief breakdown of these 5 disciplines are:
Business Skills – embodying your company and product offerings in a professional manner.
Engaging the Customer – initiating the right conversation to identify their needs.
Customer Contact – generating customer interest in your product.
Information and Activity – planning and organisation, CRM and achieving sales targets.
Negotiating and Closing – influencing customer expectations, overcoming objection and sealing the deal.
Each of the 5 disciplines are further broken down into skills that can be individually assessed. Most of us are naturally competent at most of those skills, such as prospecting, communication and negotiation.
Yet research has indicated that certain skills that are essential to sales are not necessarily prominent in the industry. Participants surveyed yielded surprising results, especially when it came to engaging the customer and negotiating and closing, typically regarded as key to closing a deal.
Law of Averages
Understandably, customer contact ranked highest among salespeople. A respectable 57% of salespeople are capable of spotting opportunity when engaging with customers, with 61% asking adequate probing questions to identify their needs.
And worryingly, skills started to deteriorate closer to the end of the sales cycle, as engaging the customer was scored lowest. Knowing the competition ranked lowest among salespeople in the survey, with 73% unfamiliar of the other products available. Which corresponds directly with 64% of them not fully understanding their customers needs.
And lastly on to the critical step – negotiating and closing. Despite 1 in 10 being expert at negotiating, half the salespeople surveyed were not strong at objection handling, and more than half could not properly influence the customers expectations. These weak attributes could potentially have detrimental impacts on their overall sales performance.
What does this mean to you?
Assumption is the enemy. Thinking you know your level of ability of these skills could quietly restrict your performance. By completing a simple online assessment you can determine your skills competency levels and compare them to your company, your industry, or even a national average. This will help identify focus areas for either self-improvement or company training, and improve overall sales performance.
Guy Swan – a Sales Executive from London based digital marketing agency LimeTree Online – enjoys writing about sales trends and ways to improve online sales success. To view more on the Sales Skills Audit, visit www.salesassessment.com/