This blog is the result of constant badgering by my sales team, when I was P&L head of a CPG startup business in Africa, from 2007 till 2011.
My senior sales managers would hound me to “extract” every bit of knowledge to comprehend the elements that ensure “sure shot” success…
I was exasperated to the point of repeating myself a thousand times that …guys there is no simple mantra for sales success…a fast paced , dynamic business eco-system means that us folks in the field have to evolve into super smart, super flexible , quick thinking and quicker acting professionals and to leverage our basic selling skills to close our deals successfully.
BUT…on closer introspection, it was apparent that there were some basic fundamental rules that governed sales success across business eco-systems, irrespective of how the economy was today and what it will evolve into, tomorrow.
Here is my take on what I believe are the 10 ( dare is say immutable ) rules for sales success!
- RULE #1: Have a sales philosophy that emphasizes relationship building.
Relationship building skills, with customers, both internal ( your boss, his boss, the production head, the finance head, the CFO, the account head, the logistics head etc) and external, is MOST CRUCIAL to your sales success. Imbibe this skills, work on it life long, and leverage it strategically and you will succeed.
- RULE #2: Value the relationship more than making your quota.
Work on your relationship management and development skills- relationships last you a life time, and they are PRECIOUS in sales- take it from me, I have 18 years selling experience in some very inhospitable business environments, and succeeding against all odds!
- RULE #3: Consider yourself and your firm as the best at what you do.
Be proud of what you have achieved as a sales professional and you will have generated positive aura around yourself. MOST important, believe that the firm that has employed you IS THE BEST IN ITS CLASS AND CATEGORY…( even if the CNN, WSJ rankings tell you otherwise!!). You have to sincerely believe , that you are a game changer, a winner and best in class performer, and once you have taken this route, your firm will automatically be the best place there ever was! Winning can be positive and infectious ….
- RULE #4: Achieve a perfect job of delivering what you promised.
Perfection comes from life learning, constant improvements and practical application in different challenges that you address as a sales rep every day. Practice makes perfect, and perfection ensures that your delivery is first class every time.
- RULE #5: Provide absolutely impeccable service after the sale.
After sales service is the success mantra of every product or service based business, BUT many times, that level of service after sale, that the client expects , is wanting. Learn to pick the slack on behalf of your other team members, and go the extra mile to serve your client , even at your own cost- not only would you have created genuine opportunity for customer delight, BUT would have served your firm well!! The satisfaction that you would have achieved after this would be worth many awards!
- RULE #6: Help the customer build the customer’s own business.
Go beyond selling a simple product or the service- consciously evolve into a solutions sales specialist, who is able to work in a matrix, complex organization, and develop the sensitivity and perspective to understand FIRST from the customers point of view, BEFORE getting headlong into a sales pitch- believe me , all traditional businesses in B2B and B2C can be valued added for your client as a “solution” and not simply as a product or a service- do this , and you will have a client and customer for life.
- RULE #7: Think end-of-time friendships not end-of-month totals.
Go back to Rule # 2, Relationships, first, then evolved to a life long friendship, if you implement Rule # 6. When your clients ( both internal as well external) see how you are different from the rest of the sales team, are able to think out of box, are analytical , as opposed to simply quota driven and commission driven, YOU ensure your longevity in the firm! mark my words…
- RULE #8: Define your niche and position yourself as the expert.
Regularly conduct critical self assessment, based on what your career plans are, and see that in the context of current business eco-systems, as also the predicted and likely business eco-systems of the future. Read deep and read well and talk to those who have been in your field of work long before you ever thought of working in sales, pick on their brains, learn from them, and re invent yourself with the changing times- you would not have to call your self an expert, your clients, and peers will!!
- RULE #9: Translate what you offer into the customer’s business results.
Again, evolve into a solutions sales professional as opposed to a quota driven sales jock- understand the value that your product or service currently offers its clientele, assess that offer versus your competitors and replacements, analyse, yours firms comparative and competitive advantages, and use that insight to re-define the offer to your client, ensuring that you peg that offer directly to your clients business results ( increase in profit , by reducing up front cost, as also total cost of ownership over a life time!!)- get your number crunching skills upto speed and you would be well on your way to the sales hall of fame!
- RULE #10: Remember that the road to success is paved with setbacks.
There is no sure shot to success that will not have a setback or two- setbacks are like wake up calls, and the mature sales rep will learn from that episode, imbibe into his system, and develop the capability to NEVER REPEAT THAT mistake twice. The less repetition you have in your career, the more likely you are to succeed as a sales star!!