I’ve done sales for a few years before moving into more strategic role in marketing. I’ve sold cookies in door-to-door sales job, tried and sold few jars of chocolates from table-to-table, sold investment packages from cold calling, sold training programs from cold calling, designing sales incentives scheme, set up and run sales processes, office-to-office selling and I am currently selling my own book on marketing and consulting on the business strategies area.
Along the way, I have managed a number of sales people and groups. I think until today I have the mindset of selling and because I am currently doing a lot of idea-selling. My stakeholders are people like you, my partners, customers, potential investors and sometimes to my wife. It is very important to know how to sell your ideas because if you don’t, your life is going to be very boring.
But as a salesman or sometimes people call it marketing executive (though I disagree with the actual meaning of marketing executive!), there are some pertinent and must have skills to at least give you the comfort and some sort like a guarantee so you can be a better salesman or marketing people. The skills mentioned are uniquely yours but it can be learned from other people like me, but the performance of it is dependent on you. Let’s begin.
1. Cold Calling
Yeah…this skill is as cold as the ice when you first heard it. But to convince you, salesman that cannot make cold calls will not make any sale. Trust me! If you have done cold call, you will agree what I am about to say after this. “Cold call breaks the ice and heightened my confidence to make my first step and subsequently my first sale!” Agree?
It can come in many forms. One is calling from a “cold-list” you receive from your supervisor. Another is to go from office-to-office setting appointments. Thirdly is meeting people at your booth during exhibition, fourthly you are given fliers and you need to pass it around and convince people to buy, finally convince your close friends about what you do. How to do it? Start it and delay no more.
2. Presentation Skill
This skill is a must have for anyone in this century. It used to be difficult to learn and some say it’s a born talent. But honestly speaking I think this skill is acquirable and can be duplicated quite easily. There are a lot of books and training programs that teach how to have a better presentation skill. I was born as a very shy boy and timid. Now, many said I talked too much!
The boom of presenters in this era has made salesman / marketing people job more competitive. But remember, it is not enough to just talk and parroting. You need to have solid content and know what you are talking about. That’s where you can carve an edge and make a difference. Grab a book or Google on presentation skill.
Usually when you listen, it means you are focusing on the other person and not keep on talking. Many salesman claimed to be listening, but they keep loading you with a lot of brochures and information about their products from all over directions. Sometimes in some customers, your product or service just doesn’t fit their needs. It is best to move on and do it peacefully.
I have seen salesman where when get rejected, they stopped smiling and that face that I loathe. This is because it quickly tells me that the person don’t really care about you and was never paying attention to what customers needs are. This listening skill is so important because it separates you from other salesman. But there is a caveat, by listening you are actually extend the sales cycle a little bit longer. Nonetheless when it comes, it lasts.
Yes, this is a skill. As a salesman or marketing executive, there are 2 numbers that are quite flexible as a salesman. One is target and another is price, one for you and one for the customer. The purpose is to make the sales happen so we set target and price so with these numbers we can multiply it to make our commission. Some sales people are overly engrossed with the numbers and they blind with other things. They started hard sell, curse sell and end not selling but pushing.
I’ve experienced a customer that really doesn’t have the budget to buy training program that I was selling. I asked them, “What if I convince my boss that you can pay by instalment?”, he said OK. But I have a request, “You need to give me 5 participants and all of them on instalment with 30% deposits, at least I can show your commitment.” Fantastic?
5. Sense of Humour
This too is a skill. I don’t mean making fool of yourself or clowning. You do this by relating it to your customer. Humour ease up tense situation and makes it better to talk about something heavier after few doses of humour. It also can be in many forms, based on my experience.
I once sent a birthday card to a high profile CEO (but a customer) with a napkin in it. He called me and asked why did it put a napkin in his birthday card? I told him that I would like to invite him for a dinner for his birthday and some business discussions. We had dinner and we resolved few issues on the business side. I really suggest you to look into humour in your sales team and it would be better if you can plan it. Especially to some clients you have forgotten.:P
Knowledge develops over time but my experience tells me that you can accelerate knowledge. As if you can scoop it and build a mountain after many scoops. Yes you can! But you need to sacrifice a little bit because you got to do a lot of reading, further your study, mix with more people, attend social events, take time to travel the world, go to seminar that you never plan to go and say hi to as many people as you can. Because when you do all these, you will quickly get over your shortcomings and gained from the experience.
There are 2 types of knowledge. One is the social knowledge which is about socializing with people and another is professional knowledge. The first one is quite natural when you are in the business. The later is more important in the long run as a salesman or marketing people because as years go by you need to convince more people about yourself more than what you are selling. You need their trust and that trust will do the selling.
This differentiates you from “just a salesman” and “D salesman”. I have a friend whom at the age of 50 years old he is still a waiter. I asked him, “Aren’t you want to be promoted as a manager perhaps at this age?”, his reply was, “I can’t come late if I am a manager and I don’t think I can live with that.” In short this uncle loves to come late to work!
Unless you decide to be “just a salesman”, then you can throw discipline out the window. Discipline will take your further and give you a career than just a job. Salesman job is a key path to greater management position if done with solid discipline, persistence and consistency. Discipline also will help you become more organize and improves productivity. Wouldn’t you be interested to earn more and drive a better car some day?
8. Closing Technique
This skill makes almost all salesmen nervous. Whenever I am training a group of salesman, this question is a must-ask and I have a standard reply for this, “How do you normally do it?”. There are various closing techniques but I recommend you to observe the closing that earned you business and didn’t give you business. Sometimes it’s not in the closing, its your personality.
But there are few phrases that you can use to close. Such as, “Is there anything else that I can help you with, When can I send you the first order, Who would be receiving this delivery, Can you hand me the document first, Would you like to just try for 1 week see if you are happy with it, Perhaps I can give you a test drive, If I can solve your money problem would you buy from me” and so on. Note down your powerful closing so you can repeat (or milk it!) over and over again.
To conclude, the above skills are easily acquirable and proven to be the success factors for many corporate leaders. Many of them also are from sales and marketing, therefore i urge you not to feel intimidated by being a salesman or marketing executive. It indeed the greatest job on earth because it can certainly give you greater mileage. You follow?