Generating profitable sales is the most important aspect of running any business.
Without sales, revenue cannot be generated to pay the wages or fund the business and the business fails. Having great sales people in your business is a tremendous asset and can be the key difference in difficult times.
Sometimes sales people get good at their jobs and think to themselves ‘business is good, I can sit back and relax a little because I’m hitting my numbers and my customers think I am doing ok’.
This attitude can be called the ‘curse of competence’ a syndrome that leads potentially great sales people to complacency. They go through their business lives in cruise control doing only what’s necessary.
The reason that these ‘good’ sales people don’t become ‘great’ sales people is because they get satisfied. Then they settle, then they start to slide, and then they start to go backwards, dwelling on mediocrity.
As Jim Collins said in his terrific book ‘Good to Great’, Good is the enemy of Great. This attitude can be acceptable when business is easy. When demand is flowing and the customers are not too demanding.
However, in tougher times truly great sales people rise to the fore. These are the ones who have a need to produce results.
They do whatever has to be done… whatever it takes. They are self motivated by an inner drive to produce the best results and create something great.
They practice and prepare. They combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of hard work and entrepreneurship that drives them onto the next level.
Passion is the spark that ignites performance, whether in business or sport. It defines purpose, gets you going and keeps you running so that you can be great. When you are passionate, you have an incurable need to produce results. Jim Collins defines passion as ‘an unwavering resolve to do what must be done’.
But how can you spot or create that passion to create a great sales person in your Features > Business, or even become a great sales person yourself?
First, great sales people differentiate themselves. They make sure they are not treated by their employers or their customers as a commodity. They recognise that you have to sell on value, customer service, delivery and will want to develop a long-term relationship with customers.
Why shouldn’t sales people be commodities? Simple really, because you can buy commodities at the click of a mouse. Good sales people are not clerks or order takers selling a product just because it is cheap.
They recognise the value of service and expertise and the customer begins to rely on and need these sales people. They become a professional consultant creating a long-term relationship and more value with their customer for both businesses.
But remember that to be the best requires continual improvement. The best sales people know the products and services they sell better than anyone else, they know the customers and their know processes better than they know themselves.
They do this by asking questions, then they ask some more and then ask another one. They want to learn more about their customer, the product and themselves.
Great sales people develop a firm persuasion, a sense of dedication and commitment to their chosen work. They’re not satisfied with basic competence. They see work as a commitment to continually learning new things that will make them even better than they were last year and a step closer to being as good as they will be next year.
Great sales people keep businesses in business. So if you’re an employer looking to cut costs remember that the sales organisation will be the first part of your business to recognise an upturn and your greatest sales people will be leading the fight to survive.