Clearly, sales offers the lifeblood for any business — it’s the ongoing pipeline that not only drives revenue (of course), but also frequently generates new product insights. So why do many business leaders sell “sales” incorrectly?
According to the Harvard Business Review, sales skills are imperative in almost every endeavor and for every role — even, say, managers in operations, customer support or even legal or HR. Business leadership needs to reframe that to view sales as an approach that supplies a genuine need or solves a real problem.
Sales Fulfills Needs and Solves Problems
The piece also helps leaders understand a key responsibility: How to communicate the importance of maintaining a “sales” mentality no matter where one sits in the organization. One tip: Communicate the fact that sales involves two components — Supplying a need and solving a problem. Business leaders shouldn’t position sales as as paying calls on clients or making presentations. Reframe it. Then, use the following principles.
One. Research and Understand the Problem or Need
Ideas are great, but don’t rely solely on one’s own idea — instead, strong employees use their ideas as launchpads to gather more insights and generate creative solutions. Tips include: Research the situation, its context, available solutions, and what the idea requires for fulfillment. Devote time to understanding all dimensions of the business strategy problems and how the need fulfillment/problem solution would work. Anticipate objections – and research those, too.
Senior managers should reposition sales — the approach and psychology
Two. Prepare for Rejection
Being prepared for rejection is a mental state any successful salesperson needs to adopt. Even the most successful salespeople strike out more often than they hit a home run – or even get to first base. Good leaders should include personal failures as examples. The message: Rejection is not personal, and can happen for a number of reasons, from the current climate of opinion to profits to personalities within the organization. The key: Learn from rejection, but stay positive.
In fact, that’s what a 2016 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found. The study is titled “Explanatory style as a predictor of productivity and quitting among life insurance sales agents.” It concludes: These 2 studies support the claim that a pessimistic explanatory style leads to poor productivity and quitting when bad events are experienced.”
Three. Practice Makes Perfect
For employees who lack confidence, create training opportunities where they can practice with — and learn from — trusted advisors.
Four. Listen to Your Clients
Remind people to listen. The best salespeople (indeed, the best leaders, too) listen carefully to their clients. If a product, service, or idea isn’t working or could use a new development, they incorporate that information in reports back to their company. This supports the concept that senior managers should sell “sales” differently. It’s a way not only to help clients, but also the company itself.
Five. Forget the Scorecard — Think “Next Steps”
Like any relationship, sales is about building. Business leaders often rely on scorecards — a useful measurement device, but often used as a crutch. If the only thing that matters is the immediate sale, the incentive is to push… and push and push. Instead, leaders should incorporate “Next Steps” into the metrics scorecard. That’s a better way to align incentives. .