Three essentials needed by those selling into technical markets:
1/ Technical knowledge
2/ Training/Coaching in Technical Sales
3/ Motivation & self-belief
Why is technical sales training and coaching so essential?
Managers will notice a lack of confidence in those new to technical sales, and sometimes even in those who have been selling in technical markets for some time.
Lack of confidence results in reduced motivation. Less motivated salespeople will under-perform. Under-performance limits success, reducing self-belief, and so confidence dips further. This results in reduced productivity and profitability.
Likewise, the converse is true. Help in the form of training and coaching in technical knowledge and selling skills for technical markets will boost confidence, motivate and ensure more and faster success.
I remember clearly the time when I was a new sales engineer. I knew that my technical knowledge was good, but not yet complete. My confidence in selling was very low, likewise my self-belief that I was any good at selling (although I never let on!). Clearly, my bosses had seen more in me than I had; they had more belief and confidence that I would be successful. If I had thought of this I may have grown more quickly in the job.
A little sales training was offered and taken, but this was very general and did not address the specific issues met when selling in technical markets. My technical knowledge was built on the job with frequent returns to the engineering lab for help and advice. Mostly, I learned on the job.
The perceived wisdom is that for any new salesperson it would take at least a year, possibly two to become cost effective and profitable.
What if you could reduce that ‘delayed profitability’ significantly? What if it took just a few months rather than a year or two? Wouldn’t that result in more profitable sales, and faster?
Reducing the delay by nine months to a year would make a substantial difference to the number and value of the sales achieved. What extra value would that be? An extra 20 or 30% of sales from that person? It could be more. Put a value on that percentage. Would it not make sense to invest a little now to reap faster and larger turnover?
They say that the average time that a good salesperson stays with one company is no more than 2-3 years. Without training or coaching, the time when experience starts to make them profitable can be 18 months to 2 years. They may just have become profitable to you when they decide to move on. With good, tailored training, you could extend that profitable time by up to a year. Now THAT IS worth the investment!
Motivation, self-belief and self-confidence come from experience and from support. Experience takes time, but support in the form of training and coaching makes a significant difference by shortening personal development and bringing forward success.
Training and coaching result in more knowledge, skills and confidence. And hence more sales.
a good question…..
training a sales team from Samsung recently, I was asked a question which
prompted a lot of thought and soul searching.
I was able to answer it, but was the answer just too easy?
question? Where does an ethical sales
person ‘draw the line’?
answer is simple, and quite straight forward: ‘wherever your conscience lets
you draw the line’. This is obvious,
clear and fits all. However, is it a
example given by the team member was of a potential customer who used their own
‘pressure buying’ techniques that quickly strayed into bullying; the Genghis
Kahn school of negotiation. Apparently,
the buyer would throw his pen onto the table and demand loudly that they accept
his terms or get out. Other tactics of
similar aggressive and intimidating nature were used. Unfortunately, the team member, while an
experienced sales person, was not able to walk out on the negotiations as he
had been instructed to pursue the business and to win it. Would YOU sit there and take that abuse?
He had my sympathy. Most experienced sales people have had situations of similar severe discomfort. While the buyer rants, raves and threatens, you are sat there wrestling with your own conscience and professionalism. What are your options?
are many as every situation is different and requires some ‘thinking-on-your-feet’.
I describe the two extremes and an ideal.
1/ Fight back? This is the most satisfying. Potentially it can gain respect from the
buyer and a mutually beneficial solution could be possible. However, it is extremely risky, as it may escalate the emotions and temper to the
point where errors are made, opportunities are lost, and things are said that
should never be said by true professionals.
Are you reducing your own standards by lowering yourself to their
2/ ‘Take it on the chin’;
in other words, sit there and use silence or passive resistance as your main
tool of defense. This is a very
professional approach that will make the buyers behavior seem very childish and
clearly bullying in comparison. However,
there is also the risk that they will then take your reluctance to engage in a
fight as weakness and assume their argument has been won.
3/ A carefully judged balance between the two,
whereby you respond to aggressive posturing with a firm insistence and repeated
‘no’. Your volume would be higher than
usual but less than theirs; maintain eye-contact as much as possible; your
words would again be professional, but your manner should show you standing
firm but being fair. Consistency,
professionalism, repetition and firmness are needed, with a clear message that
you will not be intimidated.
salesman was strong and held his ground as best he could. Give-in to a bully and they will always bully
you. If you cannot work with them, and
you have the authority, you can walk away, but do not let them win.
it is up to you and your conscience. Sometimes it may be a balance between needs
and conscience. Apply your own positive,
firm approach but do your best not give in to intimidation. When you can,
retain the moral ‘high ground’ and give little away. No-one likes a bully, and it is a great shame
that some believe this is the way to behave in modern society. However, one cannot deny that they still
exist, and we must deal with them while achieving our objectives AND remaining
Are you attractive?
Whoever said ‘you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression’ made a very important observation.
Even if we consider ourselves open-minded and non-judgemental, sometimes we cannot help ourselves. We can simply look at a person and decide they are not the sort with whom we could work, or who are not the type to want what we are offering.
We all know not to ‘judge a book by its cover’, but the sub-conscious is very powerful and can even over-ride our rational and fair approach to engaging with strangers. Our subconscious makes around 70% of our decisions for us, compared with the rational thought processes that achieve just 30%.
If someone does not look right, act right, say the right things, even dress the right way, then our subconscious will sense this mismatch, this discomfort, and will develop persuasive arguments not to engage with them. They will not succeed in attracting us to their business.
So, we must try and avoid allowing our subconscious to take over in this way. We should remember that everyone has a story to tell; an experience to share. Never judge a book by its cover!
The other side of this ‘coin’ is just as important. Whoever we are and however we wish to present ourselves, are we succeeding in attracting as many prospects as possible? Do WE look right, do we say the right things, do we act as we should? In short, does the way we present ourselves meet or exceed our prospects’ expectations? If the answer is ‘no’ then we risk undermining our sales proposition before we have even made contact!
We should consider how others see us; it does matter! Personal presentation matters, and if we get it right, we have the best chance of impressing our prospective customers with our products or services. If we get it wrong, success is far less likely.
If you are interested in hearing more about this and how to attract more business, register for the Salient Workshop ‘The 5 Powers of Attraction’ click on this link:Salient Events.
It has to be said, I am sorry, but it does have to be said.
Brexit has made a difference and will make further differences to business.
Things are changing and there are more changes to come.
But, I am not one of the doom-mongers as I believe it offers us interesting and useful opportunities. I say ‘offers’ as it is up to us whether we take those opportunities or sit back and just hope.
Whatever happens there will be change, and we need to be prepared as best we can. But prepared for what? I believe there are four indisputable facts:
- Brexit will happen!
- Markets will change
- There will be greater focus on domestic markets
- We will find ourselves competing with more UK companies as larger providers seek to replace off-shore business.
This is what happened to Salient in the last 18 months:
- Five larger prospects, (£1M turnover+), were reasonably secure in my sales pipeline.
- As the Brexit vote loomed, happened, and shocked the markets, these five companies retreated, not wishing to ‘spend money when the market was so unpredictable.’
- My cash-flow forecast dropped considerably!
- I initiated my contingency, my Plan B, and targeted the smaller businesses that tend to ‘get on with it’ no matter what the market is doing.
- I had to replace one large opportunity with ten smaller ones.
- It was successful, and I have now progressed to Plan C where I develop the new smaller company market, while attracting new larger opportunities.
But what of the larger companies? What will they do in this Brexit uncertainty?
I believe they will do very much as I did and look to smaller domestic markets to fill the gap in their turnover.
In other words, those who rely on domestic markets for the majority of their turnover will start to find more competition from larger suppliers.
There is another side to this. Those seeking your products or services are less likely to look off-shore for suppliers as these are likely to become more costly. Therefore, they will actively seek domestic suppliers. It could be you, if you are ready! Another point is that if they previously sourced from larger companies, they are likely to spend more than your present customers.
To summarise, this could mean for your business:
- New domestic markets are likely to open up
- Competition will increase for home-grown opportunities.
- The new opportunities have different expectations and spending levels
Are you ready?
Is your sales team and/or your sales process the best it can be?
Your sales effort needs to be at its best; sharp; focussed; forward-thinking.
Don’t miss the boat.
If you fail to address this, others will get there first and will win the lion’s share of the new opportunities.
If you are successful in this, your business growth could be double what you would anticipate for 2018.
If you would like to discuss your experiences of this, please be in touch; call or email Andy
What does summer mean to your business?
What does THIS summer mean to your business?
Are you expecting a rush of new business to come to you? Perhaps other businesses want to invest in you before the markets change, which will happen inevitably.
Or, are you expecting the normal summer lull to be worse than in previous years as, following ‘Brexit’, your customers are being cautious with their investments?
Perhaps you have the type of business which is not seasonal AND is resilient to change in the markets.
In most cases, businesses are expecting some form of downturn or lull in the coming months. I believe, with careful handling, the pace of change is likely to be slow enough that the markets will not suffer greatly and businesses will become cautiously optimistic over the coming months. I think WE MUST be optimistic of a favourable outcome. If we are not, then we should give up now, and that approach is not for us!
So, the old adage ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ could never be more appropriate.
In every lull there is a need to fill the ‘spare’ time or effort with profitable activities. What better way to fill the time than by training and coaching yourselves or your team to perform significantly better? When markets start to improve again, for whatever reason, you can then hit the ground running with new knowledge and skills that will help your business to outperform all others.
Reinforcing skills and discovering new ideas and strategies can only make a positive difference to your sales growth and build your business during difficult times.
July and August are the ideal times to improve your skills and your performance. There will then be time to apply your new skills and boost your end-of-year figures.
Is that not worth the investment?
Click HERE for a REAL INCENTIVE to book some training.