It’s a fair assertion that the very best CEOs are highly persuasive and consistently win big. When you consider the fact that many started their careers in sales teams, then it’s no surprise, and securing those crucial deals is the ideal way to quickly make one’s mark on an organisation. So, what traits do the most successful sales leaders possess and how are these relevant to the role of CEO?
David Freedman, Director of Sales at leading sales and negotiation specialists, Huthwaite International, the team behind the world-famous SPIN® Selling, explores these in more depth
Trait 1: sending the right message
You might have the best product on the market and use all the latest industry jargon to sell it, but if you don’t look the part, your sales are likely going to stagnate. Prospects want to do business with a professional, and one’s interpretation of ‘professional’ includes the look. Clearly, this changes from industry to industry, but dishevelled clothing, poorly prepared notes and other indicators of a salesperson in a rush can mean that even the most effective persuasion techniques are ignored. Acting desperate and like you need this sale will automatically put you on the back foot and give your buyer the upper hand to strike a better deal. It’s also worth noting that high-pressure tactics don’t work nearly as well for long term sales, than a more considered approach that builds on your core values and is centred on trust.
Trait 2: focusing on building a rapport
While we are on the topic of trust, the most successful leaders are mindful of the age-old sales saying – ‘people don’t buy products, they buy a person’. Trust is the cornerstone of deal making in any market, and the bedrock of all sales leader’s techniques. By building a rapport with their prospects and clients, sales are sure to follow. Nurture leads, so if a prospect feels the seller is listening to their needs and are willing to make a contribution to their business – in turn they will invest in them as a person.
Trait 3: pointing out the differentiators
All sales people looking for new persuasion techniques have heard that it’s the sizzle, not the steak, that leads to a deal. The key is understanding that the sizzle is in the differentiators, what makes a product or service better, faster, more desirable than its competitions? The sales leader’s task is to identify these ‘sizzles’ and sell based on how this will build and positively impact their prospect’s business.Looking at what and how they can improve their client’s current service and product and how it will impact on their bottom line is a sure way to secure that deal.
Trait 4: building a sense of urgency
Urgency is one of the most important sales persuasion techniques because it works.
However, sales persuasion techniques based on urgency don’t need to involve pressure and clear-cut deadlines to be effective; even implying that a deal that closes before you leave a pitch could somehow be better than a deal that closes next week, can build the urgency needed to make sales in record time without being viewed as pushy, or as referenced earlier ‘desperate’.
Trait 5: leading prospects to a sale
Many sales people use the wrong approach, telling prospects what they believes the prospect wants to hear. Asking persuasive questions can make the prospect decide on a purchase on their own. Questions like: ‘Do you need a product that works quickly or a product that takes time?’ or ‘would you like to use monthly payments or annual financing?’ are known as double binds, and can be very effective sales persuasion techniques.
Listening to the client talk about the product and identifying needs and areas of focus is vastly underrated. This information can then be used to help persuade the client that your product will help their business.
Trait 6: asking for the business
Even for top sales people, direct sales persuasion techniques are difficult to master. Psychologically, it is difficult to come out and ask, ‘so when will you take delivery?’ or ‘can I count on your signature?’ Yet a sales person who doesn’t ask these questions when appropriate will see sales slipping through their fingers at the last minute. The sales professional that masters the art of asking for the business, will see their sales numbers improve almost overnight.
What’s important to remember is that all these sales skills – the skills used by the very top sales professionals – are transferable. For the ambitious executive rising through the ranks of an organisation, core skills like building rapport, persuasive communication and the ability to identify differentiators are just as crucial at the very top, as they are in a sales team, whether it’s dealing with staff, stakeholders, investors or peers.
If you want to hear more about how Huthwaite International can help your sales team increase business revenue, contact [email protected]