Sales and Marketing
Increasing Sales Effectiveness
In an increasingly competitive world, an effective salesperson (no matter what they may be trying to sell) needs a wide variety of skills and competencies in order to be successful. These skills include the ability to appreciate customer needs and expectations, listen attentively, be analytical, problem solve, handle objections and even complaints, communicate and present effectively, show personal warmth and empathy, demonstrate tenacity and self-motivation, be well organized and resourceful and many other attributes. Not only is this list of competencies a long one, but the skills needed are likely to vary in the four major phases of the sales cycle – these are when a salesperson is prospecting, negotiating the sale, closing or providing follow up service.
Extensive international research in recent years has clearly demonstrated that a number of core competencies have been critical in every phase of the sales process. In total, seven categories have been identified, and these are as follows:
Temperament/Disposition: This looks at a salesperson’s internal want or desire to find value and enjoyment through his/her relationships with other people in general and also looks at how ‘comfortable’ the individual is in being in a sales situation. This competency category asks the question of the sales person: “How well do you operate on an open, “information sharing” basis with old and new sales contacts around you?”
Organizational Skills: This looks at how well a salesperson uses organizational and prioritization systems to efficiently and successfully sell to his/her sales contacts or prospects. This competency category asks the question of the sales person: “How effectively do you organize yourself and the information you gather about people to which you intend to sell in order to maximize your chances of success?”
Active Listening Skills: This describes how well a salesperson listens to, and successfully processes his/her sales prospect’s or customer’s messages (both verbal and non-verbal) before he/she responds. This competency category asks the question of the sales person: “How attentive or empathetic are your listening habits in ensuring that you’ve fully appreciated the customer’s entire communication?”
Communication Skills: This describes at the extent to which a salesperson listens and feeds back to his/her contacts in order to build the quality and depth of all of his/her sales relationships. This competency category asks the question of the sales person: “How effectively do you give and receive from your sales contact network in order to establish efficient communication channels?”
Relationship Nurturing Ability: This describes the extent to which a salesperson sincerely and enthusiastically invests his or her time and effort into building and growing his/her relationships with his/her sales contacts. This competency category asks the question of the sales person: “How well do you nurture your relationships with your contacts and prospective customers so as to develop high levels of warmth, empathy and mutual trust?”
Exceeding Customer Expectations: This describes the extent to which a salesperson has an environmental radar’ tuned to the economy, competitors, the market and customers to guide their day-to-day actions. This competency category asks the question of the sales person: “How well do you listen to external sources of information, and work across functions, departments and teams to help offer sales service excellence to your customers?”
Drive and Persistence: This describes at the extent to which a salesperson’s sales contact relationship building efforts remain constant and relentless through obstacles and time. This competency category asks the question of the sales person: “With how much tenacity do you develop your personal sales network and drive hard towards better outcomes through people?”
A small percentage of sales people will rate extremely highly in all of the above competency categories. However, for the vast majority, they may only be strong in a few of these and therefore need to focus time and attention on becoming more effective where the greatest need for development exists. A self-assessment (or 180 degree assessment with a boss perhaps) is therefore a good place to start and this is made easy by using the online sales effectiveness profile which not only provides the detailed data in each of the above categories but also provides a rich interpretive report and coaching/training tips which every individual can learn from.