Many people think the key to success in sales is having a great sense of humour, being able to chit-chat comfortably, and negotiating to the right price. In truth, telling jokes, chatting non-stop, and “throwing in a freebie” is what often gives salespeople the reputation for being pushy or untrustworthy. The truth is, getting ahead in a sales career takes knowledge, skill, and years of practice. Let’s consider the real ways that you are sure to get ahead in your sales career.
1. Accept Constructive Criticism
The ability to take feedback and use it to improve is what separates the good from the great. Combining your skills with the wisdom of other successful sales people is what will enable you to become a master of your craft.
Accepting constructive criticism is something you should do at all stages in your career. As a junior salesperson, you’ll want to learn best practices from other more knowledgeable reps. However, as time goes on, trends, best practices, and new technologies may change. The more you strive to adapt and improve, the better you will be.
2. Strong Communication
The truth is that some people are just better at communicating than others. The good news is that communication is not an innate skill, and it is possible to get better. For sales careers, it’s important that you are comfortable talking to a room full of people. If speaking to a crowd causes you to become nervous, try taking storytelling or speech courses.
You can also practice your sales pitch with a colleague or manager, and have them provide feedback on areas that needed improvement. It may help to record these sessions so that you can watch yourself later and identify areas where you were not communicating clearly.
3. Get to the Point
This pitfall is related to good communication, but is important enough to address on its own. People are time strapped, and, while there could be several people involved in your sales cycle, as individuals they usually end up making decisions based on a limited amount of information. This means that you need to make sure each stakeholder gets the most critical information. Try preparing a written version of the key points you want to get across. Now, edit out half of the words.
Once you have completed this exercise, you will have scaled your message down to essential points needed to get your message across. Practice reading these key phrases a few times, and you will be able to speak and write them clearly when the time comes. You can also use them to build out sales presentations and assets.
4. Great Listening Skills
Contrary to popular belief, great salespeople do not simply talk a lot at their prospects. Understanding your customer will make it much easier to sell to them, and the key to understanding your customer is to listen to them.
By listening closely to your customers, you may identify new pain points or uncover objections that you didn’t know were there. Make a habit of recording your sales calls and listening to them later.
Do you notice that you are doing most of the talking during the meeting? Try to limit the amount of time you spend talking, and get comfortable with silence. Pauses allow your potential customers to bring up points and ask questions. Never cut off or interrupt your prospect as they are objecting to something you have said.
Being a good listener and understanding exactly what your prospects’ pains are, what they object to, and what they need will enable you not only to make the sale, but also advance your career.