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Refining Your Soft Skills For The Hard Sell

| By: Ned O'Neill
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For those who work in sales, the requirement to self-isolate during the current pandemic presents a real challenge. Even more so if you usually spend the majority of your time face-to-face with your clients and prospects.

The upside is that this forced isolation means less time travelling, and more time to focus on self-development and planning; simple yet important things that often get kicked to the curb when you are running between sales appointments. 

Using your freed-up time to focus on developing the following skills is likely to make you far more productive when restrictions are lifted and it's time to make up for lost time.

Time Management 

Success in sales is often partly a result of how effective you are in managing your time. 

When you’re able to optimise your time, you improve your productivity, diminish your costs, free up your headspace and improve performance outcomes. Mastering this soft skill is crucial but well worthwhile. 

Here are 3 things you can do to improve your time management,

  1. Plan ahead: at the end of every day write a ‘to do’ list for the following day. This will keep you task and outcome focussed and provide clarity and confidence in how you are progressing as you cross off milestones. Clarity and plan of execution around the task you want/need to achieve will help you alleviate your stress levels.
     

  2. Compartmentalise your day: Split your day into blocks so that you have set time aside to focus on one task for a set period. E.g. 9-9:30am morning meeting, 9:30-11: write blog, 11-11:30 check emails etc.
     

  3. Avoid multi-tasking: Multi-tasking is a good way to do multiple things poorly. Give a task 100% of your focus, you will complete it faster and to a higher standard when it is your sole focus.
     

Product Knowledge

It might seem like a no brainer, but if you do not know your product, you’re going to struggle with selling it.  

Knowing the ins and outs of your product is key to selling. Think about the sales objections you have had to answer with a “I’ll need to get back to you on that”. Those objections stall the decision cycle. If you have a deep knowledge of the features, benefits and weaknesses of your product and/or service you are going to be far more prepared for any situation. 

Does your business even have a FAQ or is it perhaps a good time to develop one? If you do have one, is it readily available to your team, and/or published on your website or in your sales collateral?

If you can demonstrate that you are a subject matter expert, your customers will appreciate and trust what you and your product have to offer. 

Lead Qualification

Applying a planned and detailed qualification technique will allow a seller to find the correct solutions for a prospects pain points. It could also indicate if there is a mismatch between the product and the prospect, allowing the seller to save time and resources.

A good lead qualification process is MAND: 

Money: Does the company have enough money to buy your product?

Authority: Does your prospect have the power to purchase?

Need: Do they need your product?

Desire: Do they want what you are selling?

Goal Orientation

Write down and revisit your goals regularly. The most successful salespeople are motivated by: 

  • Focussing on an end goal

  • Validation that the goal is achievable

  • Focussing on the reward at the end 

​As the famous saying goes:

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else!”

Adaptability

This is a skill that offers value in every aspect of your life. In sales, everything changes: sales tools, customers, products, industry, environments, requirements. 

Even though the course you take may shift, the end goal doesn’t. So it is up to you to adjust and pivot your sales strategy in order to achieve your goals. 

Whilst most of this may seem obvious to seasoned sales professionals, it is often these basic behaviours and skills that get lost in the pursuit of selling. Focus on the things that you can control and stop and reflect on what has worked so far, and you are likely to come out on the other side refreshed, focused and ready to sell, sell, sell. 

Stay positive, have some fun along the way and I’ll see you at the goal posts. 

If you have any thoughts or ideas on how sales professionals can leverage these 'quieter than usual' times to refine some sales skills, we'd love to hear. Or if you are currently needing some assistance sourcing IT sales professionals, or finding a job in tech sales, please reach out to Ned O’ Neill at Kaliba: ned@kaliba.com.au. 

 

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