The current crisis is forcing every company to take stock of its teams and recruitment. Tragic for its human management, this crisis is forcing companies to reveal the resources that are fundamentally indispensable to their growth and sustainability. This is an opportunity to take an in-depth look at the business of sales, and its added value within organizations.
An individual responsible for interacting with the company's customers in order to sell them a solution.
The question is less obvious. Defined in common parlance as an extroverted character capable of convincing his prospect by his charisma, energy and persuasiveness, these qualities are far from being enough to define a good salesman.
After exchanging with many sales managers, here are, according to their experiences, the main qualities necessary for the job of sales representative:
Let's deconstruct each of these qualities together.
What is effective listening? It is the ability of the sales person to put himself in the customer's shoes, in order to understand his issues and to move the sales process forward (or not). Far from being obvious, salespeople still too often display the benefits of their solution before even qualifying the need with the customer. The multitude of unsolicited and unqualified emails received are only the best examples.
Asking questions, assessing the customer need both emotionally (Does solving the problem motivate him?) and financially (How big is the opportunity?) is necessary to qualify the lead beforehand.
In order to get to know his customer as well as possible, the sales person must prepare each e-mail, call or meeting with his customer as well as possible. His role is to find information on the state of a company, the competition, its tools, or its communication. These tasks determine the degree of quality of a sales process. Depending on the company, the sales representative manages his own preparation, or may be assisted by a sales enablement, sales ops or growth team capable of providing sales representatives in the field with the relevant information to save them time.
An excellent salesman leaves no room for improvisation. While he must remain flexible to adapt to the customer's needs, the sales person nevertheless proceeds according to a structure of discourse built up over time and customer interactions. Once the product market fit has been determined, the organization knows more and more about its prospects, the sales arguments that hit the nail on the head and the criteria for not qualifying a lead. As such, the sales person must be able to integrate this information in order to structure his speech and become more efficient.
An unqualified client/prospect is a potential client whose need is not proven. Nothing is more expensive for a company than an unqualified customer: His onboarding cost will be high, his churn almost certain, and the ex-client will be quick to give the product bad press. The sales person must be able to discern the customer's need early on through key questions about the nature of the problem and whether or not there is a project/budget/team allocated to solve it. The sales person is also responsible for passing on information from the field to the rest of the team. This feedback enables the company to segment its market according to customer usage, to build a sales process and to develop criteria for qualifying and not qualifying a customer.
Being a good dirty requires a rare set of qualities. Sales jobs remain extremely formative because sales people are on the front line with the customer. As the privileged point of entry for customer information within organizations, companies must ensure that this information is properly disseminated to all teams. Faced with this issue, new organisational modes based on building multi-disciplinary teams are emerging, such as the Squads at Alan or the crews at Spotify.
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