One topic of continuing interest with both sales people and sales managers is how do I/we unlock the potential for sales success?
This discussion also moves into a higher level discussion about “what is potential?” Yet, that is a discussion for a later date. It is a more complex topic and I would rather help you to unlock the potential you currently possess. This is an important issue since some researchers of personal performance indicate we human beings are only getting 8 to 10% of our true potential. If this is true, and I believe there is truth in the research – then we have a huge upside to activate.
So, let’s look at four steps you can employ today to unlock your potential and improve your sales performance.
Four Steps to Unlocking Your Potential
Know Yourself –
Here we are talking about in depth personal awareness of your natural strengths and weaknesses. Have you ever sat down and looked at yourself? Start with a complete personal assessment package to finding out what makes you tick. Use more than one assessment to uncover different things – such as “how you do things – your behavioral style”; another would be the “why you do the things you do – where do you have passion or indifference?”; what competencies have you mastered or have no mastery?; what are your personal skills or true potential compared to the population as a whole? what is your emotional intelligence status? Are there emotional triggers leading to poor performance and results that could be changed or modified? and finally, what are your selling skills – have you ever testing your selling skills knowledge like a true professional?
The starting point for all personal development and performance improvement is to know your natural strengths and weaknesses and compare these to the requirements of your job. Use your strengths impacting your performance, improve the areas needed for you to perform at higher levels in your job and then ignore the weaknesses that have no bearing on your job performance.
Know What You Sell –
Yes, the old product knowledge is still important today. First, it helps you with your self confidence when you know your product cold. The ability to speak in terms of problems solved, unique characteristics, competitive advantages and true benefits or advantages to each customer or prospect – gives you a natural advantage. Most sales people can only parrot the features or product details – you must master the product application to be seen as a true business adviser to your customer or prospect.
Also, something else you should be capable of in representing your company – know all your company’s products and services. Now, I know if you are a distributor with a category about six or more inches tight that knowing all the products could take a lifetime. However, the best sales people tend to break these huge catalogs down into usable bit sized strings of knowledge and information, usually built upon what is used the most by customers or what has a higher profit margin for your company. The more you know, the more valuable you become to your customers.
Know Your Market –
Here is where strategy enters the sales game, knowing your customer can be a strategic concept. In fact, many companies actually have a customer or market driven strategy or Major Driving Force for their company. These companies have to know and understand the market better than anyone else – including the customers within these markets.
Start by knowing what an Ideal Customer looks like in a market. What products or services are most important to this market? Then package or bundle a winning combination designed to help the customer dominate or win in their market. This is a win-win for you and your customer.
Unfortunately, a large percentage of sales people have no understanding of the markets they sell to today. Your will need to use information about the markets to understand trends and direction of the markets. This gives you insider knowledge which is valuable to the customers. Research trade organizations for market trends, Google Trends is another source of information, and check out trade magazines and watch for trends in technology, equipment, processes and business indicators – such as sales trends, profitable of companies within an industry, and growth projections.
Know Your Competitors –
Now this would seem to be logical. Yet, some sales people cannot tell me who are their primary competitors. Talk about being naive. Yet, it goes further than just the obvious primary competitor. You need to be watching for secondary or non-traditional sources of competition. During the last two decades there has been so many mergers and acquisitions the lines have been clouded or broken. Some companies begin to see their distribution systems as an advantage and begin to offer additional products or services – with their primary products and services.
The major change has been companies in the business to business (b2b) selling is to actually sell a service – like inventory management – and expand their control to include your product line in their service. Thus you have to sell to a third party rather than direct. This can quickly move you into the price sensitive or commodity type of selling rather than the value-added or consultative selling you would prefer. Watch what all the vendors and suppliers are doing with your customers and the markets you sell to today. By observing you can recommend changes to your selling process or actually beat a competitor to the punch with a new bundled package and longer contract thus adding value to the customer first.
If you have any questions or comments about any of these points, just add a comment to this post or use the contact page to get in touch with me. Also, if you are looking for method to get an accurate assessment of your natural strengths and weaknesses with a debrief of the impact upon your sales career – then contact me. I have been evaluating and helping to improve performance for sales people since 1990.