Finding people who want to work in sales is a challenge across the board not only in India, but in other countries too
We do not teach people how to sell, we teach the opposite. The opposite of selling is buying
More Than HR (MTHR Global), a rapidly growing and dynamic HRD movement across India invited to their “off line” meeting this month - Bob Urichuck, Certified Sales Professional, Certified Master Trainer, Certified Social Entrepreneur. He shares with People Matters his learning on how to sell without selling.
Sales intensive industries that are relatively new in India like banking, financial services, insurance and telecom are struggling to find talent for their front-sales positions. What are your views on this?
Finding people who want to work in sales is a challenge across the board not only in India, but in other countries too. The reason is that sales as a profession has a bad reputation. Sales people are usually considered very pushy and this reputation makes the potential talent pool smaller.
The role of a sales person needs to be changed. In order to succeed in sales today, organizations need to do the opposite of selling. They must attract, engage and empower buyers to buy. Without buyers, there are no sales. Bottom line: no sales, no revenue.
From your experience, what are the key competencies that a sales person should have?
The key competencies a sales person should have are to be buyer-focused, to be a good communicator, to be able to engage people by asking questions and to be able to listen. To be honest, trustworthy, committed, ethical and full of integrity with a desire to not waste people’s time are also important qualities one must possess. He/she needs to be a relationship builder, as that is what sales is all about. People buy people first and then their products and services. The more relationships they have, the bigger their network. The bigger their network, the bigger their net worth.
Which of those can be acquired through exposure or training and which ones are innate?
With desire and the right attitude, all of them can be acquired through training. However, not everyone is people-oriented and that is something that is important in sales.
Are these competencies/traits common across cultures or differ from culture to culture?
People buy from people, in every culture, in every country. Treating people with respect and the way they want to be treated will most certainly lead to a sale. It all starts with taking the time to build trust; to get the buyer engaged, talking and feeling important.
Many companies in the sales intensive industries have put for themselves a key priority for the year of increasing productivity of their sales team. What are the different ways of increasing productivity in sales? What is your recommendation of what works and what does not?
There are many ways, but organizations usually use money and incentives to increase productivity. However, they are not the most effective - the old carrot and stick approach - once you get it, you will want more the next time round. Money is what we call an external motivator, which is temporary.
Sales conferences, sales training and other sorts of events also work, but only for a limited time. Research claims that such trainings are needed every ninety days, as the motivation wears off. If that can be done quarterly, with the same messaging, it will work. Ongoing sales training, coaching and motivation are the keys to increasing sales productivity. Only through ongoing training and coaching, can attitudes, behaviors and competencies be changed permanently. Organizations therefore need to focus on internal motivators, which are permanent and everlasting. It all starts by engaging the sales force in the decision making process, so that they own the training and want to be involved. The ongoing process must also be supported by management. If sales management does not walk the talk and demonstrate the appropriate behaviors, then the investment made in training the sales force will be wasted.
How can companies reward and retain their “Alexander-the-greats” (star sales performers) while retaining and motivating the “troops” (the average performers)?
Unfortunately, not many companies know how to do this as they use external motivators like money, incentives, etc. and not internal motivators. We need to identify the internal motivators. Recognition and praise are number one in this category. Loyal employees come from having a great relationship with their boss. A boss who takes the time to understand his employees from the inside out and helps them to achieve not only their business goals, but their personal goals as well. That is internal motivation, which is everlasting.
Where does the innovation lie in the recruitment channel?
First, the organization has to become buyer focused. Without buyers, there are no sales. That means they have to change their traditional ways of conducting sales. Organizations also have to change from being number (financial) driven to people driven with a sales focus. People are the most important asset in every organization. Take care of your people, and your people will take care of your bottom line. The bottom line comes from the appropriate behaviors demonstrated by its people and sales people in particular. The change also has to incur in the education process. Non-traditional techniques no longer work in the new economy of buyers. It is no longer about you, your products or services or your organization. It is all about the buyer, their needs and desires - not yours.
My objective is to change the perception of the sales profession worldwide. We do not teach people how to sell, we teach the opposite. The opposite of selling is buying. Everyone prefers to buy. Selling is telling and the opposite of telling is asking - no one likes to be told what to do, but love to be asked. Selling is also talking. The opposite of talking is listening and that is the number one universal need of all buyers - to be understood. The only way to understand buyers is to ask questions and listen, question their answers and go deep to help buyers themselves discover what they are looking for.
This systematic approach to sales starts with building a solid foundation, which starts with the right attitude - attitude towards yourself, your organization and towards your buyers. Then you need to build supporting walls of behavior - behavior towards yourself (personal goals), towards your organization (performance objectives) and behavior towards buyers to get the maximum return on time invested (R.O.T.I.).
With a solid foundation and demonstrating appropriate behavior, we move on to building the competencies within the “Buyer Focused” Velocity Selling System.