“I’m not a sales person” “I don’t like cold calling” “I can’t sell” “sales is not a strength of mine”…are all typical to hear around the Entrée Recruitment office. My Consultants don’t see themselves as sales people, yet we have just achieved our most successful financial year in our 10-year history. They think sales is a dirty word associated with the image of a used car salesman – someone who is annoying, not particularly helpful and is just trying to make a quick buck! I roll my eyes and mostly just laugh because my team can think they aren’t sales people, but they are and they do it without reallising they are doing it. So how does a team of non-sales people achieve such high sales results?
Observing the behaviours of these Consultants, I have consistently found the following:
- Action – the Consultants making the most sales are always taking action. They are never wondering what to do next, who to call or procrastinating the day away. They just do it. They get on the phone; they get face to face and make decisions quickly.
- Feedback – I’ve got a Consultant who has worked in the industry longer than me and she is still consistently wanting to know how she is going, what could she do differently and is welcoming of joint visits and interview observations. The benefits to her far outweigh the possibility of her feeling uncomfortable. She tells me it is a small price to pay to gain one extra piece of advice that may increase her sales and bring her more success in the long term.
- Referrals – my team use an effective face-to-face technique that involves asking existing clients to recommend other people that they think we would enjoy working with. It takes courage to ask and discipline to follow up. Much easier than making a cold call!
- Relationships – building longstanding relationships results in repeat purchase clients. When you have a huge number of clients and are always seeking new ones, you can often forget about existing ones. Our strategy is fewer clients – stronger relationships.
- Curiosity in people – one of my team members says “I hate the sales stuff…but I do like meeting new people and finding out what they do”. She has a natural desire to ask questions and learn about businesses and people, so the end result is that she is building relationships and selling without realising that she is even doing it!
- Listening skills – the best ‘sales people’ at Entrée are the best listeners. They usually have a ratio of 80/20 of listening and talking. They understand they get the best information when they actually shut up. The worst performing Consultants I’ve had over the years like talking mostly about themselves and clients don’t buy!
- Reasons to call – you will rarely hear a top performer at Entrée saying “I’m just calling to touch base”. No client has time for this, we certainly don’t! What is the purpose of the call? Get to the point as quickly as you can as not to annoy the other person with irrelevant chitchat.
- Belief & confidence– top sales people have a natural self-confidence. They don’t have huge egos and can articulate their value proposition without being overly pushy.
- Organisation – people who are naturally good at sales always know what they need to do, write it down and work from 1 daily to do list. These tasks are very specific and the hardest things are done first as not to distract them from their day. For example, one of my consultants the other day seemed a bit off her game. By 11am, she was noticeably irritable and when I checked in, she hadn’t ticked anything of her list and she was feeling unproductive. It turned out that she had to make a difficult call to a client and was putting it off. As soon as she had made the call, she felt clear and didn’t have this hanging over her head, clouding the rest of her day.
- Deliver quality – you can’t be a top sales person without delivering what you promise at the pitch. High performing Consultants at Entrée consistently deliver what they say they will. If they say they will call back in 24 hours, they do. If they say they will be back in 3 weeks with a shortlist, they are. Some sales people can talk the talk, but fall down in the actual promise of walking the walk.
In any business, being able to sell is an essential skill to achieving long-term financial success. Being able to communicate your value effectively for people to buy your product or service is critical. In the early days of my career, it was a long hard road and some days seemed impossible. The turnaround for me was being persistent, consistent and determined. I made my sales activity an every day task that I incorporated in my daily agenda rather than it being a one off event when business was quiet.
At the end of the day, successful sales is about building rapport initially and then establishing long term relationships with people. Let’s not complicate this…. if people like you; they will spend money with you. Ask great questions, listen, deliver and your sales will sky rocket.
On reflection, maybe I should be happy in the fact that my team don’t think of themselves as ‘sales people’ – with this mindset they are focused on what really works – building relationships, delivering a quality service and being passionate about what they do. The outcome…increased sales!