Hi learning people
As with a whole load of other people, I suspect, we are focusing more and more on growing the top and bottom lines in the short term. We have an organisation that is very progressive around L&D, but even so, a lot of our L&D activities are being put on hold in favour of increased effort on client selling and profitability/efficiency. That's a function of the environment we find ourselves in.
So I've been looking at how we do and don't sell, and I have come to the two conclusions that:
Classic, two-day, classroom-based sales programmes usually don't work
That's because I don't believe most people need the models and techniques so much as they need to change how they see selling and business development. Specifically, I think we need to help people to consider selling their responsibility, and help them see how they can get some kind of personal enjoyment and growth from it.
Has anybody done any work on changing how sales is 'positioned' in their organisation, and any successful initiatives that have improved peoples' ability and willingness to sell? I guess the only metric for success is a growth in the topline!
Great question; or really two - advanced selling skills and getting non-sales people to understand that they sell too! Here are my thoughts for starters.
Q1 In my experience of running a sales force the skills issue is:-
1.1 They must have raw sales skills first; along with product/ service knowledge
1.2 Process comes next - lead generation, qualification, requirements analysis, advocacy, closing
1.3 Advanced sales skills are around empathy, persuasion, business development etc
And the big one runs right through - forecasting!
Q2 The answer's simple - don't call it "sales" but the "gentle art of persuasion". There's a clear hierarchy here:-
2.1 Our product/ service is best;
2.2 The trouble is our clients/ prospects don't always know that
2.3 So it's down to us to persuade them
I wrote a piece in IT Training about a year ago on Persuasion - I can dig it out if anyone's interested.
Good luck with it
Thanks Alan. I agree that it's all in the positioning. As a 'creative' agency, we have very few dedicated sales people - the client buys the staff that are working on the account, so we effectively have to ask our subject matter experts to sell. Some love it, others avoid it at all costs. My mission is to find out how they're different, and somehow distil that passion in everyone. Any thoughts? Your comments are a good start - and I would love to see the article.
I've uploaded the piece on persuasion - hope it's of interest.
I used the Consciously/ Competent model as part of this piece and it struck me that you could adapt this piece to enable your "creatives" to sell/ persuade. Just change "Competent" to "Knowledge" (of your services) and apply it to your market.
Everyone you sell to is either
Unconsciously/ Unknowledgeable - never heard of you
Consciously/ Unknowledgeable - know that they've never heard about you
Unconsciously/ Knowledgeable - never think about you
Consciously/ Knowledgeable - love you to bits!
It's the goal of everyone in the organisation to move every client/ prospect up the value chain!
For those that "don't like to sell" my approach would be:-
1. Do you believe that we can offer the client a service that's right for them?
2. If so, all we have to do is to persuade them that that's the case
3. If not, why are you working here - said in a rather more subtle way of course!
Alan, this is fantastic. I particularly like the concept of Social Proof - we have identified that we need to work on making role models more visible, and this gives us some great science to back it up.
I will be using these as we build our plan - very helpful, thank you.
Seeing as we're sharing stuff, can I recommend Dan Pink's paper on motivation on TED.com - a brilliant bit of social research on the impact of commissions schemes (and the answer is not what you might think)...