As part of CommissionCrowd’s (The Home Of B2B Commission-Only Sales) ‘Expert’s Corner’ series, we source and speak with the world’s top sales leaders to bring you tips, advice and profound insights into the world of sales.
If you’re considering a career in sales or are indeed already in the profession but have a desire to become one of the great sales leaders of this world, then this is the article for you.
22 Ways For Aspiring Sales Professionals To Become Great Leaders
Without further ado here are a selection of top tips for aspiring sales professionals from some of the most influential and successful sales leaders in the industry.
1. Sales Is An Ethical Art With Your Customer’s Best Interests At Heart
Ryan Mattock (CommissionCrowd, Co-Founder) CommissionCrowd
Remove any negative connotations of the word sales from your vocabulary! You are moving into a very important and consultative position which requires the utmost respect for your clients and helping them to make the best possible decision for themselves or their business - even if that means telling them that your product/service is not right for their needs.
Why? Because a portfolio full of happy customers will make your life easier, free up more time to help more people and your happy customers will refer you and end up doing most of the selling on your behalf over time. Unhappy customers bring additional workload and will be a drain on your time, resources and above all else, happiness.
Be willing to make mistakes and learn from them. Take pride in your appearance and lead from the front. Leaders rise and followers stagnate.
You must be ethical and consultative. Don’t just take a role because you need a job, seek out a company whose products or services you genuinely believe in. Trust me, it’ll make your job a lot easier!
Selling is not about becoming a trickster, if you want that then become a magician.
2. Sales Prospecting Is A Lifestyle
Mark Hunter ( Sales Innovation & Leadership Keynote Speaker, Published Author and Sales Coach) The Sales Hunter - Linkedin
Prospecting is not something you do when you need more leads. Prospecting is a lifestyle that must be part of your daily routine regardless of other activities you may need to focus on. When we are prospecting focused we will be able to prevent many of the peaks and valleys many salespeople struggle with.
Mark coined the quote “The best sales presentation ever made is the one never given”
Mark came up with this quote a number of years ago and believes in it more than ever for one simple reason: customers have all heard way too many boring sales presentations. In fact, you as a salesperson have probably sat through too many boring sales presentations yourself. You may even admit that you occasionally give pretty boring sales presentations.
A sales presentation should come across more like a discussion, a two sided conversation that makes the customer feel part of the process to finding the solution they require. The way to do this is by learning your products/services inside and out and becoming so comfortable with them that you can present in a natural and unscripted way that will allow your prospects to relax and go in whatever direction the customer wants it to go.
Mark is also a published author and authority on prospecting and high profit selling. We highly recommend reading his new book: High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results
3. Make Curiosity Your Secret Weapon
Thom Singer (Motivational Speaker, Conference Catalyst)
For a successful career in sales - make curiosity your secret weapon! Forget memorizing an elevator pitch or a product statement; invest those brain cells on memorizing open-ended questions that get the prospect to talk to you.
The more they talk, the more clues they will show you as to their situation and what is motivating them to buy your product or service. For many in sales, myself included, this is a hard lesson to learn, as we want to share all the great features and benefits of what we are offering.
I still struggle with moving too fast to share my story instead of really hearing the other person first. The more questions I ask up front, the higher chance I have of winning the sales in the long run, so I have made it a priority to get the other person to talk from the moment I meet them.
This is about more than just sales, if you can practice curiosity in all situations where you engage with others you will find more success in everything you do. Talk less, listen more. Then you can go in for the close.
4. “No” is not the end of the conversation, it’s the beginning of building a relationship
Jyssica Schwarts (Sales Expert, Business Development Manager)
When starting in sales, don’t be afraid to keep talking to someone after hearing a “no.”
The word “no” doesn’t need to be a conversation-ender. Just because someone doesn’t need your product or service right this moment doesn’t mean they won’t in the future. You can’t let a “no” derail the entire conversation.
You’re going to hear A LOT of no’s in your sales career. The mark of a good salesperson is learning to take the no and keep going, continuing to ask questions and learn more about your prospect and their decision making process.
Staffing example: “Ok, so you don’t have any hiring needs right now. Do you ever use temps? What has your experience with other agencies been like? I’m going to check back in with you towards the end of Q1, talk to you soon!” Product example: “I understand you don’t need this software right now. What software are you currently using? When does that license expire? Great, I’ll reach out in March to discuss this more!” “No” is not the end of the conversation, it’s the beginning of building a relationship. Every call is a potential client!
5. Sales Should Stimulate Emotion And Sometimes Even Shock
Candice Galek (Founder Bikini Luxe, Forbes 30 Under 30)
When it comes to sales and marketing it is vitally important that you stimulate emotion. This can be done in a number of ways but most importantly you must connect on an emotional level with your buyer or client.
For me personally, my techniques have been called disruptive by some. However, I prefer to think of them as innovative. I take things that should not make sense and smash them together in order to create a splash.
Perhaps you are selling toasters instead of just showing the potential buyer a toaster show them someone putting their hand into the toaster. Imagery and ideas that cause shock and awe are always remembered.
Editor’s Note: Please never put your hand into a toaster. You’ll be toast! ;)
6. Look The Part And Know Your Product
Ronnie Golding (Sales Professional and Trainer)
There are quite a few “MOST IMPORTANT” things to do, however I believe that the first is to look the part, look into a full length mirror and ask yourself I would I buy from me.
The second is to know your product inside out, and to be able to fit it to your prospects needs. To know your prospects needs you must Fact Find, ask how his business works; do you care if ….., ; do you want …… ; how do you feel about……; what would happen if ………; and as many other questions that you can think of relating to the prospects circumstances.
Learn to overcome objects with a closing question; if we could, would you go ahead, or is that a real problem or something that you think might happen, by asking closing questions (a question that lets you go forward or backtrack and readdress the problem).
However if the problem is real and a condition, you will never overcome the problem. Best you can do is explain that your product is not for him, but perhaps he may know somebody who would be interested. Always ask for a referral. Sale or Not.
7. Master The Sales Process
Dave Kurlan (Founder, CEO, Keynote Speaker, Best Selling Author) Follow Dave On Twitter
Master the sales process, strategy and tactics. Then be disciplined enough to do whatever it takes - every day - to achieve your goals. Read Baseline Selling, adapt it for your world, practice through role-play for 30 minutes each day and never give up.
Get Dave’s best selling book here: Baseline Selling: How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know About the Game of Baseball
8. Demonstrate that you understand your prospect’s business to a level that surprises both them and you
Ryan Welmans (CEO SoPro)
Understand that 99% of prospects have a boss, board or shareholders. Whatever your prospects role, once a week they sit in a meeting room and evidence their contribution to strategic objectives, usually profitability. I.e. How are they reducing cost or improving revenue? Demonstrate that you understand your prospect’s business to a level that surprises both them and you.
Don’t be a sales person, just outline in black and white how your product/service is the next logical step toward reducing cost or improving revenue. Give your prospect something so clear and indisputable that they can confidently stand up internally and propose your product/service as the next logical step towards achieving board-level strategic goals. You have given your prospect a path to promotion.
9. Learn, Do It & Keep Learning
Morlyn Duma (Sales Management Expert)
Morlyn Duma Linkedin
When I obtained my 1st Degree in Marketing, I thought I would land my first job as a Marketing Manager or Brand Manager, but No! It has always been in Sales and at all times awesome. How did I manage to win deals over the years? I have looked up to established individuals in the profession including those I have never met but read about.
Always watch and learn how the best sales people prospect, how they prepare for customer meetings, how they pitch, how they close a deal or accept rejection, and never stop polishing your skills. It is also important that as you create great relationships with customers, you continue to create a stronger sales personality, and a passion for success.
More importantly, never let one rejection make you doubt yourself, it is part of the process. The secret is to learn how to manage it, learn from mistakes, and quickly move on to the next potential deal. Never rush into selling a customer a product or service before you understand their needs or you will bore them before you even start. Do a fact finding mission, learn to listen and always ask the right questions.
10. Deliver Superior Value To Your Organization
Keith Johnstone (PeakSales)
Follow Keith on Twitter
Aspiring salespeople need to know that in order to truly advance your career, you need to deliver value to your organization that goes above and beyond superior sales results.
You need to bring insights to the team that tackle inefficient work processes, market challenges, or unnoticed sales opportunities.
For example, if you put in the time and effort to develop a robust understanding of the market you sell into, there may be an opportunity for you to work with management and contribute to the territory or regional sales plan.
It’s simple - if you demonstrate your aptitude and readiness for a sales promotion by providing insight and vision that goes beyond your individual goals, you set yourself up for success in the short and long term.
11. Stay Quiet - Allow Your Prospect To Think
Gretchen Hydo (Business Coach)
Know who your target market is. Even though you are representing a good product or service, not everyone is your client.
This can be a hard concept for those knew to the sales industry. I have seen sales people fail, not because they lack motivation, but because they lack precision. The more precise you are on who you are selling to, the better your chances are for making the sale.
It is also important to be able to speak about what you are selling in a conversational way that draws people in. Sales is a conversation. Lastly, know your target market’s pain points.
What keeps them up at night? What are the concerned with? When you are speaking to them, address their pain point. Let them know that you understand that it is a real concern. Listen to them talk. Then, offer them a solution.
12. Never Stop Learning
Michael J Ringer (Chief Revenue Officer & Sales Trainer) CommissionCrowd
When you’re starting in sales, you will either be one of those people who are blessed with the innate ability to sell, or you will have to learn the skills needed to sell effectively.
Nothing is more important than finding out exactly what a prospects needs are, you’ll only achieve that by asking questions and paying attention to their answers. When you start a career in sales you’ll most likely feel insecure about asking someone for their money, remember as your parents taught you, “if you don’t ask, you don’t get.”
Always ensure to ask for the sale. In fact, not asking for the business is a mistake that up to 80% of sales professionals make. And my final parting words, don’t give up, always have financial goals that you’re working towards, and finally, never stop learning from those better than you.
13. Don’t Oversell
Gene Caballero (Co-Founder, GreenPal)
Follow Gene On Twitter
Don’t oversell. The best of the best take time to listen to the needs of their potential customers and then respond with pertinent info regarding the customer’s pain point. Focus on the needs of the customer and it will put you in a position to always close the sale.
14. Become A Problem Solver
Jói Sigurdsson (Founder, CrankWheel)
Connect with Jói on Linkedin
To sell better, start thinking about an idea that is solving a particular problem experienced by your users. Make sure you’re ready to make your users your number one priority, not your technology. Make sure you’re willing to get down and dirty to solve your user’s problems, even if it means making your software work on an old BlackBerry phone or an ancient Internet Explorer browser, as we’ve done with CrankWheel.
15. Treat success and failure as the impostors that they are
John Lyon (CEO & Founder) Logistics Scotland
Treat success and failure as the impostors that they are. Rudyard Kipling wrote of this in his poem “If”. This has been my daily guiding principle for over 20 years. I celebrate success, but not too much – and I don’t beat myself up when the failures come. And they come, that’s for sure. By keeping your emotions stable, you will grow as a sales professional & lead with confidence.
16. Learn As You Go And Make Mistakes
Charlie d’Estries (Complex Sales & Business Development Expert)
The temptation in sales is to plan and prepare until you’re ready. Here’s the thing: when you’re new at selling, you will never be totally prepared. So here are a few things to do (some will take a while to master): Pick up the phone and call prospects (like right now), ask them questions, listen and follow up.
You will learn as you make mistakes and learn things that work for you. Become an expert at your customer’s pain points. Understand why they are looking for a new gadget, and what can solve their problem. Understand your competitor’s pros and cons… and don’t be afraid to educate your prospect on those points. Follow Up Follow Up Follow Up… do not lose the momentum. If they say ‘no’, call them a few weeks later to see if they have had a change of heart. Showing up in selling is 90% of the battle. So be there for your prospect. Talk to more people, you’ll make more sales.
It’s a numbers game. Don’t take anything personally… and remember, don’t be afraid of anyone! That company CEO and VP were in your shoes at one time, and they all have lives to live. Stay positive. Drink good wine. Be kind, respectful and happy. And smile.
17. Know Your Audience
Jim Amos (Motion picture industry executive) Follow Jim On Twitter
One of the most important things to remember when starting out in sales is to know your audience. Do your homework. I always found it vital to my sales success to understand the needs, limitations, concerns and goals of the person to whom I was selling. How you tailor a sales pitch to one company may be dramatically different from how to pitch another company in the same business. Therefore, do your homework and get to know your customers. A little extra work beforehand can have a tangible effect on your success rate.
18. Everything that is not visible makes all the difference in selling
Alen Mayer (Globally Acclaimed Sales Coach) Alen Mayer
Selling is about more than just a set of repetitious behaviors like phone prospecting and objection handling. Successfully closing a deal is strongly affected by the underlying beliefs, values, identity and mission of the person conducting the sales process. Understanding yourself and what motivates you to engage in the process of selling is a complicated endeavor.
Imagine an iceberg. Above the water line you can see all the behaviors that lead to a sale; prospecting, cold calling, follow through and documenting. In fact, all of the activities that make up the sales reps process toward quota attainment are above the water line.
But you need to go below the surface of your activities to evaluate and hone the internal motivations that drive behavior. When you tackle the underlying reasons for your behavior while you are selling – your beliefs, values, mission and identity (who you are when you are selling), the external manifestations of these strongly held belief systems will improve, leading to more effective activities – and an increase in closed deals.
Everything that is not visible makes all the difference in selling. Dive underneath the surface to understand your values and beliefs and then make small incremental changes that will have big, positive outcomes above the water line.
19. learn How To Adapt To Your Client’s Schedule
Andrew Barnett (Sales Director) Connect On Linkedin
One of the most important aspects of sales is ‘timing’. Discovering when you’re most likely to reach a prospect, when to best engage, when to follow up and when to push for a close.
The big challenge is learning and adapting to your clients schedule. Try to continually run split-tests in order to optimize your chances of progressing at each stage of the sales cycle. I believe this to be hugely important in any salesperson’s success
20. Create A First Impression With The Buyer
Jay Jethwa (Sales Director) Connect with Jay On Linkedin
With any sales role the buyer will determine whether or not they will do business with you on first impression. In their mind they will say evaluate the following:
- Do I trust this person?
- Do I respect this person?
Therefore, key is to create impressive first impression, so how do we do that? We all know about eye contact, strong hand shake, appearance, however, the most important factor is much more elusive to some Sales Peoples.
Do not go straight to the pitch become a master of SMALL TALK first. Become friends with your clients first, and find similarities outside of work. Then after you have established a friendship, you have created a fluid transition into the sell.
I was working in Dubai last year and increasing my network. My colleague arranged a meeting with a buyer. He mentioned that he knew the individual well over many years. This was my first meeting and during the session I did not sell anything.
I established the buyer had re-married, moved from Canada to Dubai, he married a younger lady, and there was friction between him and his children from first wife and he loved to play Golf. My colleague knew nothing!
21. Maximize Your Business Networking Success
Cheryl Scoffield (Follow Up Sales Specialist) Kickstart Your Company
Networking is important for businesses of any size and plays a key role in business development and ultimately business success.
Whether offline or online, reaching out to meet people to market your products and services and generate a list of potential clients is the first step in the process of growing sales.
For your efforts to produce new clients it’s essential to know how you’ll connect the conversation in the room to your follow up after attending events or developing an online presence.
Below are 3 tips to help you maximize the sales potential in the business cards you collect.
Sales Tip #1: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” - Benjamin Franklin.
While you’ll always meet a few people, who are hot and ready to buy today with whom you can go directly to the sales presentation, 60% of the potential clients you met will be at an earlier stage of the buying cycle. Planning your next step will make it a snap to follow up with everyone you meet.
Sales Tip #2: Prepare your next step ahead of time. One of the reasons that earlier stage clients are left for later is because it takes time to develop follow ups to address a wide variety of conversations. So, keep the initial conversation simple by guiding it to a specific offer of a resource you know most of your potential clients will be interested in.
** Sales Tip #3** Invest in a CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) It’s the workhorse behind the scenes keeping you on track. Sticky notes, eMail marketing and social networking platforms are not a replacement.
22. Bring Additional Value To Your Prospects
Stephen Rogan (Marketing Consultant)
Buyers today don’t want sales people pushing products, they want to speak to and learn from experts & thought leaders who have their own perspective on their pains and challenges.
Empathy, commercial acumen and the ability to ‘get’ their business beyond what you learn from their ‘About Us’ page allows you to push the prospect beyond the ‘what’ of the pain, deeper into the ‘why’ of the problem and the business implications therein.
By bringing this additional value to the prospect in the sales process you not only develop greater trust you are also moving beyond a feature/function/cost conversation that your completion are likely to be engaging in and therefore strengthening your positioning with the prospect.
This Week’s Recommended Reading For Aspiring Sales Leaders:**
Whether you’re brand new to sales or are already a seasoned sales professional, we all know that in order to make it to the top and stay there you must stay current and consistently learn new sales tips and techniques from the best. Below are three of our favourite sales books that have been published by leaders at the very top of their game.
Anthony Iannarino: The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need