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10 Dec
2014

Habiba Fouad

Senior Executive Search Consultant
 

I recently came across this question in a sales related online forum by someone who was just starting their sales career in a B2B company selling big projects.The question was:

What are the top qualities required to be a successful sales person?

This set me thinking! Based on my experience with many successful sales campaigns, this boils down to just 3 qualities:

1) the ability to ask the right questions

2) having good listening skills

3) communicating how your services can help your clients either make money or save money.

However, to be successful in sales you need to supplement these qualities by following a process. You need to take the following actions.

  1. Understand the Business Issues of Your Customer: Develop a deep understanding of your customers. Speak with subject matter experts in your organization. Set up meetings with various people in the customer’s organization to understand the challenges they are facing. When I started my sales career in India, prospects would offer me cups of chai (tea) during my sales calls which I would gladly accept. That would give me valuable opportunity to start a conversation, spend more time with them, ask questions and gain a better picture of their pain points.
  2. Build Relationships but Lead with Commercial Insights: Building relationships with clients isn’t enough. Only those sales reps who challenge and surprise their clients with commercial insights deliver consistently high performance. According to the book Challenger Sales, a commercial insight is a compelling perspective from a supplier that directly impacts a customer’s performance and leads back to the supplier’s unique capabilities. If you provide insights, you will build trust and purchase preference.
  3. Showcase the Ability to Deliver: If you are selling services, you are not selling anything tangible which your prospective client can see, touch and feel before making the purchase decision. What you are actually selling is a 'Promise'. The promise to deliver-on time and on budget. Partner with your marketing colleagues to deliver an experience to them. Build credibility in your ability to deliver by showcasing client stories, testimonials, project methodologies and the expertise of your delivery teams.
  4. Qualify the Opportunity: The key qualifying question should be: “Would this business happen at all?” Many Sales Opportunities don’t necessarily translate to business. This is either because the business problem isn’t of great magnitude or urgency, or the project lacks political sponsorship to see it through completion. One should also ascertain if a budget has been allocated for the initiative.
  5. Identify the Decision Makers but Don’t Ignore the Influencers: It’s good to identify the influencers. If you cultivate them well, they can be a good source of information as well as be your coaches. However you must identify the Decision Maker early on in the sales cycle so that you can determine their issues and preferences in advance.

Being successful in sales is all about following a process and taking specific actions.

This post originally appeared on Linkedin. Written by Maneesh Sah

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