If you study engineering you will become an engineer, if you get into medicine you end up being a doctor. The law college takes you to become a lawyer. Any idea which course you need to pick in order to become a sales professional? Do, we even need a formal course to sell?
I keep asking my son what he would choose as a profession. Sometime he would say he wants to grow up to be an Engineer or Chef or computer professional. However, he has never mentioned Sales so far. That option never exists in his mind. For more than 18 years I have been in sales roles. Dealing with different roles and companies. In spite of my sales earnings funding his education and I being his role model, sales as a profession is not even in his radar.
I was no different either. Growing up, I remember, I always saw myself on the Programming and IT Management side of companies. Throughout my undergraduate career, I daydreamed of writing codes, learning new languages, working on different computer languages. I always wanted to be a Software Engineer and hence went to study Computer Science.
Just like many of you, Sales was never my first job. Sales came in 3 yrs after I started my career. The limelight and appreciation a salesperson receives from are always much more satisfying than any other reward. This always kept me in Sales. “WHO DOES NOT WANT TO BE IN LIMELIGHT”.
What makes a successful salesperson?
1. Product knowledge: Key skill for any sales professional to excel in sales is to understand the product they are selling. They should be able to explain in detail how each product/service works, what business value it offers & the reasons why it will benefit his company’s customers.
2. Active Listening: It is very important for a Salesperson to understand and listen to his customer/client. Active listening can help a salesperson empathize with prospects to learn more about their pain points and business plans. This enables to sell more effectively and offer a better solution.
3. Communication: When we communicate we deliver our emotions and attitude through our speech. How you say things to your prospect matter more than what you say. I also feel it is important to let your emotions or personality come through when you communicate. This helps the prospect get interested in your discussion. Never beat around the bush.
4. Trust: Today customers or clients want to do business with people they trust or can trust. Trust is built usually by prioritizing/understanding the customer needs and helping the customer achieve their goal. A good salesperson will always know how their customer feel.
5. Networking: Good salespeople love to network. They get involved in their community and have many different business relationships. Networking is not so much a part of the job to them but the way they like to spend their time.
When do you know that you are a good salesperson:
1. You are able to establish relationship/rapport is easily and you are able to put people at ease.
2. When you are goal-oriented and have the ability to articulate your goals clearly and assign timelines.
3. When you are able to anticipate consequences and evaluate alternatives before acting.
4. You are focused on how it can be done as opposed to what cannot be done.
5. Value Creator: You have the ability to create value for your customers even before you have made the sale. Each sale is the value added to the customer and the organisation.
6. You determined to WIN & willing to take risks.
7. Self-motivated and always looking forward to achievements.
8. The last but most important, when others start telling you about it.
CEOs who used to Sell
1. Warren Buffet: A paperboy to World’s richest man
Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway was once a sales rep. He worked as a paperboy and later used to sell securities at Buffett-Falk & Company. He gained a lot of experience in Sales and eventually acquired Berkshire Hathaway to become CEO in 1970. From then on, he expanded the company by adding assets in many different fields. Warren Buffet is in the top 5 richest people in the world for over 20 years. He always believed that one should be confident of what they are doing.
2. Samuel Palmisano: A man who grew from a sales rep to CEO.
Samuel Palmisano started working as a Sales rep in IBM in 1973. He was way different from others. He served as CEO of IBM between 2002 and 2011. IBM grew as the largest IT company in the world under his tenure. His belief was that the companies who are good at listening to its customers and understanding them will succeed.
3. Mark Cuban: Billionaire by the age of 41
Mark Cuban started his career by selling garbage bags. During his software sales job, he understood the nuances of sales. He then jumped into programming and started a company MicroSolutions and sold it. He owns Dallas Mavericks and currently acts as CEO for AXS TV. Mark believes that knowing all the information about your product will help you to sell it.
4. NV “Tiger” Tyagarajan: Man who transformed GE to Genpact
Tiger began his career with the Unilever Group in India where he spent seven years in sales and marketing. He then worked with Citibank’s Consumer Financial Services businesses in sales, operations, and credit. He joined GE Capital in 1994 as head of Risk in India. Tiger went on to become CEO for GE Capital’s Global Consumer Finance and Auto Financial Services business in India. Tiger is credited with transforming a division of GE into Genpact, a global professional services firm. I am sure the sales person in him had a huge influence on this inspiring journey.
5. Ritesh Agarwal: Oyo Rooms
Ritesh in his earlier days sold sim cards to survive. He had traveled for months staying at budget hotels, attended customer calls every day. He immersed himself in every possible experience to learn about budget hotel customers and their expectations. That was the kind of on-the-ground learning that helped him pivot Oravel to Oyo.
Finally, I think ultimately everybody sell. Regardless of your role, in your day-to-day job, there is undoubtedly some degree of selling. Whether you’re pitching an idea to your manager, trying to get company-wide buy-in to secure budget for a project, or simply selling yourself when you think it’s time for a promotion. Sales skills are necessary for every job to some degree.
We all know that sales is part of every profession and is required to survive in the day to day life. But, nobody gets the feel of sales until and unless they travel deeper in their career.
ONE DAY OR DAY ONE, YOU DECIDE.