Sales for Life sat down with 3 experts at SalesTO and asked them about the skills modern sales teams need to survive today and into the future.
What characteristics are key to surviving the next ten years and beyond?
You’ve really got to look at what you’re bringing to the table and, historically, that used to be information. You knew the facts about the thing that you were selling. If you look at today, that’s obviously disappeared. You can get that information online. So, what you bring as a salesperson has to be something that is different and better – either deeper knowledge, access within your network to experts that the buyer might not otherwise have, perspectives that they might not be considering. And, if you do that, you focus on what you can bring that is more than just the facts, you’ll succeed as a salesperson.
In order to be a good salesperson nowadays, you have to be a much better listener. You have to be creative and be able to tackle obstacles in new ways. And, I guess, to be adaptable. There’s always new technology. There are new buyers. There are other things that are changing, and you have to be able to evolve as you go, I think.
From a prospecting point of view, what’s key for standing out in front of buyers today?
It’s tough. Prospecting today is very, very tough. I think you’ve got to look at social proximity as a key thing. If you’re going, as a buyer, to respond to somebody, the chances are, you’re going to respond because there’s a social context there. Somebody you know knows that person, or knows that company.
It’s about understanding what’s in it for the person that you’re trying to pitch. I mean, I would say 99% of the pitches that I get are somebody telling me about themselves, and I can do that on my own. Whereas, if somebody says, “I have a valuable piece of information for you, it’s going to help you and your day-to-day business,” then I’m going to perk up and listen and understand because, now, they’re actually starting to put themselves in my shoes and trying to understand my world.
What advice would you give to sales leaders today that will help them hit their number?
The focus for sales leadership, if you look at where we focus this historically, there’s been a heavy focus on metrics at the top of the funnel, raw activities, which is fine. And, there’s been a focus at the bottom of the funnel, the close process, taking it from 10% right through to close. And, what that ignores is the area in the middle that is growing. So, as a sales leader, you really need to understand what accounts your team has and does not have relationships at, and manage that metric.
There’s a lot of things that I’d say, but Number One is, “Make sure to be valuable to your team, as well.” I think a lot of sales leaders come in and say that, “My role will be to drive productivity,” but in order to drive productivity, you have to understand what sales people are going through, and you have to be able to add value. If you’re not going to help them reach their sales number, or push them forward, then I think you’re making a big mistake.