7 Leadership Negotiation Skills to Make the Breakthrough

7 Leadership Negotiation Skills to Make the Breakthrough

As a leader, you will need to hone leadership negotiation skills to cope with a multitude of situations. Whether you are mediating in a difficult breakdown in communication, working on a complicated client deal, or negotiating a new pay deal or change in working conditions, the likelihood is that there will be some compromise needed to reach an agreeable solution.

Here are 7 leadership negotiation skills to improve outcomes:

1. Achieve the win/win

An agreement that ends with an enforced deal will break down. Real breakthrough is achieved when both sides can claim victory, and your needs and those of the other party are both satisfied. The real outcome is the creation a positive environment to move forward together.

2. Never be the first to make an offer

Opening first always gives the other party the upper hand in negotiations. Let them make the first offer: this way you’ll have a better feel for the limits under which you’ll be negotiating. If a better than expected offer is made, you may be able to negotiate even better.

3. Be emotionally adept

Emotional intelligence is perhaps the critical key to attaining excellent leadership negotiation skills. An emotional intelligence assessment will tell you where you are currently on the EI scale. It will give you the knowledge needed to develop a number of skills associated with negotiation, including:

Improve your emotional intelligence and you’ll improve your leadership negotiation skills.

4. Ask for more than you expect to receive

If you ask for more than you expect to receive, you may be pleasantly surprised by the response. Setting the bar high allows greater wiggle room to negotiate down. In addition, it is unlikely that the other party will walk away from negotiations at this point, so starting high has very little cost.

5. Communicate flexibly

The most successful negotiators are those who communicate well. Understand the person with whom you’re negotiating, and how to assess their likely reactions and your communication skills will improve. Lack of communicative ability will hold you back, while well-rounded interpersonal skills will propel your leadership career.

6. Once the deal is closed, stop negotiating!

As you progress in negotiations, you’ll hit several mini-closes. This might be the conclusion of a point you want to make, a story you wish to tell, or fine details you want to discuss further. Once you have said what you need to, stop talking. Let the other person have their say and put their point across. Not only will you better understand the conterargument or need, you’ll also gain respect for listening well.

7. Always make it personal

Connect with your people and create working relationships that help to progress the organization and the individual. Learn what makes your people tick, and take a genuine interest in their wellbeing: you’ll find that in any negotiation, having a set of shared values and common goals will enhance the potential for a positive outcome.

Contact Primeast today to discuss our Management Development Series, including our Energy Leadership Program that helps develop high performing managers into inspirational leaders that understand the importance of leadership negotiation skills.

7 Leadership Negotiation Skills to Make the Breakthrough

7 Leadership Negotiation Skills to Make the Breakthrough

As a leader, you will need to hone leadership negotiation skills to cope with a multitude of situations. Whether you are mediating in a difficult breakdown in communication, working on a complicated client deal, or negotiating a new pay deal or change in working conditions, the likelihood is that there will be some compromise needed to reach an agreeable solution.

Here are 7 leadership negotiation skills to improve outcomes:

1. Achieve the win/win

An agreement that ends with an enforced deal will break down. Real breakthrough is achieved when both sides can claim victory, and your needs and those of the other party are both satisfied. The real outcome is the creation a positive environment to move forward together.

2. Never be the first to make an offer

Opening first always gives the other party the upper hand in negotiations. Let them make the first offer: this way you’ll have a better feel for the limits under which you’ll be negotiating. If a better than expected offer is made, you may be able to negotiate even better.

3. Be emotionally adept

Emotional intelligence is perhaps the critical key to attaining excellent leadership negotiation skills. An emotional intelligence assessment will tell you where you are currently on the EI scale. It will give you the knowledge needed to develop a number of skills associated with negotiation, including:

Improve your emotional intelligence and you’ll improve your leadership negotiation skills.

4. Ask for more than you expect to receive

If you ask for more than you expect to receive, you may be pleasantly surprised by the response. Setting the bar high allows greater wiggle room to negotiate down. In addition, it is unlikely that the other party will walk away from negotiations at this point, so starting high has very little cost.

5. Communicate flexibly

The most successful negotiators are those who communicate well. Understand the person with whom you’re negotiating, and how to assess their likely reactions and your communication skills will improve. Lack of communicative ability will hold you back, while well-rounded interpersonal skills will propel your leadership career.

6. Once the deal is closed, stop negotiating!

As you progress in negotiations, you’ll hit several mini-closes. This might be the conclusion of a point you want to make, a story you wish to tell, or fine details you want to discuss further. Once you have said what you need to, stop talking. Let the other person have their say and put their point across. Not only will you better understand the conterargument or need, you’ll also gain respect for listening well.

7. Always make it personal

Connect with your people and create working relationships that help to progress the organisation and the individual. Learn what makes your people tick, and take a genuine interest in their wellbeing: you’ll find that in any negotiation, having a set of shared values and common goals will enhance the potential for a positive outcome.

Contact Primeast today to discuss our Management Development Series, including our Energy Leadership Program that helps develop high performing managers into inspirational leaders that understand the importance of leadership negotiation skills.

Matching Your Products and Services to Your Clients Needs

Keeping the customer satisfied: the key to profit

It’s a misconception that price drives customer satisfaction scores. After the Great Recession, when businesses and the consumer were nervous about spending, for a couple of years there seemed to be a hiatus in complaints about customer service. Steep discounts appeared to increase spending and placate consumer ire about sub-standard service. Now we’ve returned to a more stable environment, people are noticing poor service − and this takes its toll on sales, revenues, and profits.

In fact, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) customer satisfaction sunk to an all-time low in 2015. Yet some companies managed to avoid deep discounts, improve satisfaction scores, and increase profits. These companies – brands like Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works, and PINK– know the secret to satisfying customer needs and wants.

Communication is the key to satisfying customer needs and wants

The secret to satisfying customer needs and wants is to connect with them. This is what ensures a business always matches products and services to the needs of its customers. Of course, there must be value for the customer across three key areas:

Without having meaningful communication with the customer, a salesperson won’t be able to offer a usefulsolution. He or she will be ill-equipped to satisfy customer needs and wants. It’s also fair to say that a customer’s needs and wants are constantly evolving. So not only must a salesperson have the skillset to communicate effectively with his or her customer, but this communication and relationship must be constantly and ongoing.

7 ways to communicate effectively with customers

Here are seven rules of communication to ensure that you are satisfying customer needs and wants at all times. Make these a part of your everyday approach to customers, and you’ll guarantee you stay one step ahead of your competition.

1.     Be genuine and increase referrals

Happy customers tell at least four others about their positive experience. Get to know your customers on a personal basis, and ensure they know that you care about them and their business. Be timely with your responses, and never over-promise.

2.     Respect the customer

An emotionally intelligent salesperson will understand their customer’s moods, behaviors, and responses. They will be able to act and respond accordingly, keeping open, effective lines of communication and drilling down to root causes of concern. When the customer feels comfortable in the communication process, they will offer more insightful feedback.

3.     Remember that communication is effective when it’s two-way

Ensure your customer knows that their feedback is important by acting upon it. By doing so you’ll reinforce the importance of your working relationship.

4.     Become a trusted partner

Like communication, trust is a two-way street. Keep your customers up to date with proposed changes ahead of time, and invite them to take part in customer surveys. If you’ve made an error, be upfront about it – and don’t forget to act on feedback received.

5.     Encourage transparency by being transparent

Customers respect transparency. It helps build trust, and encourages open and honest communication. Never be afraid of feedback and always be happy to speak to your customers – if you have nothing to hide, your customers won’t hide anything, either.

6.     Listening is important

Two-way communication only works when you listen to what is being communicated: this includes understanding the difference between verbal and non-verbal communication. Take note of what satisfies your customers and what makes them unhappy – and then respond by making necessary changes.

7.     Be consistent and constant

Provide excellent service by communicating regularly. Put your customers at ease by letting them know you share their values, beliefs, concerns, and goals. Be timely and enthusiastic with your responses, and offer the ongoing support that competitors can’t match.

Our Integrity Selling Course will help your sales team onboard new skills, embed methods of identifying customer needs, and hone them to perfection. The result will be a high-impact sales team on an exponential sales curve. Contact us today to discuss how to propel your sales team to qualified success.

Are you using technology to improve sales collaboration?

Get real with assistive technology

Sales organizations across the United States have worked hard to improve the diversity of their workforce, though one area that lags all others is in the employment of disabled people. Perhaps this is because of a misconception about the positive impact that hiring disabled people has. Many studies have shown that inclusive teams perform more productively and help to provide fresh perspectives that drive customer satisfaction and higher sales.

In this article, we look at a few examples of assistive technology that can help you maximize the benefits of collaboration in an inclusive sales team.

The business benefit of employing people with disability

Deloitte found that inclusive teams outperform non-inclusive teams by 80%. Disabled employees work hard, and employers with inclusive teams portray a positive image to the outside world. You’ll find staff retention improves, consequently saving money on hiring and training costs, and there are further financial benefits available from the IRS when hiring disabled workers.

The performance of your disabled employees in sales teams relies on many things. One of these is providing assistive technology that enables their ability to translate into productivity. However, assistive technology does not only help disabled people to perform more effectively – it can boost the whole team’s performance.

How assistive technology helps sales teams

When we consider assistive technology, we naturally consider it as specific to disabled employees. However, utilizing its full potential can lead to better collaboration and more interaction with customers. A simple example is providing subtitles on sales videos for the hard of hearing. Other tools may include:

In call centers, microphone headsets help to reduce muscle strain in the neck and reduce background noise.

Simpler technology such as screen clips to hold documents in place while working from them aid productivity.

Ergonomic keyboards can be adapted to suit individuals, and help to reduce strain in the neck, shoulders, arms, and wrists.

Next generation technology to assist sales

The above types of assistive technology are commonplace. While they are mainly designed to aid disabled people in the workplace, they help all employees to be more productive. But assistive technologies can also be used to boost collaboration and improve sales directly.

For example, the voice-generated text technology that can be used in the office is being increasingly used by customers to conduct online searches for products and services. In the sales team, this can be used to search for experience or expertise that is present within the team when someone has a problem that needs to be solved. Optimizing your internal sales team’s technology for this puts you ahead of your competition when rolling out to customers.

Integrating your assistive technologies with your cloud-based databases ratchets up your opportunities to collaborate across functions within your organization even further. The Cloud enables greater opportunity for remote work and connection to remote customers, sharing information in real time and improving the potential to scale up.

Artificial intelligence technology has the potential to drive collaboration and opportunity in sales even further. Machine learning and natural language processing can help to automate some functions, providing a streamlined route for customers to customer service personnel and making decisions backed by masses of data.

Think about your technology creatively

Many of today’s and tomorrow’s assistive technology can be equally effective for all employees. By considering the needs of your employees and how technology can be implemented, you will develop a workplace that is suitable for employees of all physical abilities. You’ll have no need to consider the expense of providing assistive technology to take advantage of the talent of less able-bodied candidates.

Predictive dialing is another example of how technology can ensure you benefit from all the talent available to you and that they are able to work collaboratively. Incoming leads are dealt with first. Outgoing calls are dialed automatically. Now, combine this with voice-to-text technology that records the calls. You now have a written audit of the call, that can be transferred to any expert needed within your customer services department – without a hand being put on a single piece of equipment.

Assistive technology adapts to all in the workplace. It enables improved customer service, and empowers greater collaboration.

To learn more about developing your sales managers and teams, and how to create the culture needed to benefit from diversified teams using evolving assistive technologies, contact Primeast.

Does Your Culture Encourage Your Sales Team to Listen?

When sales teams listen to their customers, sales numbers will speak for themselves

Listening to others is a transformative quality. It strengthens personal relationships. It improves ideas and solution-finding. It makes customers feel valued and is a key interviewing strategy to identify customer needs. The question is, does your organizational culture reinforce listening as a required behavior?

If your people are anxious when giving feedback to managers, if they fear for their jobs when challenging their boss, then the answer is no. If the boss doesn’t listen to his or her sales team, it’s less likely that salespeople will be good listeners in client meetings. A listening culture requires reinforcement in organizational behavior.

How do sales managers get their people to listen more?

Sales managers must set examples of required behaviors. A ‘do as I say and not as I do’ attitude does not encourage employees to act the way you wish them to. If managers are closed to new ideas and unaccepting of feedback, the organization can expect its employees to behave similarly. So, how do you encourage a listening culture in your organization?

Is an anthropological attitude the key?

Anthropologists approach problems and situations with a strong bias toward qualitative analysis rather than quantitative. Instead of experimentation and statistical analysis, they ask questions and measure response. What if your sales managers approached their work the same way? Instead of measuring performance by the numbers, what if they examined style and substance?

This isn’t denying the importance of the numbers, but instead examining how the numbers are achieved. To base all reward and recognition on, say, sales figures alone, does not encourage salespeople to improve their sales techniques and client meeting skills. It doesn’t empower people to engage with clients with an open mind, or to listen and sell to client needs. Instead, data leads the sales meetings.

How to adopt reinforcement in organizational behavior

Salespeople will follow the lead of their managers. When managers base all their decision-making on hard statistics, salespeople will do the same. If sales managers don’t listen to their people when they wish to discuss clients’ feelings and changing needs, an organization risks its sales.

The leadership of Kodak was wrapped up in its market dominance, confirmed by its sales. It failed to listen to what its customer base wanted – digital photography. This failure to listen eventually caused Kodak’s collapse.

To encourage salespeople to listen, sales managers must listen. They must be open, truthful and transparent. They give feedback effectively and receive feedback constructively.

Sales managers accept bad news calmly. They don’t close off. This encourages people to be open and honest. It is this transparency that empowers successful brainstorming and ideation. Acceptance of challenging points of view, and managing conflict in the workplace can be liberating for an organization. It encourages diversity of opinion and results in better solution discovery. You can motivate diverse thinking by rewarding it.

Encourage your people to operate across silos

A great strategy to develop a listening culture is to have your people operate across work silos. Encourage salespeople to spend time with their interdepartmental colleagues in research and development, manufacturing and fabrication, and customer services. Encourage people to discuss their professional challenges, and discuss the impact that each function has on another.

How do you know you have a listening culture?

A listening culture does not explode into organizational culture. It must be developed and reinforced by organizational behavior from the top down. There are signs that your sales teams are listening internally and externally. These include:

As an organizational behavior, listening is one of the most critical qualities. To embed it in your sales team’s culture, start small and think big. Ask your salespeople what they think. Then thank them for their input before discussing their ideas.

Eliminate the focus on sales targets. Instead, emphasise the need to listen to customers and really understand them. When sales teams listen to their customers, the sales numbers will speak for themselves.

Contact us today, and discover how we could help to unlock the listening ability of your sales teams.

Companies that use Employee Empowerment

While organizations such as Google are often discussed as shining companies that use employee empowerment, there are countless other firms pushing forward in their markets by  engendering a more open and positive culture of empowerment among their people. One such company is Enterprise, the rental car business.

Enterprise’s CEO, Pamela Nicholson, is quite rightly proud of the company’s culture. She says that the basis for Enterprise’s success – it is now the world’s number one rental car business – is to be found in its corporate culture which is indicative of its values. Communicating this culture, and enabling its leaders to empower employees in the accomplishment of their daily business tasks, has been central to the effective execution of the company mission and its business strategy.

Measuring employee empowerment

Enterprise developed tools that measure the effectiveness of its corporate culture. These help to communicate values and expected behaviors, and align goals to vision and mission. Within this framework, employees are encouraged to identify with the corporate culture and self-evaluate their own performance. In particular, attitudes toward customers, work, colleagues and innovation of services are used as a guide for promotion.

Enterprise’s culture and strategy was evolved rapidly to create a positive environment in which managers and team members are directly involved in recruitment and development programs. Now 90% of Enterprise’s managers and leaders are promoted from within.

One of the tools the company uses to create a culture of empowerment is its ESQi survey. Originally devised as a customer questionnaire, the survey now uses customer comments to challenges employees to create solutions to highlighted issues. In turn, the ESQi scores are used as an aid to incentivise employees toward promotion and career advancement, and customer satisfaction is an accepted and agreed corporate value.

An example of employee empowerment in action

Part of the ESQi survey success is to be found in the way it is used internally. League tables are produced that detail performances of branches, regions, and individuals. The collective goal of customer satisfaction is heightened and employees are engaged in the process of creating reality from these goals. Employees are appraised by customers and colleagues, and top-rated employees are rewarded while branches that are performing poorly quickly improve.

One branch which was receiving bad customer reviews was challenged to discover why and then improve. It instigated several rounds of customer surveys and discovered the root cause of poor reviews lay in the ‘time-consuming and frustrating’ procedures used to process repeat business. Armed with this information, the branch’s team members examined their business closely and found the log-jam was created by the need to gather customer details every time a car was hired.

The branch put in place a new process that streamlined information gathering, creating pre-populated forms that could be printed and signed by repeat customers. The change was so successful that the new process was rolled out across the entire organization as standard procedure. Employees’ workflow is reduced, as is paperwork, while customer satisfaction numbers improved along with repeat business numbers.

Empowering employees to empower business success

Companies that use employee empowerment benefit in a number of ways. When employees are engaged with core values and beliefs, and then given the autonomy to improve within that framework, the organization moves forward together. Problems are identified and solutions sought and discovered. Employees see their values align with those of the company for whom they work, and the attainment of the company vision becomes a collective effort. This feeds through to greater customer satisfaction, improving revenues, and increased profitability.

Contact Primeast today, and we’ll help you realize the benefits of empowering your employees.

Build Trust for High-Performance Sales

Activities to Teach Trustworthiness

A 1999 poll carried out by the New York Times and CBS asked, “What percent of people in general are trustworthy?” It found that people believe only 30% of others are trustworthy. When asked how many people who they know are trustworthy, people answered 70%. The lesson we can take from this is that when people know you, you are more likely to be trusted.

We also know that trust is a driver of sales. For example, research from Salesforce found that trust in an organization makes customers behave positively. The 2018 survey found that when customers trust a company:

In short, if your salespeople are trusted by your customers, you will sell more at better prices and gain more customers.

The Factors of Trust

Trust in sales is built by developing rapport – when people know you, they are more likely to trust you. There are four pillars on which this trust stands: capability, dependability, integrity and intimacy. Customers must:

You can help your salespeople to understand the importance of trust in the customer relationship by employing activities to teach trustworthiness in your sales team.

5 Activities to Teach Trustworthiness

“Trust me.” I was once told that if a salesperson ever says that to you, the last thing you should do is trust them. Instead, trust – like respect – must be earned. Salespeople must demonstrate that they can be trusted. Actions speak louder than words. Here are five activities to teach trustworthiness that will help your team understand the nature of trust and the importance of building a trusting relationship with customers.

1. Minefield

Split the team into pairs. One of each pair is blindfolded. Scatter objects on the floor. You now have a minefield. The partner of the blindfolded person must verbally guide him or her through the minefield.

2. Eye Contact

Another pairs activity. Have each pair stand facing each other and staring into each other’s eyes for one minute. Eye contact is important when building rapport, and this exercise ably demonstrates this.

3. Proximity

Ask each pair to stand a comfortable distance apart. After a few seconds, ask them to move closer to each other. Ask how it feels, before asking them to move further apart. This exercise should help salespeople understand the effect of physical proximity, and learn how proximity can shape emotional responses.

4. Blind Walk

Blindfold the group and get them to link together by holding the hand of the person in front. Now lead them on a walk. Start with a five- or 10-minute walk, only speaking to the person behind you to warn of obstacles or provide instructions. This message must be passed down the line, from person to person. Let the group discover how much easier it is to walk blindfolded when they trust the person in front of them: the walk should become progressively easier to complete as trust builds.

5. Running Free

Returning to an exercise executed in pairs, one member is blindfolded. The pair hold hands and start walking together. As trust grows, the pace should pick up, until the pair are jogging or running.

Understand the Nature of Trust and Sales Performance Will Follow

Activities to teach trustworthiness serve to help salespeople develop understanding of the nature of trust, and how it shapes confidence and belief. When a person trusts another, they will be comfortable to be guided. Their confidence in their partner’s capability grows, and they learn that the advice they are given is dependable as their partner acts with integrity.

From here, the sales manager can help develop the behaviors that build trust in sales relationships, providing sales teams with the tools to create positive emotions that will drive sales. Contact us today, and discover how we help sales teams develop trusting relationships with their customers.

Are You a Resilient Salesperson or an Optimistic One?

It’s often said that the best salesmen are the most resilient. But what creates resilience in sales? Ron Willingham, author of Integrity Selling for the 21st Century, believes that emotional resilience is a “necessary trait for a sustained successful sales career”. This resilience enables you to bounce back from the customer who pulls an order, or an issue of bad timing, and continue in the pursuit of the next, undaunted by a temporary defeat.

In this article, we discuss the attribute of optimism as a personality trait and how it is key to becoming a resilient salesperson.

Are optimistic people better at sales?

There have been hundreds of studies into the link between optimism and sales success. Perhaps the most notable of these was one conducted by psychologist Dr Seligman in the mid-1980s. Commissioned by Metropolitan Life, he tracked 15,000 new MetLife sales consultants over two years. Each had taken two tests – the first was MetLife’s screening exam, and the second was Dr Seligman’s profile test which screened for optimism levels.

Over two years, the new hires who had failed the MetLife test but scored highly in the Optimism test outsold pessimistic sales consultants by 21% in their first year and 57% in the second year.

Is your personality trait optimistic or pessimistic?

We are not born as optimists or pessimists. The way we view the world around us, and our own potential to perform in that world, is born in our experiences and how we are ‘persuaded’ to react to them. It is dictated by those around us. Surround yourself with optimistic people, and you, too, will become optimistic.

Consider for a moment how you react when you first meet with a client. Is your focus on:

If you make a mistake, do you look on it as part of the learning experience, or as a reason why you’re not selling? Is rejection simply part of the job, or is it a cause to become disheartened?

By choosing which response to have, you determine your success in sales. So, how do you shape your optimism, and increase your success in sales?

Emotional intelligence can shape your resilience

Your emotional response to adversity – your level of optimism – is what defines your resilience. Your resilience defines your success. Think of the last time you were turned down by a prospect. How did you react to yourself? You may have had a response similar to one of the following:

On the other hand, you may have said to yourself:

The first three reasons are those that an optimist would say. Yes, she’s been defeated this time, but she’s ready to learn from the experience, put it behind her, and then be better equipped to sell next time. And in a few months, she’ll try the same prospect again. She’s optimistic, and resilient to the core.

The second three reasons are those that would be expressed by a pessimist. She’s given up. She’ll let this bad experience haunt her, and she’ll make the same mistakes again. It won’t be long before she’s given up on sales.

Optimism is a natural trait, isn’t it?

Optimism is often referred to as a natural trait. In reality, it is a skill that can be learned. Emotionally intelligent salespeople sell more. They connect to clients more easily, and know how to control their reactions. Because they understand their likely responses, they can work on shaping those responses. Pessimistic people can become optimistic. And optimistic salespeople are resilient salespeople.

Work on your emotional intelligence and develop your optimism. Increased optimism will help you when you most need your personality traits to shine through – in sales meetings, when you’re helping a prospect to understand the benefits of your product or service.

MetLife worked on its sales force, employed more optimistic people and coached consultants to become optimistic. They increased their market shares by 50%.

To answer the question posed by this article – are you a resilient salesperson or an optimistic one? – learn the art of optimism and you’ll increase your resilience. Improved sales will follow.

Our Integrity Selling Course will help your sales team onboard new skills, embed methods of identifying customer needs, and hone them to perfection. The result will be a high-impact sales team on an exponential sales curve. Contact us today, and discover how we could help your sales team to manage themselves, their prospects, and increase sales.

7 Strategies to Engage your Customers & Increase Sales

Accessing the benefits of customer engagement prospecting techniques

Sales is a tough world, highly prone to individual, local, national and international economic influences. When economies and earnings head south, old sales prospecting techniques rarely work. However, there is one focus that will help your sales team and your business come through a downturn and increase its strength. And in the good times, this same focus will ignite sales and increase revenues. This focus is customer engagement.

In this article, I’ll discuss the sales prospecting techniques to use to aid customer engagement and increase sales.

Why you should be excited about customer engagement

The best sales are made to existing customers. They should be easier to sell to, and should be more amenable to placing larger orders. Your competitors will do all they can to get their hands on this business, so it’s important that your salespeople are continually prospecting your current customers. Here are five ways in which customer engagement influences sales:

1.     Engaged customers are informed customers

They know your brand offers the solution they need. The more you engage with a customer, the more trust you build, and the more trust you build the more likely they are to buy from you.

2.     Engaged customers are aware of your brand

It has been said that a customer needs to see an advertisement seven times before considering a purchase. Whether this is true or not, every time you put your name and brand in front of your customer you go to the front of their thinking. Engagement increases brand awareness. This recognition of brand trickles down when it comes to contract renewals or buying additional products.

3.     Engaged customers give clues as to their needs

Every time a customer engages with a salesperson direct or a company through a social media contact, answers a survey, or attends a Q&A seminar, they provide clues as to what their needs and goals are. This information should be used to determine product requirements, purchasing preferences, and sales opportunities.

4.     Engaged customers place larger orders

Research about customer engagement provides evidence that engaged customers spend more. Making a purchase is an increasingly emotional act, and customers will buy from whom they trust. Gallup found that a fully engaged customer spends an average 23% more than an average customer, while a disengaged customer spends 13% less.

5.     Engaged customers become brand advocates

When customers trust you and your brand, they will be happy to refer to others, and act as advocates for your products and services. They may engage with discussions on social media, reply positively to questions about products, and encourage new customers to meet with you.

How can you engage your customers to increase sales?

Gallup’s study, which I mentioned above, defines customers as either fully engaged, indifferent, or actively disengaged. They define these levels of engagement as follows:

Here are seven sales prospecting and engagement techniques your sales team should be using to increase customer engagement toward the fully engaged level:

  1. Improve awareness by improving communication – customer visits, emails, newsletters, and providing updates about product upgrades, add-ons, and current (and future) offers.
  2. Engage customers by all communication channels possible, including online and social media. Ask them what they want, and how you can improve your product and service.
  3. Be consistent in your engagement communication strategy. A customer will soon smell the whiff of desperation if they only hear from you when it is time to renew a contract.
  4. Ensure that your customer support channels are easy to access and use, and coach your support team in products and sales techniques.
  5. When researching the customer, use all data possible and available. This includes data captured from previous communications. You can then shape your approach to match customer needs and goals.
  6. Focus your engagement efforts on customers who advocate for you, spreading your brand name and news about products and services.

And, finally:

Make sure your salespeople are engaging and employ great sales prospecting techniques by:

Engaged customers are more satisfied customers. They are easier to retain, easier to sell to, and are more likely to be brand advocates. The key to increasing revenues and building market shares in sales is to engage your customers and build long-term relationships.

Contact us today, and discover how we could help your sales team to manage themselves, their prospects, and ignite sales.

6 Steps to Integrity Selling

How emotional intelligence and sales process combine for sales success

Many sales courses fail to live up to their promise because they concentrate on process and product rather than the person. A confident, personable salesperson is the one who sells most. Who you are being in sales makes all the difference in the world. The question answered by sales training should not be how to ignite sales, but rather how to ignite the salesperson.

In this article, you’ll discover the six steps to integrity selling®, and the power of emotional intelligence in the selling process. Employing these steps with behavioral change based in emotional intelligence will guarantee you ignite sales and accede targets.

To help the customer buy, don’t sell!

Today’s customers are more informed and better prepared than ever before. If they simply wanted to buy a product, they could do so online. So, what is it that customers really want? They want a solution.

It is therefore paramount that a salesperson focuses on needs, developing an ongoing relationship that resonates with the inner beliefs and values of the customer. It is this deep understanding of customer need that promotes customer confidence in the salesperson. Confidence in the integrity of the salesperson encourages long-term business commitments. Long-term commitment is what truly ignites sales.

Introducing Sales Congruence

There are five dimensions that must be aligned to ignite the selling potential of individuals and their teams. These are:

Where gaps between these occur, inner conflicts arise. These directly impact sales performance. Integrity selling® brings these five dimensions into congruence. The result is a sales team that is freed from inner conflict. Energy and ambition are ignited, and stronger sales skills released. The key to this outcome is developing the individual sales persons emotional competencies for greater self-awareness because: who you are being makes all the difference in the world.

Introducing AIDInc – the customer-focused six steps of integrity selling®

The AIDInc sales model is one of the most powerful tools of integrity selling®. By employing this sales structure rigorously, a salesperson will be using a tried-and-tested sales process which unleashes the unlimited potential created by improving interpersonal emotional competencies. The AIDInc process naturally creates focus on the customer, aiding the salesperson to gain trust, understand needs, and provide a solution.

AIDInc is an acronym for:

1.     Approach

This is the stage at which the salesperson gains trust and rapport with the customer. Make sure that you have done your homework, and have knowledge on the client and their business. The customer will be consciously or unconsciously sizing you up, so dress for success.  Engage the customer in conversation that is focused on getting to know them, this stage is about setting the environment for a conversation of mutual engagement.  Our business environments are filled with disruptions and pressures. As sales people we need to support the client in breaking from the current pressures of the day to focus in on our conversation which is all about them and solving their business challenges.  We gain the right to the next step in the process by doing the Approach well.

2.     Interview

With heightened emotional intelligence, you will be able to be yourself and connect effectively with the customer. Effective communication is the art of motivation and collaboration – you will be collaborating to achieve a solution to the customer’s needs and motivating them to take action.

At this stage, you should seek to build on the initial rapport, and focus on the client and their business issues and needs. This step in the Integrity Selling is process is by far the most important.  In the interview step you are discovering the needs, problems and concerns of your customer.  This is the time to listen, probe and ask questions from curiosity to get at the heart of their challenges.

Take notes, demonstrate your sincerely interest in what you are learning about their situation.  Show that you are fully committed to their needs, finding a solution to their problems and dealing with any concerns.

3.     Demonstrate

This is the point at which you demonstrate that you can provide a solution to the customer’s needs. Demonstrate that you and your company have the knowledge and experience to provide a solution to their stated need and handle any concerns. Use brochures, schematics, drawings, formal proposals and project images to reiterate your ability. In fact, anything that demonstrates your capability to be the solution to the customer’s needs.

4.     Val-I-date

Confirm your experience and abilities. Validate your knowledge. Provide case studies and testimonials as evidence that you have solved this challenge for others.  Be sure to translate features into benefits. Take the time to be sure the customer has validated that they like what you have presented as a solution to their needs.  If there are concerns go back and address them before moving to the next step.

5.     Negotiate

The Negotiating step is about working out problems that keep people from buying something they want to buy.  When you’ve completed the pervious steps in the Integrity Selling process effectively then trust and rapport are strong. On this foundation negotiation becomes a partnership to work through customer concerns.  When trust and rapport are weak almost any negotiation can become combative.

In the Negotiate Step you find out what concerns or objectives remain and you welcome them. You identify and clarify specific objections, discuss solutions and ask their opinions for the best solution.  Agree on a way forward.

6.     Close

You don’t sell in the close, you close after you’ve sold.  In this step you ask trial-closing questions to get opinions and responses. You listen and reinforce the responses, you restate benefits that outweigh cost. Close the deal by asking for a positive decision.  The close is easy when you’ve completed all the other IS steps effectively. The customer will close themselves!

Guaranteeing Maximum Results

The key to igniting sales with the AIDInc process is emotional intelligence. Being self-aware and Other aware is the foundation for emotional intelligence, and it is this that empowers the ability of salespeople to connect personally and professionally with customers. It increases the ability to communicate effectively, collaborate efficiently, and motivate ceaselessly. This is why a key aspect of our Integrity Selling® course is the work it does to expand the beliefs of the salesperson about himself or herself. I’ll say it one last time – who you are being in sales makes all the difference in the world.

Contact us today, and discover how we could help your sales team to manage themselves, their prospects, and ignite sales.

6 Steps to Helping Your Team Achieve Its Sales Objectives

Process to manage time more effectively to ignite sales

In the course leading their teams, sales managers have many responsibilities to contend with, many of which impact their teams’ performance. These responsibilities manifest themselves as decisions in areas such as people management, customer issues, sales opportunities, KPI setting, etc. The amount of time spent on making such decisions cascades to less effective sales performance: the more time a sales manager spends on making decisions, the less time he or she has to influence team performance in the sales arena.

In this article, you’ll learn about a 6-step decision making process that will enable sales managers to make decisions more effectively, and therefore manage their own time and that of their team better. It is also a process that is transferrable into sales itself.

Why is time important in decision making?

If a manager has made a decision and then needs to revisit that decision, he or she will lose valuable time. The delay can frustrate the sales team, damage a manager’s reputation, and diminish the quality of sales made. Assuming that there is no new information, the original decision will not be changed – providing, of course, that the decision has been made using a logical process.

The process of selling and buying is ultimately one in which decision making drives success – by employing this 6-step decision making process, a manager and his or her team will improve the quality of decision making and decrease the time it takes to make decisions. It is also a process that can be used to guide a client through to a positive decision to make a purchase.

Step 1: Information gathering and objective setting

Ask questions to discover the problem or opportunity, and decide upon the objective. Questions to ask may include:

These questions guide the manager as to how to make the decision, and whether it requires teamwork or stakeholders to be involved.

Step 2: Identify the options available

The decision maker must work with an open mind, and be receptive to alternative options that may solve the problem faced. If working in a team, it will be important to communicate effectively, promoting healthy conflict to increase engagement in the process of solution discovery. There is no room for office politics in this 6-step decision making process: a cross section of perspectives will deliver the most creative and constructive ideas.

Step 3: Compare and evaluate the options

Feasibility, risks, and benefits of each option will need to be assessed, as will the impact they may have on others. This should help to reduce the list of options, with the most viable remaining in the process while the others are discarded.

Step 4: Make the decision

Having studied each option in turn, sought feedback, and discussed with the decision making team, the decision is close to hand. This stage is where the final decision is made – a decision that is considered and defendable with logical argument.

Step 5: Implement the decision

Now is time to put the decision made into motion, with the idea evolving into concrete action. The resources needed to do so will have been decided in the earlier stages of this process.

Step 6: Check the decision

Having made the decision and implemented it, the final step is to ensure that the action taken is producing the outcome expected and answering the problem or opportunity identified in the first step. If the results are not as expected and objectives are not being met, then the manager will need to identify why and take new action to correct.

In summary

When making decisions, it is necessary to make the most informed decisions possible. Whether making these decisions as an individual or as a team, working through the 6-step decision making process systematically and thoroughly will ensure better and faster decision making. Poor options will be avoided, as will those that lack the resources to be implemented.

In sales, being able to guide your team to better decision making is key to improving performance. The same process can be employed by salespeople when guiding customers through to making a decision to buy.

5 Sales Appointment Setting Tips

In my last post, we looked at appointment-setting scripts that work. In this post I want to delve a little deeper, and examine the art of communication in the appointment setting context and offer some surefire sales appointment setting tips.

Are you asking for an appointment to be cancelled?

Once all the hard work has been done and you’ve set an appointment to meet with a prospect, the final thing to do to ensure that the appointment is kept is to confirm with the prospect. I’ve heard salespeople on the telephone almost begging for a cancellation without realizing it. Although there has been no intention of doing so, the salesperson making the confirmation call has inadvertently offered an opportunity to cancel. For example:

“Hi, this is Jack Jones from ABC. I’m just calling to make sure you’re still okay for our meeting at 9:30 tomorrow morning?”

This opening may sound fine, and it would be if you were arranging a breakfast with a friend. But when confirming a meeting that you hope will lead to perhaps a large sale and a new, ongoing client relationship, you need to use a far more nuanced technique.

These sales appointment setting tips will help you utilize what you know about the prospect and their needs as well as dismiss those last-minute excuses to back out. Simultaneously, you will be reiterating the need for the sales meeting and pre-closing the sale.

1.     Remember your prospect is busy

It is likely that your prospect will have spent the better part of the day running after others and fighting fires. Understand that when you call the pressures of the day will not have melted away. There may be tension and anxiety that push the prospect to a natural desire to cancel.

You’ll need to personalize your words and message to work with this. Doing so will turn a problem phone call into an opportunity to pre-close.

2.     Don’t be nervous about calling out-of-hours

Leaders and decision makers are rarely nine-to-five people. Their gatekeepers probably are. It may be easier to speak to your prospect – the person with the purse strings – by calling out-of-hours, in the early morning or later in the evening. This also confirms that you, too, work long hours for your clients.

3.     Show empathy

Be empathetic, and understand the problems that your prospect is facing. This is the opportunity to reconfirm the positive aspects of the goods or services you are selling. Exemplifying the way in which you have helped others in the same or similar situation will confirm the need for the purchase.

4.     Remain positive

Remember that you have a great product or service, and one that will add value to your prospect’s business. It will save time, money, increase efficiency, and improve effectiveness. Most of all, it will make your prospect’s life easier.

5.     Close the confirmation call by reiterating the value of meeting

Remain upbeat, and tell the prospect that you’ll keep the appointment as brief as necessary. After all, your product or service is designed to improve business efficiency. Reiterate what the prospect can hope to gain from the meeting, the competitive advantage your product or service will build, and the personal benefits for the prospect by meeting with you.

Confirming the appointment should be seen as a natural progression of sales

These sales appointment setting tips have their basis in emotional intelligence. When you combine conscious communication with emotional intelligence skills, you will become more assertive and simultaneously be seen to be accommodative to client needs.

If you listen and ask appropriate questions, you will convert interest into action, and information into evidence for action – you will improve your alignment with client goals and their affinity with your product or service.

Our integrity selling course will help your sales team onboard new skills and hone those skills to perfection. The result will be a high impact sales team on an exponential sales curve. Contact us today to discuss how to propel your sales team to qualified success.

12 Rules of Influence to Increase Sales

Influencing is at the heart of integrity selling

Many salespeople underachieve because they mistakenly feel that selling is something you do to someone. They believe that once a prospect has been bombarded with a product’s features, advantages and benefits, the sale will be guaranteed. If you (or your team) have patchy sales records, with some customers buying and others not, despite similarity of sales presentation, the likelihood is that you are employing a ‘sell to you’ strategy.

Integrity selling takes a different approach. One that acknowledges how and why people make buying decisions. It is founded on the realization that selling isn’t something you do to someone, but rather something you do with someone, gaining trust and rapport and then influencing the buying decision.

In this post, you’ll learn the 12 rules of influence selling – the first four of which provide the basis for the following eight, which could also be considered as the psychological persuasion tactics in the salesperson’s toolbox.

Prospects are humans, too!

Each prospect you encounter is a complex human being, and not a buying machine waiting for you to press the right button. Just like you and I, your prospect cannot be broken down into several tick boxes. However, there are four basic psychologies which are true of 99% of humans. These traits form the first four rules of influencing a sales decision:

1. People decide with their emotions, then justify with facts

People trust their intuition. The decision to buy something is an emotional one, not a rational one. The features of a product don’t sell it, the benefits to the customer do. Find the emotional need of a customer, and you are halfway to selling your product.

Once they have made the decision to buy, people then seek to justify that decision with logic. They seek facts that support the decision to buy.

For example, someone falling in love with a house. The house they have already is perfectly adequate, but they must have the new house they have seen. So, they read the sales brochure and justify the purchase by reference to the better energy economy, modern kitchen, and extra outdoor space. They want the house because of the feel good factor. They buy the house because they can justify doing so.

2. People buy value solutions

People buy perceived value. Products and services that they believe will provide the best value solution to their problems. There are many factors included when determining value. These include urgency of need, the benefits your solution offers, what the customer is used to paying, and what price others charge. If you can show that your solution provides a value that appears equal to or lower than the asking price, the customer is more likely to buy.

3. People are suspicious and egocentric

People will ask, “What’s in it for me?” They want a service or product to relate to them personally, and they will be suspicious of your offer (especially if it is priced particularly low). You’ll need to provide evidence of any claim you make about your service or product.

4. People cannot be forced to do anything

You cannot force anyone to do anything. Ultimately the choice to buy is theirs. This brings me to the final eight rules of influence to increase sales, and the psychological influencing skills used by the very best salespeople today.

5. Solicit feedback

Prospects want to know that their views are important, and that you are responsive to them. So, ask them their thoughts and opinions. Let them influence you as you influence them. If there is something they tell you that you don’t understand, ask them to clarify. And always repeat what they have said in your own words, to confirm your understanding.

6. Be positive

Display a positive attitude about yourself, your product or service, and about the prospect’s responses to your questions.

7. Focus on the customer, not the product or service being sold

Let the prospect know that you value the customer above all else, and that your values are congruent with theirs. Your mission is to ensure that the prospect knows they are central to your objectives, and that the sale is secondary. Remember, people are egocentric!

8. Persuasion happens at an instinctive level

Prospects turn into customers by making subconscious decisions, determined by emotional response. They feel the need to buy before they rationalize their decision.

9. Be sincere

Listen to your prospect, and understand their needs. Create rapport by showing empathy, recognizing their concerns, and valuing their views.

10. Reinforce sincerity with your body language

Don’t neglect the importance of body language. Nod approval, make eye contact lean forward toward your prospect to show interest, and smile when appropriate to do so.

11. Be sincere with verbal communication

Of course, the words you use are equally important to the body language they accompany. Use phrases such as “I see”, “I understand”, etc. When asking questions to clarify points made, make sure they are open questions that put the prospect at the heart of the conversation. For example, “Tell me more about the concerns you have”, and “How did that make you feel?”.

12. Use the law of psychological reciprocity

People give back as they receive. The feelings, attitudes and responses you give will be reciprocated. Make your central focus the creation of value for the prospect. Subconsciously, they will want to return value to you. Often, this means buying from you – and then referring you to others.

These 12 rules of influence selling aptly inform the power of integrity selling.

Contact us today, and discover how we could help your sales team to manage themselves, their prospects, and ignite sales.

7 Interviewing Methods of Identifying Customer Needs

There have been plenty of books, papers, and articles written about methods of identifying customer needs, though most fall short of discussing the importance of communicating consciously as a sales strategy. While books like Customer Analytics for Dummies discuss 10 methods for identifying customer needs, we find that the majority of such content concentrate solely on process rather than tackling the emotional side of sales.

The best salespeople are those who connect with customers and communicate effectively to discover what the customer really wants. When this happens, the salesperson can concentrate on satisfying customer needs and wants by selling the value proposition.

Here are the top interviewing methods of identifying customer needs:

1.     Learn to listen

Effective communication is achieved firstly by listening effectively. Make the prospect aware that you are listening by reacting to what is being said, asking pertinent questions, and never interrupting.

2.     Avoid making negative comments

Negative comments, and negative questions in particular, lead to confusion and an atmosphere of negativity. There is also the possibility that a negative comment could be heard as if intended sarcastically (“You don’t have a CRM system, do you?”). It’s best to ask open questions, but if you need to ask closed questions, ask them positively.

Getting into the habit of being positive will flow through to the way you describe products and services, too.

3.     Communicate energetically

Be enthusiastic when communicating. Understand how your body language says more about you than your words, and how you can use nonverbal communication to evidence you interest and communicate your energy.

4.     Learn to ‘read the customer’

Just as your body language will give you away, so too will the customers give themselves away. One of the key methods of identifying customer needs is to first identify with him or her. Reading body language will give clues to levels of excitement, antagonism, anxiety, etc.

5.     Be sensitive to the customer’s shortcomings

The customer is likely to have less technical knowledge than you. This is your advantage, but you mustn’t bamboozle them with technical language and jargon that will leave them feeling inferior. On the other hand, over-explaining will make the customer feel like you are talking down to them, damaging the chances of making a sale even more so.

6.     Be clear, concise, and careful

When talking to customers, always do so with clarity. Don’t take 1,000 words when 10 will do. And be careful how you say things. It is easy to misinterpret meaning, so think carefully about what you’re saying and to whom.

7.     Remember that people buy on emotion

Recognize the emotional reactions that customers have, and use these to your advantage. A customer doesn’t buy a new printer because it has a new paper feed system that jams less often – he or she buys it because it eliminates the frustration caused by endless hours of manually feeding paper into the existing machine.

Our Integrity Selling Course will help your sales team onboard new skills, embed methods of identifying customer needs, and hone to perfection. The result will be a high impact sales team on an exponential sales curve. Contact us today to discuss how to propel your sales team to qualified success.

The 7 Characteristics of a Successful Salesperson

Sales Mindset 101

In the first of this series of articles we looked at the way in which the strategy of selling now requires a combination of modern and traditional sales techniques. In this article we explore this mix of techniques further, and examine the characteristics of a successful salesperson.

Is it only about selling with noble purpose?

Lisa Earle Mcleod wrote her book “Selling with Noble Purpose: How to Drive Revenue and Do Work That Makes You Proud” after researching a biotech company’s six-month study of its sales force. The company’s study found that those salespeople that sold with a sense of purpose sold best. The real power sales were made by those that had what the company termed a ‘noble purpose’ – they wanted to make a real difference to their clients and were not focused solely on profit.

But how does this translate into the characteristics of a successful salesperson?

Customers buy the solution to a problem not the product

When someone buys a hammer, they don’t necessarily want the hammer; rather, they need a nail in a wall. They have a wall, a picture, and a nail. The problem they have is getting the nail in the wall: the hammer is the solution to that problem.

Customers buy from someone they like and trust

Having established that people buy a solution to their problem, the next step is to understand that, no matter the solution, people buy from people. A person will deal with someone they like and trust. If this doesn’t exist, the sale will fall through no matter how good the product.

The 7 characteristics of a successful salesperson

A customer moves through three phases of attachment during the sales process.

First, he or she makes a rapid assessment of the salesperson’s character. They must conclude that they both like and trust the salesperson before they will listen further. At this point, they will listen to the salesperson’s solution to the problem.

Without the personality traits that create like and trust, a salesperson will never reach full potential. However, the salesperson must also have the character that leads them to succeed.

Here are seven characteristics that we have identified as key to success:

1. Disciplined

A successful salesperson maintains his or her discipline at every stage. Cold calls are made diligently, leads are comprehensively qualified, and sales meetings are followed up. When they promise to do something, they follow through.

2. Charismatic

Captivating conversation starts with product and service knowledge, but continues with an easy and engaging manner. Difficult concepts are explained in simple language, and the salesperson is able to listen and ask questions, answer inquiries and concerns.

3. Motivation

Salespersons must be motivated to succeed. They should have belief in the product, the company’s values, and, most importantly, the motivation to ensure that the customer’s needs are satisfied – and that includes ongoing needs (which lead to upselling opportunities).

4. Lazily energetic!

The best salespeople are rarely ever the busiest. They economize their time, rather than using busy scheules as a status symbol. They have well-honed skills to ensure that their cold call success is high (we will look at cold calling in a few weeks) and they are potent closers. In other words, they look for simple but comprehensive solutions.

5. Accept responsibility

The salesperson must accept responsibility for the sale. Ideally, they should not seek excuses for a poor sale or deflect positive feedback from a success. This acceptance of responsibility creates tremendous power to find selling solutions. Salespeople who take responsibility build trust with customers.

6. Resilience

Even the very best salespeople face rejection, and learn that it is part of the job. However, while resilient to rejection, the best salespeople can ask themselves why they were rejected without feeling judgement. With the responsibility for rejection identified, the salesperson can take action to learn and improve.

7. Emotional Intelligence

Salespeople who have strong emotional intelligence have highly developed skills to identify and manage both their own emotions and those of others. They understand how to recognize what customers feel, how they are likely to react, and are able to communicate effectively and with empathy. These qualities that help to build the trust that is necessary for high performance sales.

Summing up

Customers need to feel confident not only about the product but also the salesperson. Salespeople who think less about the money and more about the customer are those that have the greatest sales numbers.

The characteristics of a successful salesperson that we’ve highlighted above will provide a path to high-performance sales. They will propel your organization to increased revenues, higher margins, and greater profitability.

At Primeast, we work with sales teams and salespeople to increase their emotional intelligence and improve the characteristics that smooth the path to exponentially increasing sales. Contact Primeast today to discover how our Integrity Selling Course will propel your sales team to the next level.

How to Penetrate the Market with a New Product

Create a product push strategy from product position to training

When selling in a crowded market, your sales strategy is the foundation on which your success will be built. However, when developing a strategy to answer the question of how to penetrate the market with a new product, a company must also consider product positioning and publicity. These strategies can help you improve your sales in competitive markets.

Engage Your Sales Team

Your salespeople are integral to the process of positioning your product and marketing it. They know your target customer, and have built meaningful client relationships. Encourage your salespeople to also know and understand the competition, how they position their products, and the strategies they are using. This information becomes invaluable when positioning a new product.

Comprehensive Sales Team Training

Launching a new product can be a nerve-wracking endeavour. To empower your sales team, provide thorough product demonstrations to ensure they fully grasp its features and benefits. This knowledge equips them to confidently offer solutions to customer needs.

Encourage Self-Directed Learning

In addition to formal training, foster an environment where your sales team takes ownership of their learning. Encourage them to assess product pitches, analyze what works and what doesn’t, and collaborate to develop a sales strategy that effectively communicates the new product’s value to customers.

Promote Knowledge Sharing

Facilitate an environment where sales team members openly share their experiences, both successes and failures, in selling the new product. Provide platforms for knowledge exchange among salespeople, fostering continuous learning.

Leverage Existing Customer Relationships

Utilize value propositions to re-engage existing customers who may have disengaged. If previous products lacked certain elements, the new product launch can present an ideal opportunity for upselling.

Effective Product Positioning

Leverage your sales team’s knowledge and expertise to craft a product positioning strategy that accomplishes three key goals:

Strategic Product Publicity

With a clear product positioning strategy, you’re ready to craft your marketing plan. Generate buzz through social media, email campaigns, traditional advertising, and trade fair promotions. Ensure that all marketing materials and messages:

By involving your sales team early in strategy discussions, you gain invaluable customer profiling data that informs a focused and targeted marketing message. With effective positioning and publicity in place, you can confidently roll out your new product to the market. Harness your sales team’s strength and build upon established customer relationships, combining strong sales skills with emotional intelligence. Selling a new product becomes seamless when your sales team is trusted, and they offer early access to an exceptional product.

Product Push: Creating Sales Success

Now, as you gear up to penetrate the market, it’s time to unleash your product with confidence. Your well-crafted strategy and your sales team’s expertise ensure you’re not starting from square one. However, it’s time to revisit the basics. Here’s where the seven traits of a successful salesperson come into full play.

Selling a new product is most easily done by a salesperson who is liked and trusted, and when sold to those existing customers with whom the salesperson has developed a strong business relationship. When strong sales skills are combined with high emotional intelligence and back-to-basics techniques, the result is a cocktail of powerful selling ability that will ignite sales.

Sales managers must ensure that their sales teams understand the new product, how it is positioned in the market, and the key benefits it offers to new and existing customers. Therefore, it is incumbent on sales managers to provide adequate training in the lead-in to a new product launch, as, ultimately, it will be the sales team that drives success.

Still, there will be resistance to ‘trialling’ a new product. Salespeople who are adept at gaining trust, and connecting not only with needs and wants but also on a greater emotional level, will be able to position the sale as what it is: early-stage access to a great new product. By requesting the client’s valuable feedback, and listening to it before taking appropriate actions, your company will be best placed to evolve its product placement and publicity strategies to take full advantage of the real market potential.

Remember:

The better you are at understanding your market, and the closer your salespeople get to your customers, the better you will position your new product. And a well-positioned new product markets itself.

The 7 Characteristics of a Successful Salesperson

Sales Mindset 101

In the first of this series of articles we looked at the way in which the strategy of selling now requires a combination of modern and traditional sales techniques. In this article we explore this mix of techniques further, and examine the characteristics of a successful salesperson.

Is it only about selling with noble purpose?

Lisa Earle Mcleod wrote her book “Selling with Noble Purpose: How to Drive Revenue and Do Work That Makes You Proud” after researching a biotech company’s six-month study of its sales force. The company’s study found that those salespeople that sold with a sense of purpose sold best. The real power sales were made by those that had what the company termed a ‘noble purpose’ – they wanted to make a real difference to their clients and were not focused solely on profit.

But how does this translate into the characteristics of a successful salesperson?

Customers buy the solution to a problem not the product

When someone buys a hammer, they don’t necessarily want the hammer; rather, they need a nail in a wall. They have a wall, a picture, and a nail. The problem they have is getting the nail in the wall: the hammer is the solution to that problem.

Customers buy from someone they like and trust

Having established that people buy a solution to their problem, the next step is to understand that, no matter the solution, people buy from people. A person will deal with someone they like and trust. If this doesn’t exist, the sale will fall through no matter how good the product.

The 7 characteristics of a successful salesperson

A customer moves through three phases of attachment during the sales process.

First, he or she makes a rapid assessment of the salesperson’s character. They must conclude that they both like and trust the salesperson before they will listen further. At this point, they will listen to the salesperson’s solution to the problem.

Without the personality traits that create like and trust, a salesperson will never reach full potential. However, the salesperson must also have the character that leads them to succeed.

Here are seven characteristics that we have identified as key to success:

1. Disciplined

A successful salesperson maintains his or her discipline at every stage. Cold calls are made diligently, leads are comprehensively qualified, and sales meetings are followed up. When they promise to do something, they follow through.

2. Charismatic

Captivating conversation starts with product and service knowledge, but continues with an easy and engaging manner. Difficult concepts are explained in simple language, and the salesperson is able to listen and ask questions, answer inquiries and concerns.

3. Motivation

Salespersons must be motivated to succeed. They should have belief in the product, the company’s values, and, most importantly, the motivation to ensure that the customer’s needs are satisfied – and that includes ongoing needs (which lead to upselling opportunities).

4. Lazily energetic!

The best salespeople are rarely ever the busiest. They economize their time, rather than using busy scheules as a status symbol. They have well-honed skills to ensure that their cold call success is high (we will look at cold calling in a few weeks) and they are potent closers. In other words, they look for simple but comprehensive solutions.

5. Accept responsibility

The salesperson must accept responsibility for the sale. Ideally, they should not seek excuses for a poor sale or deflect positive feedback from a success. This acceptance of responsibility creates tremendous power to find selling solutions. Salespeople who take responsibility build trust with customers.

6. Resilience

Even the very best salespeople face rejection, and learn that it is part of the job. However, while resilient to rejection, the best salespeople can ask themselves why they were rejected without feeling judgement. With the responsibility for rejection identified, the salesperson can take action to learn and improve.

7. Emotional Intelligence

Salespeople who have strong emotional intelligence have highly developed skills to identify and manage both their own emotions and those of others. They understand how to recognise what customers feel, how they are likely to react, and are able to communicate effectively and with empathy. These qualities that help to build the trust that is necessary for high performance sales.

Summing up

Customers need to feel confident not only about the product but also the salesperson. Salespeople who think less about the money and more about the customer are those that have the greatest sales numbers.

The characteristics of a successful salesperson that we’ve highlighted above will provide a path to high-performance sales. They will propel your organisation to increased revenues, higher margins, and greater profitability.

At Primeast, we work with sales teams and salespeople to increase their emotional intelligence and improve the characteristics that smooth the path to exponentially increasing sales. Contact Primeast today to discover how our Integrity Selling Course will propel your sales team to the next level.

How to Penetrate the Market with a New Product

Create a product push strategy from product position to training

When selling in a crowded market, your sales strategy is the foundation on which your success will be built. However, when developing a strategy to answer the question of how to penetrate the market with a new product, a company must also consider product positioning and publicity. These strategies can help you improve your sales in competitive markets.

Engage Your Sales Team

Your salespeople are integral to the process of positioning your product and marketing it. They know your target customer, and have built meaningful client relationships. Encourage your salespeople to also know and understand the competition, how they position their products, and the strategies they are using. This information becomes invaluable when positioning a new product.

Comprehensive Sales Team Training

Launching a new product can be a nerve-wracking endeavour. To empower your sales team, provide thorough product demonstrations to ensure they fully grasp its features and benefits. This knowledge equips them to confidently offer solutions to customer needs.

Encourage Self-Directed Learning

In addition to formal training, foster an environment where your sales team takes ownership of their learning. Encourage them to assess product pitches, analyze what works and what doesn’t, and collaborate to develop a sales strategy that effectively communicates the new product’s value to customers.

Promote Knowledge Sharing

Facilitate an environment where sales team members openly share their experiences, both successes and failures, in selling the new product. Provide platforms for knowledge exchange among salespeople, fostering continuous learning.

Leverage Existing Customer Relationships

Utilize value propositions to re-engage existing customers who may have disengaged. If previous products lacked certain elements, the new product launch can present an ideal opportunity for upselling.

Effective Product Positioning

Leverage your sales team’s knowledge and expertise to craft a product positioning strategy that accomplishes three key goals:

Strategic Product Publicity

With a clear product positioning strategy, you’re ready to craft your marketing plan. Generate buzz through social media, email campaigns, traditional advertising, and trade fair promotions. Ensure that all marketing materials and messages:

By involving your sales team early in strategy discussions, you gain invaluable customer profiling data that informs a focused and targeted marketing message. With effective positioning and publicity in place, you can confidently roll out your new product to the market. Harness your sales team’s strength and build upon established customer relationships, combining strong sales skills with emotional intelligence. Selling a new product becomes seamless when your sales team is trusted, and they offer early access to an exceptional product.

Product Push: Creating Sales Success

Now, as you gear up to penetrate the market, it’s time to unleash your product with confidence. Your well-crafted strategy and your sales team’s expertise ensure you’re not starting from square one. However, it’s time to revisit the basics. Here’s where the seven traits of a successful salesperson come into full play.

Selling a new product is most easily done by a salesperson who is liked and trusted, and when sold to those existing customers with whom the salesperson has developed a strong business relationship. When strong sales skills are combined with high emotional intelligence and back-to-basics techniques, the result is a cocktail of powerful selling ability that will ignite sales.

Sales managers must ensure that their sales teams understand the new product, how it is positioned in the market, and the key benefits it offers to new and existing customers. Therefore, it is incumbent on sales managers to provide adequate training in the lead-in to a new product launch, as, ultimately, it will be the sales team that drives success.

Still, there will be resistance to ‘trialling’ a new product. Salespeople who are adept at gaining trust, and connecting not only with needs and wants but also on a greater emotional level, will be able to position the sale as what it is: early-stage access to a great new product. By requesting the client’s valuable feedback, and listening to it before taking appropriate actions, your company will be best placed to evolve its product placement and publicity strategies to take full advantage of the real market potential.

Remember:

The better you are at understanding your market, and the closer your salespeople get to your customers, the better you will position your new product. And a well-positioned new product markets itself.

Matching Your Products and Services to Your Clients Needs

Keeping the customer satisfied: the key to profit

It’s a misconception that price drives customer satisfaction scores. After the Great Recession, when businesses and the consumer were nervous about spending, for a couple of years there seemed to be a hiatus in complaints about customer service. Steep discounts appeared to increase spending and placate consumer ire about sub-standard service. Now we’ve returned to a more stable environment, people are noticing poor service − and this takes its toll on sales, revenues, and profits.

In fact, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) customer satisfaction sunk to an all-time low in 2015. Yet some companies managed to avoid deep discounts, improve satisfaction scores, and increase profits. These companies – brands like Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works, and PINK– know the secret to satisfying customer needs and wants.

Communication is the key to satisfying customer needs and wants

The secret to satisfying customer needs and wants is to connect with them. This is what ensures a business always matches products and services to the needs of its customers. Of course, there must be value for the customer across three key areas:

Without having meaningful communication with the customer, a salesperson won’t be able to offer a usefulsolution. He or she will be ill-equipped to satisfy customer needs and wants. It’s also fair to say that a customer’s needs and wants are constantly evolving. So not only must a salesperson have the skillset to communicate effectively with his or her customer, but this communication and relationship must be constantly and ongoing.

7 ways to communicate effectively with customers

Here are seven rules of communication to ensure that you are satisfying customer needs and wants at all times. Make these a part of your everyday approach to customers, and you’ll guarantee you stay one step ahead of your competition.

1.     Be genuine and increase referrals

Happy customers tell at least four others about their positive experience. Get to know your customers on a personal basis, and ensure they know that you care about them and their business. Be timely with your responses, and never over-promise.

2.     Respect the customer

An emotionally intelligent salesperson will understand their customer’s moods, behaviours, and responses. They will be able to act and respond accordingly, keeping open, effective lines of communication and drilling down to root causes of concern. When the customer feels comfortable in the communication process, they will offer more insightful feedback.

3.     Remember that communication is effective when it’s two-way

Ensure your customer knows that their feedback is important by acting upon it. By doing so you’ll reinforce the importance of your working relationship.

4.     Become a trusted partner

Like communication, trust is a two-way street. Keep your customers up to date with proposed changes ahead of time, and invite them to take part in customer surveys. If you’ve made an error, be upfront about it – and don’t forget to act on feedback received.

5.     Encourage transparency by being transparent

Customers respect transparency. It helps build trust, and encourages open and honest communication. Never be afraid of feedback and always be happy to speak to your customers – if you have nothing to hide, your customers won’t hide anything, either.

6.     Listening is important

Two-way communication only works when you listen to what is being communicated: this includes understanding the difference between verbal and non-verbal communication. Take note of what satisfies your customers and what makes them unhappy – and then respond by making necessary changes.

7.     Be consistent and constant

Provide excellent service by communicating regularly. Put your customers at ease by letting them know you share their values, beliefs, concerns, and goals. Be timely and enthusiastic with your responses, and offer the ongoing support that competitors can’t match.

Our Integrity Selling Course will help your sales team onboard new skills, embed methods of identifying customer needs, and hone them to perfection. The result will be a high-impact sales team on an exponential sales curve. Contact us today to discuss how to propel your sales team to qualified success.

Does Your Culture Encourage Your Sales Team to Listen?

When sales teams listen to their customers, sales numbers will speak for themselves

Listening to others is a transformative quality. It strengthens personal relationships. It improves ideas and solution-finding. It makes customers feel valued and is a key interviewing strategy to identify customer needs. The question is, does your organisational culture reinforce listening as a required behaviour?

If your people are anxious when giving feedback to managers, if they fear for their jobs when challenging their boss, then the answer is no. If the boss doesn’t listen to his or her sales team, it’s less likely that salespeople will be good listeners in client meetings. A listening culture requires reinforcement in organisational behaviour.

How do sales managers get their people to listen more?

Sales managers must set examples of required behaviours. A ‘do as I say and not as I do’ attitude does not encourage employees to act the way you wish them to. If managers are closed to new ideas and unaccepting of feedback, the organisation can expect its employees to behave similarly. So, how do you encourage a listening culture in your organisation?

Is an anthropological attitude the key?

Anthropologists approach problems and situations with a strong bias toward qualitative analysis rather than quantitative. Instead of experimentation and statistical analysis, they ask questions and measure response. What if your sales managers approached their work the same way? Instead of measuring performance by the numbers, what if they examined style and substance?

This isn’t denying the importance of the numbers, but instead examining how the numbers are achieved. To base all reward and recognition on, say, sales figures alone, does not encourage salespeople to improve their sales techniques and client meeting skills. It doesn’t empower people to engage with clients with an open mind, or to listen and sell to client needs. Instead, data leads the sales meetings.

How to adopt reinforcement in organisational behaviour

Salespeople will follow the lead of their managers. When managers base all their decision-making on hard statistics, salespeople will do the same. If sales managers don’t listen to their people when they wish to discuss clients’ feelings and changing needs, an organisation risks its sales.

The leadership of Kodak was wrapped up in its market dominance, confirmed by its sales. It failed to listen to what its customer base wanted – digital photography. This failure to listen eventually caused Kodak’s collapse.

To encourage salespeople to listen, sales managers must listen. They must be open, truthful and transparent. They give feedback effectively and receive feedback constructively.

Sales managers accept bad news calmly. They don’t close off. This encourages people to be open and honest. It is this transparency that empowers successful brainstorming and ideation. Acceptance of challenging points of view, and managing conflict in the workplace can be liberating for an organisation. It encourages diversity of opinion and results in better solution discovery. You can motivate diverse thinking by rewarding it.

Encourage your people to operate across silos

A great strategy to develop a listening culture is to have your people operate across work silos. Encourage salespeople to spend time with their interdepartmental colleagues in research and development, manufacturing and fabrication, and customer services. Encourage people to discuss their professional challenges, and discuss the impact that each function has on another.

How do you know you have a listening culture?

A listening culture does not explode into organisational culture. It must be developed and reinforced by organisational behaviour from the top down. There are signs that your sales teams are listening internally and externally. These include:

As an organisational behaviour, listening is one of the most critical qualities. To embed it in your sales team’s culture, start small and think big. Ask your salespeople what they think. Then thank them for their input before discussing their ideas.

Eliminate the focus on sales targets. Instead, emphasise the need to listen to customers and really understand them. When sales teams listen to their customers, the sales numbers will speak for themselves.

Contact us today, and discover how we could help to unlock the listening ability of your sales teams.

Companies that use Employee Empowerment

While organizations such as Google are often discussed as shining companies that use employee empowerment, there are countless other firms pushing forward in their markets by  engendering a more open and positive culture of empowerment among their people. One such company is Enterprise, the rental car business.

Enterprise’s CEO, Pamela Nicholson, is quite rightly proud of the company’s culture. She says that the basis for Enterprise’s success – it is now the world’s number one rental car business – is to be found in its corporate culture which is indicative of its values. Communicating this culture, and enabling its leaders to empower employees in the accomplishment of their daily business tasks, has been central to the effective execution of the company mission and its business strategy.

Measuring employee empowerment

Enterprise developed tools that measure the effectiveness of its corporate culture. These help to communicate values and expected behaviors, and align goals to vision and mission. Within this framework, employees are encouraged to identify with the corporate culture and self-evaluate their own performance. In particular, attitudes toward customers, work, colleagues and innovation of services are used as a guide for promotion.

Enterprise’s culture and strategy was evolved rapidly to create a positive environment in which managers and team members are directly involved in recruitment and development programs. Now 90% of Enterprise’s managers and leaders are promoted from within.

One of the tools the company uses to create a culture of empowerment is its ESQi survey. Originally devised as a customer questionnaire, the survey now uses customer comments to challenges employees to create solutions to highlighted issues. In turn, the ESQi scores are used as an aid to incentivise employees toward promotion and career advancement, and customer satisfaction is an accepted and agreed corporate value.

An example of employee empowerment in action

Part of the ESQi survey success is to be found in the way it is used internally. League tables are produced that detail performances of branches, regions, and individuals. The collective goal of customer satisfaction is heightened and employees are engaged in the process of creating reality from these goals. Employees are appraised by customers and colleagues, and top-rated employees are rewarded while branches that are performing poorly quickly improve.

One branch which was receiving bad customer reviews was challenged to discover why and then improve. It instigated several rounds of customer surveys and discovered the root cause of poor reviews lay in the ‘time-consuming and frustrating’ procedures used to process repeat business. Armed with this information, the branch’s team members examined their business closely and found the log-jam was created by the need to gather customer details every time a car was hired.

The branch put in place a new process that streamlined information gathering, creating pre-populated forms that could be printed and signed by repeat customers. The change was so successful that the new process was rolled out across the entire organization as standard procedure. Employees’ workflow is reduced, as is paperwork, while customer satisfaction numbers improved along with repeat business numbers.

Empowering employees to empower business success

Companies that use employee empowerment benefit in a number of ways. When employees are engaged with core values and beliefs, and then given the autonomy to improve within that framework, the organisation moves forward together. Problems are identified and solutions sought and discovered. Employees see their values align with those of the company for whom they work, and the attainment of the company vision becomes a collective effort. This feeds through to greater customer satisfaction, improving revenues, and increased profitability.

Contact Primeast today, and we’ll help you realize the benefits of empowering your employees.

Build Trust for High-Performance Sales

Activities to Teach Trustworthiness

A 1999 poll carried out by the New York Times and CBS asked, “What percent of people in general are trustworthy?” It found that people believe only 30% of others are trustworthy. When asked how many people who they know are trustworthy, people answered 70%. The lesson we can take from this is that when people know you, you are more likely to be trusted.

We also know that trust is a driver of sales. For example, research from Salesforce found that trust in an organization makes customers behave positively. The 2018 survey found that when customers trust a company:

In short, if your salespeople are trusted by your customers, you will sell more at better prices and gain more customers.

The Factors of Trust

Trust in sales is built by developing rapport – when people know you, they are more likely to trust you. There are four pillars on which this trust stands: capability, dependability, integrity and intimacy. Customers must:

You can help your salespeople to understand the importance of trust in the customer relationship by employing activities to teach trustworthiness in your sales team.

5 Activities to Teach Trustworthiness

“Trust me.” I was once told that if a salesperson ever says that to you, the last thing you should do is trust them. Instead, trust – like respect – must be earned. Salespeople must demonstrate that they can be trusted. Actions speak louder than words. Here are five activities to teach trustworthiness that will help your team understand the nature of trust and the importance of building a trusting relationship with customers.

1. Minefield

Split the team into pairs. One of each pair is blindfolded. Scatter objects on the floor. You now have a minefield. The partner of the blindfolded person must verbally guide him or her through the minefield.

2. Eye Contact

Another pairs activity. Have each pair stand facing each other and staring into each other’s eyes for one minute. Eye contact is important when building rapport, and this exercise ably demonstrates this.

3. Proximity

Ask each pair to stand a comfortable distance apart. After a few seconds, ask them to move closer to each other. Ask how it feels, before asking them to move further apart. This exercise should help salespeople understand the effect of physical proximity, and learn how proximity can shape emotional responses.

4. Blind Walk

Blindfold the group and get them to link together by holding the hand of the person in front. Now lead them on a walk. Start with a five- or 10-minute walk, only speaking to the person behind you to warn of obstacles or provide instructions. This message must be passed down the line, from person to person. Let the group discover how much easier it is to walk blindfolded when they trust the person in front of them: the walk should become progressively easier to complete as trust builds.

5. Running Free

Returning to an exercise executed in pairs, one member is blindfolded. The pair hold hands and start walking together. As trust grows, the pace should pick up, until the pair are jogging or running.

Understand the Nature of Trust and Sales Performance Will Follow

Activities to teach trustworthiness serve to help salespeople develop understanding of the nature of trust, and how it shapes confidence and belief. When a person trusts another, they will be comfortable to be guided. Their confidence in their partner’s capability grows, and they learn that the advice they are given is dependable as their partner acts with integrity.

From here, the sales manager can help develop the behaviors that build trust in sales relationships, providing sales teams with the tools to create positive emotions that will drive sales. Contact us today, and discover how we help sales teams develop trusting relationships with their customers.

Are you using technology to improve sales collaboration?

Get real with assistive technology

Sales organizations across the United States have worked hard to improve the diversity of their workforce, though one area that lags all others is in the employment of disabled people. Perhaps this is because of a misconception about the positive impact that hiring disabled people has. Many studies have shown that inclusive teams perform more productively and help to provide fresh perspectives that drive customer satisfaction and higher sales.

In this article, we look at a few examples of assistive technology that can help you maximize the benefits of collaboration in an inclusive sales team.

The business benefit of employing people with disability

Deloitte found that inclusive teams outperform non-inclusive teams by 80%. Disabled employees work hard, and employers with inclusive teams portray a positive image to the outside world. You’ll find staff retention improves, consequently saving money on hiring and training costs, and there are further financial benefits available from the IRS when hiring disabled workers.

The performance of your disabled employees in sales teams relies on many things. One of these is providing assistive technology that enables their ability to translate into productivity. However, assistive technology does not only help disabled people to perform more effectively – it can boost the whole team’s performance.

How assistive technology helps sales teams

When we consider assistive technology, we naturally consider it as specific to disabled employees. However, utilizing its full potential can lead to better collaboration and more interaction with customers. A simple example is providing subtitles on sales videos for the hard of hearing. Other tools may include:

In call centers, microphone headsets help to reduce muscle strain in the neck and reduce background noise.

Simpler technology such as screen clips to hold documents in place while working from them aid productivity.

Ergonomic keyboards can be adapted to suit individuals, and help to reduce strain in the neck, shoulders, arms, and wrists.

Next generation technology to assist sales

The above types of assistive technology are commonplace. While they are mainly designed to aid disabled people in the workplace, they help all employees to be more productive. But assistive technologies can also be used to boost collaboration and improve sales directly.

For example, the voice-generated text technology that can be used in the office is being increasingly used by customers to conduct online searches for products and services. In the sales team, this can be used to search for experience or expertise that is present within the team when someone has a problem that needs to be solved. Optimizing your internal sales team’s technology for this puts you ahead of your competition when rolling out to customers.

Integrating your assistive technologies with your cloud-based databases ratchets up your opportunities to collaborate across functions within your organization even further. The Cloud enables greater opportunity for remote work and connection to remote customers, sharing information in real time and improving the potential to scale up.

Artificial intelligence technology has the potential to drive collaboration and opportunity in sales even further. Machine learning and natural language processing can help to automate some functions, providing a streamlined route for customers to customer service personnel and making decisions backed by masses of data.

Think about your technology creatively

Many of today’s and tomorrow’s assistive technology can be equally effective for all employees. By considering the needs of your employees and how technology can be implemented, you will develop a workplace that is suitable for employees of all physical abilities. You’ll have no need to consider the expense of providing assistive technology to take advantage of the talent of less able-bodied candidates.

Predictive dialing is another example of how technology can ensure you benefit from all the talent available to you and that they are able to work collaboratively. Incoming leads are dealt with first. Outgoing calls are dialed automatically. Now, combine this with voice-to-text technology that records the calls. You now have a written audit of the call, that can be transferred to any expert needed within your customer services department – without a hand being put on a single piece of equipment.

Assistive technology adapts to all in the workplace. It enables improved customer service, and empowers greater collaboration.

To learn more about developing your sales managers and teams, and how to create the culture needed to benefit from diversified teams using evolving assistive technologies, contact Primeast.

Are You a Resilient Salesperson or an Optimistic One?

It’s often said that the best salesmen are the most resilient. But what creates resilience in sales? Ron Willingham, author of Integrity Selling for the 21st Century, believes that emotional resilience is a “necessary trait for a sustained successful sales career”. This resilience enables you to bounce back from the customer who pulls an order, or an issue of bad timing, and continue in the pursuit of the next, undaunted by a temporary defeat.

In this article, we discuss the attribute of optimism as a personality trait and how it is key to becoming a resilient salesperson.

Are optimistic people better at sales?

There have been hundreds of studies into the link between optimism and sales success. Perhaps the most notable of these was one conducted by psychologist Dr Seligman in the mid-1980s. Commissioned by Metropolitan Life, he tracked 15,000 new MetLife sales consultants over two years. Each had taken two tests – the first was MetLife’s screening exam, and the second was Dr Seligman’s profile test which screened for optimism levels.

Over two years, the new hires who had failed the MetLife test but scored highly in the Optimism test outsold pessimistic sales consultants by 21% in their first year and 57% in the second year.

Is your personality trait optimistic or pessimistic?

We are not born as optimists or pessimists. The way we view the world around us, and our own potential to perform in that world, is born in our experiences and how we are ‘persuaded’ to react to them. It is dictated by those around us. Surround yourself with optimistic people, and you, too, will become optimistic.

Consider for a moment how you react when you first meet with a client. Is your focus on:

If you make a mistake, do you look on it as part of the learning experience, or as a reason why you’re not selling? Is rejection simply part of the job, or is it a cause to become disheartened?

By choosing which response to have, you determine your success in sales. So, how do you shape your optimism, and increase your success in sales?

Emotional intelligence can shape your resilience

Your emotional response to adversity – your level of optimism – is what defines your resilience. Your resilience defines your success. Think of the last time you were turned down by a prospect. How did you react to yourself? You may have had a response similar to one of the following:

On the other hand, you may have said to yourself:

The first three reasons are those that an optimist would say. Yes, she’s been defeated this time, but she’s ready to learn from the experience, put it behind her, and then be better equipped to sell next time. And in a few months, she’ll try the same prospect again. She’s optimistic, and resilient to the core.

The second three reasons are those that would be expressed by a pessimist. She’s given up. She’ll let this bad experience haunt her, and she’ll make the same mistakes again. It won’t be long before she’s given up on sales.

Optimism is a natural trait, isn’t it?

Optimism is often referred to as a natural trait. In reality, it is a skill that can be learned. Emotionally intelligent salespeople sell more. They connect to clients more easily, and know how to control their reactions. Because they understand their likely responses, they can work on shaping those responses. Pessimistic people can become optimistic. And optimistic salespeople are resilient salespeople.

Work on your emotional intelligence and develop your optimism. Increased optimism will help you when you most need your personality traits to shine through – in sales meetings, when you’re helping a prospect to understand the benefits of your product or service.

MetLife worked on its sales force, employed more optimistic people and coached consultants to become optimistic. They increased their market shares by 50%.

To answer the question posed by this article – are you a resilient salesperson or an optimistic one? – learn the art of optimism and you’ll increase your resilience. Improved sales will follow.

Our Integrity Selling Course will help your sales team onboard new skills, embed methods of identifying customer needs, and hone them to perfection. The result will be a high-impact sales team on an exponential sales curve. Contact us today, and discover how we could help your sales team to manage themselves, their prospects, and increase sales.