Being able to understand how clients experience the world is a preliminary step to buyer-responsive selling (i.e. selling solutions that meet the client's expectations).
During the past two decades, the corporate world has been transformed by the widespread use of new technologies, globalization, and changing demographics. However, sales remain the lifeblood of companies even in this changing landscape. This article offers an overview of the sales skills, techniques, and training types that are relevant to US businesses today. Most experts agree that empathy is one of the most important sales skills. Being able to understand how clients experience the world is a preliminary step to buyer-responsive selling (i.e. selling solutions that meet the client's expectations). Expert communicators also need to practice active listening, read between the lines, and deliver concise but highly targeted verbal communications that answer a client's questions even before those questions are posed. Other important skills include:
None of the skills mentioned above can be effective without the adequate motivation. There is a strong psychological component involved in being an effective salesperson, and motivation plays a crucial role in every sales environment. Sales motivation depends on two types of factors: extrinsic (financial rewards, internal promotions, public recognition) and intrinsic (being able to sell "solutions", achieving customer satisfaction, feeling valued by clients, managers, and colleagues). Ideally, salespeople should be moved by a combination of both motivational sources. Companies boost motivation through incentives like bonuses, uncapped commissions, employee awards, contests, and compensation plans.
Experienced salespeople know that skills and techniques go hand in hand when it comes to closing a deal. Client engagement is right at the intersection between skills and techniques. Without engagement, sales and brand loyalty are rarely possible. There is a huge variety of techniques used to drive engagement, and the details of this complex process are not within the scope of this article, but there are few principles that should underline every sales technique that aims to achieve genuine engagement:
Becoming a skilled salesperson requires ongoing dedication. There is much to be learnt through on-the-job training, but it is also important to receive professional instruction. Sales coaching seminars or workshops are a good starting point for junior and experienced salespeople.
Some of the most reputable sales training programs are offered by the American Management Association and by Dale Carnegie Training. Their courses cover everything from advanced sales management to customer retention and social sales.