What are sales competencies?
Recently, I came to the conclusion that “Sales are a game of rationales”. Why? Because in order to be a great salesman, you need to be:
- Determined without being arrogant;
- Able to identify your client’s pains and needs, and express them in such a way that you pique their interest within 8 to 30 seconds;
- Asking one relevant question after another, and actively listen to what they have to say;
- And only after you’ve passed through this whole process, can you bring negotiations to the table and, ultimately, close the deal.
In other words, you need skills. That’s why in today’s article, I’ll dive deeper into the sales competencies and how you can develop each one. Let’s get started!
Are you worried about coming across as arrogant or “spammy” if you try to get in touch with someone more than once or twice? You really shouldn’t! Because that’s what’s expected of you and there’s really nothing wrong with it. In fact, that’s how I got my first client! That is at the heart of this sales competency.
So how did it all come to pass?
I saw one potential company with whom we could partner. So I crafted a well-worded LinkedIn message and an e-mail that I sent to the CEO and the Director of Operations. One month, 6 messages and several e-mails later, they agreed to meet. Two months later we closed the deal. When I asked them why they had agreed to work with us, the CEO said, “You’re persistent! When my Director of Operations wrote to me about meeting you, his e-mail subject was “Persistent Salesman” Game, set, match! =)
Here’s the thing: our everyday lives are hectic, to say the least. And when it comes to the lives of entrepreneurs and CEOs? Even crazier than you might imagine! They have to worry about:
- Board of Directors;
- Quarterly results;
- Customer satisfaction;
- So much more!
Their To Do list seems to be never-ending! And guess what’s dangling at the very bottom of it? “Purchasing new products or services”…
That’s why it’s the salesperson’s job to use all the tools in his arsenal (e-mail, phone, Skype, social media) to get the job done!
And we all know that closing a deal happens only after the 5th or 6th meaningful interaction with a potential client. Which is why communicating the benefits of your product or service is crucial!
When I think about this sales competency I remember one of my previous bosses teaching us that, “It’s not enough to be persistent. You need to be creatively persistent!”
What does that mean?
In the world of sales, you need to be able to put yourself in your client’s shoes and think about what challenges he might be facing. Once you have that dialed in, you need to think about different ways you can approach him in order to raise his curiosity!
Let me ask you this: do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by all the ads, invitations to events, e-mail offers, etc? So do most of us!
We’re bombarded with information from all sides. And when you, as a salesperson, call or send an e-mail to a manager, you might be disrupting his plan for the day. So if you want to be successful, you need to stand out from the crowd and position yourself as a reliable partner, who will solve a growing pain they have.
And how can you do that? Recent psychological studies show that when people make decisions, they take 2 things into consideration:
In other words, think about what challenges impede the development of your client’s company and how you can contribute to their solution!
Ask, Ask, Ask!
Voltaire once said, “Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” And that could not be truer in sales!
Once you’ve piqued your potential client’s interest, and he’s agreed to meet with you, you have two ways to approach him.
Method №1: Dazzle him with captivating presentations, engaging videos, and outstanding testimonials.
Method №2: Ask him questions about the challenges he’s facing.
I’ve tried Method №1, and I can tell you from experience — it doesn’t work.
Instead, what I started doing is asking questions about recent challenges, bottlenecks, and setbacks. My goal was to actively listen and identify how our product can benefit them. And the result? Method #2 works like a charm!
Here are a few examples of questions you can ask your client:
- What is your most time-consuming task?
- If you had 2 free hours a day to invest in any activity that could increase your results, what would that be?
- What would happen if you were to solve your challenge partially or completely?
- Where are you at right now; where would you like to be a year from now; what obstacles do you see that could potentially impede your progress?
The questions may vary but they all have one goal — for you to understand what your client’s unique challenges are and if your product is relevant to them. Once you’ve got that settled, you can go to your presentations and testimonials. Never underestimate this sales competency.
NB: Keep your focus on how your product benefits your client!
Negotiate and Close the Deal
My grandparents used to tell me that, “You reap what you sow.” Who knew this saying would be applicable in sales as well?
If you executed the previous stages well, and if you were honest and direct (but not aggressive) with your clients, they would respond likewise. So the next logical step is to negotiate and close the deal.
Here, at Out2Bound, we have a guiding philosophy that every deal has to be a win for all (or a “win-win”, as they say)!
I graduated from an economics university, and so to me, that means every deal to be economically beneficial for everyone. In order for that to happen, you need to know:
- What you offer to your client;
- How they evaluate it;
- What facts, statistics, and logical arguments you need to know, in case there are misunderstandings.
In its core, selling follows the same logic in every field. However, the unique value proposition of each sector gives it a one-of-a-kind spin. That’s why, if you want to sell in a world as dynamic as the tech industry is, you need to learn every single day! Be curious and as Anthony Joshua says, “Stay Hungry!”.
If you liked this article, you’ll probably be interested in How to build a sales team – the guide for startups or listen to Build your sales machine podcast.
Boris Georgiev is one of the co-founders of Out2Bound. As such he has worked with over 50 B2B founders helping them realize their go-to-market strategies. He is acknowledged by Forbes with the prestigious award 30 Under 30. On a daily basis, Boris tracks trends and best practices in B2B Tech sales.