How are ‘Star Performers in Sales’ different ?

Soft Skills in Sales

During the year 1995, while I was in Muscat, I got invited to a presentation-cum-sales meeting arranged by the Resort Condominium International (RCI) – The sales meeting was well planned by the organizers and each of us invited to the meeting were individually attended by the sales representatives, along with the aid of clear and concise business plan/ data sheets explaining the return on investment on holiday resorts. The sales effort was to promote ‘Time share’ concept and I was thoroughly explained about the concept well, in the one hour personal attention given to me by the representative. And, I got impressed by the efforts made by the Sales representative, so much so, that I remember the sales meeting even today !

‘A Timeshare is a property with a particular form of ownership or use rights. These properties are typically resort condominium units, in which multiple parties hold rights to use the property, and each sharer is allotted a period of time (typically one week, and almost always the same time every year) in which they may use the property. Units may be on a partial ownership, lease, or “right to use” basis, in which the sharer holds no claim to ownership of the property.’

Why do star performers in sales differ from the mediocre ? It is not because they have a better understanding of the product or the solution to be sold ; instead, it is because they are personally committed to sell and have better soft skills or people skills ! Just enough sales representatives are content with spending minimum time with the clients (or buyers) until they are just satisfied ! ‘Objection handling’ is not exercised well by these sales representatives and more often they fail to close the sale successfully. ‘Concept Selling’ of time share concept is not so easy to do, as there are no definite product features to talk about and the sales representative focuses on selling a solution or a concept that can bring in good profits or a better life-style, or open a new revenue stream or solve a existing business problem. Trust me, I used to sell franchise schemes as a concept, during early stages of my career and I know quite well the challenges faced in there. In fact, research supports the power of soft skills in sales, often referred to as ’emotional intelligence’ skills. Soft Skills is the new weapon for companies competing in a global, information-loaded world. It’s no longer enough to hire a sales person with the highest IQ, unless his IQ is accompanied by high emotional intelligence.

Understanding the sales situation well – to win or gain sales orders – calls for developing soft skills ; few are listed below :

1. Understanding and controlling your own emotions – Many sales managers invest hours in sales training, only to have the sales representative buckle under pressure from a tough prospect or client. That’s when the sales manager needs to understand that it’s no longer about sales technique ; it’s about teaching their team to manage the emotions being triggered by the tough prospects. When a sales representative allows his emotions to run wild, his brain does not function well and the sales representative cannot express the value proposition or the benefits correctly to the prospect. Certain sales representatives get angry ; or get into conflict with the prospect ; or eventually lose their interest to close the sale. Now, the valued question : Is it only technical expertise that wins deals, or is it the ability to manage all the dynamics that occur when interacting with different personalities in sales situations ?

2. Assertiveness of the sales representative – The assertive sales representative knows how to state what the prospect needs, without becoming aggressive or pushy. He is good at moving the sales call forward and disqualifying poor opportunities early in the sales cycle. A sales representative scoring low in assertiveness often ends up in a chase mode ( which is pleading for obtaining the sales order) because he isn’t comfortable setting firm agreements for the next step. Or he is not assertive enough to ask for a ‘closing the sale’ meeting or the sales order with the right decision makers.

3. Empathy plays a definite role in sales – Ever heard the expression, “I feel your pain”? In other words, I am empathetic to your situation. Empathy is the ability to step in another person’s shoes and see things from their perspective. In sales, it is essential to be empathetic. Sometimes, sales representatives go round and round without realizing what the prospect needs or what the prospect can afford to buy. Not reading the sales situation correctly will only lead to wastage of time, efforts and money. It is instances of ‘not qualifying the prospect correctly’ – that lead to wrong sales projections and/ or erroneous sales budgeting !!

Soft Skills play a major role in winning sales orders. No wonder, Selling is referred to be an Art and everyone cannot excel in sales despite possessing high academic qualifications in the subject. In today’s competitive markets, it is the sales representative who is having excellent soft skills ‘wins’ sales orders ! Please let me know if you need my training services on ‘Soft skills in Sales’ so that we can meet to choose the best from the options available, to effectively build sales in your organization before your competitors do.

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