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Non-negotiables for improved sales performance – in search of the sales unicorn

Non-negotiables for improved sales performance – in search of the sales unicorn

Lessons on how to improve sales performance

You know how rare it is to find a Unicorn marketeer – that person with the unique blend of interpersonal skills, creativity and intelligence allied to those analytical and data driven abilities.

Creativity, agility, resilience, leadership, good listener, thick skinned.

Data analytics, content strategy, social media, mobile, digital marketing, SEO, PPC, media savvy…and, and, and…

I’ve read some lengthy job descriptions in my time and I’m pretty sure they don’t exist.

Business owners make serious demands on marketing departments – I know this from personal experience working with businesses over the last 15 years.

The demands put on the sales team comes as much from outside the business as inside but what are those non-negotiables when it comes to creating top performing sales individuals.  How do you improve sales performance in teams and individuals?

1. Interpersonal skills

Let’s get this out of the way first – a prerequisite for any relationship building is the ability to engage with people. For sales, this means at all levels – not just with buyers but with business owners, directors, CEOs.

This takes confidence and this type of confidence is based on deliberate learning and critical thinking.

It’s about having a valid opinion and being able to articulate it.

Which leads me to…

2. Communication skills

The ability to be understood.

Listening skills for sure but at a very basic level outward communication that can be understood.

By anyone, all the time.

Making sure that if you get rejected on a sale that the rejection wasn’t because the buyer didn’t understand you.

3. Educate

Most successful selling today is educational and informative. If it’s viewed as transactional then it’s usually only about money.

Educate and inform and you become an authority and an expert. That’s value in itself.

4. Emotional intelligence

Starts with self-awareness. The ability to check in with yourself and also your ability to read the room and get a sense of the mood and the atmosphere.

Then be able to adjust accordingly-  not always easy, that’s for sure.

5. Curiosity

Selling isn’t about writing lists of 30 questions – open, closed, impactful or otherwise.

it’s about being curious in a genuine and sincere way – it’s a cornerstone for any successful seller.

Sure, ask the questions and never assume – but when you do it, care about the outcome.

It all helps to get inside the psyche of the buyer and to determine what the really need.

6. Do the maths

You must be able to do the numbers and be able to show what’s in it for the buyer and that means getting the financials right.

Seamlessly and smoothly. Clear and concise.

One slip and it’s game over.

7. Be a great story teller

Everyone professes to be a brand storyteller today in the same way that everybody wants to be an online influencer.

99% of those brand storytellers aren’t brand story tellers. Listing features and benefits isn’t brand storytelling.

It’s brand bullshitting.

(You want to see a real brand storyteller – check out my podcast with Dave Linton at Madlug…he’s one of the best and doing it for such a worthwhile cause.)

You can learn to be one – there are any number of brilliant resources out there…personally I would recommend these two:

Buy any one of them.


8. Rehearse, practice, repeat

Like great actors, a great sales person will rehearse often. Alone and in company. With and without a camera.

Why? Because the opposite to ‘act’ is ‘react’

How can you improve what you don’t know needs improved. (See No 4.)

9.  Understand your value

Understanding (and communicating) your value is critical. It helps steer you away from pointless discounting and helps differentiate you from the competition in the marketplace.

Next step is to…

10. Prove it

According to Robert Cialdini, social proof is one of the six key principles of persuasion – a potent mix when combined with reciprocity, consistency, authority, liking, and scarcity, says the Doctor.

Make sure you have all the proof you need – lean into your marketing unicorn for case studies and testimonials – as well as being able to tap into your own proof.

(It’s a good way to build up resilience too – if you can tap into emotional or physical proof that you’re good at your job…for another time.)

11. ABL – Always be Learning

Selling today isn’t about closing – it’s about opening…relationships and your thinking.

Keeping your ideas fresh is critical as is keeping your customers and prospects interested.

Learn different ways of doing the same thing. (If it’s not broken then break it.)

Even the most conservative and traditional sales role is changing faster now than ever before.

Stay ahead – pick wisely what you let into your brain. If you want to improve sales performance then you need to be continually learning.

12. Love what you

Or at the very least like it.

One of the core fundamentals of the winning sales person is that they don’t hate going to work every day, despising their clients (either personally or abstractly) and not believing in their product or service.

If your current job isn’t for you, that’s no crime.

Staying there and hating it is.

Check out Charles Bukowski, The Laughing Heart.

Whilst you are working on improving as a sales individual or your sales team, you need to  consider other factors at the same time – culture, environment, strategy…more on that later.

If you are interested in finding out how two improve sales performance or to find out if (and how) Shift Control can add value to your business development activities and help you grow through sales strategy, training mentoring AND / OR coaching (for there is a distinct difference…) then please email info@shift-control.co.uk




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