Sales people in many industries could increase their sales IF they stopped selling. As counter intuitive as it may sound, the best sales approach may be no sales approach at all. Instead of (or at least along with) improving small talk, sales presentations, and closing skills — work on improving product knowledge, industry news, and your customer’s needs.
Know Your Industry
Stay on top of trends, innovations, and changes. Strive to become an expert by knowing more than anyone in your field. There is no excuse in the 21st century for not staying on top. Google your industry, find the thought leaders, and read, read, read. We expect our MD’s to stay abreast of the current accepted medical practices. Why should you and your industry be any different? Be a doctor of your industry, and consult your clients with their best interest in mind.
Know Your Client’s Industry
This is not one size fits all. What may work and be appropriate in one industry or for one client doesn’t mean it’s universal. Do your homework. How can anyone possibly advise a business without understanding what that business does?
Know Your Organization
Learn every department, and how they interact. Know your organization’s strengths and weaknesses. If it’s possible, spend time working in every section. Have a complete understanding of what your company does, which you can use to best advise your client.
Know Your Product
Learn your product or service inside out, backwards and forwards, know what it can and cannot do, and know what product best fits the customer’s needs.
Know Your Customer
If you recommend a product or service without knowing how your customer operates, how they will use the product, or what they’re trying to accomplish — then you are only selling. Ask questions, learn their needs, their problems, and what they hope to accomplish — not just what you want to sell.
If you understand both your industry AND your customer’s needs and how to solve their problems, you will become a valuable adviser. Given the choice, who would you prefer to work with — a knowledgeable consultant or a pitchy salesperson? Do you want to sell more? Stop selling and start helping.