“While some sales techniques may sound obvious, it’s amazing how many people don’t realise their importance, fail to adopt them and then wonder why they fail.”
The Fundamentals of selling
When I first became a sales representative, in 1994, I worked for a medium-sized company based in Dundee, Scotland. It was a company that sold dental products to dentists, and I had previously worked as a dental technician. I remember how nervous I was starting at a new, larger company (the dental laboratory had four staff, and this company employed about 500). I had no experience in sales and knew little about the way dental practices used and ordered products.
I spent just one week in training at the Dundee head office, where I was introduced to the key people in the organisation and trained on the products the company manufactured. I also spent two days in the field with members of their senior sales team covering different parts of Scotland. At the end of that first week, I was given the keys to my company car, a selection of the Yellow Pages that corresponded with my sales territory, a box of record cards and a fax machine. I was allowed to leave early (at 4.30pm) on the Friday afternoon so that I could make the seven-and-a-half-hour drive home from Dundee. I got home late but still feeling a buzz about the exciting journey I was starting. I spent the weekend thumbing through the dental practices in the Yellow Pages, making my record cards and planning my journey for the first week on my new sales territory (previously vacant and unmanaged).
It was a true voyage of discovery. I worked for that company for almost two years and was fairly successful – without ever being taught how to sell. It wasn’t until I moved to the next company that I was put through a formal sales training programme with the company’s sales trainer. The programme was comprehensive but complex, and remembering all the elements of the training was difficult. But once I’d grasped the fundamentals of the model and practised selling, my confidence with clients and, more importantly, my results improved dramatically. I took what I’d learned and applied it to my client meetings, and the difference it made in my ability to meet my clients’ needs, and win more business as a result, when I got it right, was revolutionary.
Becoming client-centred in your approach is a fundamental principle of sales
To sell (or serve) effectively, you must focus on your client – even if it creates more work for you. This is a fundamental principle of sales.
Committing to meeting the needs of your client gives you a huge competitive advantage. It also has many positive side-effects.
- Your mindset will shift to one of service towards your clients.
- You will unconsciously communicate a deeper level of commitment to your clients.
- Any pressure you feel to ‘make the sale’ will be reduced.
- You’ll foster stronger, more meaningful relationships.
- You’ll create authentic, genuine propositions that truly meet your clients’ needs.
If you start from this position and remind yourself (and your teams) that the most important perspective is always that of the client, the experience you create will mean so much more for your clients
This reframing of your point of view will put you among the best salespeople on the planet!
At every stage of interaction with your clients, ask yourself, ‘if I look at this ONLY from my client’s perspective, how does it need to be?’
Process or personality – the importance of ‘knowing how to sell’
There’s a common misperception that selling is only about relationships and the salesperson’s personality. While having personality and being able to build relationships is helpful in sales, knowing how to sell will trump relationships and personality every single time. I’ve seen this over and over in my career as a salesperson, sales leader/coach and sales trainer. In fact, my experience has shown me that reliance on relationships and personality, to the detriment of the sales process, can negatively affect the salesperson’s performance. For example, I’ve seen salespeople get invited to clients’ weddings or special events, while at the same time, they slowly lose business from those clients.
Not everyone is born with an outgoing, strong and positive personality, but you can develop your relationship skills, or ‘rapport development’ skills, over time. So, don’t be concerned if you feel that your personality isn’t ‘big enough’ – I certainly worried about that in the past too.
Once you learn the INSPIRe Secret Sales System and the fundamentals of rapport development, you’ll have the keys to a successful future as a sales professional.
It’s also true that once you utilise a sales process and begin to realise results from it, the increase in your ability and confidence can be staggering. This in turn strengthens your client relationships and helps you develop your own ‘sales personality’. Your starting point is simply sales structure rather than personality. If the reverse is true, and you have personality already and start to use the process effectively, you’ll be unstoppable!
The ten commandments of sales
These 10 commandments, combined with a solid sales structure, show what it takes to be successful in sales and business. I teach them to all my clients.
1. Focus entirely on your client
2. Use a value-led approach
3. Tap into your intense passion
4. Continuously develop your expertise 5. Be exceptionally curious
6. Listen intently and create space
7. Enjoy the process and the results
8. Believe in your solution and yourself 9. Persevere until you succeed
10. Get to ‘yes’ or ‘no’
I won’t expand on these here, but throughout the following articles we’ll look at them in the systems, stories and principles we cover.
Three important components of your client proposition
Your client is looking to see if you, your product and your organisation can be trusted to deliver what they need and if these things ‘fit’ their business – they may not do this consciously, but they will do so intuitively. We’ll cover how this fits within the sales process, but at this stage, it’s important to consider how you consistently represent yourself, your product and your organisation to give your client confidence in these three priority areas. A gap in any one of these areas will create doubt for your client and jeopardise your chances of success.
Your clients will be assessing:
You, the salesperson:
Can you be trusted? Will you deliver what they need? Are you knowledgeable, credible, engaged and likeable?
Your product or service:
Does your product or service do what they need it to do? What is different or unique about it? Is it a brand they recognise or trust?
Is your company reputable? What is the feedback from other clients? What are the independent ratings of the service provided? How well does it deal with issues, complaints or refunds?
Your personal vision
As you work through these articles, you’ll learn many principles and practices that will help you hone your sales skills. You’ll set yourself personal goals. I also recommend that you create a personal vision of the salesperson you wish to become. As an executive coach, I’ve worked with business leaders to clarify the visions they set for themselves and their organisations. While there are many different types of visions, two have stood out to me
Provide world-class service to my clients.
Be the most trusted and respected supplier to my clients.
Imagine if you made it your intention to be both ‘world- class’ and ‘the most trusted and respected supplier’ to your clients. It would force a new level of thinking about how you operate. This is an incredibly high aspiration.
I hope that when you consider this for yourself, you feel a mixture of emotions, as I do: a little fear, some scepticism, increasing curiosity and a swelling of excitement. Keep in mind that the achievements of every successful person, product and organisation were once no more than aspirations. This is where you are right now. If you identify your own personal vision and start ‘living it’ from this day forward, you’ll be setting a course for an astronomical breakthrough with your clients.
I hope this discussion is already stimulating thoughts and ideas. Let’s get started with the reflection. Take a moment now to write about your personal vision in your journal or notebook.
- What will inspire you to become the best sales professional possible?
- What do you want your clients to experience when they choose to work with you?
You may also want to consider other points covered in this article and write about them. What are your thoughts and some possible actions you can take? If you want to discuss anything in these articles please connect with me by following the link at the end of this article. Or, if you want to get future content faster you can order your own copy of INSPIRE, INFLUENCE, SELL HERE
What gets measured gets done, what gets measured and fed back gets done better and what gets rewarded gets repeated!
If you’ve never measured your, or your teams, sales capability, then you’re missing out on priceless insights, awareness and potential. The act of measurement and creating self awareness can trigger intrinsic motivation and start the ripple of change that drive exponential future growth for your business.
There’s a simple and powerful way to do this for your team, and It’s completely free of charge.
The Sales Acceleration Scorecard!
Schedule 15 minutes In your diary, follow the link below, answer the questions and you’ll be starting a process that will change everything.
Whether you’re new to sales, an experienced sales professional or a leader looking to improve the consistency and performance of your sales organisation, you’ll gain immense value from these articles, the scorecard and the INSPIRE, INFLUENCE, SELL book. Our systems map out a memorable sales process over several steps and also include mastery content for each stage of the system, which will give you deeper insight and expertise. The combination of foundational and specialist material ensures that no matter where you’re starting from, you can become a skilled salesperson.
You might want to work through these articles at the foundational level and return to the Sales Mastery sections once you get to grips with the overall system and have developed your skills. Each article starts with an experience story in which I share relevant, valuable anecdotes. If you prefer to dive straight into the sales system, you can skip that content. These articles are designed to be accessible and flexible, so that you get the most out of them.
As you work through each stage, I suggest you make notes in a journal or notebook. This will help you learn and adopt the content.
Don’t settle for ordinary, if you’re ready let’s start our journey together and your extraordinary transformation. You have greater potential than you ever realised, let’s unlock It!
About the author
Justin is the founder of Focus4growth Ltd, a Sales & Leadership Coaching company specialising in the dental market. He’s the best selling author of Inspire, Influence, Sell. He has over 25 years’ experience in sales & leadership and is an accredited Executive Coach. Justin runs programs for dental leaders and teams to develop high performance, high growth teams. Justin is privileged to work with market leading dental companies including; Align Technology, Septodont, Biohorizons, W&H, SDI, MiSmile Network and many more.
In 2020 Justin was invited to partner with the British Dental Industry Association as their preferred Sales Trainer and works with BDIA member sales teams using the proven INSPIRe consultative sales system. Justin speaks at many events and on behalf of leading associations, like the BACD, the Institute of Directors, the Association of Professional Sales and many more.
He is on a mission to show sales leaders and teams how they can achieve ‘best in class’ sales growth. At Focus4growth our vision is to ‘Inspire our Dental Clients with the confidence, capability and consistency so they become the market-leaders in their field.’