There are times, though, when we wonder if our passion for these intangible sales skills is too zealous, too earnest. It’s nice when we come across an article backing up our assertion as we did in Linda Richardson’s post Six Critical Skills For The New Sales Dialogue.
Here are three of our favorite critical skills for more meaningful interactions:
We’re well into the age of lighting fast information and a lot of it.
Sales professionals no longer rely on a firm handshake to convey presence; there just isn’t time. Much of the education that prospects once relied on sales professionals to provide is now a few clicks away.
The internet often handles a prospect’s first point of contact with your solution, not a salesperson. As Ms. Richardson points out, most B2B clients are “going it alone until they are mid-way through the sale—or later.”
That’s not to say that presence is limited only to your solution’s online positioning. If anything, Ms. Richardson’s sales skill set points out how critical it is for your sales team to convey presence immediately and consistently.
Consider that by the time your prospect has decided to engage with your team, the sales narrative is already advanced thanks to the wealth of information and opinion available online.
A successful sales professional must possess a C-level mentality born out of C-level experience. Today’s version of presence immediately confirms the ability to communicate pertinent information without tired or scripted repetition.
“A new research study by McKinsey showed that [the] number one thing that customers value from their providers is honest and open dialogues.”
This quote from Ms. Richardson is in line with our strong commitment at JMS to engage in meaningful interactions from the very start of the sales cycle.
There is less time now, even during protracted sales cycles, to build trust – a valuable commodity in business that secures not only the current sale but future sales as well. A seasoned business development professional making first contact on the phone gets the relationship started on the right footing.
As Ms. Richardson points out, there’s a “surplus of knowledge” available to your prospects before they even get around to speaking with you. How will you make those conversations resonate throughout the sales cycle? We believe that if you’re engaged in anything but authentic communication, you’re wasting your client’s time – and your own.
Customers want to know that you understand their industry, are sensitive to their needs, and can relate to their position. Communicate with them, not at them, no one has the inclination nor the time to listen to a “features and benefits” pitch on the first call.
Digital static and information white noise follow your prospects everywhere. Ms. Richardson beautifully illustrates how you can avoid contributing to the commotion,
“Listening is the ability to understand customers, influencers, or team members’ direct and underlying message and communicate that understanding verbally and non-verbally.”
You can amplify your message and be of real service to your prospect when you tune into what they’re saying. In some instances, you can gain a better appreciation for their situation when you focus in on what they are not saying. Try doing that while spouting off your memorized pitch!
More often than not, you’ll find yourself reciting a dull monologue of facts and figures while missing out on the subtle messages that your prospect is sending.
Presence, relating, listening – three keys to a dialogue that compel a prospect to consider your solution over a competitor’s. We whole-heartedly agree with Ms. Richardson who states that, “your sales conversations are your most important sales tool for…building lasting relationships.”
Editor’s note: Originally published in 2014, this blog has been edited and updated in October 2018.