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Fellow consultant and Regional Director at Paradigm Associates, Dick Ossi, challenged a group of sales leaders and business owners recently, asking: Is your company achieving at least a 15% annual revenue growth? Are you pleased with your sales force performance in helping you achieve your revenue target?

Their responses were underwhelming.

If you are not pleased and you feel your sales force can achieve more and be more consistent in their performance, then they need to constantly sharpen their sales skills. This need provides an excellent opportunity to redisccover the key elements of the buying and selling process.

Sales people that fail to meet their quota are not utilizing the skills necessary to be successful. They are not following a successful sales plan that can enhance their ability to gain favorable attention, discover needs, get a positive decision, and develop long term relationships with their customers.

Prospecting is the cornerstone of the buying/selling process that a sales person must perfect. That may mean:

  • Searching for new customers
  • Searching for new business with current customers
  • Cold calling by telephone for appointments
  • Searching for business with previous customers
  • Seeking to do business with people you know

Do your sales people have a prospecting plan?

Setting and achieving personal and professional goals are the quality that separates the people who achieve high levels of success from those who don’t.

  • Do your sales people have a personal business plan?
  • What would they like to earn in the current year?
  • To achieve that goal, how many sales are needed?
  • What dollar volume needs to be achieved?
  • What activity is needed to achieve the sales goals such as the number of prospects in the pipeline?

Do your sales people have the ability to set and reach meaningful goals as shown above?

The introduction is the first step in the buying/selling process. Consider the following:

  • Before people buy from your sales person, they must first buy them.
  • They must trust them and have confidence in their ability to deliver.
  • Are your sales people self confident?
  • They need to develop a reputation for excellence
  • They must be genuine.

Are you sales people conducting a pre call plan prior to their appointment?

Building and maintaining rapport is a salesperson’s objective.

  • Developing dialogue with the prospect will help a salesperson quickly establish rapport will help to begin the process.
  • It will help a salesperson quickly establish rapport that is conducive to a two way conversation

Do your salespeople show sincere interest, are active listening, confident and use good eye contact?

The next phase of the buying/selling process, and the most important, is discovering wants and needs.

  • The goal here is to discover the prospects wants and needs and why they are important to him or her.
  • The sales person must help the prospect discover the rewards of taking action now and the consequence of not taking action.
  • They need to discover if there are any obstacles preventing the prospect from taking action.
  • Effective questioning techniques are skills that most successful sales people practice and master at a level superior to average performers.

Do your sales people practice effective questioning skills?

Research has shown that without mastering these questioning skills, 82% of sales people fail to differentiate themselves from competition and 86% ask the wrong questions. Salespeople must learn to ask the right questions at the right time to enhance their success.

There are many other skills which have not been covered here but as you can see from the discussion above, sales skills need to be practiced and the more practice the sharper those skills become.

Why do professional athletes sharpen their skills to be the very best they can be? Professional golfers spend countless hours on the range. Baseball players take daily batting and infield practice. They want to be the best that they can be.

The same is true for salespeople. To be the best they can be, sales management must institute a sales skills development program to achieve sales targets and grow the company’s revenue to achieve at least a 15% growth.