What 20 Years in Sales Can Teach

When you work in digital marketing and PR you apply a lot of techniques aloso used in sales: dedication, passion and persuasion.

So here is some insightful advice from our client James Grew, Sales Director at Impero about his two decades' career in sales. 

"If you're going to succeed in sales during the current economic situation and in the coming five years, you're going to have to adapt a new way of selling. These skills are not new to the top sales people. In fact, they are the same skills that I have learned and mastered over the last 20 years. The same skills that took me from a fresh graduate out of university, barely paying my student loans, to a six figure income in my 30s".

The top sales people in the new economy have five key skills:

  1. Empathy with their client
  2. Long-term relationship-building skills
  3. The ability to work with people in other departments of their company
  4. In-depth knowledge of the market
  5. A dedication to customer service

What's changed? 

Customers are now experienced buyers and are well versed in the buyer-seller dance. They know all the old skills of the traditional close. Nowadays, sales people need to act as consultants and in trusted advisor roles. The sales people who now succeed have empathy with their client.

The dictionary defines empathy as; the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another. In layman's terms, it means you need to be able to put yourself in your clients’ shoes. You need to look at things through their eyes, feel how their feeling, and genuinely care about what's important to them, putting your own ideas and feelings about what's right for them aside.

There's an old saying: people don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care. So get yourself out of the way and start genuinely caring about what your clients are saying and what they’re not saying to you. The sales people who succeed will have long-term relationship building skills and able to create these in short period of time.

What's remained the same? 

The sales people who succeed will have in-depth knowledge of the market. There's no better way to differentiate yourself from everyone else who sells a similar product or service than to know everything that's going on in your market. Do you know what your competitors sell, how much they sell it for, or what their customer service is like? Are there any new trends?

Dig in, do your homework and find out everything you can about your market. Many times the sales person with the most knowledge about the market ends up winning the sale, regardless of price.

What is going to change?

Many sales people, and companies for that matter, spend more time and money getting a client than they do to keep them. That is so backwards. From the time you first make contact with a client you should thinking ‘long-term relationship’. Once a client has purchased from you and they like and trust you, they are more apt to purchase more from you and to become ambassadors for you.

When you develop the kind of long-term, friendly relationship with your client and they are singing your praises to everyone they know, the business of sales gets so much easier. As you may already know, it's a great feeling when the phone rings and it's an existing client calling to give you a referral, or better yet it's the referral calling you wanting to make a purchase.

The sales people who succeed will have the ability to work with people in other departments of their company. You need to have good working relationships with all departments of your company. Remember, you’re all in this together working towards one common goal: to make the client happy so the company turns a profit. People in other departments are not the enemy that many sales people treat them as.

What one piece of advice would you give a graduate pursuing a career in sales? 

Strong communication skills are the most fundamental people skill, because it encompasses your persona and ability to get along with other colleagues, persuade others to listen to your ideas, and much more. Selling internally and managing upwards is just as important as the number you post on the sales board. 

If you have a natural intelligence and gift for the spoken and written word, you will always put your best foot forward in every situation. Being articulate is very highly regarded in today’s competitive workplace; when time is at a premium and targets are always stretching and ambitious - and technology and sales CRM tools evolve with the likes LinkedIn - the only constant is clear and effective communication.”