Not long ago, we interviewed Nancy Grasso, Regional VP of Business Development in the Health and Benefits Consulting Industry, to get her perspective and insight on what it takes to succeed in selling today and how selling has changed in recent years. Nancy shared a number of ideas with us around topics including:
- How Buyers have Changed
- Dedication to Prospecting is Critically Important
- Continuous Improvement Determines Success
- Build Team Trust to Build a True Practice Culture
Early in the interview, Nancy said something that really framed the rest of our conversation,
“I absolutely believe the buyer is different today and what worked 10 years ago is not working today. Buyers expect you to sell a solution, but it is critical to align yourself with the buyer, not just know your value propositions to solve a need.”
The internet and availability of information about buyers can help the seller prepare for meetings in ways that were impossible even a decade ago. But it’s also important to understand that the buyer has access to in-depth information about the seller too and is often doing research on their products, services, and reputation before the seller walks in the door.
The more we can communicate, early in the sales process, that we are most interested in helping the buyer to achieve their goals and objectives, the more we align ourselves with the buyer and this makes a big difference in terms of building rapport and trust. Trust opens the door to bigger opportunities.
Dedication to Prospecting is Critically Important
Developing a pipeline that is always growing at the front end is a habit that top performers develop and stick with, even when business is good. Prospecting, which many sellers consider unpleasant work, can easily be avoided, but the impact on results is unavoidable as Nancy explains,
“The thing that hurts salespeople most, regardless of tenure, is lack of dedication to prospecting. Sales professionals that only use the prospecting method they are most comfortable with will stunt their ability to succeed.”
The most consistent top performers use the prospecting method that produces the best results, not the method they are most comfortable with. If prospecting by sending out 25 emails a day works and gets you plenty of high potential new appointments without having to pick up the phone and break the ice, then that’s great! But, if it doesn’t, and you need to use more assertive approaches, then that’s what needs to be done to generate maximum results. Getting good at unpleasant tasks is largely what separates top performers from the rest.
Often, we need to step out of our comfort zones to generate sales that are hard to close, as Nancy explains,
“Sometimes, we try to hedge from selling because we feel like someone is going to perceive it in a way that’s negative and opportunities are missed because we don’t want to challenge ourselves with those prospects that are guarded.”
Continuous Improvement Determines Success
Elite athletes develop, usually at a fairly young age, a dedication to practice and continuously working at improving their skills and ability to perform at the highest level under pressure. It’s that dedication to practice, along with natural ability, that allows them to reach the highest levels of performance and success.
Nancy explains how this same dedication to learning and growing is central to a top performer mindset that allows some salespeople to rise to the top,
“Success comes from being a good steward of business. Read, study, roleplay and discuss with other teams your sales approaches, market insights, and take feedback. No matter how good the salespeople are – they can always do better.”
Five Suggestions on how to keep improving as a salesperson:
- Read something inspiring and helpful at building your sales knowledge base every day. Even if it’s only 5 pages, put good mental fuel into your mind every day
- Keep mentally and physically fit. Energy is important in selling and when you feel strong and in shape, you will exude the kind of energy others want to be around
- Practice your sales messaging and learn to put across your value proposition, competitive advantages and differentiating factors in a concise and tailored way.
- Set up practice sessions with other team members where you can practice asking better open-ended questions and responding with tailored value and solutions
- Ask for feedback from other top performers. Get their advice on your strategy and selling approaches and listen to what they say
Build Team Trust to Build a True Practice Culture
We asked Nancy about what it takes to build an effective sales culture that builds strong salespeople and the first thing she told us was,
“Building a practice culture requires building team trust first.”
We work with salespeople every day in the SalesGym, practicing with them to get better and rehearsing for upcoming calls and our Sales Coaches would be the first to agree with Nancy that in order to get salespeople to change and improve with practice, trust is essential.
Nancy finished our interview with some good advice for salespeople in terms of how to approach practice and respond when the feedback is constructive and not as positive as you’d like …
“If somebody hurts your feelings with feedback on a roleplay – we’re not trying to hurt your feelings. We just know if you go and perform that way, you will lose. Get thick skin and practice so you can climb those closes.
Build relationships. Don’t check boxes.”
SalesGym is a research, consulting, and training company that works with and learns from sales teams all over the world and has refined a coaching and training process that trains sales teams the way elite athletes are trained. More insights and articles from us can be found on our RESOURCES PAGE.
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