At SalesGym, we’re always on the lookout for sales executives that have unique and insightful perspective into top performers, coaching, and building better sales teams. In an interview with Francine Pepitone, VP Business Development, Marketing Execution Services Corp., she shared some insights into what separates top performers from the rest with some very clear thinking on those human factors that cause a connection to happen that leads to more business. Sales is about process and metrics and strategy, but ultimately, most buyers prefer to do business with people they connect with and Francine really tapped into that for us.
- Relationship Building and Eliminating Distractions
- Self Confidence and Positioning the Relationship
- Practice Leads to Better Performance
- Experienced Advice for Newer Salespeople
Early in the interview, Francine said something that really framed the rest of our conversation,
“To be successful in sales, you need to connect with the person to whom you are speaking . People today are not used to having much one-on-one contact with other human beings face-to-face and they’re losing the skill to connect with people.”
Relationship building and eliminating distractions
Because the pace of interactions we have has increased so much and younger people have grown up with the distraction of phones, texting and constant internet connectivity, it’s easier to lose focus when we’re one-on-one trying to build that initial relationship. Francine explains,
“So many salespeople today do not make eye contact. At a networking event, they will be looking around the room to see if anybody out there is more interesting to talk with. Or sometimes they over-network. They’re not getting good results because they really don’t know how to establish that base relationship and haven’t gained the respect of the people that they’re speaking with.”
What we’ve found, in working with top performers all around the world, is they have a unique ability to focus all of their attention, in the moment, on the person they’re speaking with, especially if it’s an important client or prospect. They filter out distractions and give their full attention to that person.
“One of the worst habits salespeople get into,”
“is to go in feeling like it’s all about them, instead of realizing it’s really all about the client. It’s difficult to find active listeners in sales. Salespeople tend to want to do all the talking and not listen. This is a skill that can be taught.
Self confidence and positioning the relationship
Top performers tend to project more confidence and credibility which is the gateway to trust. We need to bring helpful, insightful ideas and, as “The Challenger Sale” research demonstrated, it’s more than just asking questions as Francine explains,
“Clients can smell insincerity and lack of confidence. If you are in sales and want to excel and be the best in your field, you must exude confidence, but not cockiness. There’s a big difference and it’s critical to position yourself as the client’s consultant and partner. Salespeople should stop badgering clients with a bunch of questions, cornering the poor soul who can’t get away from you.”
Part of the process of becoming a trusted resource is to know when to offer suggestions and ideas and that it’s not helpful to fake it when you don’t have the information the customer needs, as Francine points out …
“If you don’t have all the answers, don’t pretend. Be a resource and get the information, get it right and then get it out there. Clients are much more understanding if you are humble and say, ‘I really don’t know the answer to that, but I can get it for you.’”
Glossophobia is a fancy word that is the fear of public speaking and it is one of the most common fears or anxiety producing experiences many of us have. Because so much communication is electronic and long distance, salespeople don’t get as much group presentations skills exposure and practice as they used to and when they do get into those situations, their skills are not always where they need to be.
Developing those skills, though, can be a great way to develop more confidence and get a real advantage over the competition, as Francine explains,
“Practice your presentation skills, dressing the part, and being a professional salesperson. Give your sales team exposure to presentations done well. Let them watch and see how it’s done. It’s not surprising how little opportunity there is to speak in front of a group. Everything is, of course, technologically based today. You could do a whole presentation and never meet your client. So it’s important to practice speaking in front of people so when it the opportunity presents itself, you are prepared.”
Practice leads to better performance
We asked Francine some questions about the importance and impact of practice on performance and she emphasized how important continuous practice is,
“If you want to be the best, the best athlete, the best dancer, or the best salesperson, you need to practice in some way, shape or form. You have to find a way to ‘role-play’ so you don’t make a fool of yourself when you’re giving a presentation to clients or co-workers. Role-playing and practicing what your message is work. Salespeople need to practice their “elevator speech”, how they will describe what they do and what their services and benefits to the client are.”
Experienced advice for new salespeople
When asked what advice Francine would offer to newer salespeople, she summed it all up nicely,
“It’s very important to keep in touch with your clients and to express gratitude for their business. If you are entering sales, attend various events and learn the art of networking. You will find yourself practicing presentation skills when people ask about your business and what you do. When you are at a business meeting, you normally have a chance to introduce yourself and respond to ‘tell us about your business.’ This is another great opportunity to practice your communication and presentation skills. This practice helps salespeople put their best foot forward when it’s most important.”
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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