By Jim Wilcox
Jim is the Faculty Manager for MHI Global’s USA based trainers. Leaving a career in sales, Jim joined AchieveGlobal in 1997 to coach the training team. Says Jim; “I get to work with some of the most dynamic people in the organization; the trainers that go out and make our material come alive solving client business challenges.” Balancing work and fun; Jim is an acoustic guitar player in his spare time.
For the salesperson, managing the sales cycle can feel like a high-wire act. It takes a great deal of training and preparation, the definition of success can be quite narrow, and there are high stakes involved in each step. But the analogy of the tightrope walker doesn’t end there. What truly defines sales success is the enterprise-wide appreciation of the tremendous balance of skills, focus and understanding it requires on many levels.
Survey of Sales Effectiveness explores sales performance as a factor of three considerations: changes in quota, deal size and overall change in sales revenue. And if you ask a sample of salespeople what sales success means to them, you would get a similarly diverse array of measures that contribute to how they perceive success.
In a Harvard Business Review article, Phillip Delves Broughton reports doing just this: traveling the world to find out what sales success looks like, and how salespeople in vastly different cultures achieve success. What stands out in both AchieveGlobal research, and in Broughton’s article is that what truly matters in sales is the ability of the organization to create an environment in which their salespeople feel empowered to bring their individual and unique perspectives to each sale. What underscores our intelligence about sales success is the need to help salespeople recognize how their role is integral to the success of the organization, but also to their own senses of competence, relatedness, autonomy, and achievement.
When we teach salespeople how to develop the skills that build customer trust in our Professional Selling Skills program, we focus on achieving that success by:
Defining objectives even before the call begins (Opening) – objectives that may vary greatly from one sales call to the next
Knowing when to question and when to listen ( Discover)
Understanding how to make connections between the customer’s unique needs and the support that can be provided by the organization ( Satisfy)
And securing customer commitment (Closing)
Ultimately, success isn’t simply defined. Nor is it always easily achieved. But there are a few global truisms that warrant repeating…
Success should be a specific and defined goal of each step of the sales process.
It is also measured by how well the salesperson feels supported by the organization through training, and the building of a culture in which their perspectives are valued.
For high-wire performers, a tangible measure of their success is the applause at the end of their performance. But it’s also achieved through a balance of focus between the end of the tightrope and on every step that gets them closer to that goal; between delivering an entertaining act and ensuring their own safety and sense of achievement. Likewise for the salesperson who must focus on each “Defining Moment” of customer interactions, while linking each sales opportunity to the larger business goals of their organization.