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Turning your Sales Team into Sales Superstars



Sales superstars don’t just suddenly show up or arrive out of nowhere. They design their paths to superdom using hard work and thinking about their choices ALL THE TIME! They develop a winner’s edge on the mental side and learn the skills to insure winning. So, how do they do this? By working on ten critical areas that create sales success in today’s highly competitive world. To become a sales superstar, you must decide to improve your skills in these ten critical areas:

10 Critical Areas to Master

1. Learning – Sales superstars have one thing in common – they are always learning. Their learning can take several avenues. First, they learn about their customers, in depth, so they can understand the current and future situations they will face. They are also readers. Remember this – leaders are readers! They read about selling, business trends, leadership issues, economic trends and industry trends. They are the first to sign up for extended training and development sessions. They know that they need to sharpen their skills everyday if they want to keep winning in the game of selling.

2. Business Acumen – In the modern world of selling, salespeople MUST be able to speak in terms that are important to customers, especially the “C” level customers for major accounts. These terms are the world of Business Acumen – revenue growth, cost of goods sold, gross margin, related costs, turnover ratios, velocity and net income. If you are just talking about features and benefits, you are in the world of commodity selling and price alone rules.

3. Preparedness – Like the Boy Scout motto "Be Prepared," top salespeople know that customer research is done before meeting with customers. You validate what you have learned while in the presence of customers. which shows the customer that you are different and will not waste their valuable time. Using web search engines to find information about your customers, their customers, financial data and trends will allow you to be more knowledgeable than your competition.

4. Industry Knowledge – This should be a no-brainer, however you will still find sales people with little industry understanding. To be a sales superstar, knowing the industry is a requirement. It assists you in understanding trends, cycles, what is old or new, best practices, and who your customers are. Industry knowledge allows for knowing the little secrets of success, and most importantly the ability to anticipate trends within the industry, allowing you to guide the customer to better decisions about their business.

5. Questioning Skills – Here is the big one. Most sales people talk too much. Yes, they talk too much and actually bore the customer. Why? Because the customer will have opinions about things, and they will believe their thoughts over yours! This is a form of bias, yet, the best sales people have learned this fact. They use questions to uncover these biases, use different questions to guide or educate the customer, and even use different types of questions to learn what specific benefit or advantage certain solutions would provide for that specific customer. The key is using questions to become customer centric rather than boasting about what you think you know. This is a required skill in modern selling, this is the land of the sales superstar, and they have learned the importance of this skill.

6. Listening – Closely related to the questioning skills is the ability to actively listen to the customer. By focusing on exactly what the customer is saying, it opens the door to understanding what is going on in the customer’s world. The sales superstars have taken listening to a higher level. They listen for things that are not clearly defined by the customer - what should have been said, but was not. They hear general statements and respond with a clarifying question for specifics and a clear understanding of the situation. Another interesting effect comes from listening to the customer – they like you more!

7. Think like an Owner – This means connecting all the dots. How does your team finish the sale with the customer? Does the customer feel satisfied after the sale or does doubt and frustration rule? Coordinating other functional areas to satisfy the customer is another critical issue that most sales people overlook, yet it is the one that influences the next sale to that customer the most. Take time to think about customer satisfaction and what it takes to insure success with each customer.

8. Creative Problem Solving – The key here is “creative.” This is not by-the-book or policy type of problem solving. It is about looking at the customer’s situation, thinking about different ways to solve the problem they have, then choosing the one idea that will create the most effective solution for both the customer and your company. Hint: Your biggest opportunity customers will test you concerning problem solving before they buy, just to see if you are looking after their best interests. This is a guaranteed test.

9. Practice, Practice, Practice – The sales superstars do not practice a new or improved technique on a critical customer. They work on the skills using role-plays, application exercises and even video a customer simulation. Using video in the practice sessions is the fastest method to gain immediate improvement in selling skills – yet, it is the least used due to egos and fear of failure. Focus on becoming a superstar.

10. Self Confidence – The final critical factor is both a means and an end to succeeding in the other nine factors. Confidence is the key to having the winner’s edge. Most importantly, customers want to work with confident people to get the results and outcomes they need. If you do the first nine, confidence will come. Or use self confidence in demonstrating the discipline needed to make the choices that lead to success and sales superstar status.

The world of sales is changing rapidly. As the leader of a small or mid-sized business, you will want to set the standard of how you want your sales team to preform. And, if you are the sales person, then as a sales person, you need to decide if you want to stay in sales for the long term or do something else - strong, yet truthful, words based upon the change that has already started in several industries. Commodity selling will be ruled by the internet and price decisions rather than best value solutions. Make a decision today to become a sales superstar and master the ten critical factors of success.

--- Voss Graham
Posted: 7/10/2012 10:19:13 AM | with 0 comments
Filed under: blogs, business, chamber, entrepreneur, marketing, memphis, sales, selling, small, superstars, team, work




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SMALL BUSINESS
Your business may be small, but that doesn't mean that your impact can't be huge! The Greater Memphis Chamber's Small Business Council serves to encourage, support, recognize and be a resource to small- and medium-sized businesses in the Memphis area. Here, our talented panel of contributors will present big ideas that could make a huge difference to your small business. And don't be afraid to ask questions ... no matter how small.

CONTRIBUTORS
VOSS GRAHAM
Sales & Small Business Ownership
Voss W. Graham is CEO and Senior Business Advisor for InnerActive Consulting Group Inc. He is known by his clients as "a knowledgeable partner who helps our team achieve business growth." He provides practical experience as a small business owner for over 29 years, yet is often engaged with Fortune 500 companies in the development of their people and business strategies.

OBSIDIAN PUBLIC RELATIONS
Public Relations
Several professionals and strategists from the local Obsidian Public Relations firm provide excellent advice on everything from research to media relations to event planning. They believe that all companies, no matter how big or small the company or its budget, should have a public relations plan driving how they manage their relationships with key stakeholders. Public relations is an integral part of doing business the right way.

JOEL MYERS
Human Resources
Joel Myers is a career Human Resources professional, with over 40 years in the field including 26 years in consulting.

TOM PEASE
Small Business Advice
Tom Pease is a small business owner of an office equipment dealership called e/Doc Systems, Inc. He has also owned a full-line Kawasaki dealership as well as a document shop. He used 30+ years of experience in owning a business to author two books, including: Going Out of Business by Design: Why 70% of Small Businesses Fail and Small Business Survival 101. He also has published 85 columns in The Memphis Daily News as the Small Business Advisor.

LORI TURNER-WILSON
Marketing & Public Relations
Lori Turner-Wilson is CEO and Founder of RedRover Company, a sales development, marketing and PR consulting firm. Lori works with companies large and small, from start-ups to mature organizations, to help them improve the productivity of their sales force and the return on their marketing investment. Lori writes a weekly syndicated column for the Daily News, Memphis News, Nashville Ledger, and Desoto Times, among others, titled “Guerrilla Sales & Marketing,” for which she won a 2011 Summit International Award and 2012 International Communicator Award.

INFERNO
Design and Digital Strategy
Founded in 1999, inferno provides brand development, advertising, public relations, design and digital marketing services to clients across a broad spectrum of industries. Headquartered in Memphis with a satellite office in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the award-winning firm produces results-driven work by passionately combining strategic thinking, creativity and culture to ensure the success of its clients. For more information, visit www.creativeinferno.com.

FISHER PHILLIPS LLP
Labor & Employment Law
Fisher Phillips attorneys are ready to help you take a stand: in court, with employees and unions, or with competitors. Fisher Phillips has the experience and resolve to back you up. That's why some of the savviest employers come to the firm to handle their toughest labor and employment cases. The firm has 350 attorneys in 32 offices, including Memphis. For more information, visit www.fisherphillips.com.

PARAGON BANK
Finance
Since its founding in 2005, Paragon Bank has maintained a solid focus on the community and customer service. For more than 10 years, Paragon has delivered innovative products and financial expertise, convenience, and a deep understanding of what both businesses and individuals need from a ban, in order to provide solutions that make a difference. In the areas of business or personal banking, lending options or wealth management, Paragon delivers cutting edge technology, an experienced team and the most service-oriented staff of any community bank.



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