Kenny Chapman: How sales skills solve your biggest challenges
Leaders are also salespeople.
You might not think about how massively sales impacts your company outside of what it represents in number form on your balance sheet. In fact, most people view the concept of sales in a negative light. In our live sales classes when we ask attendees to give the first three words that come to mind when they think about the word “sales,” we hear things like “used cars,” “distrust” and “slimy.”
However, as a leader in your company, you are a salesperson. So, first and foremost, you need to examine how you personally view sales, because if you have any negative associations, you need to get rid of those right now. In our business, sales is an extremely positive word, and when the skills are used correctly, they can massively improve the quality of your company and solve some of your biggest challenges.
Like it or not, we are in a people-based business, from team members to clients. Making connections, building trust and instilling confidence are not only good interpersonal skills, they are also sales skills that are foundational to succeeding in this industry.
If your team members don’t feel connected to the company, they’ll leave. If clients don’t trust the salesperson, they won’t buy. If potential team members don’t have confidence in you and/or the company, they won’t come to work for you. Likewise, if potential clients don’t have confidence in your company and services, they won’t do business with you. Are you starting to see how sales (and not just in the traditional sense) can make or break your company?
As a leader, you need to think about how to improve your sales skills to help resolve some of the biggest challenges you’re faced with in your company. The best salespeople are actually the best problem solvers, so let’s explore how you can apply sales-based thought processes and actions to create some positive change and momentum.
Finding good people is a huge topic of conversation in our industry right now. Obviously, you want to retain the great team members you have now, but if you want to grow or need to replace someone, recruiting is a way of life.
Effectively communicating your brand and developing a “magnetic culture” is actually a method of sales. Being clear about who you are and what makes you different, then applying that to creating a company people want to work for is the best recruiting tool you can have.
Sell the benefits of working for your company. What makes your company unique? What do you offer that your competition doesn’t? What does your brand communicate? Do you have a clear mission statement displayed in your office?
Also, remember that your current team members should be your biggest cheerleaders (and probably have friends in the industry), so make sure to offer an incentive-based referral program.
Turnover is expensive. In fact, poor retention rates can put a real drain on a company’s financial and labor resources. If you have a team of rockstar producers and are holding on to them effectively right now, congratulations, but don’t get complacent. You still need to sell yourself (and the company) to your team members on a consistent basis. Leadership is sales.
If you are trying to influence behavior and get people to follow your directives, you need them to believe in you, your vision and the reason behind what they are doing. Study leadership and always work on improving yourself as a leader.
Do your best to create a sales-based culture, but make it fun and personal. Show you care and your team member isn’t just a number. Make sure to do team-building events, not just for team members to get to know each other better, but also for you to get to know them and show you care about them and their families. Don’t give them a reason to leave (at least not one that is within your control).
Now, you will always have some turnover, but you can minimize that percentage by consistently selling your current team on why they should stay by creating something they want to be part of.
LOW CONVERSION RATES
When I (or one of our coaches) start working with an owner or leader, conversion rates usually come up as an area of struggle/opportunity for ththem. This is almost always the result of: lack of sales process; an ineffective sales process; or a breakdown in the sales process (a small part isn’t being done correctly or it’s not being used by everyone consistently).
The moral of the story is: Train, train and re-train your sales process (assuming you are using a proven process, that is). If you don’t have a proven, step-by-step sales process in place, work with a coaching company that is proficient at tech/sales training and use theirs. Capability leads to confidence, and a confident salesperson sells more.
It’s pretty simple in theory, but creating capability takes a real commitment. It takes commitment to consistent training meetings. It takes commitment to follow up on live training. It takes commitment to do something to improve your sales process. But, this commitment pays huge dividends.
If you want to lessen some of your challenges, always be thinking in terms of sales. Your recruiting, retention and conversion rates will improve when you focus on sales skills like building connection, trust and confidence. This applies internally with your team members and externally with how they present themselves and use their sales process during client interactions.
Sales isn’t just a number on the balance sheet; it’s a much bigger, all-encompassing concept that is a positive thing, so get rid of the old connotation of the “used car” salesperson that might still exist in your mind.
Come to terms with the fact you are a salesperson as a leader, even if you aren’t in the field. You sell your own leadership abilities, the benefits of your company, your ideas and your processes every day. Once you realize you are a salesperson, and consistently focus on improving your sales skills, your biggest challenges will start to feel more manageable because you realize you have more control to make positive changes than you ever thought possible.