Rep vs consultant
What makes a good sales rep?
Is it someone who has the courage to walk into a brand new prospective business and give them the “spiel” like a door to door encyclopedia sales person?
Is it someone who builds great rapport on first introduction and makes a time to have a more in depth conversation at a time mutually convenient?
Is it someone who can plan their conversations and then execute that plan so well that they achieve their intended outcome?
Is it someone who understands the scope of an opportunity and the steps required to strategically grow and win a national account?
Or, is it a combination of all of these?
Oh, so many questions!
But then, it is me, and I do love my questions!!
At some point though, being a walking talking brochure and being the most likeable rep won’t be enough. When the client portfolio shifts from small one off businesses to national accounts, this old skill set won’t cut it. And without a shift, they’ll struggle.
So that we’re growing and developing our sales teams, here 3 ways to begin to enable our reps to step up:
ONE: From likeability alone to trusted advisor
Reps believe their likeability is their point of difference. Consultants understand that the way they create and reinforce the experience with their clients develops deep trust. And there are many elements to it.
How do you show up? Do you come across in the way you look, speak and interact as someone who takes pride in your role, who cares, who understands this space and as someone whose opinion is respected? Preparation, attention to first impressions, listening more than speaking, and seeking to understand are all critical skills to shift from teller to advisor.
TWO: Ability to plan and strategize
Besides planning activity, most reps need to be good at face to face cold calling. Now, while this skill will always be a handy one, the intention mustn’t be to achieve a “sale” on first meeting with a new prospect. And yet, that’s what happens. And not much of that interaction is about discovery or listening. It’s a big tell fest.
Larger opportunities deserve a strategy to win them and leave nothing on the table. This means not only thinking bigger, but of working towards an end game. Cold calls can be used as a tool to secure a time for a proper “business” meeting. Creating a solid first impression and building rapport is the only outcome for a cold call.
THREE: Ability to progress an opportunity in a logical, systematic, consistent manner
When sales opportunities are larger than a one off opportunity, there is more complexity to the sales process, so an appreciation of all of the moving parts in an organisation and their influence on one another is required.
Being able to “chunk up” to understanding how a solution can support the client’s overarching business goals often means speaking with multiple decision makers, users of the solution, and with influencers.
It means understanding how decisions are made in the organisation: is there a formal process? Who is part of that panel? What is it about the way we deliver value that sets us apart from others in our space? What matters to them? What is the best way of conveying the value of our solution?
Reps who haven’t made the shift from trying to “get an order” in the first meeting will struggle. It’s up to us as sales leaders to support them through the next part of their evolution as sales professionals.