The best sales folks are more than good closing skills and a likable personality.
One of the biggest impact attributes I see in top salespeople is exceptional knowledge. They bring over-the-top preparedness to their sales pipeline. They know their products, competitors, customers, and current market trends–cold!
But, how do they get there? Simple. Reading, researching, and education.
These top salespeople are hungry to be the experts in their market and their craft (selling). They turn off the TV, and often even the computer, and study for their final exams–the sales appointment.
Product and Service Knowledge
You should begin building your knowledge base on day one of any new sales assignment. Top priority should be to learn as much as possible about the product or service that you’re promoting. Don’t just read the marketing collateral talk to the people that make the sausage (i.e., software developers, engineers, folks on the line, account managers, etc.).
Researching Your Competitor
Then get a deep understanding of the key competitors read the feedback, listen to the online buzz, talk to their customers, secret shop them. Learn to articulate why a client should choose your product over each competitor, with very specific (verifiable) reasons.
Some of my favorite ways to size-up the competitor:
- Linkedin Groups – Find the chatter about your product space, search for comments on competitors
- Press Releases – Get on the list to receive all of your competitor’s press releases. This is what they’re selling. You had better ready your counterpunch.
- Twitter & Facebook – Depending on your product or service you can often gather a ton of buzz (and bitching) about your competitors with a quick search.
- Google News/Google Alerts – Monitoring is key. Get all the info on your competitor delivered daily.
Big Hint Here: If your competitor is a worthy opponent she is doing the same thing against you. So, do the same research and study of yourself. Find your weaknesses and flaws (perceived as well as real) and prepare your script to overcome these natural objections.
Be a Resource to Prospects
If you stay well versed in market trends and the successes and failures of your competitors, you can have better conversations with your prospects. And more, good conversations land more sales. Not only are you more confident with the prospect, but you become a resource. The idea situation is that you become the sole source provider to the decision process. If you are smarter and better prepared than your competitor, and you have all the facts and data prepared to assist their decision you may give the sponsor the confidence to only walk into the selection committee with your information. Kind of like writing the RFP in large contract bids.
Improve Your Sales Performance
We hear a lot about sales performance. Often we are talking about our numbers, our results. However, you should also think about sales performance as an artistic performance. This requires constant and frequent learning, practicing, reinforcing, and performing. Just like a world-class pianist you need to tune your ear, your mind, and your body to execute without thinking–naturally. That takes a lot of repetitions.
This is where reading and thinking about sales is critical. What you read may not be new or earth shattering, but it is repetition that makes execution flawless and natural.
Here are my recommendations for Sales Reading:
Bite-size, Ready for Action Sales Tips
- Sign-up for daily BetterCloser sales tips via email or RSS feed
- Sign-up for the less frequent BetterCloser Newsletter
- Follow me on Twitter
Deeper Sales Reading for Sustained Success
- Confessions of an Advertising Man
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
- Little Red Book of Selling
Talk to Me!
Leave a comment below. Tell me what you do to read and research your way to sales success!