Why do some sales professionals seem to close sales so easily?

Sales performanceI have pondered the reason why some sales people seem to make closing sales seem so effortless, whilst others seem to struggle? Yes of course some people have a greater affinity for connecting with people; they may have a natural ability to communicate more effectively and they may have the ability to ask meaningful questions, which helps them to more easily uncover the right tailored solution for each future customer.

But as you know these are all skills that sales professionals can learn or improve, so why does the gap between those sales professionals who cannot seem to put a foot wrong and those sales people, who struggle to make it in sales, never seem to close? I believe that it all starts with “BELIEF”. As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, both ways you are right

They believe they “CAN”, so they “DO”

I believe that those sales professionals, who consistently outperform the other members of their sales team, believe that they can, so they do. So if sales success is all about “BELIEF”, how can sales professionals optimize their belief in themselves?

The place to start is with competence. As each sales professional invests time to improve in the areas listed below, they will over time optimize their competence as a sales professional.

  • Effective use of available time
    • Optimising how they utilize their sales day
  • Understand their own value proposition
  • Know who their tribe is
    • Qualifying all prospects
  • Learn to meet with the right decision makers
    • Getting past gatekeepers
  • Learning the art of effective networking
  • Effective communication
    • Understand how to probe effectively
    • Learn the art of active listening
  • Know how to connect customer needs, values and expectations to their value proposition
    • Solution provider
    • Build partnerships
  • Knowing how to exceed expectations on every level
    • Consistently adding meaningful value to all customers

These are the hard sales skills every sales person can learn and master, yet the gap between those sales professionals, who make selling look effortless and those, who struggle never seems to close. So yes, competence does indeed help sales people to feel more confident, which in turn helps them to believe in themselves a little more, yet this does not help narrow the gap between those top sales professionals and those sales performers, at the bottom.

Yes of course the bottom performers do show great improvements and in some cases they even manage to achieve similar results to what the top performers, were achieving before they attended any training. Yet it still astounds me, why the gap never seems to close.

Yes I have observed the gap between the top and bottom sales performers close, when only the bottom performers participate in training. But when both groups participate in the hard skills sales training, both groups show an improvement and so the gap never seems to close.

After conducting my research into this phenomenon, the next thing I explored was the concept of Emotional Intelligence and how this would support sales professionals to improve their sales acumen.

Effective Communication is Critical

Emotional Intelligence improves “COMMUNICATION”, as shown below:

  • Understanding thinking styles and how to best communicate with each one.
    • It is far easier to collaborate with customers and come up with the right solution, when you understand their thinking style and as such you are able to communicate with them in a way they can relate to.
  • Understanding personality types and how to become the chameleon during sales encounters, so that sales professionals can communicate with customers where they are.
    • Each different personality type requires a different approach, to ensure that the sales sales professional understands how to connect their value proposition with their needs, values and expectations of each customer.
  • Understanding each customer’s unique decision-making process, so that the sales professionals can more effectively communicate value to each customer in a way they understand.
    • Each customer makes decisions, including a buying decision in their own unique way.
    • When sales professionals understand this, they are equipped to tailor their proposal in a way that is easily understood and acted upon.
  • Learning the art of understanding body language cues and how to use these to more effectively communicate with customers.
    • Most communication is done via body language or voice tone.
    • When sales professionals learn to more effectively tune into their customers body language cues, they become more effective at connecting and communicating with their customers.

The interesting phenomenon, which I observed after conducting Emotional Intelligence training with sales professionals, to improve their ability to communicate effectively was  that although both groups showed improvement, the gap between the top and bottom performers, still did not close.

Delving a little deeper, I explored introducing further Emotional Intelligence training as listed below, to see if this would help close the gap.

  • We explored the concept of delayed gratification to support sales professionals to realize the importance of follow through, until a sale was closed.
    • Learning the importance of delayed gratification also supports sales professionals to become more patient and persistent, which improves their ability to prospect.
  • We trained the sales professionals how to manage their emotions during sales encounters, so that they were prepared to better manage pressure during sales encounters.
    • Learning the art of impulse control, supports sales professionals to become active listeners, so that they can become better solution providers.
    • When sales professionals learn to become more assertive they are better equipped to manage expectations.
  • We guided the sales professionals and showed them how to become more empathetic and show real caring during sales encounters.
    • This helped them to more effectively integrate into their customers businesses so that they could become trusted advisors

Yes of course this training once again delivered great results, but as you can imagine the gap between the top and bottom performers, did not close at all.

As my research continued, I began to believe that it was impossible to close the gap between the top and bottom performers. Yes the bottom performers did improve and in many cases, reached the same level of sales performance that the top performers were achieving prior to receiving any training, but the gap between the top and bottom performers never closed. There must be something else that was at play.

The next thing I did was to explore what makes someone a great sale professional. I came up with these eight crucial competencies, as listed below:

  • Intrinsic motivation
  • Character Tendencies/Disposition
  • Ability to be systematic and organised
  • Ability to understand “MY” value proposition
  • Ability to communicate effectively
  • Ability to ask the right questions and be attentive
  • Ability to nurture long term mutually beneficial partnerships
  • Ability to perform the right sales activities daily

From the list above, we can teach sales professionals the following:

  • How to become systematic and organized
  • To Understand their value proposition
  • We can support them to become better communicators
  • We can teach them to probe more effectively
  • We can support them to become active listeners
  • We can support them to perform the right quantity of sales activities daily
  • We can even teach them how to form meaningful partnerships with their customers.

The only two areas, where we experience challenges are:

  • Intrinsic motivation
  • Character tendencies or disposition

So if you are in sales and you want to become a top sales performer in your organization, attend as many hard sales skills training programs as you can, strive to develop your emotional intelligence or soft sales skills, but if you truly want to excel, find ways to optimize your intrinsic motivation and find ways to project a better attitude to your customers and you will eventually become a top sales performer.

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