” Six Questions to An Expert ” by Marco Rasi.
1) In the huge offer of methods and techniques, there are thousands of bloggers, articles, books and consultant firms. Unavoidably there are though different and even opposite theories about sales. What’s your advise for a salesman who would like a support in order to improve? how to find his way in this wide offer?
A. There are three things a sales person needs to keep front and centre when considering the range of advice available:
- 1. There are no absolutes in sales! At any time a single element can change the nature of the sale, and you will be better served by a source not considered before. Now add to that at any given time MANY elements change, some predictably, a=others not, only by consulting a variety of sources, will you be able to formulate and execute a plan.
- 2. Sales is an evolving process, stay away from advice that always goes to one thing. If they always go back to “one thing being the answer for everything”, be suspicious. They are likely selling that one thing, and not in it to help you. There many examples of “sales experts”, who sound like a broken record, rather than a source of solid input.
- 3. The most important question you can ask is: “Is the person giving the advice actually out there selling now in today’s market, or were they selling in the past and now just provide advice?” There are those of us who still prospect, sell, negotiate, close and lose deals every day, we therefore test our methods and grow them with the market, we not have all the answers to every single thing, but we do have the same bruises and calluses you do from selling everyday.
2) What is the best advice You can give to a young man who wants to start a career as a professional seller?
A. And for ” experts “, what is the skill/attitude that you have seen too much neglected by the salesmen you met in your career ?
My answer to the first part is to realise and accept that selling is a job, it takes work, it takes practice, it takes commitment, and it is a journey of improvement that never ends. If you are not ready to commit and give 100% every time, then you should seek another career. But if you want to make good money for the effort required, and are willing to accept that tomorrow will not be like today, sales is where it’s at!
Second part, the most neglected skill/attitude is curiosity! It helps you take all your skills and knowledge and channel them at the buyer and the opportunity. If you are not curious you will miss a lot of opportunities. If you know it all, think you are the expert, you will sound good, impress some people, but make a lot less sales than if you used your knowledge to create questions, conversations, and together with the buyer, develop a solution right for them.
3) We are a community of sales professionals in Italy, every day in the field on all markets. We see that on sale in Italy there are many offer training, coaching, team building, but little if anything about culture (books, qualified training publications) on sales techniques, that of day by day. Why do You think in English-speaking countries there is a lot more to offer of sales culture rather than in Italy? How to recover the gap?
A. That would be hard to comment on without doing some research, like I said in answer 1, I’d rather not just talk for the sake of talking.
One thing is worth noting is that sellers will find a market if it exists. It may be, and I say may be as I am only guessing, that there is a lack of a market in certain countries based on how they view sales. I did training a long time ago in France and Germany, and there were two very different levels of acceptance for training. Germans were eager to learn, and the French had a very laissez-faire attitude about taking on training. Maybe it is a cultural question in Italy, if there was a demand for it, there would be supply.
But, may be this is an opportunity for us to come up with an offering, let me know when you’re ready to hit it!
4) We often speak about improvement and enrichment of the salespeople qualification, but there are some habits that should be got out. Which are habits of the past that, as time went by, you removed from your techniques or changed ideas on?
A. I would get rid of having and selling via a “Value Proposition”. Call it what you like, as soon as you are “proposing” you are pitching, and it becomes a very one way discussion, all the seller at the client. I much prefer to work through a process of “mutual value definition”.
5) Social networks are opening new frontiers in business relationships, but both companies’ top managers that the best sellers seem to be wary of their use. What will lead us to the sales 3.0? Market, technology, or other?
A. At the risk of sounding cynical, I think Sales 3.0 will result when people realize they can’t milk Sales 2.0 anymore, and need to come up with something “New” and “Shiny”. Sales people have always been early adopters of technology, whether you go back to phone, answering services, Telex, fax, e-mail….., so it won’t be technology. It will be someone’s need to make money of the sales industry. Since sellers are always looking for the magic bullet, they will buy the next trashy rehash of old stuff, as long as they can avoid doing the work it takes to be a good seller. It’s like the next diet, you still have to go to the gym!
6) In the last 80 years, billions of words have been written about how to sell. There are so an “old” and a “new-school”. Sometimes even contrasting in their ideas. In your opinion, is the evolution of selling techniques influenced by new ideas and thoughts or is there just an adaptation to the new tools we have (such as communication, web, CRM), the new market and products/services? or, last, the buyer’s changing in behaviour (awareness, advanced purchasing process)?
A. I think this relates back to one of the earlier questions, and I truly believe it is a combination of the three. But I do think there is an order or hierarchy. It all starts with the buyer, they evolve with their realities, and sellers need to keep up, or better yet, stay ahead. As things evolve on the buyer’s side, sellers need to adopt new lines of thinking, new techniques and technologies. To some degree this is why it is easy to be cynical or suspect about Sales 2.0, it really looks at the buyer as an after-thought. This is why some sellers have difficulty with it, because their market has yet to embrace Web 2.0 or the social movement. Not that they may not see the value, it just their buyers haven’t yet embraced it, and so sellers who over rely on it are disappointed. Buyer’s demand will drive new ways to meet them, adopt new thinking, new approaches, new technology. Or reworked things from the past, no matter what Social Sellers or Sales 2.0 types tell you, referrals are not new, just the way it is done these days is. Educated buyers are not new, it’s just that they can do it more efficiently now. As a result sellers need to use all the elements you mentioned to evolve, improve and continue winning sales.
Interview by : Marco Rasi