Working with both corporates and companies large and small all around the world, I’ve come to realise the vital key of a motivated, goal directed and well trained sales team. Sales is the tip of the spear of business. I have seen inferior products outsell their superior counterparts simply due to a better, more organised, strategic sales team. Developing and growing this team is vital. Keeping the team motivated and engaged is critical.

Every sales team needs to maintain the important balance between working IN the business (operations, selling, admin etc) and working ON the business (strategic planning, preparation, sales team training and motivation). The building of an effective sales team is never coincidental but always intentional.

Seth Godwin says that “People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories and magic”. Let’s teach our sales teams to provide incredible service and authentic relationship to consolidate and secure trust with all our clients. “Sales is not about selling anymore, but about building trust and educating”. Siva Divaki

Principle #1 Work on your team’s STRATEGIC PLAN – preparation is key

I am always amazed at how many sales teams appear totally disjointed. Each person in the team just simply going about doing their own thing! No working together, no bigger picture strategic planning or utilisation of group and individual strengths. Regular strategic planning meetings and discussion groups are VITAL to get the most out of your sales team. The coordination of these planning meetings needs to be run by a team leader who underst ands strategic planning and how to get the most out of these important times together as well as how to translate the planning into on the ground action.

Principle #2 Discover the NEED – know your client

Taking the time to get to know your client, their company, products, the way they do business, their values and ethos, is critical for a long term successful and mutually beneficial business relationship. The energy and research taken to explore “who they are, what they do and what they believe ” is never a waste of time, but a vital ingredient for long term collaboration. This insight gives you a strategic advantage when it comes to you assisting them in their quest for business growth and success. From this base you are able to identify their needs and how you can support them.

Principle #3 Know your PRODUCT – know your company

A sales team should KNOW their products or the services they are selling. Regular team development and product knowledge training in this regard is vital. We need to send our teams out fully equipped to do their job and thorough and comprehensive knowledge in this regard is a must. When new products are introduced by the company, the sales team should be recalled for ongoing training to empower them with knowledge to do their job effectively. Many Sales reps do not know their products properly. This breaks trust with their clients and jeopardises ongoing business and future sales.

Principle #4 Continually build the RELATIONSHIP – be personable

People buy from people! This was one of the very first sales principles I learnt. Yes, we sell products and services, but for long term ongoing positive business…It takes relationship and trust. Getting to know the people who buy your product is very important. Forging relationships of trust is a vital skill for any effective sales person. Today people in business tend to be far more sceptical than years ago. This leads to far less loyalty in the business world. To build loyalty from your customers to you and the products you sell, build relationship, value relationship, maintain relationship!

Principle #5 Outst anding initial SERVICE – be WOW from the start

As the saying goes…“You only have ONE opportunity to make a good first impression”. The way you contact a company, that first meeting, first time you present your company and products in so very important. It sets the tone for any future engagement. Never forget to start relationally. Never just “jump right in to business mode”. Be open, friendly, observant, inquiring and most of all… relational. The aim is to build rapport, develop a relational connection, build trust and mutual respect. These interpersonal relationships developed become vital to future business.

Principle #6 Long term CONSISTENCY – don’t be a one-hit wonder!

There is nothing worse than a sales person who promises the earth and under delivers. How disappointing! It breaks relationship and destroys trust. Long term consistency, honesty and relationship often secure business for years, even with the onslaught of other sales reps attempting to win business from your clients. Being consistent is a character issue. It speaks to who YOU are, but reflects on your company too. The ability to maintain a high level of service and relational excellence is a must for any effective salesperson.

Principle #7 Effective FOLLOW UP – keep your clients in mind

“Out of sight, Out of mind” is not how a great sales rep wants to conduct their business. Thinking ahead, anticipating the needs of your customers and preempting any problems with creative solutions and ideas is a great way to build trust with your clients. It helps them see that you are not just interested in selling to them, but truly engaged in their company’s success too. This takes planning, foresight, intuition and hard work. Seeing beyond just simply the sale, to how you can help them succeed is a key part of effective ongoing follow up.

Principle #8 Thoughtful INNOVATION – times change, so do products and ways of doing things

The world of business is changing so fast. Daily we see new ways of doing things, new innovations and products as well as new and cutting edge thinking. Helping your clients innovate, improve or grow is a great tool for ongoing business. It also shows that you are thinking about your clients and their business needs. Providing them with solutions to problems, new ways of thinking or ideas for challenges they have in their industry is all part of the life and business skill of an effective salesperson.

Remember: If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they TRUST you, they’ll do business with you. Zig Ziglar

Michael Puffett