A Delegate’s View of the New Professional Selling Skills
By Alison Taylor
Many of us working in the business of sales would probably admit to being competent but average at our jobs. We win a few new customers, we lose a few and on the whole we get by with a reasonable track record. But have you ever considered what makes the difference between the average salesperson and the supremely successful one?
Just recently I found out. The new management team at the software company I am employed by recently suggested that I might like to hone and refine my skills by attending a professional selling course. Following conversations with various of my colleagues who had undergone similar programmes, the strong recommendation seemed to be to book into ‘The New Professional Selling Skills’, run by Leadership Development Limited (LDL).
Described on the website as ‘a highly structured course designed to give sales people of all levels a complete training in the next generation consultative-partner selling skills demanded by today’s market place’, I was looking forward to learning how the professionals go about this business. From my first contact with LDL at their Fulham office I was impressed by the enthusiasm of their staff and the general helpfulness and clarity of the joining instructions.
And so with a mixture of eagerness and apprehension I arrived on the first morning at the Kensington Palace Hotel in central London. Meeting the other delegates over coffee at registration I soon realised that we were all in the same boat. The group consisted of salespeople and account managers with varying degrees of skills, some were just months into their first selling jobs whereas others had years of experience on the circuit. Likewise, the companies represented could not have been more diverse from technology – computers and software at one end of the scale, to tax briefs, financial services and even agricultural liming at the other.
After coffee it was straight down to business. The pace throughout was dynamic and certainly stretching. Yet the excitement, entertainment value and boundless energy of the course leaders was such that one section flowed effortlessly into the next. We were all instantly put at ease by the warmth, friendliness and above all, understanding of the instructors and never before had I seen such an ability to galvanise an audience into positive learning.
Participation is stimulated right from the start by a constant flow of questions to delegates, and new skills made easy to absorb by the use of illustration, descriptive anecdotes or parallels with personal experiences.
LDL believes that product knowledge and sales skills alone do not create a successful salesperson. The vital ingredient is mindset and the desire to win. The ‘New Professional Selling Skills’ course, therefore, is not just about learning how to find and win new business. It moves across a much broader programme of development from self confidence and physical determination techniques, to handling adversity.
These were just a few of the LDL key criteria:
- People buy people first, everything else is secondary, we must sell ourselves first
- Use questions not reasons, when planning a call concentrate, not on what you’re going to tell the prospect, but on what you’re going to ask
- Sell solutions and insights – not products
- We are problem solvers, trusted advisers and partners and the key is to define the problem and build value in the solution before offering it
- Sometimes to define the problem it is necessary to magnify the customer’s perception of the problem, a technique known as ‘Gap Analysis’
How many sales people have ever given thought to the psychology involved in a sales process? I for one had not but the LDL unique formula for this is remarkable. LDL’s structure involves finding out what the prospect wants by continually asking questions and then accurately matching your own product or service to it. The various stages of this 8 stage selling sequence are entirely logical and, as we discovered through our group syndicate work, once learnt and practised, are easy to apply.
One-on-one role playing within a group or with a trainer was a highly successful device used by LDL. This was used to teach us how to analyse and adapt to our individual styles the various techniques we had learnt. The encouragement and support we received from the trainers and from fellow delegates enabled us all to make massive strides forward. Without doubt, these interactive sessions represented one of the most beneficial aspects of the course.
Armed with the LDL official course notes and my own copious notes, I departed for home on the Friday evening with an overwhelming sense of exhilaration and achievement. The different skills I had learnt would open up the world of selling through a host of new and creative techniques and my first task would be to experiment with them. The high level of buzzing from all the other delegates indicated that their convictions were the same!
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