It would be easy to assert that Sales is a misunderstood profession. Many people have negative views about selling, especially here in the U.K, with our slightly stiff upper lip. Is it even a profession? There is a commonly held view that salespeople are born rather than created, which also further confuses the subject. To an extent there is probably an element of truth to this viewpoint, but this conclusion is drawn mainly out of a lack of understanding as to what selling actually is. In fact, it is difficult to find a common definition of selling.
Marketing as a discipline is often given more respect due to its slightly more academic status, but it would be difficult to prove that it is more valuable to a business than a well-oiled sales function. A great marketing plan executed badly by a sales force will surely fail, just as an awful marketing campaign will make selling, even for the most skillful sales team, almost impossible.
There is also the elephant in the room. The pushy salesperson can be annoying at best, and at worst, cost a business its reputation. A lack of integrity, coupled with a lack of skill, can be a lethal combination. It is hardly surprising that the sales industry is often derided, and salespeople treated with suspicion.
However, with closer examination, you may be surprised to find that we all, no matter what our profession, are constantly selling to each other. The only difference between the sales professional and the rest of the working world, is they have a defined target and purpose towards selling a product or service. We all sell something every day, whether it is an idea or yourself. Think about it. Even the most learned professor has essentially used academia to bolster their own personal brand to sell themselves to achieve their ends. So why then do so few people invest in becoming better at this essential human skill?
Many are surprised to find that selling is essentially learning to become an expert communicator. The soft skills required to be an expert sales professional are identical to the analytical skills you might use in dissecting a piece of literature. Look up one of the most popular and widely regarded as highly effective sales systems, SPIN selling, and you will find it is actually a brilliant exploration of using higher order questioning to elicit information, as used in many non-sales professions, just for a slightly different purpose.
To really understand your customers’ needs fully and pitch to them the relevant features and benefits of your offering, you need to expertly interview them asking high order questions, which will ascertain their current situation, their problems, their issues, their desires and even an imagined better future. This is slightly more complex than the image most people have of the shiny suited second-hand car salesman with the gift of the gab.
Therefore, investing in professional sales training is essential to equipping the modern sales professional with these subtle skills. Without them, no matter how good your products are, or your marketing plans for them, you won’t get the returns you deserve. A relatively small investment in a sales force can result in huge gains for your business.
If you would like to learn more about these and many more sales skills, connect
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