Although very different in many ways, the two roles that I undertake on a day-to-day basis correlate surprisingly well. As part of the Business Development team, it is my job to attract and engage potential clients. Yet as a part-time Office Manager, I am often that ‘potential client’ taking calls from an untold number of companies who are trying to make that all-important sale.
You might say, then, that I am in a somewhat ideal position to ‘sell myself to myself’, and thus gain valuable insight that I might otherwise never be privy to.
What I have noticed is that despite sales training seeing an increase in popularity in recent years, with programmes such as Sandler Training – so many of those involved in my field continue to fall into similar traps, committing the same cardinal sins time after time.
With that in mind, I set about compiling my very own list of don’ts that, more often than not, lead to the salesperson’s downfall.
1. Don’t assume that you can sell absolutely anything to anyone. We all like to believe our mothers when they tell us we can do absolutely anything. But people aren’t going to buy just because of your cheery phone manner or tailored suit. The key lies in allowing the prospect to discover their need for your help themselves. Asking the right questions rather than dictating is likely to gain you much more success.
2. Don’t make that call until you’ve really done your homework. Mispronouncing the prospect’s name or company risks an instant death. Also, you are always going to lose brownie points (plus look like an idiot) by asking questions about things that can easily be found on the company’s website.
3. Don’t talk so much. For some reason, the vast majority of sales people seem to think they need to dominate the conversation in the initial stages. Don’t give out so much information before gaining it back. If a prospect wants to know the ins and outs of your company, they can look up your website. Take the time to listen to them instead, enabling you to work out the best position to take.
4. No probably means no – at least for now. Calling every other day is not likely to change a prospect’s mind. It’s good to try to maintain a relationship, but think about how frustrated you would be if someone you’d already politely told no to kept bombarding you with calls and emails.
5. Don’t forget to sweat the small stuff. It’s all about attention to detail. Following up a call with a well-executed email or a hand-written note will stand you in good stead. Steve Jobs once said, “Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected”. But if you build a culture around those little things, you can feasibly expect big results.
In my view, being a good sales person shares many of the same characteristics as being a good friend. Be honest and open, but just as important, don’t forget to listen and pay attention. Not only will these qualities help you thrive in business, they will help you thrive in life.
Georgiana Foster is a new business assistant and office manager at gyro London.