I had a series of conversations last week with some young sales professionals for a growing high technology company. During those conversations, I came to realize that these young lions had more questions about how to be successful in their sales roles than I would have imagined. It got me to thinking that perhaps this is a good time to share some great best practices for emerging sales professionals. So, here goes, here are the first 5 in a three-part series of articles on Best Sales Practices for young Account Executives.
- Always be well prepared before engaging in any sales campaign. Do the right kind of research to gather data on each prospect, so you can understand how you can help them. You must ultimately build a powerful business case that leads them to conclude that there are significant reasons why they should work with you and your company. Build credibility by learning about your prospect. Read their public financial statements, and SEC documents, study their website and understand the facts, drivers, and motivations of their current business position. Identify ways to position yourself as a member of their team from your first interaction and each successive interaction.
- Your questioning methodology must be designed to discover and quantify the pains that your prospects want to eliminate, or the pleasures that they want to increase. Your potential customers need solutions to their business problems. That’s where you can add value for them, by being interested in learning how you can help them solve their business problems. Your methodology should be designed to understand the prospect’s core business drivers and to only sell to them if your products or services add value. Your job is to provide valuable solutions that drive your prospect’s business forward toward a successful competitive advantage, not sell them something that doesn’t add value for the customer.
- Remember that deals are almost never won or lost on your contribution alone. The very best sales professionals are finely attuned to the skills and resources of every person on their team, including executives, their pre-sales architecture or engineering partner, the product marketing team, their inside sales support team, their business development support team, and the post-sales engineers. These are the people who can help you win and make you look good before and after the sale. You will get more credit by sharing the credit for a big win and being willing to leverage the talents and resources of the entire team, rather than being a lone wolf and going the sales campaign alone. Your prospect will be more confident placing an order with a cohesive, well-functioning team than they would a lone wolf.
- You will have to farm and hunt to be successful. Hunt in a balanced fashion. Hunt elephants (big deals) selectively, and choose them carefully to ensure you’re hunting the elephants you can bring down to grow your company to the next level. Don’t be myopic and ONLY hunt elephants, or when you lose one or two (which will happen to even the BEST sales teams…) you and your teammates will starve. Hunt more gazelles (small and medium-sized deals) than elephants. My recipe for balance would be this; hunt gazelles daily and hunt elephants monthly or quarterly. That will keep you balanced in your approach, and keep your children fed.
- You need to cultivate a strong network of coaches inside your prospect and customer accounts, people who can wield influence with decision makers, and who want you to win. Develop multiple coaches within each account because coaches move on frequently from company to company these days and having five coaches is better than three, and having three is always better than one. Your prospects of winning business in an account increase dramatically when you have supportive coaches inside the organization who will help you to win the business by guiding and supporting you.
Great young Account Executives realize that success in sales comes over the long haul, not in a short supernova burst of low-value transactions. You need to put your customer’s best interests ahead of your short-term objectives and commit to joining your customer’s team over the long-term. You need to become skilled at working hard to make your customer’s life easier, and then as time goes by, and your relationship with them deepens with each increment of value that you deliver, you will gain enormous benefit as well. Think long-term and think about adding value and serving your customer. As you build a valuable relationship, your customer will trust you and engage with you commensurate to the value you deliver.
Michael Beach is an award winning Coach who works with medium-sized companies in the high-tech industry to help them to develop their Emerging Leaders. This is the first in a three-part series of Best Practices for Sales Account Executives. If you’d like to sign up for Michael’s Emerging Leaders newsletter, send an email to email@example.com and Michael will sign you up and send you 25 Best Sales Practices free of charge. Check out Michael’s videos on his YouTube channel, Michael Beach Coaching & Consulting.