Do you fit this description?
You are considered a “professional” in your field. You have a degree in computer science, engineering, law, accounting, finance or banking (or similar professional field). You may even have an MBA. You love what you do, but to advance your career, or build your practice, you are required to sell, and sell often. If your work is project based, or short term in nature, you need a regular pipeline of new opportunities. You may not love the sales aspect of your role, but new business is absolutely vital to your livelihood. Welcome to the world of sales!
If you fit that description, you’ve probably not had much exposure to professional sales methodology and training. Many professionals are told to keep the CRM system updated, given a pat on the back and told to “go get ‘em.” There are many professionals that can relate to these experiences. But, if you will work on your sales skills, you will find yourself differentiating yourself from your competition who has not invested in these skills.
Here are some common sense ideas on what it takes to be a professional who needs to sell.
1. Dedicate time every week to building your network of prospects: It sounds basic, but do you regularly set aside time for this to achieve sales success? Be sure to spend time every week meeting potential new clients. Leverage your network, current clients, community groups, or whatever method you use to meet prospects. I find that when professionals do this regularly, they enjoy the process of meeting new people more than they thought they would. And, the best time to network is when you don’t need to. You’ll be much more relaxed and natural.
2. Invest in digital marketing for lead generation: While I’m on the topic of prospecting, we must cover digital marketing. There is a propensity for almost everyone to search online for service providers, and the numbers show just how important this is to their buying process. The trends are unmistakable and increasing, so if your firm has not embraced the digital marketing age, now is the time. But digital marketing is far more than building a great website. This blog post will give you some ideas on how to carry out digital marketing successfully and create outstanding lead flow.
3. Consider sales (or business development, if you prefer) a highly worthwhile endeavor: I realize that studies show that the sales profession, in general, is not well respected. Here’s what I did in my career to create outstanding success: I made sure that my behavior as a sales professional had nothing to do with the behaviors that many buyers had experienced from other sales people. Professionals do not need to push, learn a lot of closing techniques or be great orators for sales success. The best sales people are great listeners. They work harder than others to patiently discover their prospect’s needs and then move heaven and earth to meet those needs. Great sales people serve their prospects and are a guide through what may be a complex process. This attitude has served me and many other accomplished professionals very well. It can help set you apart while making sales a much more rewarding endeavor.
4. Highlight your specific expertise: Many of us have found areas of specialization, expertise or key niches where we have a clear competitive advantage. Find ways to capitalize on that expertise. Consider publishing a blog, authoring regular white papers or speaking publicly. Certainly, highlight your expertise on your website and look into the being a “guest blogger” or submitting articles for other related blogs. There are endless options today for taking your professional content and distributing it through dozens of viable channels.
5. Consider some basic sales training: Most professionals have had very little exposure to solid sales training and process. Once you learn the basics of prospecting, qualifying opportunities, maintaining a solid pipeline of opportunities, and how to move those opportunities through a well-planned sales process, your results will skyrocket.
You have a valuable service to offer your clients. They need to know that you clearly understand their needs and how you will serve them in a long-term relationship. This is the essence of professional sales success.