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Sales expertise necessary for business success

Employees who possess sales skills are a vital part of businesses who rely on sales for success.  The goal of building a team of competent sales associates effective in calling efforts and producing desired results is an ongoing and long-term process in business.

Individuals in the role of sales associates possessing expertise in several areas will be able to reach their goals.  Becoming successful in retail or other sales positions requires certain skills and abilities that result in closed sales, satisfied customers and attaining sales quotas.  Following are key traits of a successful sales person.
• Interpersonal Skills
• Product Knowledge
• Listening Skills
• Good Customer Service Skills
• Motivation

In order to be successful in making sales calls, regardless whether it is in-person, on the phone or online, there are steps that should be followed for action getting results.  They include:

1. Warm up: Find some common ground by referring to a mutual friend or acquaintance, discussing interests or complimenting achievements.

2. Offer benefit: Present multiple benefits; ask direct or self-answering questions.

3. Discuss needs: Review existing situation; ask need-revealing questions.

4. Show example: Describe other cases citing quality, providing before and after pictures. Describe a hypothetical example.

5. Explain services, products: Identify, expand and describe benefits, and add a testimonial-type situation/example.

6. Ask for action: Ask for “green light.” Review benefits, suggest action, ask “either/or” decision question. Then follow up by confirming the decision, thank the prospect and offer assurances.

Be prepared for resistance. Don’t take “no” as a failure but an opportunity to learn and know when you have a real prospect that simply needs further development. Sales are not often made on the first contact.

It takes perseverance and sticking with it, making additional contacts to move the prospect to a customer. Be open, observant and positive. Develop a plan to fight against discouragement.  Sales can bring on experiencing “lows” and “highs” based on daily results of sales calls. Be prepared for the ups and downs. Many sales people go through all the steps and yet fail to close the sale. You must ask for the business.

The most common weaknesses of salespeople can include one or more of the following.
• Lack of planning
• Lack of know-how and skill
• Lack of product knowledge
• Poor communication skills
• Ineffective use of time
• Inability to close

There are four simple and inexpensive human relations tools that should be utilized in order to be successful in sales.

Saying please, saying thank you, smiling and complimenting are tools a person has at his or her disposal that should be used in all customer contacts.

Not everyone is cut out to be in sales. Companies spend large amounts of money in sales training and often the desired results are not worth the investment. There are also many testing and assessment tools to assist in identifying those with the personality and potential for success.

They are effective in the recruiting and hiring process and should also be used when current employees apply for a transfer to a sales position.

When the culture of the company promotes outstanding customer service it takes all employees adopting a “sales mentality” as they interact with customers and prospects.  Whether an employee is in operations or service, ultimately in order to be successful, all should see themselves as sales people for their business. Working together as a team can be most rewarding for all individually and for the business overall.

Becky Vaughn-Furlow retired from Trustmark Bank as executive vice president and human resources director. She can be contacted by emailing bvaughnfurlow@gmail.com.