The Nine Critical Skills of Productive Selling

Professional sales teams rarely suffer from a lack of effort, but the disparity between effort and positive result is quite common. What gets in the way? Is it the marketplace? Poor internal processes? Ineffective training? Too much turnover?

Sales organizations are only productive when there is a convergence of effort and positive results. Real productivity is recognizable because productive processes have specific characteristics. The most successful sales organizations have:

  • A customer-focused strategy that permeates the entire organization
  • The ability to proactively engage decision makers on a consistent basis
  • The ability to outsmart the competition by positioning proposals and RFPs to their advantage
  • The skill to sell products/services at full market value, without discounts
  • The ability to accurately forecast new business and revenue performance
  • The ability to hire, train and integrate salespeople who can become productive in a matter of weeks
  • The skill to retain the right people over an extended period of time
  • The ability to consistently cross-sell existing customers while improving customer satisfaction levelsBased on our years of research, we have identified nine critical skills that achieve what we call the “Productive Selling Zone.”
  • Target your prospects. Salespeople waste too much time trying to sell to people who will never buy. Productive selling requires that salespeople understand how to profile their ideal customer, segment their markets based upon opportunity and deliver a thorough understanding of their unique value proposition for their products or services.
  • Know what you’re up against. Industry change, marketplace adjustments and competition are all outside influences impacting each salesperson’s success. The most productive selling organizations stay abreast of those influences and know how to leverage those influences to positively affect the three stages of buying: the need stage, the proof stage and the risk stage.
  • Get buy-in on the initial call. Productive selling organizations open a “credibility window” to generate interest in the first 20 seconds of their cold calls. They use peer-to-peer customer success stories, problem-positioning grids and solution-targeting grids to help them generate interest and get buy-in on the very first call to a new prospect.
  • Find the real business issues. Every business has critical needs that are frequently unidentified. These critical needs yield buying decisions when they can be discovered and linked to your products or services.
  • Weave a web of influence. Productive selling teams know how to weave powerful webs of influence at their accounts and in their markets. They understand the pyramid of power and how to maximize their opportunities within customer and prospect organizations.
  • Empower the decision maker. Getting to the people who have “power of the pen” is the key. By helping them understand how to cost-justify their decision to buy your product, you will actually empower them to buy.
  • Understand how people buy. There are four reasons people don’t buy: no need, no vision, no value or no power. The goal is getting the prospect to admit need and to create a vision with a bias towards their capabilities.
  • Create a sense of urgency with the buyer. Sales professionals can articulate the cost of delay and identify the benefits of the successes that can become reality. They create a sense of urgency that makes the consequences of not taking action very real and imminent.
  • Stand firm in final negotiations. Productive selling professionals do not forfeit the fruits of their hard work in the final moments of negotiation. They understand the principles and traits of master negotiators and know how to create gives-and-gets. Most importantly, they never let negotiations get down to one item.Sales organizations that hire to or train to these nine critical skills have a significantly better chance of achieving their desired results on a consistent fashion year in and year out.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Vistage speaker John Boyens heads the Boyens Group, a sales productivity, management effectiveness and business strategy firm based in Brentwood, Tenn.

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