How to Sell

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A Managing Director of a prominent City investment bank in London e-mailed me the other day: “I am doing a morning of graduate interviews for salespeople; all high quality guys but one guy mentioned that he liked Google as a stock so I quizzed him based on the DMH blog view and he left the meeting saying he thought the stock was a sell!”

He later revealed to me the competitiveness of the interview process and how little margin for error there was: out of the sixteen short-listed candidates, they were only allowed to pick two. When I asked him what the criteria was, he told me; “It’s really the depth of the candidates that makes all the difference. We had one Lebanese guy, for example, with loads of international experience who had been educated in Paris and London and who had some practical knowledge of the industry and it was very impressive. Talking to him was like talking to any of the guys who are working on the floor here. It all comes down to being well-rounded. ”

Education & Experience

In July, consultant and guru Andy Miller wrote an abstract on his blog which declared: “I don't mean any disrespect but the odds are if you are under the age of 43-45 you never got the type of professional development you needed to be a top producer”, citing that last year his organization conducted a survey of 2663 sales organizations where 82% of salespeople said they had no sales process or weren't following one, and 42% were missing essential skills needed to do their job.

Miller ultimately concluded, “WOW! Imagine a professional football team with no play book or the essential skills to move the ball. So what can you do?

1) Take ownership for your own development.
2) Join UPSA and start learning from each other.
3) Get certified.
4) Always be learning: read books, listen to CD's, take workshops, read Selling Power.
5) Get a coach.
6) Do the fundamentals consistently and you will be in the top 10%.
7) Take action, there is a difference between knowing and doing. ”

The problem today is that as “sales” has become such a standardized industry segment of its own it has developed some dubious methodologies and training programmes rather than addressing the fundamental aspect to the process: the spectrum of the salesperson's knowledge bank and their willingness to enlighten others with the knowledge-sharing process.

Miller’s advice is all too commonly seen in any type of sales training: young salespeople today assume that what they need is training in how to sell rather than being well-read and convincing debaters who can hold an argument in a broad range of spheres. Contrary to Miller's popular opinion, the reason sales training was slashed due to “downsizing" in the 1980’s at most Fortune 500 companies is for the same reason anything is slashed in a corporation: because companies realized what little value the process contributed to the bottom line.

The most important kind of training a salesperson can have is outside the arena of practice: it’s in reading anything but books on ‘How to Sell’. Young salespeople would be better off reading Wuthering Heights than they would listening to “Selling Power” CD's.


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