This is the least likely topic I ever though I would write about… but here it goes.
For more than 15 years I escaped in terror every time I saw a job position that had any “sales” responsibility. I never thought that I had the conditions, skills or charisma that are needed to influence someone else’s purchase decision.
Now I think that my fear was product of my ignorance about what it really means to sell. When I discovered that advising and selling could be the same thing, everything changed. For the last 10 years I’ve turned to be a pretty effective “advisor” in the field of Digital Marketing and Strategy.
So that was my path, to dive deep into digital marketing strategy.
As I immersed in this field I discovered a big disconnect between business understanding and digital marketing, and knew I could leverage my experience and education to help companies bridge that gap.
When I found my place, I became super passionate about the topic, and became a permanent student, obsessed with delivering extraordinary results to clients.
Of course my results are not always “spectacular”
Of course my results are not always “spectacular” but I really strive to get my clients the most for their trust and resources. But that extra effort and your genuine interest in getting results is always noticed by clients and it gives you a hall pass for when things don’t go as planned.
Just like every time I write something, I do it thinking that there may be others who have similar challenges to mine, and that – maybe – my experience makes the journey a little easier.
Since I know I have a lead-to-client conversion rate well above average I though I will share my learning as a way to remind myself the right way to do things.
With this in mind, I am going to share the 3 factors that have been key in my effectiveness as a salesperson:
Self-confidence cannot be faked, at least not for long.
To the extent that the person or group in front of you perceives authority in your arguments, the more open their minds will be and the more interested will be in what you have to say.
The way to develop this confidence – and as a consequence the authority – is to work hard in preparing yourself in your subject matter and to investigate the specific pain-points of the people listening to you.
“Specific” concerns mean individual aspects. The more understanding you develop their situation and the better trained you are to identify possible solutions, the more sense your arguments will make.
I dedicate at least 1 hour a day to update myself on Digital Marketing topics and at least 4 hours of preparation before each sales meeting.
One of my favorite topics is Digital Transformation.
You might think that it is very risky or wasteful to put so much effort into preparing for a presentation that may not end up in closed business. But the good thing about this routine is that knowledge accumulates, and little by little you find patterns and be able to connect the dots faster and more intelligently in the following meeting.
Other professionals may have more experience, more connections or be better looking … but how much effort you put into your preparation is something that is 100% under your control.
Be humble and authentic in your purpose.
Everyone has his or her style of conversation. In my case for example, as I get excited I tend to talk faster and show less decorum. Additionally, my way of speaking sounds aggressive, even when I am trying to be sweet and subtle.
So if in the first 3 minutes I don’t establish my point … they’re going to hate me.
My natural style of communicating makes it essential to quickly establish that I am really there to help; and that although I bring to the table the value of my experience in Digital Marketing, nothing replaces the experience in the business of the person in front of you.
I am fortunate that my communication disability – after the 3 minutes of fire – usually comes across as total transparency.
The key to reflecting that humility is to listen carefully without interrupting, and then acknowledging the value you give not only to their problem, but also to their experience.
Your reputation is a fundamental asset, but it is quite fragile.
The advantage of preparing hard for each sales presentation is that you get to that meeting with a clearer idea of the real opportunity for the client and the real challenges they will face to capitalize that opportunity.
With these insights you can manage expectations by depicting realistically the impact the client can expect from the solution you are offering.
The most effective way to describe those challenges is by Mapping the current Digital Ecosystem and find quick fixes to drive in results faster.
Having a short-term mentality is extremely risky. Of course we always have the pressure of the sales quotas, but the more we compromise our reputation to achieve these goals, the harder it will be to achieve the meet the quotas for the next period.
Hunger is a terrible counselor for salespersons.
What you actually deliver to the client compared to the expectations that you created is what determines their satisfaction and therefore, your reputation.
In short, the seller is not born; it could be developed based on preparation, authenticity and medium-term vision.