What are the skills and competencies of a successful salesperson? Ours is a complicated industry where we are selling creative solutions that spark emotions, change people’s behavior and achieve tangible business results. A successful salesperson must first be able to really understand their clients’ needs and have a strong understanding of their client’s product/service and how it goes to market. They then must be able to articulate their company’s value proposition in a succinct and compelling way, which is not always natural to do. They must be able to think on their feet and alter their approach to explain how their product/service can be adapted to provide a better solution to achieve the client’s desired results.
Companies that understand sales work with their sales professionals to practice writing and expressing the value they can offer based on a client’s specific business issues. Good salespeople thoughtfully answer questions and ensure that everyone’s questions are important, not just those of the decision-maker. Depending on the sales opportunity it may be the salesperson, the CFO, the CEO or a middle manager that can relate and articulate their company's value to the prospect. I always enjoyed bringing a variety of people on a sales mission!
What do you tell young professionals that are interested in a sales role? A sales job is not for the faint of heart or for someone who says “I think I will try sales because that is where the money is.” It helps to start with a confident, but not arrogant, person. Successful salespeople love to sell and have the fortitude to withstand rejection. Good chatterers do not make good salespeople. Good listeners, do. When interviewing for a sales role, you must be willing to make a pitch and seriously role-play potential opportunities as if you are presenting to a client. To become a better salesperson you must accept coaching, be a team player and not work solo, hoarding information. Often great salespeople come from internal positions. They naturally succeed having grown into the process through sound product knowledge, good intuition and skill building along the way.
In such a competitive industry, how can companies keep salespeople engaged and motivated? The incentive travel business has a long sale and delivery cycle but the end game is very rewarding. You can keep salespeople in the game through on-going education, new approaches, practice, confidence from management, camaraderie with others and mini-wins. Clients also play a role in motivating salespeople through fair, ethical and professional treatment of those that are calling on them. There are many wonderful clients who are willing to listen to a new sales pitch providing that the salesperson is not wasting their time and is presenting new ideas or a new twist on a solution. It is important that salespeople learn not to waste a minute of a prospect’s time. If they are at the decision-maker level, then time is even more precious. Once they get the appointment, every minute counts.
If you are interested in improving your sales skills or moving into a sales role, check out the “Selling to the Incentive Market” online curriculum in the SITE Knowledge Centre. The courses are available for both SITE members and non-members.
SITE Past President Fay Beauchine, CITE is recognized as one of the most outstanding leaders and innovators in the travel and hospitality industry. Throughout her long and prestigious career, Fay has led sales teams that help some of the world’s most recognized brands engage, motivate and reward their employees, business partners and customers. A strong believer in the power of research, Fay is also founder and past president of the SITE Foundation and an active member of the SITE Past Presidents' Council. Fay is currently President of the digital marketing firm, Brojure. Motivate asked Fay to share what it takes to develop and nurture sales people in the incentive industry.