Uncovering business opportunities and winning new clients is a crucial aspect of doing business. So, not surprisingly, in many organizations salespeople are seen as the key players when it comes to the growth of the company. However, some organizations either don’t have any sales professionals, or they have only a few who are tasked with the ‘rainmaker’ role.
But, if you dig a bit deeper, you will find that many employees have fantastic relationships with clients – genuine relationships built on trust and respect. Their job descriptions probably don’t suggest that they work in sales. And they wouldn’t necessarily describe themselves as salespeople. Yet they are contributing to the growth of your organization by uncovering opportunities for themselves and others, managing client relationships and even winning new business.
However, because they are not considered part of the sales force, they don’t always receive the same training as their business development colleagues. And, in fact, these so-called ‘unnatural salespeople’ may even see sales and selling as a dark art.
However, by investing in their selling skills – without turning them into ‘salespeople’ – business leaders can unleash a potent weapon to uncover more opportunities and drive client loyalty.
When it comes to selling, the untrained tend to fall into one of four categories. There are those who do it well – having found, through experience, a way that works for them. Then, of course, there are those who do it badly. These people usually have the confidence, but they come across as far too ‘salesy’ because that’s how they think good salespeople act.
There’s another category of people who think they can’t sell – they see how their ‘do it badly’ colleagues operate and decide they’re not like that. And then there are those who simply don’t try – they are firmly of the view that selling is just not what they do.
Whatever category they’re in, the key to success is not to try to turn these people into the stereotypical salesperson. If you do this, you are unlikely to motivate them to learn new skills – and you risk putting them off even more. After all, if they had wanted to be salespeople, they would have chosen a different career path.
The first step is to get their buy-in to what professional, ethical selling looks like. Part of that involves debunking the view that all people who sell are like your typical used car salesperson, and recognizing that everyone who is in contact with clients is, in fact, selling. By changing the narrative from “we need you to sell our services” to “we need you to motivate clients to buy our services”, you change the emphasis from ‘push’ to ‘pull’.
Once you have developed the right mindset, removed any barriers and engaged the ‘hearts’, you can then work on the ‘minds’ and teach relevant skills and behaviors. There are different skills and behaviors required along the client’s buying journey but ultimately clients will buy when they know, like, and trust you. With this in mind, you have to teach patience and the art of moving the client along at just the right pace – never pushy but continuously motivating them to take the next step towards buying. With practice – both in the classroom (virtual or physical) and in the real world – the ‘reluctant seller’ builds confidence and, in time, becomes both willing and able.
If your organization develops all its client-facing people, it will unlock a ‘hidden salesforce’. By asking a few more questions and listening a bit harder, these unnatural salespeople have the potential to win valuable new work.