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Sales is about selling the right solutions

THE old adage that good sales people are born rather than made no longer applies to the modern sales industry. Even having the ‘gift of the gab’ is no longer important. Sales is now about solutions selling, a method of understanding the needs of a customer.

The industry has entered the third generation of sales, where simply selling products or techniques such as value adding have been replaced by customising the sales pitch for individual customers.

A lot of sales professionals do a lot of talking and just push, push, push information at the customer. But what the salesperson should do is an effective diagnosis of the customer’s needs, like a doctor would diagnose a patient. It involves listening, probing, thinking, observing, testing and then creating solutions.

It’s about making the customer aware of their needs and then offering them a solution.

However, there are some industries that are too rigid for this solutions method to work. A manufacturing company, for instance, can only create a narrow range of products. It can’t offer the opportunity to create individual solutions for a customer. That’s why car salesmen have the reputation they do – they’re stuck pushing often unsuitable product onto customers.

Sales professionals have become just that, professionals. The process to becoming one now starts at the tertiary level and, I believe, Curtin University has one of the best sales courses in Australia.

The next step to becoming a good salesperson is to become immersed in the industry they are selling to. They need to become a businessperson in that area and pick up the terminology, or lingo, network and continually update their skills.

A good salesperson’s selling style relates to the marketplace they are serving. If you’re selling to GPs, then you’re going to talk their language and you’re going to be appropriate to that realm of people. It’s the contextual framework of selling.

A lot of people assume that if you are a good salesperson you can sell anything. There are two different schools of thought on this. Some think a person can be brought into a new company and start selling a product immediately because they have personality. Others believe ‘give me a person with expertise in that area and I will give them a personality. Later.’

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