Refreshing face-to-face sales skills
Remember when sales were mostly in person or on the phone? While many people relied upon the personal interaction of tradeshows and vendor visits, it all got shut down during COVID. Is it possible that some of those in-person skills have gotten a little rusty? If you have salespeople who are new to the team or industry, they may have skipped the hard-won lessons of your veteran salespeople and might need a refresher on the skills of in-person meetings.
Here are a couple of ways to refresh those in-person skills. First is a quick refresher on the essential skills for in-person sales. Following that are four classic sales books that can spark fresh insights into the skills for effective sales.
Here are key sales skills that boost the in-person impact of sales meetings.
- Active listening: The sales professional demonstrates active listening skills, paying close attention to the customer's needs, concerns, and preferences. They strive to understand the customer's requirements to tailor their approach accordingly.
- Effective communication: The sales professional communicates clearly and confidently, using appropriate verbal and non-verbal cues. They maintain good eye contact, adjust their communication style to match the customer's preferences, and ensure their message is well-articulated.
- Rapport building: Building a genuine connection with the customer is a priority. The sales professional seeks common ground, shows empathy, and aims to foster trust. They establish a positive and trusting relationship to create a solid foundation for a successful sales meeting.
- Product knowledge: The sales professional possesses in-depth knowledge about their product or service. They are well-prepared to answer questions, provide detailed information, and highlight how their offering meets the customer's specific needs. Their expertise enhances their credibility.
- Problem-solving ability: The sales professional exhibits strong problem-solving skills to address customer pain points effectively. They analyze challenges, propose suitable solutions, and tailor their recommendations to meet the customer's requirements.
- Captivating presentations: The sales professional delivers compelling and engaging presentations. They create visually appealing and concise materials that effectively convey the value and benefits of their product or service. Their goal is to capture the customer's attention and leave a lasting impression.
- Negotiation skills: The sales professional demonstrates adept negotiation skills. They seek mutually beneficial agreements, handle objections confidently, and negotiate terms that satisfy both parties.
- Adaptability: The sales professional is adaptable in various sales situations. They adjust their approach based on the customer's responses, preferences, and any changing circumstances that arise during the meeting.
- Confidence and resilience: The sales professional exudes confidence in themselves and their offering. They maintain a positive mindset, handle rejection, objections, and setbacks with resilience, and stay focused on their goals throughout the sales process.
- Time management: The sales professional effectively manages their time during sales meetings. They ensure all relevant topics are covered while respecting the customer's time. Maintaining a smooth flow of the conversation is important for a productive meeting.
Confusing virtual, in-person, and hybrid sales styles.
The almost traumatic loss of in-person meetings was followed by the rapid shift to virtual tools. And now, we're back to some mix of the two. For salespeople of all types, these changes have been dramatic, but what's important to remember is that the skills required for in-person and virtual meetings are quite unique.
The focus on technology and visual presentations is now supplanting the more traditional in-person skills. While it was very hard to read body language in virtual meetings, it is now one of the important tools of "social intelligence" that is required for in-person meetings.
It's helpful to create a neutral discussion-centered approach to engaging both experienced and new salespeople about the skills for success in this shifting environment. Some salespeople are more comfortable in the virtual or in-person environment, and now both sets of skills are required.
One way to get the sales muscles toned up is to look back at some of the classic sales concepts.
Brush up by reading the classics
The four classic sales books below are four authors that focus on the essential skills that go into sales in a more personal way.
- "Secrets of Closing the Sale" by Zig Ziglar (1982) - Zig Ziglar was a renowned sales trainer and motivational speaker. His book emphasizes the significance of building strong relationships with customers and employing face-to-face selling techniques.
- "How to Master the Art of Selling" by Tom Hopkins (1980) - Tom Hopkins is another influential sales trainer. In his book, he highlights the importance of effective communication and building rapport in personal selling situations.
- "Spin Selling" by Neil Rackham (1988) - Although the term "belly to belly" may not be explicitly used in this book, "Spin Selling" is a widely recognized sales methodology that emphasizes active listening and questioning techniques during face-to-face sales interactions.
- "The Sales Bible" by Jeffrey Gitomer (1994) - Gitomer's book covers a wide range of sales topics, including the significance of personal connections in selling. While the term "belly to belly" may not be directly mentioned, the book provides insights into building relationships and trust with customers.
- "The Challenger Sale" by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson (2011) - This book challenges traditional sales approaches and presents the concept of "challenger" salespeople.
Depending on when your salespeople entered the work of professional sales, they may need more or less brushing up now that trade shows and live visits are back on the table.