Posted on 4th January 2017 by Paul Wright

Key Sales Skills for the Future

Key Sales Skills for the Future

To understand key sales skills for the future it is helpful to look back in time. Here are 5 key dates in the development of sales skills:

  1. 1898 - AIDA - E St Elmo Lewis developed the first sales process.
  2. 1914 - The Psychology of Selling - Forbes Lindsay documented the defined skills for insurance salesmen e.g. features & benefits, objection handling, closing and open & closed questioning skills.
  3. 1961The Mystique of Super-Salesmanship – McMurray defined the roles in terms of a spectrum from order takers to field salespeople.
  4. 1985 - McMurray The Determinants of Salesperson Performance - Churchill.
  5. 1987Making Major Sales - Rackham.

Most people are surprised by the dates on these key events. For example was it really over 100 years ago that 'Features, Advantages and Benefits' was being taught to insurance sales people by Forbes Lindsay? And let's be clear, the incredulity is driven by the fact that many sales trainers and sales managers are driving still those behaviours.

Looking Back at Sales Skills

So what are key sales skills for the future? If you have a sales person who does these then they are living in the past, the distant past:

  1. Sells features & benefits.
  2. Self-interest before customer interest.
  3. Standard pitch and patter.
  4. Reduces price to win the deal.
  5. Win lose mind-set, looking to gain margin at the expense of the customer.
  6. Single point of contact, no breadth and depth across the customer organisation.
  7. Closes hard because value has not been created or communicated.
  8. Blames losses on price or customer bias and so cannot learn from the experience.

Key Sales Skills for the Future

Here are the Wright Solutions key sales skills for the future:

  1. Asking questions that create insights.
  2. Building trust and putting the customer needs first.
  3. Conversation is used to communicate in a synchronous way.
  4. Creates value and can communicate that value.
  5. Win win mind-set is used to create wins for both sides.
  6. Multiple contacts are used to understand the wider needs of the whole organisation.
  7. Contract up front so that expectations are managed and closing is a natural ending.
  8. Learns from lost deals in an accountable way so less deals are lost in the future.

There are three key learnings from this history exercise:

  1. Using sales techniques that were developed 100 years ago is not going to give you the edge over your competitors. We need to be more up to date than that. We need more modern sales training that reflect the changes that have happened in our working environment.
  2. Despite these sales techniques having been around for over 100 years, not all sales people, even now, understand them nor can use them effectively.
  3. With so much information about effective selling being in the public domain, understanding good sales techniques is actually the easy part of sales training. Practicing good sales techniques consistently over time is the harder part of being a great sales person.

If your sales techniques are as old as some of these, please give us a call 0121 222 5599 as we’d love to help you develop some new ones.

Find out more about Transforming your sales team’s capabilities.

Paul Wright

By Paul Wright

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