What makes businesses successful in sales? How do you sell? I had a meeting with Alison Edgar the other day, and we compared notes on what makes for successful selling.
Alison has done really well since she started her sales and customer service training, coaching and strategy business in 2011 (see www.salescoachingsolutions.co.uk). She recently met George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer at No. 10, speaks at conferences and business events (Somerset House, London, next!) and has picked up several awards along the way. I’m sure there are many more exciting visits on the horizon and other doors opening for Alison in the future.
Alison has so much energy and it is easy to see she wears her heart on her sleeve – her very pink sleeve at that. High-octane Alison comes colour-coordinated, too – you cannot miss her!
It is clear that one’s personality, one’s attitude, one’s approach and thoughts, are highly relevant when we think about selling successfully, being effective at sales, and how to carry out ‘business’ and where to put one’s energy when building a business.
- This level of (positive!) energy is actually one of the things we agreed is behind success at selling (read: success in business): You have to put in the energy. As Alison put it: she is a “doer”; she goes at a pace, knows what she wants to get done and knows when to ask people around her to help her get it done. Which leads to the second point:
- To get things done you need to be willing to try things, be ready to fail and get out of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! But make sure to learn from them. In psychology, this is often referred to as error management.
- Confidence and belief. This is not the same as being extrovert, although there may be some overlap. To be successful in any business, you have to believe in what your product or service offers, its value and how it can help the client. This is connected, then, also, to being able to and ideally enjoy ‘networking’ – in the broad sense of that word: if you are open to others’ presence, if you enjoy meeting new people, listening to them, genuinely interested in people, finding out what makes them tick, what their needs are, if you like introducing people to other people and being introduced yourself to others, then you probably are someone who feels at home in a context where ‘networks’ are built.
- Know your strengths, and work with, or around, your weaknesses. Alison, for instance, has dyslexia. Clearly it’s not something that she is ashamed of, or wishes to hide..! In other words, ‘self-stigmatisation’ is rather alien to Alison. On the contrary, she uses the dyslexia to her advantage: as only one example of this, instead of writing someone an email, Alison will pick up the phone and try to talk to the person instead. After all, the impact of the spoken word is often much greater than the written one. In fact, she prefers to have a face-to-face conversation. Or, to quote Alison again: “I’ve never read any business book in my life!” See? Don’t let your ‘weaknesses’ get the better of you. Work around them.
- Be accountable. Have a sounding board, feel accountable to some trusted person who can give you constructive feedback along the way – and take that feedback on board.This requires that you are willing to explain your ideas, actions, priorities, plans and beliefs with the other person(s) – and are open to theirs.
…Having agreed to meet to compare notes and get to know each other a little better, we thus ended up agreeing on 5 key attributes of effective sales, of being effective in building a business. (No business without sales..!)
No doubt there are more attributes (…do share your insights!), but these five jumped out at us both, over coffee and cake (great job, Allington Farm Shop, in Chippenham, Wiltshire, UK; it was heaving at 10AM!).
Did I thank you for the cake, Alison? – Well, ‘herewith’, I hope.