is a keynote & motivational speaker, mental toughness expert and sales top gun.
In the last decade the approach to sales changed significantly. What are the biggest challenges sales reps have to deal with today?
GI: Without doubt the biggest change facing salespeople today is the availability of information. Clients today are far more fully researched and have access to far more information prior to even meeting salespeople. The days of "show up and throw up" are well and truly over; thankfully. Turning up at your clients business and regurgitating facts about your business and your products is not enough to engage or interest clients. Salespeople need to be far more fully briefed and prepared and need to have multiple ways of adding value for clients.
A bit like society the sales profession is skewing into "haves" and "have nots". It has long been stated that 20% of salespeople bring in 80% of the sales but recent research would suggest that this figure has moved and an even smaller number of salespeople bring in even more of the sales. I believe that this comes down to who understands the new economy and who does not. Those who realise that they have to be inventive and go the extra mile to add value are incredibly successful. This does mean, however, that the majority of salespeople are now struggling to hit targets and make sales.
Would you mind sharing a few of your proven techniques to engage with prospective clients that work best?
GI: I suspect you get a lot of answers to this question around social media, content marketing and using online strategies and these are all good advice so I am going to talk about some "old school" opportunities that have opened up over recent years...
If you want to add value, then you need to do something different and two of the things that do not happen as much as they used to are personal conversations (face to face and on the phone) and physical mailings. I am going to talk briefly about the latter... I have, for a long time, been an advocator of "thank you" letters and hand written notes but the other weapon in my arsenal are my "magic boxes" or "shock and awe" packages as they are often known. These are high-end, valuable offerings for clients and potential clients that arrive through the mail, specifically for them. I use information gleaned through the internet to tailor them for the individual and they need to create a response from the recipient of "Wow!" The client needs to feel like it is Christmas Day and they need to be stacked full of valuable offerings. I have standard ones and tailor them for individuals. These are not posted ad hoc but designed as part of a targeted strategy for bringing on high value clients. It works.
Your ‘4 S Principle’ teaches us that the more we share, the more we receive. What are some practical applications for this in sales?
GI: Actually, the 4 S Principle is about creating powerful belief structures both personally and organisationally however my "Be More, Do More, Share More" talk is about sharing first. This came about because, over the years, buyers have become very suspicious of salespeople and often refuse to open up to and give information to them. This, in turn, means that salespeople have to guess at what their prospects want and make canned presentations. Not surprisingly these are not perfect for the clients and this reinforces the client's opinion that salespeople just want to sell what they have and don’t really care about them. It's a vicious circle.
With the advent of the internet and all of the information available, this has only got worse; clients often refusing to engage meaningfully in any way. If salespeople try and counter this with linear, logical sales processes as has been traditionally taught, this can create more of an adversarial approach than a collaborative one. To be more successful in engaging clients, salespeople need to bypass their critical thought patterns and engage their more emotional side; we all know that people buy on emotion and then justify with logic. This can be done by sharing stories and learning this critical skill and opening with a story can be a very effective approach.
You’ve stressed repeatedly that critical thinking and right attitude can increase sales significantly. What is the best way to instill these values among your sales agents?
GI: Salespeople need to be aware of how important mental toughness is. They need strategies for managing their own mental toughness. Ultimately, attitude comes from within and salespeople need to take responsibility for their own mindset but this can be helped through coaching, sharing positive stories, investing in training, goal setting, support etc.
What are your favourite strategies for a long-term growth from your upcoming book “Be More, Do More, Sell More: Build confidence, increase mental toughness and grow your business…” ?
GI: Invest in yourself. Take responsibility for your own results. Spend time on personal development. Put good stuff in, get good stuff out. Be the best that you can be.
What books, blogs, podcasts and other resources would you recommend to our users who want to learn more about lead generation?
GI: Well, obviously, www.gaviningham.com/gavins-success-newsletter/
but also I enjoy blogs by Jill Konrath
and I love the podcast Positivity Effect
Thank you for the interview.