Let's cut to the chase—if you are in sales, you want to be up there with the best. Here are some traits we've observed in modern sales professionals who are working their way to the top:
1. OBSERVES SOCIAL MEDIA ETIQUETTE: PULL MORE THAN PUSH
If you’re active on social media, chances are, you’ve received an unsolicited Facebook message, a Twitter DM, or a LinkedIn InMail, from someone inviting you to buy something.
Social media is a very powerful tool for any business and not just for sales, but it should be handled with great care. People view their social media channels as semi-personal space, where only people they invite to connect are allowed to get in touch. An unsolicited message can be seen as an invasion of privacy, and because we mostly check our social media on our personal time, it can be greatly annoying
You do not want to do that.
Effective sales people use social media not to ‘push’ their products to the public. They use it mostly as a listening tool, where they can get the pulse of their prospects—what interests them, what their concerns are—and to join in on the conversation in a relevant way. They do not pitch their products outright. Instead, they provide content that their prospects would like to see on their newsfeed such as entertaining articles and helpful tips—not necessarily all about their products.
2. HAS A BLOG OR A CHANNEL WHERE HE/SHE SHARES HELPFUL CONTENT
Related to the item above, effective sales people of today rely less on outbound or cold calls, and instead, build content that will attract prospects.
The good thing about our digital world is that you don’t have to be an industry-renowned expert to put your content on a newspaper column. Digital tools such as blogs, social media, curating platform, can turn anyone into a publisher.
And you don’t even have to be a “writer’s writer” to put up your own blog or site. There are simple content formats that you can whip up, such as:
- Current stats relevant to your industry
- Curated lists of external resources
- Compilations of quotes from experts (properly attributed, of course)
3. CONNECTS WITH EXPERTS AND FELLOW SALES PEOPLE
Sales people are some of the most competitive fellows around. They’re always on their toes, constantly honing their skills to keep up with elusive and unpredictable consumers.
While there are endless sources of articles you can read, connecting with peers and experts not only gives you useful tips to improve your skills. You may even gain nuggets of wisdom you can only get from a ‘personal’ connection.
If before, you had to attend a networking event to strike up a conversation with industry experts, now, it can be as easy as tweeting. Social media has democratized networking, so you can virtually forge connections with influential gurus or authors to what-have-you’s, even when they’re halfway across the globe. Or, you can find engaged conversations up at Quora and Reddit, so you can exchange ideas with peers of different experiences and expertise.
4. USES DIGITAL TOOLS AND APPS TO MAKE LIFE SIMPLER AND MORE EFFICIENT
The vision of a scrambling sales person in front of a calm and well-composed prospect or client is always painful to watch. People in sales should always project confidence—they are never a step behind.
Your prospects are adapting to new technology faster than ever. In their pockets are mini computers that allow them to organize their lives and make more informed decisions, anytime and anywhere. While they move with such digital savvy, are you burdened by your own pile of excel sheets, trying to run after them?
Nifty tools for sales people include:
- CamScanner – snap a photo of your contact’s business card, and it will immediately save their details to your phonebook.
- GoTo Meeting or Uber Conference – for remote conferencing.
- DocScan – when you need to send scanned documents and there’s no scanner in sight, this is the tool for you. You can instantly upload to Dropbox, Google Drive, or email.
- DocuSign – for signing those documents, of course.
- YesWare – Lets you track who among your contacts have opened your emails and what content they opened.
And of course, Uber, which has been a life-saver for many sales people rushing to their next meeting.
5. IS BACKED BY DATA
Geeks are overtaking the world. From marketing to HR, businesses are now relying more heavily on big data and analytics to understand, optimize, and even predict results for every function.
For sales, it truly makes sense.
We’re chasing more and more people every week, and on the other hand, consumers are also getting fatigued by the amount of sales pitches and marketing messages they receive.
Having the technology that lets you track (1) your pipeline, (2) where your leads are in the pipeline, (3) which stage they get stuck in, and (4) your best-performing sources, will save you the effort of chasing the wrong leads, and in turn, speed up the process of closing your qualified ones.
One such tool is PipelineDeals, an easy-to-use CRM software that even non-techie sales people can use.
It is also perfect for sales team coordination, as you can assign tasks to other members and you can see what each one is up to—they even have a neat mobile app for easier access when sales teams are on the field.
With excel sheets, companies rely mostly on guess work or past performance in creating sales plans. With data-driven tools like PipelineDeals, teams can make faster decisions that are based on objective performance.
It doesn’t matter whether you work for a large corporation or a small, thriving company—majority of the tools mentioned above are free and easily accessible, and there is no excuse not to use them. Technology is leveling the playing field for different industries, and you either innovate or get left behind by those who do.