50 Shades of Sales. Are There Any Black and White Rules for Sales?

50_shades_of_sales_3If Crayola created a new box of Crayons modeled after sales reps, what would you expect to see in it? The odds are good there would be more than just two colors.

Knowing this, why do so many people try to make sales a black and white game? The truth is that there are a handful of core competencies that every sales professional needs, but beyond that, they can use whatever techniques and methodologies they prefer, as long as they are to the benefit of the customer.

Why is this? Because with one exception, there are really no black and white rules in sales. One of the biggest mistakes made by many sales reps and managers is staying set in their old ways, never attempting to deviate what they do based on results. Because of these self-imposed, black and white rules of sales, they end up not attaining the full potential of sales success, since they adhere to some tired principles in the belief that these rules cannot be deviated from or changed.

To find out why this is a bad approach and why success in sales may exist in the gray areas, let’s first take a look at the one concept that may be the only black and white law in sales.

The Only True Rule of Sales

It is a simple one: perform or be replaced. It is this principle that causes many people to recoil in horror at the thought of taking a sales position, but it is also a principle that allows the most skilled sales reps to earn a handsome reward for their work. No matter how friendly they are or how wonderful the snacks they bring to company parties, if a sales rep is not meeting his or her goals, they will not last long in an organization that relies on its sales team to be productive.

Aside from the ethical and legal rules that must be followed by professionals in every field, the performance factor may be the one black and white concept. However, the sales process is not that simple and has many shades of gray.

Different People, Different Sales

A common mistake in sales is assuming that what one person likes or responds to is what another person will as well. However, if this were the case, pizza menus around the world would be much smaller.

The best sales reps are the ones who can balance their understanding of the facts, numbers, and details of a sales opportunity with a strong ability to communicate how their solution will be the best fit. Put another way, the best reps do a great job of blending the art and science elements of sales; they know how to track numbers, but also know intuitively how to connect with different people.

According to many industry specialists, the scientific set of sales skills includes learning things like CRM, record keeping, and forecasting; on the other hand, the artistic elements involve things like interpersonal skills, likeability, and assertiveness. All of these skills must be applied together effectively in order to engage clients, discover their needs, establish a valued solution for them, and advance to the next logical step in the process.

Whether a rep prefers to take a more scientific or artistic approach to sales, there are three traits that define most successful reps: talent, skill, and knowledge. Talent refers to an inborn ability to sell, skill refers to developed selling skills, and knowledge refers to knowing the customer, the products, and the industry that the rep is working with. Even if a rep is deficient in one of these three areas, they can often make up for it with a strong performance in a different one. A great tool for managing sales reps and their proficiency in each of these areas is ASLAN’s Catalyst Dashboard. This cloud-based dashboard simplifies and automates the sales coaching process and ensures sales managers have everything they need to drive and measure results.

Thriving in the Gray

As many skilled sales managers and reps have found out over the years, success in sales depends less on an exact formula and more on knowing your exact formula. Some sales reps will be more prone to focusing on the artistic side of sales while others will be fascinated by the science. At ASLAN, we strive to help you recognize the strengths of your team and how they can help contribute to our four overarching sales competencies: engagement, discovery, building value, and advancement. Success in the modern era of sales will come by embracing the shades of gray and learning how to work within them as effectively as possible.

ASLAN for Life: Becoming truly other-centered in life is more about the purpose of the person and less about the perfecting of the process.

As VP of Solutions, Sean’s passion is developing and creating a learning experience that emotionally taps into each learner, matches ASLAN’s commitment to excellence, and exceeds our client’s wildest expectations. Find him on: LinkedIn.

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