BY CLIFF KIEL, PURCHASING POWER’S VP OF CHANNEL MANAGEMENT
Selling can be described as both an art and a science. There are many theories on how to master the selling technique. I believe, however, that selling effectively ultimately means building leadership skills.
Think about it. It means understanding your product or service, understanding what your prospects do for a living, and assuming responsibility for delivering results to your customers, no matter what. Prospects have this uncanny ability to sense when this is what you are offering, and they like it.
So what makes a good leader?
- A good leader has vision.
- A good leader commands respect.
- A good leader sees the big picture.
- A good leader points out problem areas and is ready to discuss solutions.
- A good leader has confidence in both approach and attitude.
- A good leader is accountable.
- A good leader asks the right questions.
Each of these traits is part of leadership and they are also an essential component of sales effectiveness. What does leadership have to do with selling effectively? I often take more of a consultative approach to selling, a style based on gathering large amounts of information before making recommendations to a prospect. That may seem more like a subservient model than a leadership model, but I disagree.
In my view, true sales leadership requires us to ask the right questions – about what our prospects do, where they do it, when they do it, who they do it with and why they do it that way – and then and only then, ask how we might be able to help them do it better. Once we determine through verified information that we can, in fact, help clients to do what they do but do it better, then sales leadership means saying with confidence: “Follow me!