Sales is communication

by Admin
Updated: July 5, 2018

The key to effective long-term strategies for increasing sales is communication not manipulation

The typical hypothetical business has unlimited production capacity and depends solely on proactively increasing sales volume in order to grow and be successful. One school of thought treats sales like psychological warfare. At the other end of the spectrum, no sales effort is required at all.

My early training was concerned primarily with sales. I have experience of businesses where generating more sales was the only thing that seemed to matter. But I have also run businesses without any dedicated sales staff at all, where the focus was entirely on the quality of the product and all it took was getting the word out at the beginning to generate years of sustained growth.

Internal communication

The extent to which internal communication is useful depends on whether your sales team is motivated by quantity alone or by the ongoing health of the business.

In principle, all sales teams should be in the loop with product development because they are the ones who have direct experience of the customers’ buying decisions. Their interpretations of market intelligence should inform production to produce something that optimizes quantity & price for maximum return.

In practice, volume-motivated sales staff are generally going to prefer the lowest possible price because it’s normally easier to sell cheapest. You take your market research to your production team and say, “Make something for this as cheaply as possible.”

Sales professionals who are motivated by more than commission (profit share, equity, long-term career within the company etc.) will have more of a stake in marketing and production.

Sales intelligence

The marketing department may provide some insight into what the market will bear in terms of price but my view is that prices need to be determined by sales research and this needs to be the charge of people with relevant sales experience. Market research might suggest price constraints but sales professionals will know.

External communication

The most effective sales processes I’ve observed are friendly, relaxed & conversational. I use the word “processes” advisedly because it applies to media as well as in-person.

The customer is treated as a partner in the buying process rather than as a challenge to be overcome.

Each interaction is conducted as if the decision to buy has already be made and it’s only the details that must be finalized.

Strategies vs techniques

“Black hat” sales techniques - where you psychologically manipulate someone into buying something they do not want - certainly do exist. However, they come around to bite you one way or another. Do not use.

Many legitimate techniques are actually things you should not do - things that inexperienced sales people do to inadvertently prevent a sale that was going to happen naturally.

My approach is to treat the sales process as a subset of communication:

  1. Know the product/service in depth
  2. Listen to the customer describe their wants
  3. Show how the product/service meets each need
  4. Repeat #2 & #3 until closing is inevitable
  5. Encourage referrals

Support

For this to work well there are three important areas of support:

  1. Your sales staff must have complete confidence that the product or service being offered together with the sales agreement delivers what is promised.
  2. The buying process must be as easy as possible. For example, don’t punish customers and embarrasses sales staff with a clumsy payment process.
  3. People, whether or not they are yet customers, should be able & motivated to communicate the messages (features & benefits) to their friends.

More info

salesforce.com supports the importance of communication for sales and marketing alignment.

Sales intelligence - sales research - is mostly thrown in with market research. primary-intel.com tries to separate it out.

blog.hubspot.com and technologyadvice.com list communication skills which are good but which, in my opinion, should be normal behavior.

Internal links

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