"They’re sitting out there, waiting to give you their money. Are you going to take it?”
Alec Baldwin’s venomous speech used to fire up flagging sales staff in Glengarry Glen Ross may have got his employees’ attention, but his words “always be closing” might not be solid advice for a career in today’s tech landscape.
That’s why we got the experts to offer their tips to get ahead in the real world.
Sales manager for distributor VIP Computers, Anthony McKenzie, tells PCR: “One of the things I always say to my team is that a sale is never a good sale until your customer has sold it [whatever you’re selling them]. And you should always make sure that happens before you talk about the next deal.”
Ben Davies, one of two sales team leaders at distributor Entatech UK, adds: “It is important to treat customers as if they are buying from your business. Therefore, you need to make sure that the service you offer is better than anybody else. Building relationships with customers is far more important than looking at the small term picture.”
LANDING THAT FIRST JOB
“It is important to know as much as you can about the company you are looking to work for,” Davies advises. “You need to impress the interviewer and give them confidence that you can hit the targets set in a competitive industry.
“Being keen to learn and soak up information is sometimes more important than qualifications.”
McKenzie agrees: “Qualifications do help but I wouldn’t say you necessarily need a degree or higher education qualification. What’s more interesting is the individual’s attitude, personality and work ethic – because you can’t teach that. Also, the wider you can make your skillset, the more appealing you will be to prospective employers.”
It’s no secret that sales is an extremely competitive field to work in – both externally and internally.
McKenzie says there are hundreds of people looking for jobs and if he had a sales position open today, he could easily fill it tomorrow.
“[Inspiring competition between staff] drives business and ambition,” he explains. “Sales staff want to be seen to be the best they can be and everybody is as really competitive in terms of making sure they’ve sold the stock and looked after the customers.
“You’ve got to have a bit of a challenger mentality, where you’re looking for constant improvement and a better, different way.”
Prize competitions can also boost sales with customers, Davies adds.
“We regularly run sales competitions to motivate people with a wide range of incentives on offer,” he says. “We always have to make sure that we are offering our resellers a reason to deal with us on a long term basis and offer support from manufacturers they need to make their business grow.”
You could argue that a focus on growing business (both your customers’ and your own) is ultimately what sales is all about. Keeping that at the front of your mind could just help you get ahead in this competitive field.
SIX STEPS TO SALES SUCCESS
Hugh Furness, European Sales Director for barcode solutions provider Wasp Barcode, shares his top tips for success in the field…
1. Set yourself personal goals. Write down your yearly and five-yearly personal goals, as well as your work goals.
2. Be the expert. You should be able to explain to the customer about every aspect of the product or service you’re selling – why they should buy it.
3. Get to know your customers. Have conversations with them. Take an interest. Don’t use sales techniques to catch the customer out – treat them like a friend.
4. Suggest. In the middle of a conversation, drop in a suggestive question. Ask: “Do you have any stock or asset problems?” Don’t ask: “Have you seen our asset and stock control solutions?”
5. Be a threat to your sales director – in the right way. Excel at your job so your director depends on you (and keeps you in mind for any possible future promotions).
6. Be friendly. Stand up. Put the phone to your left ear. And smile. Try it…