Monday, 25 November 2013

Advanced Selling Skills: Stop Selling, Start Helping

Over the last decade sales training has moved forward considerably. It is however important to consider why this evolution has taken place. This has happened not necessarily due to more ‘sales techniques’ being developed, but actually due to the customer becoming more educated and powerful than ever before.

Advanced Selling Skills
Advanced Selling Skills

Gone are the days of the hard sell, or the deliberate 'mirroring technique' of the customer sales teams employed in order to get the customer/client to say ‘yes’.  Sales teams have to realise that they need to start helping customers in order to build repertoire and partnerships.

This may sound like common sense, yet old habits die hard and there are many sales people out there who are still using out-of-date selling techniques and forgetting that customer service is in fact key to successful sales.

Business goes where it is invited and it stays where it is looked after.

Think about any previous encounters you had with 'good sales people' and 'bad sales people', what were their common character traits?   Were they passionate?  Were they pushy or rude? Did they possess a good knowledge of the product or service you were interested in? Did they help you in any way or provide you with more information?

Although passion and product/service knowledge does help make a good sales person, the question being posed today is what makes a ‘great’ sales person?

A great sales person cares about you getting the most for your money, will happily take the time to really understand your needs and assist you with finding solutions for those particular needs. In Buddhism this is called ‘unselfish intention.’

A good sales person knows all the techniques to employ to get customers to say 'yes'.  A great sales person will have a pure ‘intention’ of the customer being completely satisfied in the purchase they have made or are about to make. Not only this, a great sales person understands that money has value and when the customer passes that money over, in return they need to gain a product or service that to the customer is worth more than the money they have spent.

These are the simple things which distinguishes between efficient and exceptional sales people and which will keep a customer returning over and over again.

Today, more than ever before companies need to hold on to the customers they already have as we are in an age where having the number one product or service doesn't necessarily equate trust or loyalty.  Even having a great brand doesn't ensure success.  We are dealing with more sophisticated buyers who want more for their money. And that ‘more’ comes in the form of the service when they pick up the phone to your company, the after care service when they have made their purchase and most importantly, the customer service they receive when making that all important decision to purchase from your sales person.  

Training your sales team to help/assist customers will significantly increase your customer base and retention. Here are a few quick pointers to think about when ‘helping’, not selling.
  • Have an intention to help the customer make the best decision for them, don’t just think about making the sale. Customers see ‘selfish’ sales people a mile off.
  • Remember, sales and customer service are becoming more and more aligned, so always go the extra mile to help your customers.
  • ‘When you educate your build rapport, when you sell you break it.’  People will buy when they understand so rather than just close the sale, keep informing and educating - see what difference it makes.
Capita Learning & Development offers an Advanced Selling Skills Training Course, which will introduce you to new selling skills and also help you cope with the changing demands of the customer.

Written by Pete Scott, a learning consultant at Capita Learning & Development.

Monday, 18 November 2013

How to Lead a Team and Gain Respect After Internal Promotion

Most of us start at the bottom of the career ladder and work our way up. We become so proficient at our job, earning respect of the management and becoming a valued member of the team. Eventually promotion is offered, usually within the same team and we can find ourselves leader of the team we were once part of. This does have its advantages, however, doesn't come without its problems.

New to Team Leadership
New to Team Leadership

There is nothing that can gain respect more than people knowing that you have been there and done the job for yourself. You know the systems and procedures, what is expected and the problems that your team may encounter. You can see things from their point of view. This can be a great advantage when leading a team. You know when to cut the slack because of genuine difficulties, but you also know an excuse when you hear one.

The problems arise though when some of the team members may have been there much longer than you, may be older with more experience, or may feel that they were the ones that deserved the promotion. You may find it difficult to be assertive and to feel that you are taken seriously as a manager. Since you were once in their position, you will know how hard the job is and may feel guilty for enforcing deadlines.

So how can you gain respect from your team and get them to do what you need them to without them thinking that power has gone to your head?

Firstly, stop beating yourself up and congratulate yourself on your promotion. It is quite normal to feel this way when you have been used to working on the other side of the fence, as it were. The dynamics of your team have now changed so now you need to embrace this change and take control.

In order to gain respect, you have to give it. Show your team that you value them and support them by listening to how you can help them. Listen to any ideas that they may have. Think back to when you were in their position. If you had a problem, how would you have liked your leader to have handled it? Remember that the only way to get what you want is to ask for it. Never assume that anyone in your team knows exactly what is expected of them. When enforcing a deadline, explain to them when it has to be done by and why, then ask how they think they can achieve it, what do they need to make this happen, how can you best help them? Once they know that they have your full support, then they will do whatever they can for you.

Capita Learning & Development offers a training course in New to Team Leadership, which will help you develop and grow your leadership and management skills.

Yvonne Bleakley
Learning Consultant, Capita Learning & Development

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Should managers operate in a pressure free environment?

One of the overarching responsibilities of the manager is to “get the job done” and creating the environment in which this work can be done effectively and efficiently is crucial.

But should this environment be pressure free?

Pressure Free Environment - Capita Learning & Development
Pressure free management? 

“Smooth seas do not make skilful sailors” the African proverb tells us. Managers want skilful sailors (effective staff) on their team – but there is a major difference between the pressure of gentle swells and the stress of tidal waves.

It is important that managers understand the difference between pressure and stress.

There is a difference between pressure and stress. Pressure can be positive and a motivating factor, and is often essential in a job. It can help individuals achieve goals and perform better.

Stress often describes both the events that are a source of pressure and the subjective feelings associated with external events and stimuli.

The Health & Safety Executive defines stress as: 'the adverse reaction a person has to excessive pressure or other types of demands placed upon them'.

This makes a distinction between 'pressure', which can be a positive state if managed correctly, and 'stress' which can be detrimental to health.

Is pressure good?
There is a direct link between performance and the appropriate levels of pressure – too little pressure results in boredom, too much results in exhaustion. Pressure must be appropriate not only in terms of volume of work but also on its longevity.

It is natural to feel under pressure at times, because of life and work demands. If the pressure is unrelenting and there is no time for recovery, negative health effects can result.

Who has the responsibility for maintaining pressure at the appropriate level?

In 1936 Kurt Lewin advocated that Behaviour is a function of both the person and the environment -  B= f  (P/E)

This clearly states that behaviour can be influenced internally and externally – the individual manages their own internal state and the manager influences the external state. So both have a part to play in creating and maintaining pressure that makes that skilful sailor.

The management responsibility
Managers must create an environment in which their people can cope. Coping means balancing the demands and pressures placed on an individual by the job requirements with the skills and knowledge required by the capable individual within that job – so well-designed, organised and managed work is vital.
It is essential that managers have an active role in facilitating and supporting staff to do their job effectively and to contribute to the success of their team and the organisation. So within the context of that role, managers can ensure they establish the following:

  • Role – do people understand their role within the organisation and whether the organisation ensures that the person does not have conflicting roles? Are jobs designed to avoid conflicting demands and are the expectation of the job role clear? 
  • Appropriate Demand - are the workload, work patterns, and the work environment appropriate?
  • Control -  how much empowerment do people have in taking responsibility for the way they do their work 
  • Support - what encouragement, support and resources are provided by the organisation, line managers and colleagues? Are people fully trained to undertake the demands of their job?
  • Relationships - is a positive working environment promoted to avoid conflict and deal with unacceptable behaviour, identify or respond to issues of concern promptly and seek constructive solutions? 
  • Changes - how are organisational changes managed and communicated - are people engaged in this process?
  • Feedback – are there regular opportunities for feedback on performance e.g. regular 'one to one' meetings and team meetings?

The Employees responsibility
It is essential that managers ensure their people play an active role in maintaining pressure at the appropriate level by encouraging them to:

  • maintain good communication with colleagues and line management structure 
  • engage in discussion about  performance and act on feedback 
  • raise issues of concern at an early stage and seek constructive support and solutions 
  • make use of the support and training resources available 
So, should managers operate in a pressure free environment?

No – managers should operate in a pressure controlled, pressure maintained and pressure appropriate environment.

Written by David Mathieson, a learning consultant at Capita Learning & Development.