I attended a webinar to improve my selling skills led by Colleen Stanley, Founder and Chief Sales Officer of SalesLeadership, Inc. Effective selling will help competitive intelligence professionals, product management and researchers gain respect, cooperation and appreciation from internal peers. Since many of us have no reporting employees, selling yourself is even more important.
People obtain more knowledge than ever through the Internet, so they may feel like they don’t need you to provide them competitive intelligence. In hard times, more people want to see a visible ROI for your solution. This isn’t always possible in competitive intelligence, but be creative and you will develop an ROI solution often enough. People are more skeptical due to the scandals which triggered the 2007-2009 recession so don’t like to be pushed into decision-making–not that they ever did.
Find the pain points and match your communication style to the decision-makers and key influencers in the buying process. This works for every business function I can think of!
People who are optimistic outsell those who aren’t by 33%. When bad things happen they realize that this is just temporary and their self-talk reflects this as they expect positive outcomes since they’re happy. They often find humor when others would be dragged down by unfortunate circumstances or stress. They live with an attitude of gratitude. Optimism must be real: people will see right through you if it’s feigned.
To really be successful in selling, your prospect needs to admit that they have a problem, and identify what it is costing them. This outlook works well in competitive intelligence. I often ask what it will cost if we do nothing. Sometimes there is a very low cost to do nothing, so it’s not important enough to fix compared to bigger problems where we can more readily measure the impact of success or failure.
I loved Colleen’s Principles of Expectation:
1. Can the Sales person pass the pop quiz test? Make sure all parties in the meeting clearly understand the objective of the meeting.
2. Is there a Mutual Fit? Is the solution we’re discussing mutually good for all parties?
3. Examine your Intention. Are you there to Impress or to Influence? Influencers are intent on understanding customer’s issues whereas impressing is just selling.
Sales people with high emotional intelligence (EI) outsell those with low EI. I think high EI benefits anyone.
Here are some tips to improve your EI:
Improve your Self-Awareness. Most people don’t take enough downtime to be reflective and introspective to learn why they react a certain way to situations. Solitude triggers the right brain where creativity often kicks in.
Be Assertive: Express your feelings and ask questions without being aggressive or abusive. You have the right to ask for what you need to know to do your job whether in sales, marketing, research or competitive intelligence.
Delayed Gratification is usually worth it: Look beyond the immediate. Adopt a long term outlook when selling as relationships are always in development. Be a planner and work on time management towards connection and building these relationships.
Combine these emotional intelligence practices and selling with the collection skill of elicitation and cooperative intelligence, and watch your effectiveness as a competitive intelligence professional soar!
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