In sales, it’s all about making a connection and understanding the needs of your potential clients. You need to respond quickly to their requests and any new requirements.
So, what do you do when a curveball comes at you mid-pitch?
The ability to improvise, regroup, and create a new approach, with the limited data you have available, can be make or break for closing the deal.
Now might be the perfect time to take your sales skills to the next level and re-evaluate your data insights and your improvisation skills, ready for those in-person meetings, once the pandemic is over.
Your soft skills may be your new hard sales skills
Working from home during the pandemic has allowed us to learn many new skills. And half learn many others. Who doesn't have some half-used language software, an unfinished Lego Millenium Falcon, and a 500-page volume of Sales Techniques for the Homeworker still in the wrapper? But what if the real skills you’ve learned have been slightly more intangible than speaking Mandarin (with a Texan accent)? What about soft skills?
One soft skill we’ve all developed has been the ability to adapt to rapid change and to solve domestic problems as they appear. The skills required to shift gears between an in-house teaching assistant and your 9-5 job in a fast-moving industry have meant a steep learning curve for many. It has been a daily challenge to be on top of demands that range from “What are the trigonometric functions?” to “Why are we seeing an upsurge in automotive aftermarket shock absorber sales?”
Improvising: your secret sales skill
Let’s face it, you’ve been doing a lot of improvising. But that improvisation has been based on solid data. You know you need to support with that homework; you know you must be on a call in ten minutes and you’re pretty sure the homework answer is cos(θ) = adjacent / hypotenuse? Becoming comfortable with rapid changes and using your natural, data-based improvisation skills may be the secret weapon you need as you go back out to meet clients.
The three principles of improvising
In her article on 3 Improv Principles that Improve Sales, Brittany Bookbinder sets out how the skills normally associated with live comedy can be useful for your sales techniques.
Principle #1: Full Body Listening
Having your attention pulled in different directions while working from home is something all of us have become familiar with. But learning to give something your whole attention is the key to truly focussing in on the thing that needs your attention in that moment. The Harvard Business Review sets out some handy tips for being a great listener, including:
- Not talking when others are speaking
- Letting others know you’re listening through facial expressions and verbal sounds
- Being able to repeat what others have said, practically word-for-word
Good listening is about active engagement, not just waiting for your turn to speak. We all know that what actually happens is your mind is whirring away, looking for the answer and sifting through the available data for a response. At least with a sales enablement tool such as sales-i, you can let the software provide data insights, while you focus on shaping your response and further questions.
Principle #2: Support
With support, you have to make the other party look good. In sales, that's about helping your clients to have the right goods on the shelves for their clients. This comes from listening and asking questions, building that support for the other person in the room.
Principle #3: Yes, And
With 'yes, and' we're digging into the improv principles. This is about being positive and offering solutions that build on the client's needs. Take the first two principles, apply your data and build a solution together with the client.
Your sales software and your improv skills: the perfect team
These three principles give you a framework for what you’ve already been doing, especially during the lockdown and working from home. By realizing that you can still draw on your own natural sales skills, fine-tune them by using improv frameworks and the skills learned during lockdown, you can step back into a potential customer’s boardroom with even more skills and confidence than last time you were on the road.
sales-i has been specially designed to make every interaction you have with your customer insight-led and profitable, no matter which direction the conversation takes you. Contact one of the team today to find out how sales-i can guide your sales calls to success.