11/05/2011 | Skills
I recently returned from our fourth project in the US in the past 18 months and on the plane back for the last time I was struck by just how transferable core sales skills are, provided you know what they actually comprise of course.
Having cleared the hurdle marked ‘UK sales consultant telling US sales people how to sell’ the feedback we received and not for the first time, centred around being surprised at how quickly we got to grips with the products, customers and culture of not just a different industry (to be fair that’s common) but a different country. Whilst its obviously great to get such positive comments on what we do, it shouldn’t be a surprise and there really isn’t any magic at work. Anyone can do it if they have a genuine curiosity about the customers, a bit of sense between the ears and can distill the key questions to ask from the mountain of product and marketing blurb usually involved. After that its simply a matter of asking the questions at the appropriate time and listening to the answers.
Armed with this knowledge, you can become proficient at selling most things in relatively short order, which begs the question as to why employers nearly always ask for ‘previous market experience’ when recruiting sales people. Whilst you wouldn’t want to recruit someone used to a sales cycle measured in hours to sell enterprise-wide software that takes years to close (its more about motivation than skill), you could, and perhaps should, find good sales people who can turn their hand to most products and services, if only you knew the processes involved. As a result you could also access new ideas and even a lower cost sales resource that might be easier to find than fishing in the same pond as your competitors.
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