How To Become A Sales Maestro
Insights From H. M. Tarikul Kamrul, Senior Corporate Professional and Sales Management Consultant
“For me, sales is all about solving a problem for your customers or helping your customers to achieve his/her goals,” says H. M. Tarikul Kamrul, a Senior Corporate Professional and Sales Management Consultant based in Dhaka. “If you are not offering any solution, then sales are not going to happen. This is very basics of sales.”
Selling is not limited to salesman or call centers or shops or businesses alone. It is something that we do every day and all the time. “To sell is human,” writes Daniel H. Pink, bestselling author of Drive and A Whole New Mind, and “we are all in sales now.”
Developing sales skills is incredibly important, be you are an entrepreneur, a manager, a salesperson or a CEO. In fact, several studies show that a significant percentage of successful CEOs in the world often come from sales background because selling is many things at once. It not only about making money, it is also about understanding your customers and your product and making an effective connection between the two.
Sales function is vitally important for any business. It is what makes a business, business. Unless you sell, there is no business. Having said that, many new joiners find selling as something difficult and a job hard to approach. Many young graduates these days show a persistent reluctance to taking a sales job.
In fact, sales is a challenging vocation in reality. In order to succeed in sales, you have to understand your product, business, and customers thoroughly, at the same time you have to be persistent and optimistic in the face of consistent failures. These are not some traits that you can ask from everyone.
From Pink again: “Sales and theater have much in common. Both take guts. Salespeople pick up the phone and call strangers; actors walk onto the stage in front of them. Both invite rejection—for salespeople, slammed doors, ignored calls, and a pile of nos; for actors, a failed audition, an unresponsive audience, a scathing review. And both have evolved along comparable trajectories.”
“Any sales process must start with a research on your target customers – understanding their insight, needs and demands and their behavior – so that you can make the right pitch to the customers that would appeal them,” says H. M. Tarikul Kamrul, “In this stage what I suggest in my training is that you conduct a research on your target customers or buyers and develop a deeper understanding of their problems and needs which will enable you to better connect with them.”
Mr. Kamrul, who teaches a two-week long training program at Bdjobs Training on sales and marketing management, suggests that it is better to start your sales process with sufficient understanding of your customers. Sales are an important and equally complex job.
In an interview with Future Startup, we asked Mr. Kamrul for his insights for becoming a sales maestro. What follows is a short guide to mastering sales and marketing developed based on our conversation with Mr. Kamrul.
Understanding the customer behavior
This is the first step towards sales mastery. If you don’t understand your customers well, it would be impossible to serve. “Starting with consumer behavior research is the best approach to developing an effective sales strategy,” says Mr. Kamrul.
This research is not only about your product or service, it is about what this group of people does, how they behave, what motivates them, what are their challenges, what makes them sad or happy, so on and so forth.
The object is to understand your target customers deeply so that you can effectively communicate with them. This is the very first step in any sales process.
Finding the connectors
Now you have a proper understanding of your customers. At this stage, you have to find out connectors for these customers. “Connectors are the things that will motivate your customers to buy your product or service,” says Mr. Kamrul. “Identifying connectors is extremely important for the success of any sales pitch.”
When you identify these connectors, you need to rightly place these connectors in your pitch. If you don’t find the connectors you will not be able to make the sales. “This is another area that I ask people to pay serious attention to”, adds Mr. Kamrul
Understanding the customer’s purchasing process
Now if you look at how people purchase, it maintains a process. Here is a standard buying process that we follow or any customer follows before purchasing anything:
1. Problem recognition: You identify that you have a problem that needs to be solved.
2. Information search: Once you identify your problem, you search for information about available solutions. This is the stage where a customer gets an idea about which product to buy to meet his or her demand. For a salesperson, it is important to make sure that his or her product is available in this information search phase so that he gets considered.
If you are not present in this phase it means you will not even be considered for the next stage of the purchasing process. In order to be included in the information search stage, you can use the web, ATL or BTL activities. Whatever the medium, you have to be present.
As a salesperson, you have to be able to understand places where your target customers search for product or services and need to be present in those places. Now only being available in the information search phase is not going to be enough. There is more to it.
3. Evaluation of alternatives: In this phase, a customer compares among available options based on some criteria. In the information search phase customers find a couple of alternatives and in this phase, he/she evaluates all these options. Now, evaluation depends on many things and it may vary customer to customer. It depends on your four Ps, availability of your product and other things. In order to make sure that the customer ends up choosing you, you have to make sure that you offer proper information about your services in the information search phase. You have to make sure that the customer understands benefits of your product and how it is going to solve their problem.
4. Purchase decision: In the alternative evaluation phase if you can convince the customer, he or she will buy your product. Now many people think that this is the end of it. Once a customer bought my product, I’m done for the day. But that is not true. The real act of selling begins after this.
5. Purchase behavior: People think I have made the sales, so it is done and I don’t have to worry anymore. This is a huge misunderstanding and a huge mistake. In fact, the real journey of a sales process begins after a sale is being materialized. Companies that do well are extremely focused on customer satisfaction and customer service after making a sale. After buying a product, the customer goes on to evaluate it and decides whether he will use your product again in the future. This is why post-sales customer services and account maintenance activity is so important. When a customer finds your product good enough he will buy your product again and then he will recommend again. There is no good marketing than a satisfied customer. He is going to be an unpaid media for you.
Preparing a sales pitch that works
“Before preparing a sales pitch, you have to understand your customers and their challenges and problems,” says Mr. Kamrul. “Now when you are giving a sales pitch, you have to understand the difference between features and benefits.”
When we prepare a sales pitch our natural tendency is to make convincing arguments, show numbers and explains profits. This is a good strategy, but it often leads to a dull pitch. The first criteria of an effective sales pitch is that it is engaging and connects both the salesman and the buyer.
Here is again from Pink: “ The purpose of a pitch isn’t necessarily to move others immediately to adopt your idea. The purpose is to offer something so compelling that it begins a conversation, brings the other person in as a participant, and eventually arrives at an outcome that appeals to both of you.”
Having said that, there is more to a pitch. Mr. Kamrul offers following suggestions:
Talk about benefits not features
A feature is something that your product has, and a benefit is something that your customer gets from using your product. Benefits mean talking from the customer’s point of view and that should be the starting point.
The first thing about a sales pitch is that you have to communicate benefits with your customers instead of talking about your features. For instance, you are a motorbike company and you have a motorbike that goes 70km per liter, now when you communicate this number it does not make sense to many people because it is a mere feature. But if you say, your bike will reduce their fuel cost or you’re going to save X amount money or You are opening a DPS of 1000 taka by having this motorbike, that’s a benefit and it makes perfect sense to the customer. Try that!
Be confident and believe in your own product
The first rule of any successful sales process is that the salesman has to be convinced about the product he is selling. If you have confidence in your product, it gets easier to convince others. In fact, when you are convinced, only then you will be able to convince others. Know your product and understand it deeply and believe in it.
Offer a solution to the problem of your customers
Explain how your product is going to solve the problem for your customers. Sales is not about product or service, it is about SOLVING a problem. Your customer will buy your product to solve a problem that he/she has. Address that pain point and your job is done.
Maintain a positive attitude
Sales is a difficult job. It involves challenges and rejections that are hard for people who take rejections too negatively. In order to succeed at sales, you have to maintain a positive attitude about your company, product, and your job. Several studies suggest that a huge percentage of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies started their career in sales. It is the bloodline of a company.
Be positive and stay motivated. When you are motivated and know that you are helping your customers, it gets easier to navigate the challenges and produce a better result.
An ideal salesperson needs a couple of things. First of all is the functional skills in his/her domain such as understanding the product and customers and the market and then he has to be motivated about his job, says Mr. Kamrul. Sales are a tough job. It is draining at times. You will go through rejections and nos. In order to survive this challenge, you have to have a reservoir of patience and motivation that will carry you through a hard time.
When a salesperson has these two qualities, his result is bound to compound.
How to develop and improve your sales skills and become a sales maestro
“We are by born salespeople. We are selling something every day and all the time. That’s how we live,” says Mr. Kamrul.
Mr. Kamrul teaches an extensive course on mastering sales and marketing at Bdjobs Training. The course covers topics as diverse as how to conduct customer and consumer insight analysis to developing essential sales skills and designing ATL and BTL activity considering the available budget, to the art of marketing and communication, to setting up a basic distribution and sales structure in perspective of Bangladesh, and to building and managing an effective sales Team.
“The training that I provide is not only about sales it is also about communication and marketing,” says Mr. Kamrul. “When you understand the nuances of communication, it gets easier to get the message across during a sales pitch. That’s why it is titled sales and marketing masterclass.”
Mr. Kamrul has been working in sales, marketing and business developments for last 14 years spanning multiple industries and companies both local and multinational and he is considered as one of the leading sales management consultants in Bangladesh, if you are considering to develop and improve your sales and marketing skills, you may consider taking his sales and marketing management courses at Bdjobs Training.
(This is a branded content prepared by Storylab, Future Startup’s in-house branded content studio, in collaboration with Bdjobs Training which means Bdjobs Training has paid for this content and when you take the training clicking on our link, it helps us to earn a small revenue.)