How to Develop Your Sales Skills with Robert McAnderson @rmcanderson #VCBuzz

How to Develop Your Sales Skills with Robert McAnderson @rmcanderson

No matter how great you are or how awesome your product is, the key is in selling it.

Personally, I’ve always struggled with that. I seem to have zero sales skills. I can work hard but I cannot sell well.

Can you learn to be a good sales person, or is this something given?

Let’s discuss!

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About @rmcanderson

Robert McAnderson @rmcanderson is Australian sales manager, author, and passionate educator focusing on sales coaching.

Connect to Robert on Linkedin

Questions we discussed

Q1 How did you become a sales coach? Please share your career story!

I guess it all started with a sales manager I worked with whose philosophy was To be successful you needed to make more calls than anyone else. His favorite question was “How many calls did you make today…….”

Q2 Can you learn to be a good sales person? Are there people out there that cannot master that skill no matter how much they try?

Ted taught me all the things I never used. He was the sales manager that tough me everything not to do and caused me to develop my style of management. My next job allowed me to use Ted’s alternative sales management skills.

I learned people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Successful selling puts the customers’ wants needs and requirements ahead of everything else.

It’s not until you fully embrace this approach to selling that you will realise your true potential. God gave all of us two ears and one mouth and we need to use them in direct proportion to God’s Gift.

Telling a prospective customer what you think they need to know is not selling. Asking questions and determining needs is selling. Answers to questions allow you to form new questions.

Building the information you collect into a story that positions your product/service as essential to your prospect is crucial to closing more business. Key Point!!! Closing More Business is about improving your closing ratio.

My philosophy on Sales Management is simple!

Focus on helping each of your salespeople to become better people, to improving the small things they do that cause business to be delayed lost, or worst of all no decision at all.

By focusing on helping each salesperson become a better more effective salesperson, a better person, and a better team member you create a platform for sustainable compound growth.

Q3 What are “sales skills”? What should one learn to do to develop their sales skills?

I measured and recorded the improvement in the Micro Selling Skills of my Australian sales team over five years.

By improving the Micro Selling Skills of the sales team by 10% resulted in a 30% increase in sales volume in the first full year and created a platform that delivered a 180% increase over that five years.

To improve these Micro Selling Skills I spent time with each salesperson as a silent witness to what occurred in each sale call they made.

Face-to-face sales calls, phone calls, prospecting activity, every part of their selling day. Why silent – because you can’t teach how to improve someone’s skills unless you observe those skills in action.

Q4 Where to start? How can one start developing their sales skills?

Observing the sales process as a silent third part allows you to observe both the seller and buyer’s activity, reactions, and responses. You get to see it all and the temptation to jump in a rescue the sales is almost overwhelming.

A coach doesn’t run onto the field and make a tackle they observe how effective the player is at tackling and identify what needs to be improved, how to work with the player to make them more effective.

Would she like to be on a boat, on Sydney Harbour on New Year’s Eve with her friends? Absolutely! Would the idea of taking our paddleboards to some secluded beach and spending time with our family appeal to her? Possibly! But to truly sell her on the idea I need to find out just what she would like.

Many years ago I worked with a guy named Ray Handley who defined salesmanship very simplistically for me. He said “finding out what someone wants and or needs is the first objective and where the skill is required”.

When a prospective customer doesn’t know they need what your selling it’s the job of the salesperson to use their skill to identify those needs.

Having identified those needs the ability to weave them into a story is often the difference between winning or losing the sale. Ray went on to say “The final part of the puzzle is, making it as easy as possible for the prospective customer to acquire the product/solution”.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it. He also said, “if they already knew what they wanted or needed they would have bought it already”. Further “Rarely if ever, will a potential customer buy something without an objection” and “if they didn’t have an objection they would have already bought it”.

I have never met anyone who didn’t want to be successful Becoming a better salesperson requires a desire to understand what you need to improve.

Every sale that has ever been made or lost could have had a different outcome if just one element of the process were to have changed.

  1. Product Knowledge – both yours and the competitions
  2. Prospecting Skills – if you can’t identify who they are how can you possibly sell them anything
  3. Listening – ask questions, the answers you get lead to more questions
  4. Communication – people don’t care how much you know, they need to know how much you care.
  5. Time Management – respect your time equally as much as your prospect respects theirs, spend in the company of qualified prospects.
  6. Objection Handling – if you don’t identify and master the art of responding to every objection you are going to come across find a different profession.
  7. Relationship Building – people buy from people they like and respect and respect have to be earned.
  8. Storytelling – I cannot overemphasize this point enough to tell them how they are going to use the product/service in the form of a story. You better believe my wife is going to know how much fun she, our children, and her friends are going to have on our new boat.
  9. Socially Active – Social Media like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram are fertile ground just waiting to provide a bountiful harvest for you, so get into them with gusto.
  10. Resilience – for every yes you are going to get 3 no’s, that a fact. Importantly, it’s a ratio not a guarantee of a sale in every four selling situations.

Micro Selling Skills, it’s the continuous improvement of small skills mastered and improved progressively.

As a Sales Manager, I developed a detailed summary of each member of my sales team Micro Selling Skill and coached them on how they could improve those skills. I identified that a 10% increase in Micro Selling Skills resulted in a 30% increase in sales turnover.

Further, the compound effect of those improvements across the team leads to a 180% improvement in sales in the final year.

My sales team was on fire and earning massive commissions that were so large the Managing Director had to sign the commission cheques.

A few of the team were so thrilled with what was happening they were nominated for Australian Sales Manager of the year.

So what are Micro Selling Skills? Go back to the list of 10 selling skills earlier in this talk and re-listen to that list. As a non-participating third party in any sales call you can read what’s happening in the sales process, watch the reactions of the prospective customer, listen to how your salesperson responds to questions, handles objections and see how their confidence changes as the meeting progress.

The same applies to their written communications, their phone technique, and every other aspect of the engagement. Look at the prospective selection process, the qualification process, the first contact approach. Every single one of these items has dozens of points where it’s either right, wrong, or could be improved.

It’s the Usain Bolt 1% Improvement factor. Improve the technique by 1% today and I guarantee you can improve it by 1% tomorrow.

It’s the Micro Improvements that lead to macro successes.

Q5 What are your favorite sales and marketing tools?

Social Media – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram

CRM – Don’t have a preference on the brand because any CRM product is better than no product at all.

If you need a workflow solution and or the need to interface with an accounting solution then the product of choice will be influenced by the accounting software currently in use.

If you have a choice however don’t allow a good accounting solution to force a poor CRM solution onto you.

The cost of customizing/integrating a CRM solution that is perfect for your sales process is nothing compared with the cost of accepting a CRM that will not deliver the outcomes you required because it’s an unused part of your company’s accounting solution.

What you want/need in this space is just as important as any want/need your customers have so Don’t compromise.

How you spend your time as Sales Manager is the most important decision you will ever make. Spend it identifying and improving the skills of your salespeople and the rewards, personally and professionally will deliver more joy than you can imagine.

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