I am often quoted as saying, “Not much happens around here until we sell something.” You probably recall me saying it a time or two in this blog. It shouldn’t be surprising to hear that because Marco is known as a sales-driven organization, and that statement should be true for most organizations.
Sales growth is an essential part of the equation for any successful business. I think that’s why I am often asked by other leaders how Marco has created a culture of selling. On several occasions I’ve presented on this topic to companies wanting to improve their sales culture.
A high performing culture of selling doesn’t just happen. This has been quite intentional at Marco and allowed us to double in size since 2009, through mostly organic growth. During that same period, we’ve also doubled our profitability. That’s key because selling more is only effective if profits follow that same trend.
So, how do we do it? Here is some of the sales advice our team members subscribe to. This is not just for people with sales in their title. It’s everyone’s job to promote the company – and help make the sale. That’s the difference between a sales team and a sales culture.
1. Don’t be too easy to say no to.
If you’re easy to say no to (and we all know people like this), odds are you won’t make the sale and at minimum, you’ll significantly decrease your chances. Buyers may indicate that you lost the sale based on price; however, seldom is price the dominant buying motive. The winner is usually selected for other reasons. If you want to increase your win ratio, be prepared to effectively handle objections and don’t be too easy to say no to. Objections are simply another opportunity to close the sale.
2. Understand and be able to articulate your value proposition.
Like most companies, the products and services we sell are not necessarily unique. In many cases, they are more like commodities. So, it’s imperative that we share why our company is different. The company’s value proposition (different from your mission or values) needs to be shared again – and again – in a way that resonates with the person you’re talking to. At Marco, we may be meeting with a prospect regarding printers, but we ensure they understand that our value proposition is our ability to provide network expertise for voice, data, video and print solutions.
3. Ask questions. Telling isn’t selling.
How many times have you been in a sales meeting and the salesperson tells you about the product or service with little regard for your needs? I’ve been there. Asking questions is one of the best ways to establish a relationship with a prospect. It also provides entry points to share your story. By asking open-ended questions, you’ll be in a better position to identify where the current opportunities lie. The questions typically build based on the specific product and service, but easy starters include: “Who is your current provider?” and “If you could improve one thing in this particular area, what would it be?”
4. Ban these five phrases from your vocabulary.
Sales professionals in our company are not allowed to say these overused terms because they are just fillers. They lack creativity and sincerity.
- Touching base…
- To be honest with you…
- At the end of the day…
- To tell you the truth…
- I’m just checking in…
5. Keep your score.
What’s your personal best? Record keepers are record breakers. You need to know what good looks like for you, in your organization and in your industry and then be the person that exceeds those benchmarks. Professional athletes are always measured against metrics in their respective industry. It’s no different in sales. Are you performing at the top of your game?
6. Pay on profit margin – not just revenue.
People do what they get paid to do. At Marco, we pay for the specific performance we want from employees – with and without sales in their titles. That means paying more for new accounts and sales of particular strategic products and services – often with higher margins. We’re not just about sales, we’re about sustainability and that means profitability.
Sales can easily become too individualistic. Even if a sales professional lives out these six pieces of advice (and others), they still may not be successful in our organization.
A sales culture is not about one person. Team fit is a big deal and can make or break a career. A person can achieve their quota, but if they create too many problems along the way, they won’t be successful at Marco. The ability to be a team player and a performing sales rep will identify them as a true leader. Activities like sharing leads, proactive follow-up (internal and external), understanding the financial equation, and projecting an approach that reflects the company’s image all contribute to adding value in a sales-driven organization.
So regardless of what industry you’re in, you can create a culture of sales by reflecting your own personal enthusiasm and commitment to growing your business.