Ways to ensure success in sales


At a recent sales meeting the subject of training came up as colleagues were being advised as to which particular training and/or coaching they would be included in for the following month. At the meeting a new member of the business development team asked a simple but powerful question, “What does it take to be a successful sales person?”


Well without wanting to pre-empt the content of the course that the person was about to attend in a couple of weeks time, we decided to discuss the subject as a sort of pre-course project for her. So in no particular order here are some of the things that came from the discussion which we think helped her to understand a little more about the role and an indication of what she would learn on her upcoming sales programme.


The first thing was to explain that some people are naturally gregarious and will find talking to others and asking lots of questions really easy and so this is an attribute for them that comes without too much difficulty. On the other hand, most of us have to work hard at acquiring those skills and sharpening them over a number before we become adept at them. So what other skills and attributes can great sale people teach us by simply observing what they do?


Of course, being a great talker doesn’t necessarily make you a great listener. We agreed that the best sales people listen more than they talk. If you are truly going to deliver what your customer wants then you simply must listen to what they have to say in order to gather as much information as possible.


It was pointed out that it is as important to learn from those that got away too. That is to say, if we pitch for a piece of business and don’t get it, we should always ask for feedback. This is the only way you can really improve and if a client is prepared to offer it up to you, then grasp it with both hands as it is invariably accurate and authentic.


In sales we often hear the expression “I have 10 years sales experience”. When in fact what that person has is one year’s experience repeated ten times! We have all come across the salesperson who is trolling out the same stuff they did years ago. Try to do the opposite by learning, growing and innovating constantly. Try to find new ways to pitch for business and keep your sales story fresh.


One of the best ways to do this is share and learn from other people in your network. They may be using a method or technique that you could benefit from. Also having a wide group of people in your network may allow you at some point to win a piece of business because you may  know someone who can fill in the gaps for your customer that you can’t, which allows them to work with you! Get to know lots of people, it can work to your advantage… and theirs!


This may seem a simple thing but we can sometimes be so busy chasing new business that we forget to look after the business that we already have. Try to keep a firm eye on the customers that are already with you and loyal. It’s often harder to keep a client than it is to win one.


Over the years I’ve seen may salespeople fall foul of this next point, indeed I have done it myself. We are never keen to admit that we have lost the deal but it’s important to recognise when you just can’t win. Whether we like it or not some people are just not going to buy from us and we have to admit at some point that they are a lost cause.


This can be for many reasons, such as they are simply fishing for ideas, playing you off against other just to drive the price down or even exceeding their limits of authority where they are negotiating for something that they ultimately cannot buy. So know when to cut and run as chasing lost causes can be costly in terms of wasted time and resource.


Stimulation in your overall sales activity is vital. That is to say, if you are plodding along aiming for a target that is easily achievable or worse, one that is impossible to achieve, then in either case you are likely to get very bored very quickly. I know of sales teams that have no target and even more bizarrely, no incentive in place. If you think that your salespeople are going to perform at the highest level without any sort of incentive, then I would that suggest you have a lot to learn about what makes salespeople tick. Keep aiming high and ensure that your standards match your talent. You should have the right incentive in place to help you achieve a target that is hard enough to make you sweat but not so far away as to be disheartening.


The last couple of subjects that came up really made me smile because it is refreshing to hear from new salespeople this kind of philosophy and attitude. They said, they would try to add a little something extra to the deal that hasn’t been asked for. A bit like the when you buy a large amount of meat from the butcher and he throws an extra pack of something into the bag for you as a bonus (in fact that was the example used). Maybe you can do this at your next sale pitch to close the deal and find some way to add a little value to the deal?


The final thing I liked was that everyone recognised the fact that you have to believe in what you are selling. If you don’t then you almost certainly fall into the category of a confidence trickster. If you believe in your product then there is a much greater chance that your customer will to. All in all a very productive sale meeting!


Here at Maguire Training we have classroom based courses and programmes that can help you improve your selling skills. We are also proud to offer a versatile and intuitive suite of over a hundred e-learning modules on our website which covers a range of sales and commercial topics. Have a look at the module ‘Professional Selling Skills’ which would be a perfect complement to the classroom based sales courses.


If you need further information then you could always call us of course on 0333 5777 144 for a no obligation discussion about your training requirements. Alternatively, simply hit the ‘Contact Us’ on any page of our website at and we’ll get right back to you.


Either way it would be great to hear from you.

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