I am often approached by associates that want to climb the ranks of an organization, but have a hard time bringing business to the company. A question I get regularly from this crowd is “can you teach me to be more effective at selling?” Although this is a very reasonable thing to ask, the answer is not always well received.
Sales is not learned, it's something people have in them at an early age. However, don't be deterred if you weren't breaking four digits with your lemonade stand in grade school - it can still be possible to generate new business by leveraging other inherent abilities.
One perplexing issue that modern organizations face is that the vast majority of their employees are not salespeople. In fact, most organizations have less than 25% of their employees in jobs where prospecting can naturally occur. This is to your advantage, as I'm going to give you the secret sauce to contributing to sales without going "Alec Baldwin, ABC" on the matter.
Prospecting is the action of finding new opportunities. Unlike closing, where the sales instinct must be present, it is possible to simply prospect and gain recognition for a contribution to sales.
Here are the three ways to become a sales asset:
Step 1: Become a Lead Engine
The easiest way to be a sales asset in any organization is to find the closers in the organization and partner up with them. Unless you’re a hermit, you have a network of people who also know other people and so your network expands. Every time you interact with someone who you think could be a buyer of your product or service write down their name! Then go to our email miner and find that person's email. Once you find the contact you have two steps left:
Enter it into your CRM. This creates a paper trail of your involvement in the sale.
Send an email to your closer you've partnered with and title the email "Sales Lead"
If your company sells tires and you meet someone in purchasing from a car manufacturer: you just found a lead. Send that lead along and let the praise flood in. Praise is followed by money in most organizations.
Step 2: Use Social Media
LinkedIn is an amazing platform that allows professionals to connect and interact from all over the world. How many connections do you have? If the number is below 500 then you are blowing it. The more people you are connected with, the more people you have access to and the better the chance that you will run across someone who could buy your product or service. Send your closer-sales-partner any good prospects that you come across via email or your CRM as discussed before. Also utilize Twitter, Facebook, and whatever niche networks you are a part of to fully curate your contacts list and build a stronger one. All you need to be able to do is spot a lead at this point!
Step 3: Create Content & Thought Leadership
If you do not actually like what you do you will never write one word on the topic - and also shame on you for wasting your precious time at a job you dislike. The more you talk up your craft and show passion for it in public the more brand recognition you build for both you and your firm. If you do nothing else, at least name drop your company often and see what conversations come up. I find that employees who are passionate about their craft always seem to have good monetizable connections since their networks assume they would only work at a quality firm. Write blogs, be active on social media, and generally have an interest in innovation in your space.
Need help with this thought leadership stuff? Here are some pointers and resources to get you started:
While you may not be a master salesperson, you can always emulate the key traits necessary and generate leads to get the sales process started. Participating when it's not in your job description will show your commitment to the organization and it's advancement. If you look at your company's sales and marketing efforts and they seem lackluster, you've found a problem that you can help solve, and in turn, you can climb the ranks of your organization.
Is this the case with your company? We can help you with what to say.