Nine Competencies of the Complete Sales Professional
Have you ever tried to explain to someone what you actually do as part of the sales profession? I'm talking about what you do, not what your company does or what your value proposition is, but what YOU do day in and day out as a sales professional?
To be a complete sales professional, your daily activities should be in support of creating customer satisfaction and loyalty. What are these daily activities?
My Ph. D. research analyzed the activities and tasks performed by hundreds of sales professionals. I found that these tasks can be grouped into nine areas. The key to being a complete (i. e. superstar) sales professional is to understand and master the following 9 "Selling Knowledge Areas":
1. Personal Management - keep your personal life in check. Stay healthy. Set goals, make plans for your future. Keep your finances in order. Find stress-reducers.
2. Business Knowledge Management - If you're selling to the CFO or the CEO you better understand the business of economics, business transactions, negotiations, and the return they will get on their investment.
3. Product Knowledge Management - We all get trained on this and the key is to understand the product(s) being sold, how to position the product(s), and how to imbed the product(s) into the buying organization. Unfortunately, many companies only train their sales professionals on this one knowledge area when they should be training on all nine.
4. Selling Skills Management -- The best Sales Professionals seek out continuous comprehensive training and education to support their sales process. You should also be able to initiate, plan, and execute a sales process in order for your product or service to be assimilated into the buying organization. There are many systems out there to choose from.
5. Opportunity Management - Complete sales professionals understand how to identify, manage, develop, and close the right sales opportunities. To do this, they're experts at opportunity planning, territory management, opportunity development, and closing.
6. Relationship Management - Becoming a trusted advisor to the buyer only happens when the sales professional is successful at building relationships, communicating, distributing information, and influencing others ethically through collaborative dialogue. Building relationships within your own organization is just as critical. Make sure that you take the time to forge relationships with your support teams, delivery teams, management or any other party that is involved in your sales process.
7. Customer Management - Complete Sales Professionals continue their relationship after the sale. Providing top-notch service to buyers ensures repeat business and a solid sales reputation.
8. Time Management - Understanding the crucial elements of managing personal time to achieve ones goals and objectives. Great sales professionals understand that they must define the right tasks for the day or month, prioritize them, schedule them and execute.
9. Technology Management - Complete sales professionals utilize technology in order to maximize personal and organizational effectiveness.
There are many people that wonder why sales professionals are "harried," have short attention spans, are always too busy, or seem a "little flustered". Perhaps by identifying and understanding the 9 Selling Knowledge Areas, there is a newfound understanding why!
So the question is, what can you do today to become better in each of the 9 areas? Which are you the strongest in? Or in which area are you the weakest? Make plans to improve in each area every single day.
Brian is the Chairman and Founder of the the United Professional Sales Association (UPSA). UPSA is a non-profit organization headquartered in Washington DC that has addressed the concerns and challenges of individual sales professionals. Brian has authored the world's first universal selling standards and open-source selling framework for free distribution. This 'Compendium of Professional Selling' containing the commonly accepted and universally functional knowledge that all sales professionals possess. The open-source selling standards have been downloaded in 16 countries by over 300 people. Over 30 people have made contributions.
Because UPSA is not owned by one person or any company, it is a member organization and guardian of the global standard of entry into the sales profession.