SELLING: AN ACQUIRED SKILL
Varnika Soysa sheds light on what is needed to excel in the sales arena
Compiled by Randheer Mallawaarachchi
Q: In your opinion, is a change in sales tactics needed when transitioning from one sector to another – such as when selling tech-based products compared to consumer goods?
A: When a person shifts from selling corporate life insurance solutions for the better part of a decade to the IT industry, you notice several noteworthy changes.
From planning the initial sales pitch to eventually closing it, the approach followed in each segment is entirely different. Adapting to the context is a key aptitude for any sales professional. A person will begin delivering results as soon as he or she is able to learn the craft behind the trade.
Consumer products have shorter selling cycles compared to tech products; and the time taken to close a sale for tech-based products is notably greater. Sales funnels or pipelines are comparatively larger when it comes to selling tech-based products. Every sector requires an exclusive set of skills that needs to be mastered if a person is looking to become an expert in the trade.
Additionally, the dependencies when closing a sale for tech products are far greater than for consumer products.
Q: Do you believe that the present generation has an innovative mindset that will enable them to sell Sri Lankan products to the international market? And what do you consider as being the main challenges they must contend with in this landscape?
A: Yes, of course! I believe that Sri Lankans are naturally gifted salespeople. Our inherent compassion, flair and signature smiles simplify salespeople’s roles of persuading potential customers to open their doors, and lend an ear to carefully crafted sales pitches.
The most gruelling task for door-to-door salespeople is creating opportunities to deliver sales pitches to targeted customers; and I believe that our unique wit gives us a slight edge on that front.
Q: What are the latest trends and innovations impacting the sales profession? And what are the realities of the present landscape that sales professionals should keep in mind, as they look to develop their skills and connect with customers?
A: A sales professional should be competent in detecting and interpreting the purchasing behaviour of his or her target audience.
Keen observations of cultural, social, personal and psychological factors that influence a person’s decision to purchase a product will provide us with an understanding of the ideal approach to customise a sales pitch that speaks to the customer.
Q: And how important is the concept of access to data in the sales profession, in your assessment?
A: Being data driven will offer professionals ideal trajectories towards success. People should take calculated and decisive actions that are backed by data and empirical evidence proven to generate optimal results to deliver value to any consumer.
Salespeople that do not have access to the latest information with regards to prevailing trends run the risk of falling behind.
The current generation is prone to jump on the bandwagon or ‘hype-train’ whenever a new trend takes social media by storm.
In a context where everyone is interconnected, it is pertinent that people should have the appropriate information to connect the dots and form a bigger picture. Selling is no longer considered to be a science; rather, it is the act of connecting the dots and resolving problems that have become irksome to customers.
On the other hand, obtaining access to the right information puts you in an ideal position to prove to customers that the solution to their problems was at their fingertips.
Q: What do you consider to be the main challenges associated with the sales profession at this time? And how can sales professionals look to tackle and overcome them?
A: The present generation lacks endurance and consistency.
Strengthening endurance and maintaining consistency are crucial attributes for anyone who dreams of becoming a good salesperson. There is no beginner’s luck in the sales profession – it is an acquired trade. Endurance enables salespeople to persevere until they reach the finish line.
Meanwhile, consistency is needed to keep updating their knowledge base, and carry out the appropriate ethical practices throughout their careers. Salespeople cannot rest on their laurels; it is a must to start afresh every day.
The most important essence of a salesperson is the ability to develop good habits, and inculcate integrity and reliability.
Q: How do you envision the future of selling over the next decade or so? And what would you say is needed to achieve success in the ‘new normal’ era?
A: The future of sales lies with those who dare to equip themselves with technology and the data driven culture.
Sales leaders should focus on being leaders of selling – instead of leaders of sellers as in the past.
Selling in the new normal era calls for a coherent work culture among cross-functional departments. Amid the social revolution led by gen Z, sales leaders need to develop their skills in managing talent within their teams and selling to markets that are overpopulated with the new generation.