Selling like a professional

It’s true that some salespeople have a natural talent for their profession, but it only applies to a small percentage. Even the most successful people will still have worked really hard to earn their reputation. So what does it take to become a successful salesman?

Be yourself

As the old adage goes, people buy from people. Regardless of whether a person wants, or needs a product, you want them to buy it from you – not the next shop down the mall. At the crunch point, especially in high stake sales environments, it can simply come down how well your potential customer likes you.

Sell the benefits

Thanks to some serious marketing research in the mid-twentieth century, we now know that people only want to know what’s in it for them. It really doesn’t matter that your new sprocket is the most advanced on the market to a customer. Professional salesmen sell on how the product will enhance a person’s life.

Use statistics wisely

If 60% of your customers only buy from you because you provide great customer service, shout about it. People feel reassured when they learn others are benefiting from buying from you. Transversely, there is a small minority who prefer to be outsiders – so know your market and use the statistics judiciously.

Get networking

In the hard-nosed world of business to business selling, the best way to find new customers is networking. These days there are numerous networking clubs for businesses, either professionally organised business breakfast style networking or local government networking. Try out as many as possible in your sales territory.

Qualify potential sales

Make sure the person you’re selling to has an actual need for your product. It’s a simple piece of advice, but very powerful. From the market stall holder calling out to passing trade, to a pre-arranged telephone sales call, knowing if someone needs your product saves everyone a lot of time and effort.

Know your supply chain

There are simple sales and then there are business sales. A simple sale is telling a customer a hat looks good on them. In the complex world of business sales, you have to be more aware of everything that’s going on in your business, and your customer’s business. Supply chain issue on your side have the potential to disrupt their business as well. Make it your job to manage the supply chain on behalf of your customer.

Set sales targets

A target is a great motivational force in business. You might exceed your goal of x number of sales in Q1, or fail to get even half, but at least you have a benchmark. By setting a target you make yourself think about how to bring in more business and begin to map out your sales strategy.

Have a sales strategy

With your target in place, you need a strategy to get to it. In most established businesses, there will be some tried and trusted methods of bringing in new business and getting out more from old customers. It doesn’t do any harm to dust these old strategies down occasionally. Take a look at them afresh and see if new methodologies, software, or mediums (such as social media) have anything valuable to add to your strategy.



At ISM Dubai, a course we often run in-house and cover during our selling skills course, is looking at a sale or negotiation from the buying perspective. This holistic approach needs to be understood by sales people to help drive their own success. In this three part blog Bill Levell will cover buyer views comprehensively.

Buyers perspective

Bill , master of sales skills enjoying a quiet moment between activities

From the buyer’s perspective engaging with a potential supplier calls for detailed information gathering through whatever means are appropriate.

There are several key areas to explore in depth through desk research, asking questions and holding discussions to assess suppliers and their proposals in all relevant areas.
Here are some examples of these areas, not all are always essential, and there will be others which I have not listed which are industry/technology specific.

  1. Capability

Does the supplier’s staff have the skills and experience, including specialised technical knowledge that they will need to meet the requirement?

  1. Experience and track record

Past experience should be examined in sufficient detail to give confidence that the supplier has the right ability. This may include visits to customers of the supplier or to the supplier’s premises. The principal objective is to assess how much of the supplier’s experience is relevant to the buyer’s requirements and how they can back up their responses with evidence that they have provided similar solutions before. Questions like:

  1. Has the supplier fulfilled requirements of a similar type, scale and/or complexity before? If they have, was their performance satisfactory?
  2. What problems arose, and how will they be avoided on this contract?
  3. How well does the supplier’s experience and track record back up their proposal?
  4. What evidence is there of the supplier adding value by adopting proactive approaches, making improvements, building strong working relationships and so on?
  5. Can the supplier demonstrate a spirit of co-operation in their past or present customer relationships?
  6. What is the supplier’s track record on team-working, relationship management and/or partnering? What evidence can be sought supporting their proposals on working together?

3. Capacity

It is important to validate the totality of the declared resource skills against overall supplier resources.
If the supplier has high reliance on one major customer, this may present a risk to the project. This does not necessarily mean that the supplier must be rejected out of hand, but the risk should be analysed, considered and managed like other project risks. Questions like:

  1. Does the supplier have adequate capacity and resource for the requirement, both now and in the future?
  2. How many experienced staff does the supplier have working in relevant areas?
  3. What other contracts does the supplier currently have running that could affect capacity?
  4. What other contracts is the supplier bidding for? If they won them, would this affect capacity available for this requirement?
  5. Does the supplier give sufficient consideration to ensure that there is sufficient flexibility to adapt to changing business needs?
  6. Can the supplier demonstrate that it has the necessary resource forecasting experience and perhaps models for capacity planning purposes?
  7. Is there evidence that SLA requirements are used to define availability plans and targets?
  8. Does the supplier monitor actual performance against availability targets?
  9. Does the supplier have adequate methods and procedures for monitoring service capacity and tuning systems performance?


The next two parts to this comprehensive look at the Buyer’s perspective will be published in the next fortnight and if you have any thoughts on what else should be included please let us know.