I have assessed hundreds of candidates who are up for promotion to more senior roles in professional service firms and I am yet to come across one whose burning desire is to become the top salesperson. Experts in their field, trusted partner to their clients, yes. But not a salesperson. The word ‘sales’ is rarely mentioned. Client management, business origination, occasionally business development, but sales? No, we’re a little more sophisticated here thank you!
Insights from Psychology That Explain Why People Are Responding Differently To The Covid-19 Crisis (Part 2)
At the moment some people, quite understandably, may be less focused on work than normal. Anyone who studied business or economics at school will have come across Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and it remains a useful guide in the current circumstances.
Insights from Psychology That Explain Why People Are Responding Differently To The Covid-19 Crisis (Part 1)
The world has changed. That has created a lot of uncertainty for many people both personally and professionally. As business psychologists we, here at Bloojam, understand people and behaviour and are privileged to share our expertise with others to add some value at this challenging time.
In this 2-part blog we thought that it might be helpful to share some behavioural theories and models for you to bear in mind when considering your own response, and that of those around you, to the current situation:
Title: Emotional Intelligence: Why It Matters More Than IQ
Author: Daniel Goleman
Who is it aimed at? Business Leaders, Salespeople and anyone who wants more than a cursory understanding of emotional intelligence
What is it about?
Written from an organisational perspective, the author argues that EI has business implications for employees and leaders alike. Goleman’s key premise is that cognitive intelligence (IQ) is not the sole predictor of workplace success – Emotional Intelligence (EI) is an equally important non-cognitive skill. He defines EI as a set of skills that encompass self-motivation, social abilities, empathy, and impulse control, among others and argues that, with the right training and support, these can be developed and improved.
Why should I read it?
Whilst it is no longer a new topic, EI is a term that is bandied about with an expectation that we all know what it means. If you want a more in-depth understanding, this book is a great place to start.
In our second issue of Bloojam Bookclub we’re recommending a title that has something for both B2B salespeople and those in leadership roles:
Title: Stop Selling and Start Leading
Author: James Kouzes, Barry Posner, Deb Calvert
Who is it aimed at? Salespeople and Leaders
What is it about?
Research showing that at its core selling, like leading, is based on relationships. Written by highly respected experts in Leadership, this book describes their research into sales and the striking similarities between the behaviours that drive success in both sales and leadership roles. For each of the 10 behaviours described, there are practical activities that you can implement immediately.
Why should I read it?
This book combines our two favourite subjects- B2B sales and Leadership- and makes a great case for why both are important in business, and how both can learn from each other. For any aspiring leader or strategic salesperson the insights are invaluable.
I have seen a couple of ding-dongs on LinkedIn this week, where a few individuals have got a bit cross about people trying to market and promote their services and products during these testing times. Those on the receiving end of the criticism have pointed out that we are all in this together, business needs to continue and actually their services might be pretty useful to people during these testing times.
I see this argument as a reflection of the issue ‘we’ in the UK have around sales activity generally. I say ‘we’ really in reference to many people’s perception in the UK where ‘sales’ and ‘salesmen’ still hold a connotation of Del Boy Trotter’s Independent Traders, or the double glazing hard sell. On reflection in my first sentence, by calling selling ‘trying to market and promote’ I might even be accused of trying to disguise that ghastly activity of selling!
However, when you consider how many clever and otherwise very confident people will say “I could never be a salesman”? I think you start to uncover the truth. If challenged their answers will range from having the nerve and the knowledge to cold call, coping with being rejected again and again or pushing a product or service where they are not sure of the value. What they really mean is that they don’t have the training, experience and competency to sell thereby indirectly recognising the talent and skill required to be a professional salesperson and business developer.
Of course, in the US they have overcome this prejudice and a Sales role is rightly recognised as an admirable and respected profession to aspire to and be proud of. We need to overcome this British reserve and properly value the skill and capabilities involved in sales tasks.
I definitely fall into the “actually our services could be really useful to other businesses right now” camp. I see now as a unique time and therefore an ideal opportunity to do things differently. It might depend where you are on the change curve of course, but I’m trying to look forward and see how we can support our clients so that they can be thriving when we come out the other side and (whisper it) ensure that our business also continues to prosper during these challenging times.
My view is that this all boils down to purpose, or the ‘why do you ultimately do what you do?’ Do you believe in what you sell? Do you feel that you can add insight and value to your clients, even during a crisis? Can you truly help them? For me personally this works on two levels; I feel passionate about helping individuals perform to their best and be happy in their roles, and I feel driven to help my clients improve performance for their business.
It’s not rocket science to say that believing in your product or service makes it easier to sell. But taking it a step further – by being passionate about the ‘why’ and ‘how’ you can support and partner with other businesses so they can flourish – is something to be proud of and yes, sell, even now. Your passion will be plain to see and is an important part of becoming a trusted partner with your clients over the long-term, helping them through the rough and the smooth.
So, on second thoughts, I will not whisper it. I am passionate about what we at Bloojam do and the value we deliver to our customers that will help them and us to thrive both in these difficult times and on the other side when we all come out of this together.
Sarah is a Chartered Psychologist and Director of Bloojam Consulting Ltd.
If you’re looking to further your professional development during lockdown we’re launching Bloojam Bookclub offering our recommendations of key texts from the field of business psychology that are relevant for people in sales and leadership roles. Our first recommendation is below:
Title: To Sell Is Human
Author: Daniel Pink
Who is it aimed at? Everyone
What is it about?
His principal argument is that, as professionals, we are all in sales whether we are selling a product or service or simply an idea- in fact any situation in which we are trying to persuade others to part with their resources e.g. money, effort or attention. Drawing on research from a broad range of social sciences he skilfully pinpoints three key qualities that are most valuable in moving people from one position to another.
Why should I read it?
Packed with references, the author has done the research for you and as an ex-journalist, it is easy to read and written in a format that is both insightful and entertaining.
We’re all far too used to settling for a team that has a one or two sales superstars, an acceptable number of patchy performers (who somehow pull something out of the bag on the last day of the month!), and a few people who used to show potential but have slightly lost the plot and failed to shine. We’ve all worked in these teams and you might even be at risk of putting together your own version of such a team right now.
With businesses encouraging staff to work remotely and clients cancelling meetings, you and your sales team have a unique opportunity to focus on your own development.
Over the last few weeks I, like many of you, have found sales meetings and other face-to-face client interactions being either postponed or moved online. Initially I was concerned, and I still am, by the impact that these delays could have on my sales pipeline.
But more recently, I have found an upside. Most people will have heard the phrase ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ but who first said it? Read on to find out…
As I write this blog, the FTSE 100 index has experienced its worst day in over a decade, wiping £124bn off the value of its companies. In a clear sign of their fears of a recession, the Bank of England has slashed its rate from an already record low of 0.75% to just 0.25% in a move designed to bolster the economy in a pre-emptive response to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.