Technology is a boon to the sales profession. It helps automate, amplify, and accelerate. Tech tools can help us organize our day, research prospects, streamline outreach, and efficiently keep track of our progress. But, that said, our reliance on technology also makes it way too easy to hide behind a screen.
Sales enablement tools must be layered on a solid foundation of human connection. When you dig deep into what makes salespeople effective, you will always come back to foundational skills, rather than the technology they use. For sales, three of the most important core skills are effective communication, demonstrating empathy, and establishing a connection. Without these skills, you can have the most cutting-edge technology in the world, and you’ll still fall flat.
- Communicate Effectively – Effective communication is not merely good presentation skills or the ability to close a deal. You must really engage and focus on the other person. It’s important to remember clicking a button to send an email blast might be a helpful way to reach many people quickly, but it does not replace authentic communication.
- Demonstrate Empathy – Empathy is essentially putting yourself in someone else’s shoes; you must understand your prospect’s situation and point of view. Salespeople who show compassionate empathy want to do the best thing for their client, and clients realize this is genuine and respond to it.
- Establish a Connection – To establish a connection, you must first establish trust and credibility. Once you have this, you can better understand your prospect’s situation and develop a rapport with them, enabling them to be more open with you.
These skills are the heart of what you learn with the ValueSelling Framework®, which is all about deliberative, inquisitive inquiry. And, the flip side of having really good questioning and engagement skills also is developing active listening skills. Active listening lets you uncover your prospect’s needs more quickly because you’ll ensure that you are truly hearing what they have to say.
When you listen actively, you ask confirming questions as a summary of what you’ve heard to confirm mutual understanding. You must give the speaker your full attention to ask these confirming questions, because our brains can’t handle multiple complex tasks at the same time. Although it may seem easy, it’s not. Ask for feedback and coaching to hone your active listening skills. Your coach can help evaluate what you say, how you say it, and reflect on your choice of words. When people feel “heard,” they are more inclined to continue a dialogue with you and are more apt to trust your recommendations.
Of course, the human-to-human connection works in conjunction with technology, which is extremely beneficial to support the sales process. No matter which technologies you use it’s critical to monitor and measure the ROI of your technology investment. Instead of relying on a slew of new tools, software, or platforms that your team may or may not adopt, focus on small behavior changes that, when consistently employed, will drive sales efficiency and effectiveness.
Transforming behaviors is key to sales success. Over the course of my career, I’ve found that clients are often unable to self-diagnose. Your prospects and clients know they have a problem, but often they are too close to it and they don’t see the potential solutions. In order to provide them with insight, you need to really understand their current situation, gain new perspectives, and facilitate a dialogue. That’s where the skills of communication, empathy, and connecting come into play.