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How to Unleash Your Sales Potential

Picture of Corinne Thomas

Corinne Thomas

Founder & Managing Director

Earlier this year, we undertook some research with salespeople about their roles and responsibilities, and what they look for in a sales community.

The results were truly enlightening. What they showed is that despite the variety of sectors people work in, as like-minded salespeople in purpose-driven businesses we all have similar needs. 

But the big question is, how do we help ourselves to thrive in our roles as salespeople and unleash our true potential?

Following on from our research, we held a webinar in October 2023 where we asked two industry experts to share their thoughts on how you can do just this. Lee Truman, sales director of Unique IQ and Jack Thompson, head of sales at Ghyston discussed how you can tackle pressure in your salesperson roles, how you can harness AI to become more effective, and what attributes are most in demand by employers.

Read on to find out Lee and Jack’s insightful answers, which are sure to have a big impact on your sales and business development role in 2024. You can also access the full webinar on LinkedIn.

How can we support ourselves to thrive in our roles as salespeople?

Our 2023 research uncovered that many salespeople are struggling at the moment with mental health issues such as mindset and feeling isolated. This is no doubt in part due to the change in working conditions since the pandemic, with many of us now hybrid working or exclusively working from home.

So how can we adapt to this new normal and make sure we protect our mental health?

Watch How can we support ourselves to thrive in our sales roles? with Lee Trueman [3 min]

Lee believes that mental health and sales have been intrinsically linked for so long, but covid really brought the conversation to the forefront. He shared his own struggles with mental health, particularly around imposter syndrome, and how if you’re struggling to achieve your targets this can make mental health issues such as imposter syndrome so much worse.

“The most important thing with mental health is that it comes down to the leaders,” says Lee. “It’s not about saying [to a salesperson] ‘this is your KPI, why aren’t you hitting it?’ It’s about ‘this is the KPI, why aren’t we hitting it, what can we do to get there?’” 

Feeling supported by leaders is crucial for salespeople. The more leaders understand about their salespeople’s mental health and how to nurture it, the better their team will be. So if you are having issues with your mental health, it’s really important you talk to your leader about it, who will hopefully give you the support you need.

Lee also feels that the traditional persona of a salesperson as the Del Boy type who can sell anything to anyone can add unhelpful pressure, especially for people who want to get into sales but may not have this gift of the gab. He believes sales suits a variety of people’s skills and strengths – so while you may not be a slick talker, your more analytical approach can be very helpful.

“We need to get rid of this persona and make sales about what it really is – change,” he explains. “Sales isn’t about persuasion – it’s more about change than it is about anything else.”  

As a salesperson, it’s your job to find out what your customers want to change and help them achieve it. Lee calls this a low pressure, high energy approach, where you find the right way to convert people, rather than persuading them to do something they’re not keen to do.

Jack shared that his mental health has really benefitted from mentoring and coaching. And not only in terms of receiving it but also offering it to members of your team, as the act of helping others can be as beneficial to the giver as well as the receiver.

Another often-overlooked tip from Jack is to make sure you take time out. While this sounds obvious, it’s something that’s often neglected in favour of working evenings and weekends to hit sales targets. 

“It can feel like you’re meant to have a manic work ethic – always on it, always pushing it – but you need to build in rest.” Professional sportspeople who are expected to perform have rest built into their schedule, so do the same as a salesperson. “You won’t be performing at the best level if your stress levels are high.”

Jack also advocates breaking down daunting sales targets into smaller numbers. “Trust in the process and don’t worry about the big scary number. Mentally this makes it much easier to deal with. This method has really helped me as I know I can control things on a daily or weekly basis.”

How can salespeople use new technology to be more effective in our roles?

While the number of software and tools to help us do our jobs is getting more sophisticated, our research covered a lot of confusion and lack of clarity on what to do about it. It seems like technology is sometimes more of a hindrance than a help, so how can we as salespeople harness tools such as AI to be more effective in our roles?

Watch How can we use new technologies to be more effective? with Jack Thompson of Ghyston [3 min]

The first thing is to sort your process, believes Jack. “A lot of good sales is down to having good processes – the right tactics and activities. Tools and software won’t do this for you – they’ll help but you need to know your process first.” 

It’s crucial that as a salesperson, you understand your process first in a human way, and then try to find software or tools that can help with this – not the other way round. 

“Ask yourself, what do you want from the tech?” says Lee. “There’s a solution for every element of sales and if you’re not careful you end up spending an inordinate amount of money on unwieldy tech.”

Lee also noted how important the human touch still is – and will continue to be. He sees the benefit of simple comms such as picking up the phone, which can often mean you get through to the right person and have an authentic conversation. “As AI gets more popular, using the human touch will really separate you out.” 

What skills or attributes will be most important for sales and business development in 2024?

There’s absolutely no question that salespeople are hard-working and committed to achieving success. But what can you do to really elevate your skills and make sure you’re continuing to learn and develop in your sales role?

Watch What skills are the most important for sales and BD in 2023? ]

With the rise of sites such as Trustpilot, Lee feels it’s never been more important to be an ethical salesperson who values integrity. After all, anyone can leave a review and then that’s on the internet forever. Lee advises making sure that all your customers are reference customers – you could ring them up and they’d be happy to leave a positive review. 

Another vital skill as a salesperson is the ability to listen actively, believes Lee. “The most important thing for sales is, and always will be, two ears and one mouth – use them in that order. Some people I know are too busy trying to get the next chance to talk that they miss a lot of those buying signals. Listening is so important. Be in the conversation, be present in the moment, and just want to help your customers change.”

Being a team player and working together as an organisation is also an extremely important skill, and links back to the need for supporting each other. “You need to work hard for each other,” says Lee. “If one cog falls over then the whole machine stops.”

Jack was surprised to read a recent report saying that only around half of salespeople are undertaking regular training or professional development. “I consider every day to be a learning day,” he says. “It’s super important that we continue to learn, develop and improve. And if you feel your organisation isn’t giving you the training you need, go find it yourself,” he urges.

Jack advises using books and podcasts to improve sales skills, as well as seeking out thought leadership from sites such as LinkedIn. Alongside this, it’s also important to learn from watching and listening to others. Going back to his earlier point, Jack reiterated how important mentoring and coaching is, as you can learn so much from seeing how others operate. 

“I still seek knowledge out, even as a long-toothed salesperson,” confirms Jack. “The world changes, and what worked 20 years ago doesn’t work now, and what works today won’t work next year.” 

Wise words indeed, and something we can all take on as we start to consider our sales strategy for 2024.

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