In sales, the old adage, “It’s not what you know, but who you know” ruled supreme for years – but not anymore.
Relationship selling — a technique that employed personal associations to close sales — was a common strategy. Sanjay J. Dhebar, author and facilitator at the Schulich Executive Education Centre and an instructor in York University’s Schulich School of Business, says “today, it’s obsolete and sales professionals must rethink sales strategies if they want to close the deal.”
“Technology has advanced more in the last seven years than in our entire lifetime,” says Dhebar, whose diverse background includes commercial management roles for both start-ups and established companies. “That means you need to provide customers with insights they don’t already know rather than thinking the strength of your relationships will carry you.”
That’s why forgoing the traditional one-size-fits-all approach in favour of developing a deeper understanding of customers’ needs, leaving room for customization, is now one of the most effective sales strategies, says Dhebar. It’s an approach that starts with becoming a subject-matter expert on the marketplace and its trends, the competition and why someone should buy from you.
“Having a conversation that demonstrates you truly understand the market will allow your customer to gain trust in you as a knowledgeable resource, rather than just someone trying to sell to them,” says Dhebar. “For that to happen, you first have to understand the psychological profile of your customers, which will allow you to adjust your way of selling. The other parts are listening to uncover new information, which the customer may not normally tell you if you’re dominating the conversation and taking an agile sales approach that allows you to make adjustments on the fly, during the discussion, that suit your customer’s needs.”
The evolution of sales strategies is what makes Winning Sales Strategies online course, which Dhebar facilitates for the Schulich Executive Education Centre, particularly relevant and popular with learners. Geared towards account managers, sales leaders and small business owners, it focuses on teaching proven client-communication skills and sales-development approaches used by forward-thinking sales professionals.
“Sales is quickly changing, and this course is updated yearly with the latest best practices and new methods from various sectors,” says Dhebar. “These skills are also transferable beyond client-facing interactions. If you’re writing a proposal, for example, to gain resources for your department, you’re selling your department’s requirements. Having a balanced skill set that includes persuasion skills is crucial to improving your performance in today’s work landscape.”
This article discusses the SEEC program Winning Sales Strategies (starting Feb. 3, 2020). This online program is a truly innovative guide to what account managers, sales people and small business owners must do to engage clients, think on their feet, make fast decisions and generate profitable sales.