What Can Managers & Leaders Learn From Effective Sales People?

March 20, 2014

I train sales people and I also train business managers and leaders. You might think that is a strange ‘mix’ with sales being an extremely specialised subject but I always find it amusing when people say this. Some managers and leaders tell me “they couldn’t work in sales” but the simple fact is that great people management and great selling require a very similar skill set.

The most common word that runs throughout sales and leadership and management is ‘influence’. The ability to influence other people is a vital element of both roles and a poor influencer will never survive in either discipline.

For influence to take place a high level of trust is required by the person being influenced. Without trust influence is hard to achieve and the ‘size’ of the deal or significance of the ‘issue’ is directly proportionate to the level of trust required.

Trust itself is easy to win! Just do exactly what you say you will do by when you said you would do it. Trust doesn’t have to take years to build and can be achieved in a few minutes of meeting someone. People that set an agenda at the start of a call or meeting then stick to it build trust.

Negotiation is another skill that is required by sales people and managers and leaders. Great negotiators also need trust and influence as detailed above and the skill in negotiation is not getting your own way at the expense of the other party, instead it is the ability to achieve a ‘win-win’ for both sides.

The number one rule in negotiation is ‘never concede – always trade’, if someone wants a concession from you, then trade your concession for something back from then. Think about the tradable elements in your proposal and depending on the ‘value’ of the concession sought, trade it for something appropriate that has low cost or impact to you, but have a high perceived impact or value for them.

Another similarity is the level of effective communication skills (listening, questioning, voice and empathy) required by both effective sales people and leaders/managers. A sales person uses these skills to understand a client’s needs and motivations to develop suitable solutions. A manager or leader will use the same to understand, motivate and develop their teams.

So my message to all managers and leaders is this, rather than avoid the sales department and sales people, seek out the best sales leaders and sales people in your organisation. Build relationships and share ideas. I guarantee you will learn something new!

Many thanks

Stuart Allen

Trainer & Consultant at MTD Training


(Image by David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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