Sales Skills for the Common Man

Our "Common Man" blog series is committed to bringing you the most easy-to-digest information on translation industry topics and technologies. Previously, we addressed CMS platforms, API, connectors, proxy solutions, SEO marketing, crowdsourcing, GeoFluent, and global testing. This week, we will be taking a slightly different tack and examining the art of sales. Which skills do good salespeople possess? Who are some of the best salespeople? Why do sales matter?

Buckle up!

Sales Skills 101

Each career path requires its own specific skill set. If you want to be a singer, you should probably be able to sing - or at least know someone with good Auto-Tune equipment. 

As Lionbridge onDemand VP of Online Sales, Aaron Hakenson, likes to tell new sales trainees: "There's no luck in sales." There are, however, innumerable skills good salespeople possess which help translate into professional success. Some of these skills include:

  • Interpersonal Communication: It should go without saying that, in order to be a good salesperson, you shouldn't act like a jerk. Speaking with people requires tact and finesse. How likely is it that someone will buy from you if you are abrasive or insensitive? Remember, customers are giving up their valuable time in order to let you persuade them to buy something. If you treat them well, they are much more likely to take you seriously, and maybe return for additional purchases!
  • Time Management: Many salespeople have quotas or metrics they must meet in order to prove they're an asset to the company. Do you have a certain number of calls or contacts you need to make today? Do you need to make time for several client meetings this week? Time management is one of the most valuable skills imaginable; it decreases stress, increases productivity, and shows both your superiors and clients that you are someone who can wisely handle your schedule, no matter what they throw at you. 
  • Listening: You may have heard of the 80/20 rule. Though there are several versions of this rule, the version we are dealing with here has to do with listening. The 80/20 rule states that salespeople should only talk during 20% of their sales pitch - the remaining 80% should be spent actively listening to the customer. This rule helps those salespeople who talk too much to remember that listening is more valuable than talking. Listening to the customer helps the salesperson understand the customer's wants, needs, and perspective.
  • Follow-up: If a prospective client tells you in December that they aren't interested in buying now, but maybe in March, don't forget to follow up! Don't assume that they are lying to get you off their back. Maybe they really do need to wait until March. Set an alert for yourself to contact them in March. They may even be impressed that you remembered to call them back after so much time. Follow-up is essential for all salespeople in securing those loose business deals.

Even if you aren't born with these skills, with the right amount of motivation, you can improve yourself little by little. 

Famous Salespeople

Mary Kay Ash: Did you ever get an email from a co-worker alerting you that they will be selling "Mary Kay" in the break room? If you have, you can thank Mary Kay Ash. Ash, who passed away in 2001, was a Texas businesswoman who founded Mary Kay Cosmetics, Inc in 1963. It is a multi-level direct sales company (the sixth-largest in the world) that, as of 2011, has net sales of almost 3 billion dollars. Ash was an author of sales books and a highly motivational business owner. What made Ash a great saleswoman and CEO? She was known for praising salespeople for their successes and advocated for a healthy work-life balance, believing that happy salespeople would lead to increased sales. 

Joe Girard: American car salesman Joe Girard's website touts him as the "World's Greatest #1 Retail Salesman." And that very well may be true. Between 1963 and 1978, while employed at a Chevrolet dealership, Girard managed to sell a whopping 13,001 cars. That is almost 3.3 cars per workday! Between 1966 and 1977, Girard held the Guinness Book of World Records title for "World's #1 Salesman." After he retired, he began a successful motivational speaking career. What made Girard a great salesman? Service. Girard treated both customers and mechanics with the utmost care and respect, so much so that customers came back to make repeated purchases from Girard himself.

Zig Ziglar: Hilary "Zig" Ziglar, who passed away in 2012, was an American salesman who spent most of his adult life in sales. What made Ziglar a great salesman? Well, he had a way with words. Ziglar is well known for his books (he authored over a dozen) and motivational quotes, which many sales managers use to light fires within their salespeople. 

Here are a few great quotes from Mr. Ziglar:

"Remember that failure is an event, not a person."

"If you learn from defeat, you haven't really lost."

"If you don't see yourself as a winner, then you cannot perform as a winner."

Why are sales Important?

Okay, I'm sure we can all agree that sales play an indelible role in any business. But can you pinpoint the reasons why? Here are just a few:

  1. Sales generate revenue. Money is important in the functioning of any business. It's needed to pay company overhead costs and employee salaries. Sales isn't the only way that companies generate revenue - this can also be accomplished through capital gains and royalties - but for many businesses, sales are a crucial source of income which keep the lights on and the bills paid. 
  2. Marketing can only do so much. The ultimate goal of marketing is to drive attention to a company and highlight the benefits of a product/service in order to generate revenue; in this way, the roles of marketing and sales are essentially not that different. However, marketing only has so much power by itself. Many companies rely on marketing/sales synergy in order to generate a steady stream of income. Marketing catches the customer's attention, and sales drives the pitch home.
  3. Salespeople are on the front lines. Who knows better the wants and needs of clients and consumers than those salespeople who deal with them day after day? Salespeople speak directly to the public and can feel out potential changes in the marketplace. This is crucial when it comes to updating marketing campaigns and forecasting revenue for each fiscal quarter or year. 

Are you a motivated self-starter looking to start or continue a career in sales? If so, Lionbridge onDemand could be the right fit for you. We are currently hiring for full-time entry-level sales positions. To learn more, visit our career page.