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What Can Accountants Learn From Sales People?

written by Editor, 23 October 2014

Blog by Simon Brookings, Digita Head of Sales
Sales people
Are you trying to convince your manager to take things further in your practice? Or would you like to introduce something new into your team but can’t seem to get the support? Maybe you have come into contact with clients and have the opportunity to sell. If so, do you know how to be a successful salesperson without resorting to a hard selling approach?

Sales people

It’s useful to develop your sales skills even if you work in accountancy, not a sales role. This will provide you with the ability to go beyond your daily interaction with clients and/or prospects. Here is a list of key sales techniques you can utilise:

1. Identify the current pain points

Help identify the real needs of your team, boss, or current and future clients. Start by asking high level open ended questions (e.g. what, where, how, why and when rather than If, do, can and is) about their current business issues. Don’t start with any pre-conceived assumptions or only ask questions related to your proposed solution – do a proper rounded fact find about the current situation. Listen carefully for triggers and possible needs and drill down further on those subjects to quantify their impact and potential cost – also check if there is any commitment to do something about the needs that you’ve unearthed. You should be doing a lot more listening than talking at this stage. Make sure you don’t jump in at the first sign of a need and offer a solution – ensure you’ve identified all the needs available in this area. This approach demands a higher level of trust and credibility as a business adviser.

2. Preparation is Vital

You must always enter the situation with a good understanding of your target audience and what their key drivers might be so that you can explore these areas effectively. Learn as much as you can about their business needs so that you can tailor your solution to these and don’t forget to find out how finding a solution will help them to achieve their personal needs as this is a good way of securing their support.

3. Offering a Solution

Connect with your audience and make this step feel like a conversation not a sales presentation. This must be focused on helping rather than selling, it’s vital to show how your proposed solution will help them to meet the business and personal needs, which they are committed to solve that you unearthed in step 1. Stories are 22% more effective than stats alone, so if you have dealt with a similar business and helped them overcome a similar problem, then share that story too. It’s important at this stage to get their confirmation that they agree that your proposed solution will indeed resolve that issue.

4. Closing the Sale

If you’ve followed the above steps and unearthed some real needs that they are committed to resolve, then shown them a solution which does resolve their issues, then you shouldn’t need any special closing techniques other than asking on that basis if they’d like to proceed.  If you need to apply high pressure tactics to try and close a deal then that’s a sure indication that you’ve not followed the above process correctly.

One key thing to note: never approach a person with the sole intention of making a profit –  you’re always aiming to achieve a win-win situation. Remember that you’re selling something that will make their lives better and your attitude should reflect that. The person you’re talking to should feel like you are helping them solve issues, not that they’re helping you! So, learning how to listen, prepare and pitch as effectively as a top salesperson will ensure you reach your target.

Do you have experience of improving business development within your practice? Do you have any other tips you’d like to share? Please tell us your thoughts below.

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