Beating Inertia: 9 Tips to Bolster Your Sales IQ and Motivation

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Written by: Nathan Monk, Director of Venture Growth, MaRS Discovery District; Social: @cowboytweets

How we think and feel affects what we do and say as sales professionals during our work day. Starting it overwhelmed, numb, rushed or irritated is usually not a healthy start. 

The added pressure of closing more by ‘quarter’s end’, imputing data in the CRM, managing our bosses, and dealing with internal processes and conflicts cause inertia that can prevent us from succeeding each day. 

We know great sales pipelines are filled with pre-qualified prospects ready to buy.

Unfortunately, because of our daily approach to sales and mental health, these pipelines are often filled with hope which causes a lack of confidence and increases anxiety. 

The vicious cycle of stories we create in our mind also hinder our ability to sell and close more. This leaves us with a couple of questions we must answer in order to be successful: 

  • How do you get in the correct frame of mind each day? 
  • What steps can you take to overcome these challenges? 

To answer these questions, I’ve developed 9 Tips to overcome inertia, regain your confidence and build your Sales IQ.

1. Product Knowledge 

A sales leader once told me: ‘Know more then the engineer that built it.’ Every little detail matters when you’re selling technology. No pressure, right? Unfortunately, it is the reality. Today’s customers are far more prepared and briefed. In some cases, they know more than the sales rep pitching them. 

To get a head start, know your Ideal Customer Profile, including customer use cases. Really understand their pain points and understand the problem you are solving at each part of the buyer journey. 

I also find it handy to have a Strategic Messaging Framework nearby so you can clearly differentiate. 

Be sure to update these documents as your customers evolve and change. This helps align other teams to the buyer journey as well. 

2. Industry Knowledge

Know the industry lingo. Speak the industry language. If you are new to sales, it is useful to attend events where your customers go, read industry publications and participate in networking communities where your customer resides. I also recommend getting a mentor in the space, typically someone more senior and someone more jr. if possible. 

Look for opportunities to get mentored. In many cases, you’ll have to give before you take in terms of time with your mentor. It’s really important to understand this. To do so, I recommend reading the book Give and Take 

Gone are the days of the ‘3 martini lunch’ and signing SOWs on the golf course with a handshake and a pat on the back. Today’s technology sales rep has to be forward-thinking, curious, humble and ready to adjust to customer behaviour based on their industry knowledge. 

3. Competitor Knowledge

Sounds cliché and super-difficult considering there are over 7,000 martech technologies competing for our customers’ time.

Again, it’s the reality.

You must clearly understand how you’re differentiated and be up-to-speed on the latest competitors. I recommend doing a brand audit  if you really want to go deep on competitors, or simply use the ‘strategic messaging framework’ mentioned earlier. Savvy reps will also contact competitors under the guise of a customer to hear and learn how competitors deal with the same sales objections.

This sounds a bit creepy, but garners a lot of information the rep can later use to differentiate.  

4. Know Your Customer

What’s a day in the life of a customer look like? 

Often times we forget our customers are people too, and may be feeling what we are feeling. You can get a sense of how they are feeling with very strong discovery questions or by attending events they’re at and simply eavesdropping on all conversations being had outside of the event programming. 

I’ve learned so much about my customers by listening to the conversations they have at events.

You’ll learn a lot about how they manage internal politics and the pressures they’re facing in their personal lives. Having this insight is invaluable as you begin the relationship building process with your customers. See ‘Empathy’ below. 

5. Know Your Sales Process

The best sales reps know this inside and out. 

While your counterparts are complaining about ‘data entry’ or ‘accounting’ or ‘procurement’, you’re busy learning the sales process and speeding time to close. It is what it is. The best reps are learning it and navigating it with ease. Eventually, you’ll have colleagues asking: ‘how are you closing so much?’

To to do this, start with a simple sales process map and clearly define each stage in the sales process: Client List – Ideal Customer Profiles – Target Customers – Buyer Personas – Common Goals/Objections – Inbound/Outbound and channel sequencing and hand-off – Account Management – Customer Success. 

Be sure to include all ‘internal’ red tape you’re going to need to do at each stage in order to move the sale along. 

6. Buyer Empathy

Slow down, breathe and align yourself with your customers and colleagues. Meet them where they are at.

After-all, your customers are people too.

Make sure you are focusing on the welfare, interests and needs of your customer, key into their values and shared interests, key into shared human values, suspend your own judgement, connect with the target, and listen to them.

This doesn’t mean you get caught up in their psycho drama, but it does mean you stay at a distance that allows you to be empathetic.  

7. Build Emotional Self-Awareness

In addition to identifying your own emotions, try to identify the emotions of those around you. 

No one likes to deal with someone who listens to respond or is clearly letting their emotions get the better of them. 

The key is to understand your own internal triggers, which could be a person, a thought, a thing, a food etc. I recommend tracking your emotions and triggers for a few weeks to understand the triggers and what antidotes you need to overcome them.

Becoming aware of your triggers is a pivotal step forward in taking care of your own Mental Health.  If your triggers are tied to receiving feedback for buyers or your colleagues it’s important to not take it personally.

“Take criticism seriously, but not personally. If there is truth or merit in the criticism, try to learn from it. Otherwise, let it roll right off you.” – Hilary Clinton

Look for these same triggers in your customer. Some of the best reps I’ve seen have been able to ‘read the room’, sense emotions and move the conversation forward. 

8. Be Assertive

No, this doesn’t mean you become an ‘ass%&&&&’. It means you can be confident without being arrogant or egotistical.

Make sure you keep yourself in check on this. I recommend reading the book Ego Is The Enemy’  by Ryan Hollday to understand how important it is to be assertive, but not come across as an egotistical person.  

9. Delay Gratification

It’s so easy to want to ‘ring that bell.’ The reality is, the most successful reps are the ones that are intrinsically motivated. They’re strategic, and methodical and not as extroverted as one would think. They support their colleagues, are humble, curious and driven. They get their motivation through others.

Believe it or not, it is rarely about the money! It is about the satisfaction and intrinsic of building a world-class book of business, killer pipeline and the satisfaction of closing large deals for the company. 

Overall, this takes time and practice to build into a habit. To do this, I recommend practicing and tracking these skill sets over the next 60-90 days. Look for ways you’ve improved weekly and reward yourself when you actively practice them.   

Wishing you great success on your sales and mental health journey.

Always. Be. Growing.

Nathan Monk

About the Author

Nathan Monk, is the Director of Venture Growth at MaRS Discovery District. He is responsible for helping technology companies grow.

Specifically, he leads MaRS Growth Programming and delivering globally unique growth programs to scale high-growth technology ventures. This includes brand positioning, analytics, funnel development,sales, customer behaviour, and channel acquisition and retention programs. Follow Nathan on Twitter at @cowboytweets

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