It’s been a brutal year for nearly every business department, but the one that’s been hit the hardest is sales. Dark times, however, also allow certain stars to shine, and one of those shining bright is Dean Smith, our first Sales AllStar.
“It is no exaggeration to say that Dean has done more than anyone to help [his company] survive the current recession, and in doing so has saved the jobs of more than 250 people,” says one of Smith’s colleagues, Tony Wood, who nominated Dean to be a Sales AllStar. Smith, an articulate company spokesperson, energetic, conscientious, and very focused on his team and goals, is the business development director for the European-based TPF Group, which provides a range of marketing and communications services to other businesses.
So what has allowed this standout salesperson to earn such praise during the most challenging business climate in recent memory? You can get a sense of the drive and optimism that fuels Smith in the following Q&A, which is a compilation of an e-mail exchange and an audio interview conducted by Jonathan Farrington of Top Sales Experts.
Q: What are four professional characteristics that you’re most proud of?
A: Passion — I’m quite a passionate soul. If you project passion in your daily work life — and I think in your personal life as well — it pays dividends for the people around you. My team generally gravitates toward me when I’m passionate about chasing a bid, and we all believe we can win it. People buy people — they buy into you as a person, and by buying into you they buy into the solution.
Listening — It’s really important to listen. When I receive a tender, and when I go to a briefing, generally the client will say something wholly different from what’s in the tender. So that gives me something to work on and to create some creativity and personalization and tailoring.
Tenacity — You need to be tenacious and persistent in what you’re doing in order to ride through the pain as you achieve your goals.
Intuition — Emotional intelligence helps me with my internal radar to qualify opportunities and gauge the clients. One of the things that I can’t do in my job is chase rainbows.
Q: What advice would you give to other salespeople (or sales managers) for this year?
A: Use social media. Give it a go. There is so much hype around how social media will be changing the sales process. I’m still on the fence personally, but one thing’s for sure: It will have some impact. It’s definitely worth a mention on your sales and marketing plan, amongst the traditional sales channels (direct mail, telemarketing, and e-mail marketing).
Keep face-to-face contact. Don’t replace face-to-face meeting with e-mail marketing, social media, and telemarketing. Where you can get in front of client, do it! For me this is still the number-one route to conversion, awareness, and bringing a product or service to life! People sell to people.
Don’t sulk! Always be professional and courteous when you fail to win that order. Pick yourself up and move on. You’ll always get another chance, if not in the same organization then at another. They’ll remember your professionalism! Next time you might win.
Set targets and objectives. If your budget permits, set targets and objectives and monetize them. There’s nothing better to focus the mind than a pot of gold at the end. If you haven’t got targets, ask for them! If that fails, leave and go somewhere else where your efforts and energy will be rewarded and recognized.
Keep it simple. Keep your sales and marketing strategy simple; over-complicate it and you’ll suffer a slow death through paralysis by analysis….and probably find yourself out of a job!
Don’t chase rainbows. Make sure you have a structured qualification process.
Measure. Try to measure where you can — the data you build will eventually improve your win-to-sales ratio.
Read! Find time to read that interesting article in your briefcase and attend a training course.
Tend to your Web site. Optimize your Web site (SEO — search engine optimization — and PPC — pay-per-click advertising) and make sure it looks professional. Your Web site portrays the soul of your organization. Do your very best with the budget you have, or ask the powers-that-be to spend some cash.
You can read the press release announcing Dean Smith as the first Sales AllStar. Do you know any sales superstars who should be recognized for their extraordinary talent and hard work? Tell us about them — and check back soon to meet our February Sales AllStar!