Excerpts from Ian Santos’ interview with Doreen Cooper, an award-winning speaker, author, trainer and content creator on her #superwithcooper YouTube channel
Doreen: Hi Ian, what are some things that every professional should know about Sales?
Sales and selling skills for that matter is important for everyone to know. It’s a life skill not usually taught in school. For people who work in the corporate world, they would surely have used selling skills to get their job done.
Selling skills are very similar to influencing skills. As leadership is about influencing, so is selling. For us to be successful, we need to influence people, whether at home or at work. We can’t do everything alone, so we need the help of others.
For us to do this we need to build relationships, as well as influencing and selling skills. If we are successful in cultivating these skills, we can be successful in different facets of life.
Doreen: You’ve been in Sales for a long time, can you share your sales career story?
My sales career actually started back when I was a young kid selling home-made ice candy during summer breaks. From that experience which I truly enjoyed, once I was able to get a job in sales in the early part of my career I continued to build my sales career over the last three decades. I’ve worked in sales for both local and multinational companies, as well as here in the Philippines and abroad.
As everyone in sales knows, it can be a very exciting and exhilarating career and yet high-pressure and stressful at times. It’s not for everybody. But if you love what you are doing and it’s your passion, you will stick with it no matter what challenges you face. I guess that’s why I’ve been in sales this long.
Doreen: What factors contributed to your longevity and success in your sales career?
I would say the most important factor in sustaining a career in sales is personal resilience. There will be many ups and downs, but the key is mastering how to pick yourself up when times are challenging. Successful sales careers are not only built on the highs, but also the strong foundations solidified by the lows that strengthen you and prepare you for the challenges ahead.
This is, by the way, how one can succeed in life over the long-term, and not just in sales. One needs to consistently muster enough strength to go through the many difficulties and find their way back on the right track when things go wrong.
For this to happen, one needs to do a couple of things.
First, trust yourself.
Second, have faith in God.
Third and most importantly, you need to put in the effort and work towards your goal persistently no matter what.
Keep getting better at what you do and study other people who are successful in your chosen field and learn from them. Constantly strive to become better at your craft: read relevant material or watch helpful videos. Because if you’re not constantly learning and not getting better every single day, you might easily give up when problems arise.
Doreen: What advice or tip can you give on how to influence others or sell ideas?
When you reflect and think about people or companies you bought from in the past, one of the things that you must have considered before your purchase is their credibility.
You need to have a good reputation and be someone who is looked at as trustworthy. Selling is also about trust. People need to trust you before you can influence them to buy something from you.
It’s not easy to reach that level of credibility, so in many instances, you need to build a relationship with someone first before you sell them a product or an idea.
Build a relationship and build trust before you ask for a sale.
Doreen: What do you think are practical tips to become a better salesperson or influencer?
I would focus on three things.
One is: “Never get too high, nor too low”
Allow me to explain.
A sales career is like a rollercoaster of highs and lows. When you’re at the top of your game and hitting your targets, incentives and winning awards left and right, it can get intoxicating. Try not to let it get into your head because success, like anything else, is fleeting. Once you let success get the better of you and you become arrogant, that will be the start of your downfall.
On the flip side, there will be failures along the way as well. Try not to get depressed when times are bad. At the end of the day, it’s part of the game and there will always be an opportunity to bounce back. So, try to be levelheaded and constant in terms of mindset along the way. Celebrate success but stay humble. Learn from mistakes and bounce back better and stronger the next time around. These will help you succeed in your career over the long term.
Secondly, nothing beats overpreparation. Study your product or service thoroughly and be an expert on what you are selling. Research and know your target customers by heart and know how certain specifications or benefits of your product or service can solve their pain points and their needs.
Anticipate and prepare for all possible questions or challenges your client or buyer may have, as this will surely come in handy during your negotiations or sales pitch. You need to be able to answer the relevant questions about what you are offering and be credible in their eyes.
Lastly, you need to develop a long-term business relationship. The most successful salespeople are those who are able to build repeat business with customers over time. You also need to ensure you have good follow-through and after-sales service. The sale does not end when your customer buys. They need to be satisfied using your product or service. Once they are satisfied, then they will have no reason to try your competition.
Credibility builds trust.
Trust builds loyalty.