This week we’re kicking off an interview series we ran with some of Atlantic Canada’s top business leaders. We got the opportunity to speak with some of the top business and leadership experts in the region and pick their brains on how to thrive in the modern business world.
In our first interview, we spoke with Eric Fry, President and Owner of Sandler Training – Maritimes. Eric is an expert on all things sales, and he shared some valuable insights into how anyone (yes, that includes you!) can excel at sales.
What do you think is the biggest misconception around sales?
Too often there is a stigma attached to being in sales…slippery, slick, sketchy etc. Sales is the accidental career. Very few people go to school to become a salesperson yet most professions require some kind of proficiency in sales or business development. Even non-selling professionals such as accountants, lawyers, engineers, project managers all need to speak with clients and prospects to build their practices. Many are completely uncomfortable in doing so, mainly because they don’t have a system for selling.
What is the number one thing that holds people back when it comes to sales?
Too many sales people talk too much. They focus entirely on themselves and their features and benefits rather than the prospect’s problem they are trying to solve. Much of sales is about developing good listening and questioning skills. Our value as a sales professional is not determined by the amount of information we dispense, but rather than amount of information we collect.
Do you believe some people are better suited to sales, or can anyone be a sales person with the right training and motivation?
I believe sales people aren’t born. They are made. With the right training, motivation and plan they develop into true sales professionals. Some assume they are too introverted to be successful in sales. I would completely disagree with this. Introverts are often better listeners and can be highly effective sales professionals once they have a system they can comfortably follow.
What’s the number one tip you would give an individual looking to improve their sales skills?
Follow the 30/70 rule. In a sales meeting, speak 30% of the time and listen 70% of the time. And ask good compelling questions. People like to buy but don’t like being sold to. Focus on the client and their needs, park your features and benefits and have the prospect self-discover they need what you have.
And an organization looking to improve their sales?
Implement a sales system across your organization. Have your sales team speaking the same language and process. This aligns an organization and will lead to more sales and higher margins.
Your company, Sandler Training, has received numerous accolades, including #1 Sales Training Company by Entrepreneur Magazine. What do you attribute to its success?
Sales people know what to do, but typically struggle with how to do it. It’s one thing to say “I need to get more qualified leads in my funnel”, or “I need to stop accepting think-it-over’s from prospects” or “I need to manage my time more effectively”. It’s another to know how to move the needle on any of these without having the tools and processes in place that may not be available. I believe what sets us apart is our approach and training is very practical utilizing tools and strategies that can be implemented immediately. Most of our programs are long term, reinforced learning incorporating practice and role playing to have participants master the material and adapt it to what works for them.
Is there anything you’ve learned about sales that has helped you in other areas of life, such as your personal life?
I used to think I was a great listener until my wife told me I was awful. Much of what is taught in our programs can be used in everyday life. Adapting to various communication styles, asking good questions, demonstrating a variety of body language and tonality techniques are a few examples of how we can improve our personal and professional relationships.
What’s next for you?
We still have a lot of work to do in Atlantic Canada to help professionals in virtually any industry become better versions of themselves both professionally and personally. So I don’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon!
Interested in learning more? Sandler Training is holding an Intensive 2-Day Sales Bootcamp this Wednesday and Thursday. Check out the event for more information!
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