Updated: Jan 10, 2019
No! Is the simple answer.
Prior to working in the City for a VC-funded start-up wanting to break into the UK market I believed you needed to be an extrovert: loud, crazy and funny; anything to get that sale through.
Having moved from technical support to sales, I wanted to be loud, have fun and get paid for it, so I made the decision to move from technical support and had my first official sales interview that lasted over 2 hours.
The MD at the time was impressed with me and my experience; we clicked. It went so well that we went from the meeting room to lunch with the CFO. It was a good fit.
I was then on the sales floor with about half a dozen experienced sales guys. Not having any formal training it was nerve-wracking. I had a flash new title “Business Development Manager”, yet I didn’t know what to expect, let alone that I would be picking up the phone and calling complete strangers. Maybe I was naïve at the time; my expectation was literally to go out and meet customers (I didn’t take into consideration that I would need to cold call and first find the client).
Long story short, I had to observe my peers and learn how to get appointments before I could arrange face-to-face meetings and sell.
Everyone had his/her own technique which made it difficult to pick up plus the rejection rate was pretty high. Eventually, I began to book in appointments. I also introduced cross-selling, as I could immediately see the value and opportunity for myself to earn.
Moving forward, I worked for an Information Security Consultancy, which changed everything. I was already pretty good at sales and getting commitments from prospects, yet, change was afoot. I was instructed to change my vocab(ulary), with which I was not comfortable. “If it works, why fix it?”
Then came the #gameChanger – ask questions and listen! My commercial sales director was neither loud nor crazy but reserved, well-mannered and tempered. *during my time in sales I found some of the quieter and more experienced sales professionals had zero substance to their character. Other than his/her ability to ask great questions and start conversations, it became apparent that he/she lacked personality. I do not mean this in a negative way; it's a case in point that you don't need to be an extrovert to be good at sales. They were incredibly good at asking questions, positioning and selling.
This approach to sales and cold calling changed everything; I began to have numerous conversations with a greater conversion rate of high-value solutions and services being offered.
The Takeaway - Stop talking and start listening!
Other than train the other #officeMonkey I was learning of a different approach to sales; one that I would eventually merge with my City sales experience and bring with me to Asia.
Author: Oliver Reade | Founder and Managing Director