Arts and Entertainment

‘Learners are earners’


Aug 21, 2017-

Growth Leadership Academy, a venture by Growth Sellers, organised the second iteration of Sales Summit (2017) in the Capital on Friday. The summit, which was organised with the theme ‘Enhance selling skills within you’, focused on arming sales professionals with skill sets that increase their productivity and efficacy. The event also saw international keynote speaker Tom Abbott talk about sales optimisation and management mastery. Abbott runs AMC NPO Solutions, a firm that specialises in providing consultancy services to not-for-profit and public sector organisations. He has been a motivational speaker for past 18 years and has delivered hundreds of motivational sales keynotes, kickoffs, presentations and workshops in over a dozen countries throughout  in the Asia-Pacific region. 

In this interview with the Post’s Alisha Sijapati, Abbott talks about the evolution of sales management and shares some of his tips to becoming a better salesperson. Excerpts: 

Can you tell us about your corporate journey? How did end up becoming a motivational speaker? 

I was introduced to business at a very young age. My parents worked as management consultants in various non-profit organisations. My father started his own company in 1988, when I was 15. Then on, I was introduced to entrepreneurship, business, sales and eventually understood how to run a family business. As a young teenager, I learned about business scenarios by sending e-mails, slowly talking to clients and becoming comfortable in selling situations. From early on, I was always curious about human behaviour—what motivates people, how to influence and how to persuade. I used to teach at a college in Vancouver and side-by-side also gave coaching classes to people. When I started coaching, I started with 10 people and my recent training in Jakarta had 10,000 people. I am proud that I have come this far. 

What made you join Sales Summit 2017?

This is an exciting period. Eight years ago, we moved from Vancouver, Canada to Singapore because we saw some great business opportunities in Asia. I want to bring in my experience and approach here and help the people. Since I moved to Singapore, I have been travelling constantly to various countries in Asia to conduct trainings and workshops to share my experience in sales so that I can help entrepreneurs, business people and sales professionals reach the level they want to be in and understand what is going on in the larger world. There is no point in bringing the western worldview to Nepal but I tried to bring in western perspectives in an Asian context so that it is relatable in the Nepali business context too. 

What attributes do high-achieving sales people have?

I have come up with an acronym, SELLING: Solution focused, Ethical, Learning, Listening, Industrious, Neighbourly and Goal Oriented. These are the seven keys for employees, especially those in the sales team, to abide by. To succeed in sales, one always has to be solution focused, not problem focused. They need to be ethical. Many sales people have a bad reputation for not being ethical. They over-promise and under-deliver. However, to change that perspective, they need to flip it to over-delivery and under-promise. You need to learn to manage expectations. Be honest, fair and truthful to yourself and customers—this builds trust—which leads to more sales. The other point is that employees need to be ‘learners’. They need to think about how can they communicate, negotiate and manage time effectively. Learners are earners. The more you learn, the more you earn. The other important factor is that they need to be great listeners—we were born with two ears and a mouth, so we should be listening more than we talk. Listen to the challenges and questions thrown at you, let them sink in and then help people with a solution. We also have to be industrious, hardworking, diligent, and persistent. N stands for neighbourly, friendly, outgoing, and thoughtful. If you are successful with these characteristics, you’ll get more deals from your customers. Lastly, be goal-oriented, keep to your target—great sales people always focus on their goals. 

Customer service is paramount to any businesses and selling well is not an easy skill to master. How can salespersons or an organisation work fowards retaining their customers?

There are three parts to customer service: marketing, sales and customers. For me, sales isn’t just about customer service. Marketing brings people to your business. Sales has the customers paying and leaving but good service during sales might have them coming back. When I deliver trainings and workshops on sales, I focus most on attitude. You may have all the skills in the world, but if you don’t have the right mindset, you’ll never overcome any challenges. You always need to have a great prospect strategy. How do you consistently reach a large number of target audiences? How do you generate leads? How do you stand apart from the others? How can customers think of them differently to other brands? What makes them stand apart? 

What kind of skill sets are required to lead a sales team?

Many people believe that sales heads need to be great sales people but that not’s true. It’s completely false. A sales head and a sales person require completely different skills. You can be a great sales person but a horrible leader. One of my favourite sales person once told me, ‘I am a horrible sales person. I can’t sell but I understand sales people, agents, clients and the important tools they need.’ I completely resonate with him and believe that that is a mark of a true leader. 

What are your management mantras? 

Lead by example. Motivate people. You have to be a good leader and set an example. Never put your sales team in a situation, where you wouldn’t put yourself in. You have to lead by example. You need to be collaborative and understand what will keep them engaged. These are the keys of successful management.

What advice do you have for young graduates looking to take up a career in sales?

If you’re leaving university, don’t stop learning; don’t feel like it’s done. You have just started your journey. Like I said before, learners are earners. Buy books related to sales. Go to workshops, read articles. Learn more.  

Published: 21-08-2017 09:00

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