A Guide to Effective Sales and Communication
Quick tips on how to sell better and get things moving in your organisation.
The art of selling becomes more prevalent and essential as you progress further in your career or expand your business.
When I started as a developer, I only had to sell solutions to my team. After moving onto a consultant role, I had to sell solutions to my team and clients. Now, being in a management role, I find myself constantly having to sell ideas/solutions to my team, partners/vendors, clients, senior management, and other related stakeholders.
Progress through Sales
I used to have the misconception that management does a lot of talking while the analysts contribute more to the progress of projects and get things done. Having gone through the transition, I’ve started to appreciate the art of sales in contributing to progress.
Below are some examples of progress through sales in a business/team:
- Obtain support and buy-in from stakeholders — project proposals and funding requests for new digital initiatives, support from other departments, i.e. branding and marketing, risk assessment, solution implementation, etc.
- Offload priorities and venture into new fields — the nature of a digital lean startup is to explore new, potentially disruptive solutions constantly; frequent handovers are required to release capacity for new innovation and ventures.
- Recruit capable team members for expansion — positioning the team’s initiatives, culture and achievements in the right light to attract potentially suitable candidates. This applies to partner engagements as well.
The above examples are some highlights which I profoundly resonate with at this stage of my career. The list goes on — the point is that almost everything I do emphasises on selling effectively.
Enhance Sales and Communication
In my short experience so far, I have found some general guidelines which have been helpful in communicating an idea across better. A large part of selling involves conveying our intents clearly across to the stakeholders.
Here are three tactics to enhance your sales communication:
- Appeal to interest — in every conversation or email, always put yourself in the shoes of the recipient and ask “What’s in it for me?”; you can explore putting the question as a placeholder text to guide and contextualise your thoughts.
- Use visuals, numbers and examples — charts, tables, and statistics are extremely useful in making your case concrete and “legit” — do your homework and reach out to the relevant parties to obtain numbers. Impression plays a great role in getting buy-ins.
- Keep things short and concise — most important stakeholders are perpetually busy; it’s recommended to begin by going straight to the conclusion/point (address the “What you need from me?” or “What do you suggest?”), and subsequent salient details in point form (limit to about 3). You can include further details and justifications upon request.
Applying the above-mentioned tactics require skills and deliberate practice. You’ll have to constantly put in time and effort in sharpening your sales sword.
I have found these approaches useful in my attempt to get better:
- Write frequently and address the right questions — helps to organise, clarify, and guide your thoughts.
- Seek reviews/feedback iteratively — find someone experienced to review your email or pitch deck drafts to highlight points for improvements.
- Read often and see how others do it — to better present information via charts, etc. you can consider looking at examples of how top consulting firms present research information and sell solutions and ideas to senior stakeholders.
Pitfalls to Avoid
It’s also important to bear in mind some of the pitfalls that could negatively affect your progress. Here are three pitfalls which I have faced throughout my journey so far:
- Fear, procrastination and not learning from feedback — a large part of sales is jumping in with two feet and dance to whatever music is playing. Without taking action, you won’t get feedback, which results in a lack of learning and improvement.
- Ignore the interest of stakeholders — a key challenge is managing and balancing stakeholder’s interest. Often there may be compromises to be made, but it’s ultimately your job as the driver of an initiative to manage the expectations since you’re aware of the big picture. A lack of support from a stakeholder could pose a threat to your objectives.
- Overwhelm someone with information — I realised that when the request is too lengthy, there’s a high chance that it gets ignored and unread; this leads to confusion and the need for reminders and follow-ups, which may prompt further clarification — resulting in unnecessary timeline delays and negatively affecting stakeholder’s interest.
I hope you won’t make the same mistakes I did.
- The ability to sell becomes more vital as you progress your career further and grow your business.
- Take action by practising effective communication and don’t be afraid to seek constant feedback.
- Beware of potential pitfalls that pose a threat to your intentions and timeline.
In perpetual beta—playing at the intersection between digital technology and business.