2+ of articles published
Words Crafter / Idea Explorer / Insightful Critic
Current role in the industry:
Vice President - Product Growth Head at Imarticus Learning
Master's degree in International Business from Grenoble Ecole de Management,Masters in International Business from Management Development Institute of Singapore
Training and Development (HR)
Parth Sanghvi is the Vertical Head of Inside Sales at UpGrad. He has previously worked with the Keys Hotel Corporate Office and the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Mumbai. He holds a Masters in International Business from Grenoble Ecole De Management and a Bachelor's Degree in Hospitality & Hotel Administration from the Institute of Hotel Management, Mumbai.
Must-have Skills at Different Stages of a Sales Career
Is a Sales profession your dream career? Do you want to be a Sales Mogul? If yes, then this article is a must-read for you. The highly competitive business segment that offers a high salary and commissions along with a jazzy job title such as Manager of Happiness, Sales Ninja, Master of Business Opportunities, etc. attracts young blood into the sales career. Of course, the offline executive dinners/parties are the icing on the cake for a budding sales professional to seek, in the future of his or her career. So, what does a salesperson do? What is the anatomy or the dissection of the personality of an exceptional sales professional? More than just selling a pitch, a sales professional or a sales pro is a brand representation in the market. Beyond just selling the products or services, the efforts of a sales professional must impact the business in the global markets. A sales pro or a sales superstar must be self-driven, innovative, responsible, highly energetic and have a clear ownership to persistently seek the audiences’ needs and match it to the solutions/products offered by the business. An Optimum Approach to Find a Happy Customer Types of Sales There are different types of sales that take place in the market, depending on the different requirements and business ecosystem. Some are direct sales, indirect sales (B2B and B2C), enterprise sales, agency-based sales, and door-to-door sales. Agency based sales involve sales outsourcing, transaction sales, relationship sales, consultative sales and consumer sales. Every sales pitch needs a different outlook and approach to generate potential business leads. Every type of sale has a common trait required of a sales professional. As a salesperson grows in the career ladder, they must gain the necessary knowledge, skill sets and hone their personality accordingly to succeed. Each type of sale requires different techniques. The salesperson must understand their kind of target market and accordingly approach the same. There are different types of selling involved, such as- Transactional Partnership Solution Consultative Provocative High- Pressure Collaborative Social. The salesperson must customise their pitch while interacting with their customers. It should look different from a robotic speech one has asked to make. If one did not customise their sales pitch, they would not be able to convey why their product or service would be helpful for the customers. Some techniques in sales that work tremendously are mentioned below- Pre- Schedule the call Confident and strong call opening Listen and Speak Captivating presentation Study the pain points and accordingly lead the pitch Check for customer’s interest Handle the customer’s apprehension or doubts with grace Suggest the relevant product or service Close the call on a positive perspective. Keep strong follow up One thing to be mindful of is to take up one technique at a time or else the conversation might not go anywhere. The Sales Career Ladder Before digging deep into the essential skills needed for a sales professional, here is the overview of a sales professional career ladder. The Lower-level Management: Sales Executive and Senior Sales Executive. The Middle-level Management: Sales Team Lead, Branch Sales Manager and Regional Sales Manager. The Top-level Management: Deputy General Manager/Director Sales, AVP Sales, Vice-President Sales and Sales Director. These are the standard hierarchies applicable irrespective of the industry. However, these are subject to variations as per the company’s policy and organisational structure. The Essential Skills Needed at Every Stage of a Sales Career Some people may claim that they have it in their DNA. But, ask an established sales tycoon about the struggle up the ladder, and one shall know what’s in it to achieve their dreams in a sales field. So, as you scroll down, I have classified essential skills as per the common requirements at every stage of the sales career. The Lower-level Management Sales Executive and Senior Sales Executive A sales executive is usually a fresher or a newbie in the field. The roles and responsibilities of the sales executive often include acting as a simple counsellor, customer service representative (online or offline) or stepping into multiple other roles of his or her level. In simple terms, a sales executive promotes the product or service to the consumers and negotiates extensively – to make a sale. A sales executive is the key person who directly comes in touch with the customers, answering their queries, offering advice and introducing new products in the market. Some of the main skills required of an executive are confidence, maturity, perseverance, patience, interpersonal skills, IT skills and numerical skills along with commercial awareness and knowledge of the market. Data tracking and analysis is one of the main skill sets needed since sales is a number driven department. Once proven a sales champion, the career grows and senior sales executive position comes into the picture. As a senior sales executive, one must build the business by identifying and selling prospects along with maintaining a healthy relationship with clients. One has to ensure the sales targets are accomplished on a consistent basis and offer to deliver solutions to the consumers technical and non-technical problems. Teaching and guiding the team through expertise achieved from the experience of being a sales executive. They must handle both the members of the team and also face the clients. Some must have skills are presentation skills, client relationships, emphasizing excellence, energy level, negotiation, prospecting skills, meeting sales goals, creativity to make a persuasive pitch, sales planning, team building/leading and self-motivation for sales. Minimum eligibility requirements for Sales Executive- Atleast high school diploma or graduation. Generally there is no requirement of formal education. Rather there is high requirements for skill sets. Top companies that hire for sales executive- HDFC AMC Amazon Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Genpact Vodafone The salary of the sales executive vary according to the location, experience, company, skill sets and more. As one grows in their role, they stand a chance of earning higher pay package. Moreover, the professionals enjoy benefits such as bonuses, profits, commission and more. Understanding and Conducting a Market Research like Experts The Middle-level Management Sales Team Lead, Branch Sales Manager and Regional Sales Manager. Crawling into the middle-level management is a success in itself because it takes lots of labour and sweat to struggle through the first phase of the sales career. By now, one has mastered the art of understanding the products or service of the business and make a sales pitch which augments the revenue of the business. But, the roles and responsibilities in the middle-level management are different. Of course, it’s time to showcase the already honed skills and also learn/develop new skill sets to thrive in the middle-level management. A sales team lead is a representative of the sales executives who toil to get the sales happen. They speak for the team and directly account for the happenings to the sales manager or the branch sales manager. As a sales team lead, they have to give proper and accurate directions of the team objectives and targets and surpass the expectations of the customers as well as the business. An eye for sales opportunity is needed to stay alert – always. They must ensure that the team attends to the customers’ requirements promptly. A sales team lead has more conversations with the team and upper management than customers. The willingness to have and lead tough conversations with a positive attitude as well as exceptional communication skills is a must. The ability to analyse and interpret the sales data and identify the problem and improvement areas is a core role of a sales team-lead. Mentoring the sales professionals to be the future leaders is one of the skills which is visionary of a leader. An eye to look for talent, recognise and encourage the good work of the sales executives is a skill that every leader needs to develop to offer the best in class services for the company. Being a sales manager or a regional manager is more or less the same, with just the differentiation in the territory. With respect to IT, it is mostly the number of teams and geographic locations that one is about to handle. As a sales manager, it is important to set a vision for the team and implement a process that drives to achieve the sales targets. It is important for a sales manager to coach and mentor team leaders, track the sales metrics and improvement performance plans – while offering the best cost-effective results for the business. A sales manager is expected to possess analysis skills, sense of strategic planning abilities, collaboration and negotiation skills, delegation skills, and certainly strong communication and interpersonal skills. Great sales managers, whether they represent a small branch of the organisation or a geographic location (regional manager), must be thoughtful and strategic in their actions. They must always showcase inspiration, enthusiasm and credibility in their words as well as actions. Yes, undoubtedly stay calm under pressure. The journey in the middle-level management is a roller-coaster ride. One must be open to always explore the adventures and seek criticism to grow into a great sales leader and manager. Because the journey ahead into the upper-management is going to be tough and would require more strategic and analytical acumen. Skills required from Middle- Level Managemnent Technical expertise Product/ Service expertise Analytical Problme- Solving Team Management Collaboration Stakeholder management Strategy creation Decision making Data handling Training Resource management Active listening Compassion Empathy Job roles available in sales for the mid- level management- Assistant Manager Manager Senior Manager Regional Manager National Manager Territory Manager Key Accounts Manager Top companies that hire for Sales professionals for mid level management positions- Swiggy MonsterEnergy CocaCola Adidas Airbnb Bharti Airtel TCS The salary for mid level managers in Sales vary according to various factors such as geography, seniority in the company, experience, upskill history, projects undertaken and more. This is how to grow in sales career with right skill aptitiude and hard work. The Ultimate Sales and Marketing Resource Guide The Top-level Management Deputy General Manager/Director Sales, Assistant Vice-President Sales, Vice-President Sales and Sales Director It takes more than fifteen to eighteen years to get to this level. The path in this ladder is filled with hurdles. However, coming to the top-level management gives the sales professionals a different dimension and outlook to the business perspectives. The designations would differ and also the specific roles and responsibilities might differ as they grow up the ladder in the top-level management. Having said that, the skill sets required to excel and shine in this level of management are more or less the same for every designation. As the leaders move up the ladder, some of the competencies become more critical. From being able to drive results, to have a strategic perspective for the business, senior executives need to be creative as well as critical in their thoughts which would enable the business to seek better return on investment. The business skills of the senior executive sales leaders set apart the performance and image of the organisation. These leaders must showcase the peak in key leadership skills such as strategic planning, decision making, execution and drive for results. At the same time, they must be quite expert in nuanced persuasion skills like sales, presentation, influence and political savviness. Sales professionals who opt to climb up to this level, most often show a much stronger desire for growth, greater willingness to take on more responsibility, leadership potential, and a stronger desire for change, commitment and stimulation. Sales professionals of this stature are innovative, possess compelling confidence, own adaptability nature, and are healthier at dealing with stress. These ‘managers of managers of managers’ demonstrate phenomenal collaborative and communication skills. At this level, sales experts are more of a planner than an executioner. The subtle skills of negotiation with diplomacy and political savviness to design a remarkable strategy are mandatory. The difference between the internal sales professionals lies in the critical leadership skills – makes or breaks the career of an individual, after years of turmoil through up the ladder. Do You Really Need an Offline MBA to Become a Great Manager Few years into the sales field, most individuals have questions such as, ‘What can I do to get ahead? How do I move forward to become a sales expert? How do I differentiate myself from the competitors?’ and many more similar questions. The market research studies have revealed that buyers choose sellers who are professional in their conversations and actions, demonstrate credibility, who have brilliant listening skills and are trustworthy. This is a cut-throat profession which is competitive and vicious in nature. Thanks to the technology, the consumers today are more intelligent than ever. As the buyers become more tech-savvier and products and services become more commercialised, sales professionals and all the sellers are looking to grab the best piece of the cake as fast as possible. From the beginning, all sales professionals must think like as they own the business. This means they educate the potential customers with new ideas and perspectives, collaborate and demonstrate a high return on investment, help prospects to cross the hurdles and solve their problems. All sales professionals must exhibit business acumen. This means they must show their ability to understand the complex business needs and issues; view and act strategically. They must forecast and plan ahead, make wiser decisions and effectively use the resources to its maximum potential for the benefit of the organisation. Get an Edge in your Management Career: UpGrad and IMT Ghaziabad Remember, beyond the educational degree certificate, there is practically a lot to learn from scratch as one steps into the field. Today, business organisations recruit sales professionals who have the basic knowledge of marketing and are open to working in collaboration with the marketing professionals. As the sales profession is evolving every day, professionals in this industry must be open-minded to always learn new skills and hone their existing skills to stay on the podium and become a sales tycoon. Some of the skill sets required from Senior- Level Management- Strategy making Decision-making Goal creation Customer identification Sales and account management Leadership Motivation Hiring and recruiting skills Analytical Data handling Organisational skills Budget Management Resource Management Job roles available in the senior-sales management- Director Board of Directors CEO of Sales Vice President of Sales President of Sales Chairman Senior Manager The career growth in sales is high, the professionals must invest their efforts in gaining experience and honing their skills. With higher aptitude comes great responsibility. Learn MBA Courses from the World’s top Universities. Earn Masters, Executive PGP, or Advanced Certificate Programs to fast-track your career.
13 Nov 2022
Sales 101: An Optimum Approach to Find a Happy Customer
Every organisation today which has a revenue stream puts various sales processes in place. This article highlights a generic sales approach and identifies various points used to leverage and optimise the sales processes. Sales teams thrive on – and perform only when there is a sense of agility/ownership/responsibility/delivery. “Hunting down” leads while they’re hot is the best, if not the only time you will be able to convert them into paid and eventually – happy customers. Channels Online The digital industry is growing rapidly. Every organisation has started banking on digital channels to scale revenue. Facebook plays a big role in digital marketing – however, it can turn out to be an expensive channel to scale. Facebook campaigns take time to stabilise and optimise, which could hinder revenue growth. Google Search is a great channel for sales since you have leads searching for your respective company/product and coming into the funnel with a strong interest level. LinkedIn has been tried/tested by multiple organisations and has been deemed to have various protocols in place which end up being very expensive to bring in your target group. Offline Since digital channels depend on algorithms and have various bids in place – which make them expensive or tough to scale, offline channels play a key role in bringing leads to chip in/make up for a bigger top funnel. Offline events/offline marketing/offline workshops tend to push interest towards the organisation website or help create a strong database. In some cases, organisations might have an Offline Sales Team which deals with leads face to face, especially. Organic Organic channels are always the most brilliant. Any branding activity/blogs/emailers/old customers drive organic leads to the top funnel. Since this channel tends to have the highest conversion at close to no marketing dollar spends – It is important to constantly have a content marketing strategy in place/branding activities on a regular basis/sending any other low cost or zero cost communication out frequently. Do You Really Need an Offline MBA to Become a Great Manager Communication Telephone Landlines and mobile phones are the most widely used communication devices in sales. I have come across various challenges via a landline. In recent times, we probably ignore calls received from landlines thinking it’s a wrong number or someone random is calling to enlighten us about the latest product you’re losing out on. Mobile phones get a higher connect rate and are a good solution to this problem. It is also very important to ensure your call to connected or interacted rate is anywhere between 40%-60% to build a good funnel of interested leads. Email Emailing is one of the most, if not the most important channels. Ability to track inbound emails, open rates of sent emails, links clicked within the emails – help the sales team prioritise leads and reach out to them at the earliest via mobile phone to capitalise on the fresh knowledge (Customer) and inbound knowledge (Sales) gained via email communication. WhatsApp Close to 20% of the world’s population uses WhatsApp. It is a great channel which helps identify whether the lead is genuinely interested in the product. A good example is – Using a telephone/mobile to call a lead who has shown interest in your product. While following up with the prospect, he stops responding after multiple follow-ups. Sending a well crafted and drafted WhatsApp message to him increases your chances of getting through. It also gives you a good sense of whether the prospect is going to be moving forward in his product purchase. “Blue ticks” always play a key role! SMS Sending bulk SMS during a sales cycle to fresh leads as well as an existing lead base adds a big bonus to the top funnel. It tends to re-activate old/organic leads regularly. Agility TAT Being from a Hospitality and Hotel Management background, I’ve come to realise that Turn Around Time (TAT) is one of the strongest methods used to impress your customer. It is imperative to respond to emails within a few minutes, especially during work hours. As I was taught at the The Grand Hyatt – An inbound call should always be answered within two rings. You should always respond to a chat or message at the earliest. The chances of developing a good/strong relationship with the customer via this “5 Star Service” is very high. Imagine calling your bank or network provider and having a human voice which is capable and powerful enough to sort out your queries – answers your call within 5 seconds, in turn giving you closure with a satisfying answer/solution. Lead Cycle A lead cycle can be anywhere between a few hours all the way to a few months. Data has given me a learning – most leads tend to convert within 2 weeks of coming into the funnel, maximum being within 7 days while they’re absolutely ‘hot’. It is hence, important to device an apt duration for the lead cycle which addresses the best methods to leverage high conversions. Get an Edge in your Management Career: UpGrad and IMT Ghaziabad Optimisation Clean up It is important to constantly clean up data points and update them with the latest or most optimum knowledge areas. Data fields on a CRM can always be revamped/updated/cleaned/optimised to pull out the most accurate and convenient data there is – which you eventually share with your marketing counterpart to help drive a better funnel. Revisit Revisiting old and dormant leads is always a must. If 60-70% of your lead base converts within 2 weeks. That also enlightens us about the fact that there is a vast chunk of leads who either take long to convert or don’t convert at all. Revisiting these old leads during a new sales cycle not only adds to the sales funnel but also makes up for any gap in the number of leads not being delivered by marketing due to various concerns. These leads add to the revenue and bring down the Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) by a considerable percentage. Revisiting old leads also makes up for leads who will not convert in your fresh cycle and convert in the next. It’s a never-ending loop. Nurturing Nurturing leads is the most important sales activity. Offline workshops/events or blogs/information sessions/Facebook Live sessions to highlight the various strong points or offerings of your product helps develop some interest within a lead. The lead also gets to interact with the organisation and its employees which helps develop a stronger relationship with different stakeholders of the organisation. Nurturing via phone is always a good call, pun intended. You should make it a point to constantly be in touch with your customer to be able to develop a comfortable relationship which eventually leads to them converting. This nurturing period also might ignite a friendly relationship which is categorised between formal and informal – “Hi XYZ! Hope you’re feeling better now. I trust that your fever has settled and you’d be able to take a few minutes out of your chores to complete a transaction via the online gateway. It’s just like buying something on Amazon or Flipkart” – Always works. Referrals There’s nothing better than a happy customer, or a customer who is impressed by his experience or interactions with your organisation. Referrals are the best form of increasing your footprint, not just digitally, but also word of mouth. The more your referral numbers are within a sales cycle – the more you know your organisation is making moves. Referrals come organically, but it is highly required of the sales teams to be able to push hard for leads/customers/users to be able to refer the product and bring in more interest at the top funnel. Conversions from referrals are always high – but converting anything below 50% of your referrals to a paid customer might give you a sense that your sales/marketing process might need a bit of a more aggressive approach. Channel wise distribution/Conversion Constantly adapting and revamping your sales process gives you a new outlook or perspective. Whenever sales numbers become stagnant or start to drop, this activity must be initiated to be able to add a new touch to build up a funnel or increase conversions – which, if done religiously, can help you reach your target. Channel wise lead assignment and tracking the conversions across your team can help you get a firm sense of which channel can perform best – and then scale. When historic data has proven to have Google Search as your highest converter, revisiting all the Google Search leads wouldn’t harm the best of you. Sales Tools Carrots and sales tools which help convert leads are a plus. Discounts/info-sessions, even gifts like iPads/Vouchers/Company reimbursements/et al. always help convert leads. India, as a market – loves discounts. However, if you don’t have the advantage of offering discounts – the best way forward is to ensure every channel is targeted with a nurturing activity. Throwing in a couple of additional product offerings could give the lead an extra push. Automation A lot of manual tracking/analysis/data pulling is required during a sales cycle. To decrease the workload of your teams, it is imperative to identify any processes or policies which can be automated, to ensure a faster TAT and make it more seamless via online tracking. Automated calling systems, CRM updates, chat messages, documentation related processes always help the teams focus on using their skills/expertise to drive a more systematic approach and increase their conversions. Conversions can always better until they’re 100%. Recordings Recording your calls and constantly listening to yourself/teammates warrants higher conversions, provided the steps of identifying loopholes/problems with a revised/refined sales pitch on a constant basis – is implemented. Data points Analysis/tracking/sharing This is one of the most important parts of your daily tasks. A sales team must constantly track data, analyse the data points – and eventually share it with the marketing team – who can then optimise digital channels or work on offline channels to scale. This could be anything from sharing all leads’ information who are completely disinterested all the way to sharing all customers’ information who have paid for the product – to be able to scale the channels which clearly work – and decrease marketing dollars on the ones that don’t. Lead to paid%, registered to paid%, applied to paid%, attended to paid% and various other metrics should be at the tip of your tongue. Closure Bringing in leads, nurturing them, developing interest, driving a strong customer relationship, meeting them in person, connecting the lead to someone with authority or someone who has designed your product – tends to work charms. However, it becomes rather odd and tough, if you don’t have the ability to “close” that lead and convert him or her into a paid customer. If you tend to see interest going up the funnel, capitalisation must be done on priority. For example, a lead submitting details, having a good call, attending your workshops, speaking to your product teams and not converting – could be a major concern. Several urgency points can be used such as the last date for workshop registrations, last day to avail products, et al. help drive the customer to take an informed decision faster – instead of delaying it and not paying eventually. It takes a good salesman’s eye to gauge a lead’s interest and either convert ASAP, move on to your next. The Ultimate Sales and Marketing Resource Guide As a Salesman, we must always believe that TAT, more number of calls, more surface area covered in terms of leads and reach outs will always lead to more revenue. Of course, the biggest player in all of this is motivation – you must be constantly motivated during sales and especially even more motivated when sales isn’t working. There’s nothing that drives confidence better than a strong motivational push, to pull up a slow sales cycle. Learn MBA Courses from the World’s top Universities. Earn Masters, Executive PGP, or Advanced Certificate Programs to fast-track your career.
11 Apr 2018