Just recently we needed to expand our sales team. Rather than hiring new employees experienced at sales; we decided to look at our current employees. Why? Well, there are several reasons why it is challenging to attract the right people, that also match our company culture.
But honestly, that is not the reason we did it. It is because we believe selling is about helping your client. And who can better help a client than an experienced consultant?
We believe selling is about helping
Our company is in the business of information management. We provide products and services to help seed companies across the globe get the best out of their information. In practice this means there are no 2 clients alike; every proposition we create is custom made. But there is 1 thing all our propositions have in common; they are always executed by people; our consultants.
Consulting is one, but closing a deal is something else
We found colleagues interested in taking on this challenge. Although we felt all of them had the (natural) skills and talents to do the job, the new “sales” colleagues requested to participate in commercial trainings. Of course we applauded the idea and discussed what learning goals needed covering. We decided to start by organizing a workshop with the whole team; experienced and new sales consultants all together. This enabled us to share knowledge and see where challenges lie. The consensus was; consulting is one, but closing a new deal is something else. You need to develop skills to do this right.
Humble Inquiry helps you to focus on listening
This workshop was great for several reasons. Most importantly it was a great teambuilding experience. We combined the theory of helping and sales with lots of real life role play sessions.
Hilarious sometimes; but most of all an eye opener. Personally I am a big fan of the work of Edgar H. Schein. What we used was mainly his work on the “Humble Inquiry”. This helps you focus on listening. Because that is where genuinely helping starts. Understanding to the finest details what the problem is and its context. I find it to be useful in lots of aspects in life. The big take away from the workshop in my eyes was the realization that we are all already very much skilled in helping. I believe this confirms the “selection” we did during hiring. Working together in this setting enabled us to consciously apply the natural skills most of us already possess and by doing this, empowering our people to do what they do best. Already we see positive results from this new commercial approach!