The element of sales most visible to outsiders is the “big win”. The “rainmaker” seemingly works some magic in a presentation, or big meeting and returns home with the sale in the bag.
This often leads to a belief that the crucial element of the sale was that final event. When people look at what the professional or salesperson did, and what skills they have; they focus on the final event. When they then try to reproduce that performance themselves or train and foster it in others they focus again on that final event – on big presentations and “closing”.
Of course, what they miss is all the small things that person did over time to make the sale happen.
Their initial persistence in sending useful material to the potential client to eventually gain a meeting. The ongoing networking at client associations that meant they were well known and trusted by the key decision-makers. The connections they made to third parties who were able to help and advise the client in related areas. The careful listening to differing client perspectives – and the meeting they organised to help them reach consensus on their needs.
None of these steps individually was enough to guarantee the sale – but added together theya situation where the final presentation was simply to confirm what had already been decided.
Effective “salespeople” (and by that I mean anyone responsible for bringing in new clients whether sales is in their job title or not) seem to instinctively know that they need to repeatedly go the extra mile and plug away at these small steps. Day after day, week after week, month after month. It's not glamorous – but over time it's effective.
If you want to reproduce effective sales behaviour it's these seemingly little things you need your team to be able to do. And it's often these things which are the hardest. Presentation and closing skills are so much sexier – and often easier for trainers to focus on than the real sales drivers – the persistent plugging away at all the small steps.