There are sales fundamentals required for winning in today’s highly competitive market, ranging from basic lessons like: “Do what you say you are going to do” and “If you don’t know, don’t pretend” to core performance skills like asking questions and active listening.
Given the extensive nature of the Book of Knowledge for a salesperson to be competitive in today’s market, why the big fuss about the fundamentals? After all, there are a lot of advanced sales skills and bodies of knowledge requiring attention.
Four reasons stand out:
- Fundamental and simple are not synonymous. It’s true in sports; it’s true in leadership and it’s true in selling. There is nothing simple about the fundamentals. Becoming excellent, which is the standard, requires time, effort, and a bit of humility.
- Frequency matters. It takes a long time and a lot of effort to master any skill. So, it makes great sense to commit to making an investment when the skill in question can be leveraged in all kinds of ways. One of the characteristics of the sales fundamentals is the high frequency of use. Take skills like asking questions or active listening. Regardless of the purpose of the sales call or the person on the other side of the table, these two sales skill sets are a part of the formula for sales success.
- Fundamentals enable advanced skill development. Let’s take another difficult discipline – mathematics. Like sales, the skill sets in mathematics are hierarchical – leaning more advanced skills can only be accomplished after the fundamentals are in place. For example, you can’t learn calculus without trigonometry. In sales, getting good at an advanced skill like negotiation requires being very good at asking questions and the ability to build and maintain customer relationships requires a number of the fundamentals including objection handling.
- Transformational shifts are occurring. In many markets, like healthcare, transformational shifts are occurring in the buying environment. The buying processes involve more group decisions, senior-level involvement, keener competition, and more price pressures making this sale more challenging than ever. To succeed even the most successful salespeople have to adjust and adapt what they do to the new reality. The list of fundamentals doesn’t change but how they are applied do.
We are making a big deal about sales fundamentals because they are more important than ever; they must be applied in more challenging situations and they are pervasive. You need them on every sales call regardless of where you are in the sales process.
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