Top tips to succeed in a sales and business development career

Posted on | April 11, 2018 | No Comments

Sales & business development are the engines of growth of any organisation. Which is why, sales professionals are often given the pride of place in most companies- after all, they bring in the ‘moolah’. However, a career in sales is not for the faint-hearted. Even the best sales person hears a lot more ‘No’ than ‘Yes’. Besides excellent knowledge of the product or service being sold, it takes a certain mindset and various soft skills to succeed at sales.

CareerXchange asked Amitava Ghosh, CEO of The Empire Business Centre, Mumbai, who has excelled at a number of senior-level sales roles in diverse industries what it takes to build a successful sales and business development career. He shares some valuable tips, based on his personal experiences. Edited excerpts from the interview are featured here.

What makes sales & business development such an exciting career?
Amitava: The most exciting thing about a career in sales is the fact that you are the most visible “brand ambassador” of the organisation. It is gratifying that the organisation also looks up to the sales professional for inputs on product, pricing, strategy and positioning. There is the innate thrill of success upon closing a sales deal, which is readily measurable and gets attributed to the individual.

The other big plus is that your work takes you to different markets and meet different people. There is a constant throb and “life” to what you are doing. A sales person also develops and improves decision making, communication and empathy as additional skills as they go along their career.

What are the essential skills that a person must possess to succeed in a sales role?
Amitava: I think the most important attribute is to be relentless. A self-motivated individual who faces every day with a great level of positivity and belief is likely to succeed. To do well in sales, it is critical to have a strong mind, show grit and resilience.

Beyond this, you should be good with numbers and have analytical skills, be an effortless communicator and possess a pleasant persona. Patience is a great virtue to possess in sales.

Contrary to what many people perceive, good sales people have the ability to deep-dive into a subject. In an enterprise or institutional sales situation, you have various stake holders to deal with and the sales professional has to understand the needs and wants of the different stakeholders.

What personality attributes must a person develop to do well in sales?
Amitava: Being an optimist and a social person is an absolute plus. If you are well aware of current topical discussions, have an opinion and are able to build an exciting conversation, it is an added advantage. The general awareness acts as great ice-breakers and conversation starters, which is often how many sales deals start.

An important aspect- though oft-repeated and obvious- is the willingness to persistently pursue and ask for a sale.

How differently should a sales person approach a product sale vis-a-vis a service or concept sale?
Amitava: In concept sales, you need to ask far more questions to understand the need and then build the story from there on, always keeping in mind what you heard. In product sales, it is a bit of a mixed approach, you need to do the bulk of speaking to start with and invite the other party into a conversation. In the latter, you get benchmarked easily while in concept sales, you can keep building value. A product sale often has a shorter sales-cycle i.e. you get the answer a lot faster.

10 To Do’s in sales

> Ask questions

> Spend as much time as you can in understanding the prospect

> Be bold to quote a price

> Prepare adequately with background study

> Find common areas of discussion

> Earn trust

> Ask for the sale

> Listen to objections

> Be formal unless you are sure and have struck a personal bond

> Be ready to negotiate. Leave a way to come back.

… And some Dont’s!

> Do not rush

> Do not undervalue any stakeholder

> Do not be too loud and do not be soft

> Do not over do the push!

Amitava Ghosh, CEO, The Empire Business CentreAmitava Ghosh has almost 25 years of sales and business development experience across multiple sectors including hospitality, online media, consumer financial services, and corporate services. Immediately prior to joining The Empire Business Centre, a provider of private office rentals and virtual offices, he was the Chief Marketing Officer at Newbridge Business Centres in Bengaluru.


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