Sales make business happen, yet so many of us struggle with the sales process. Getting his start in 1991, Steve Tillie, Directwest’s new vice-president of Sales, has lots to say on the subject. Tillie has sales in his blood, and he has been sharing his skills and knowledge throughout his career with companies such as CIBC, Staples, and Sasktel. He wants people to know—whether you are a team of one, managing a small sales team, or running a large salesforce—that sales is not complicated. It is about knowing your customer and their business, having the solutions they need, and believing in the product or service you’re selling.
“Often, too much time is spent focused on the goal and measures of the outcome of the process,” says Tillie. “However, time spent on the actions, behaviours and effort to reach the goal will lead to better results overall.” Tillie is a believer in thorough, constant coaching to help salespeople reach their potential. It starts with a simple math exercise, breaking down how much time is needed per sales call, how many will end with a sale, and calculating the potential value. After that, it is about giving salespeople the knowledge, skills, and confidence in what they are selling. Then, salespeople take apply the math and make enough contacts to book enough meetings to present their solution to solve their customer’s problem. “Sales is not easy, but it’s not complicated, either,” says Tillie. “It’s a process that takes time to master, because doing the things above require a lot of effort, time, and skill to effectively and efficiently execute. Successful organizations will take the time to work with people to get them performing to the best of their abilities.”
The biggest roadblock for most people in sales is the fear of the word “no.” It prevents people from finishing the work they have started by asking for the sale. “Rejection happens. It is part of sales. However, it shouldn’t be the thing holding you back.” Tillie says that if you are offering a product or service that will legitimately help your customer do better, then asking for the sale should not be something to fear. “As a salesperson, your job is to know your customer’s business and what they need. If what you are selling is good for them, then offering it to them is for their benefit. You have to believe in what you do.”
Tillie also sees how sales and marketing teams need to work together for their mutual benefits. “Good communication is vital between both groups. They have common objectives but can become siloed,” says Tillie. He sees that sales and marketing metrics need to work together. Marketing creates the awareness of the products and services being offered, and sales are the “boots on the ground” taking the product or service to the customer. “The more the two teams can work together to problem solve for the customers who buy, the better.”
Ultimately for Tillie, success in sales boils down to finding the opportunities to solve problems for customers. “That’s what good salespeople do. They see a customer problem, they believe in the solution they are selling, and they bring the two together.