The six traits of a successful business leader
What makes a successful business leader? Huthwaite International discusses the six traits required.
The art to the perfect deal has long been debated by business leaders and academics alike. But when it comes to being highly persuasive and winning big, what are the real traits of a successful sales leader? David Freedman, Director of Sales at leading sales and negotiation specialists, Huthwaite International, the team behind the world-famous SPIN® Selling, reveals the key tactics implemented by the world’s most influential sales people.
1. Send the right message
You might have the best product on the market and use all the latest industry jargon to sell, but if you don’t look the part, your sales are likely going to stagnate. Prospects want to do business with a professional, and one’s interpretation of ‘professional’ includes the look. Dishevelled clothing, poorly prepared notes and other indicators of a salesperson in a rush can mean that even the most effective sales persuasion techniques are ignored. It’s also worth noting that high-pressure tactics don’t work nearly as well for long term sales, than a more considered approach that builds on your core values and is centred on trust.
2. Focus on building a rapport
While we are on the topic of trust, it’s essential that you are mindful of the age-old sales saying - ‘people don’t buy products, they buy a person’. Trust is the cornerstone of sales in any market, and the bedrock of all sales persuasion techniques. By building a rapport with your prospects and clients, sales are sure to follow. Nurture leads so if they feel you’re listening to their needs and are willing to make a contribution to their business – they will invest in you as a person.
3. Point out the differentiators
All sales people looking for new persuasion techniques have heard that it’s the sizzle, not the steak, that leads to a deal. The key is understanding that the sizzle is in the differentiators, what makes a product or service better, faster, more desirable than its competition’s? Your task is to identify these ‘sizzles’ and sell based on how this will build and positively impact your prospect’s business. Looking at how you can improve the client’s current service and product and how it will impact on their bottom line is a sure way to secure that deal.
4. Build a sense of urgency
Urgency is one of the most important sales persuasion techniques because it works. However, sales persuasion techniques based on urgency don’t need to involve pressure and clear-cut deadlines to be effective; even implying that a deal that closes before you leave a pitch could somehow be better than a deal that closes next week, can build the urgency needed to make sales in record time without being viewed as pushy, or as referenced earlier ‘desperate’.
5. Lead prospects to a sale
Many sales people use the wrong approach, telling prospects what the sales person believes the prospect wants to hear. Asking persuasive questions can make the prospect decide on a purchase on their own. Questions like ‘Do you need a product that works quickly or a product that takes time?’ are known as double binds, and can be very effective sales persuasion techniques.
6). Ask for the business
Even for top sales people, direct sales persuasion techniques are difficult to master. Psychologically, it is difficult to come out and ask, ‘so when will you take delivery?’ or ‘can I count on your signature?’ Yet a sales person who doesn’t ask these questions when appropriate will see sales slipping through their fingers at the last minute. Master the art of asking for the business, and you will see your sales numbers improve almost overnight.
For more information on business topics in the Middle East and Africa, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief MEA.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.