This post has been inspired by Ben Shute, who wrote about the Holy Trinity of Procurement Skills.
The profession of selling requires a whole range of capabilities.
It’s hard to know where to begin to define the 3 core elements for sales – the Holy Trinity of Selling.
Let’s start with the master categories of Knowledge, Skills and Mindset from Barrett’s Sales Competency Dictionary.
What do a salesperson and sales leader need to know?
Here are some examples:
- Market, customer and competitor knowledge
- Product, technical and domain knowledge
- Broader business perspective, business acumen and systems knowledge
Skills and Capabilities
There are so many, so where to start? Here are some examples:
- Strategic thinking, action and planning
- Sales, territory and account planning
- New business development and prospecting
- Solution selling skills and processes
- Networking, social media
- Pipeline management, sales forecasting
Plus being able to operate like this:
- Analyst, consultant, advisor
- Listener, problem identifier and solver, solutions crafter
- Educator, coach, facilitator
- Networker, diplomat, negotiator, financial manager
Mindset & Ethics
Selling is definitely a test of character. The ability to get yourself out there in front of prospective and existing clients to find and ignite opportunities on a daily basis requires determination, resilience, and courage. Staying open minded, being curious, exploring possible opportunities and working in collaboration are essential. Also being able to sell ethically and honourably, and seeking a fair exchange of value between buyer and seller is key, especially in the face of potential corruption. So mindset qualities would include:
- Ethics, integrity and professionalism
- Collaborating to achieve results
- Empathy and understanding
- Resilience, Optimism and Future Mindedness
- Tenacity and Achievement focused
- Discernment, self-development and reflection
The Holy Trinity of Selling
Looking at all these elements and trying to sum them up into the Holy Trinity of Selling, these three core categories emerge:
Life is all about opportunity. The opportunity to be adventurous, try new things, explore possibilities to make a positive difference, introduce new ideas and innovations, find ways to add value, educate, facilitate, seek to find common ground on which to build a viable relationship. Which leads to Collaboration.
Collaboration is the coming together of people to find common ground for the common good. Collaboration is working together to solve a problem or to achieve a goal. Honesty and Authenticity underpin effective collaboration. Organisations and people who focus on developing sales cultures and practices where engaging in honest and open conversations, creative and innovative thinking, and building authentic relationships based on collaboration know that this is intrinsic to doing good business. They find that authentic collaborative engagement allows sustainable relationships and opportunities to flourish. Just as personal relationships thrive when each person gives something of value, so too, do business connections. By working towards a true and fair exchange of value, both buyer and seller strengthen their connection and achieve better results together. Which leads us to solutions.
At the end of the day, people are seeking viable effective solutions for their situation or circumstances. Relying on someone to deliver the right solutions involves trusting their advice and judgement relative to your situation. Trust* involves three elements: Authenticity, Empathy and Logic. Finding the right solutions involves Discernment, the ability to judge well. This includes the ability to stand up for what is right and being courageous in the face of adversity and ethically compromising situations; this can mean saying ‘no’ to opportunities that do not serve us or our clients or our communities well. Solutions, in this context, also involves systems thinking: As the world gets more complex, leading and managing teams and businesses becomes more challenging. Replace linear thinking with multiple threads and complex variable systems that embrace human beings and their ambiguities, yet still allow for function, adaptation and evolution.
The Holy Trinity of Selling also aligns with the Selling Better Movement’s three core beliefs:
- Everybody lives by selling something = Opportunity
- Selling Better is about a fair exchange of value = Collaboration
- Selling Better is about the long term and sustainability = Solutions
The profession of selling requires a whole range of capabilities but then again, selling is everybody’s business and everybody lives by selling something. In an AI obsessed world, these are very human skills and attributes essential to thrive and survive in the 21st-century world.
Harvard Business School’s definition of Trust*