What’s the key to sales success? What are the secrets of a well functioning sales organisation? In this interview with HUONE, Samuli Suvela (Sam), a senior advisor for sales managers with over 20 years of experience, shares tips and insights. Sam focuses on helping managers to become sales coaches and transformational leaders. His career as a professional consultant actually started accidentally from a golf course.
In this article, you will
- get to know who Samuli (Sam) Suvela is (he’s got an inspirational story!)
- gain concrete tips for yourself as a sales professional
- gain insights about the future of sales
Sam has over 20 years of experience in sales process consulting and sales training for managers and professionals globally. He has, among other titles and diplomas, a master’s degree in leadership, innovation and change, as well as a BBA in quality management. After travelling around the world and leading the sales in Sampo, Nordic insurance group, he took the step to entrepreneurship. Salamander Sales & Strategy was founded in 2008. Up until today Sam has coached over 20,000 people in 38 countries.
How to coach and build a strong functioning sales organisation?
In sales, everything begins with the customer, more specifically, the needs of your customer. The entire team, including the management, should be working towards the common goal. You can never start from the solution, sales materials or about your company, but from the customers’ feelings and customer emotions. Preparation for sales should be based on the desired emotion you want to build for your customer.
Sadly, very often the state of sales management is poor: everyday routines consist of going through sales numbers and the manager stating that you should be selling more. Second unfortunate fact is that the sales team and sales managers are most of the time trained separately.
In Salamander, we provide tools, both for top management all the way to the entire organization. We create a sales DNA together with our clients by combining workshops and in training in action, to ensure everyone is working as a team towards the same goal. The stronger the management, sales team and the entire organization is integrated behind productive sales, the stronger and better are the results.
Understanding is not enough. Training in action is where we try and make it happen.
Our method is all about action training and making real things happen. We work together with our clients on real customer cases, prep and even present in real client meetings. After the meeting, we follow up and analyse together. During the journey, we follow both sales team performance as well as management’s performance.
What tips would you give to a salesperson?
To be prepared. And by this, I do not mean just having the sales slide show ready, but to have your questions and flow thought through. You must think of what emotions you want the customer to have and what is the desired feeling you want to end with. Think about what questions you should ask to achieve these, not just what slides to show.
Remember the emotional journey should not be monotonous, but impactful and build trust. When you are able to connect with the customer emotionally, and create the feeling of trust and caring, you can move forward creating the emotions to the need of desperate change. Like in a good novel, there should be a dramatic arc in the story. We want the customer to make a change, where you can provide a solution.
Be brave to create a strong impact. The stronger the desired feeling is, the more likely there will be a decision.
Ready-made sales templates won’t take you far, because there’s no one-size-fits-all. There can be a base to build on, but every sales case should be built on the customer’s needs. In the sales meeting, you should also be prepared to adjust and react properly to the emotions of your customer. All the customers have different temperaments and it would be completely wrong to start building your sales pitch based on ‘what works welll for me as a sales person’.
I often suggest to the team to think of a reporter who runs into the room and asks your client ‘how do you feel?’ right after you and your client’s meeting. I always encourage the sales team to think of the desired customer emotions; Write down what the customer feels and communicate accordingly. You will automatically say the right things when you are thinking of the desired feelings you want to achieve. At the end of the day, sales are about achieving the right emotions and feelings with the customer.
What tips would you give to a sales manager?
Think of the tools you have and need, because you need a variety of them. Only one quick sales team meeting every week won’t be enough to lead the sales team properly. In order to achieve the desired results, a sales manager needs a ‘gearbox’, a set of tools for different purposes such as one for team meetings, one for coaching and the other for 1-to-1 discussions. Remember to also be part of the preparations, because too many sales managers are just looking at the rearview mirror and not the future. For example, sparring together is a great way to make a difference. Your gearbox should be directed towards the future, because successful sales management is leading the future.
COVID-19 pandemic has affected all industries. How has it been for you as a consultant for sales professionals?
Obviously, the number of in-person trainings have been dramatically reduced and more are happening virtually. In addition, digitalization of sales processes has accelerated quickly. We have been having discussions and sparring with our long-term clients on how to adapt to the new normal as efficiently as possible. Also, all the ‘tools’ in the sales gearbox have been adapted so that they can be utilised virtually, so managing the sales is possible without meeting physically in the office and sales processes will keep on going despite the pandemic and its restrictions.
How do you see the future of sales ?
The market is at a turning point. Many things can be digitised, and will be. The traditional way of ‘on spot’ selling will decrease and sales processes will be faster.
However, not everything cannot be digitalised; for instance, adapting to the client’s changing environment, finding the solution-based outcome, and projects that require humanity and business savvy, will still require a talented salesperson.
The best sales people will achieve even better results because the volume can be increased throughout digitalisation. The trend will be a ‘lead dealer’ type of thinking, where strong networks are essential; which means if you do not have the right solution for your customer, you can suggest a suitable one within your network. This way you will gain the trust of the customer and your network will be promoting you as well.
You have been a loyal customer of HUONE since the very beginning of 2012. What keeps you coming back?😊
Originally, I heard about HUONE through a friend. What I value most in HUONE is the easiness, uniqueness, and the small things that set you apart, the things that someone conducting trainings for a living will notice. All these small things sum up to a significant factor and HUONE has really thought the experience through.
In HUONE, every customer journey that my clients go through, we create together with HUONE. I can trust that we are in this together to create these perfect emotions and feelings, and everyone in HUONE will do their best to make the training a success.