Trust me, I feel your pain. This question has kept me up all night more than I care to remember.  As with most complex business questions the answer often depends on whom you ask. But, before we head down that road, let’s first quickly define what it means to sell. Below are three possible definitions.  Take a second and pick the one you think is the most accurate.

1) To develop a belief in the truth, value, or desirability of something.

2) To persuade or influence to a course of action or to the acceptance of something.

3) To influence or induce someone to make a purchase.

If you chose 3) then you are certainly among the majority. After all, the true purpose of selling is to get someone to purchase whatever it is your selling, right? It’s seems simple enough. Hire some experienced sales people, teach them what’s great about your product, give them a bunch of leads and watch the magic happen.

Unfortunately, as most of us who have managed a sales organization know, it’s never that simple. There are so many factors that can send deals sideways and cause you to miss your quota. To cover all these factors now would be tough.  Perhaps we can tackle a few in a future post.

Back to the definitions.  As you probably suspected, all three definitions are correct and relevant. I pulled them from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary.

Read closely and you will notice the common thread among these definitions is the ability to influence. That ability is the one factor that differentiates a star performer from an average contributor, and a successful sales team from one that’s in a perpetual slump.

However, we’re not done. It’s never that simple. In fact, here’s where things get really tricky.  In order for your sales people to influence prospects to purchase, the prospect must first have established a high level of trust with your company’s brand and held on to that trust throughout their entire buying experience.   It’s a heavy statement, but it’s true.  Think about it. Would you buy your next car from a manufacturer you didn’t trust?  Your prospects are going through the same decision making process.

Let’s face it, if your company doesn’t have a trustworthy brand, then your sales team is doomed to fail.

To really sell, you must first invest in your brand, know who you are and what you stand for.  Then, consistently convey those ideals to your audience through effective marketing campaigns to establish that trust. Finally, don’t let that trust be broken during the sales cycle.  Continue to reinforce the value statements that your brand represents and your sales cycles will be shorter, your conversion rates will be higher, and most importantly, your sales team will close more deals!