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Conversations with Julie - Our Reflections EPISODE #6

In this episode, we talk to Sharon Davies, the Founder and Managing Director of Sales 2 Success. With 30 years' experience in sales and management, she is a qualified Chief Sales Officer and delivers sales accountability and mentoring programs for individuals, teams, and business owners, that sell their services into the business 2 business market.

PURPOSE: To unpack why conversations need to change for sales professionals? And for those of us seeking to be recognised for delivering value.

WHAT TO EXPECT: That many people get caught up in this idea that they don't want to be 'salesy', but they need to deliver value and meet what the client needs. How to do that is the same process as how we build any relationship... with care and clear communication.

OUR REFLECTIONS: Sales basics are the same as relationship basics

Read/listen to the full conversation HERE

NB: When we talk about 'Sales' in this episode, we believe that everyone who has professional relationships can benefit from listening to this episode, not just those in the Sales Industry. - Julie Gillespie

In this episode, Julie spoke with a specialist from the sales industry. Sharon Davies is an award winning Business-2-Business Sales Coach. She has been in the sales industry since leaving high school, and has worked across many different industries in many different roles. Using her fathers experience in sales to further expand her knowledge, she began performing at a higher level. She was then asked to attend more training sessions and started to move through the sales ranks. After realising nursing wasn’t for her during her high school years, she stepped into a sales role knowing that all she wanted to do was help people.

How did Julie and Sharon meet?

They met during a masterclass 4 years ago and bonded knowing that the sales pitch was starting and was amused at how staged it was without the person even knowing what each of them needed from them. Their conversations around sales always sparkle with deep insights from their own years of experience and from their fathers.

What were Sales conversations like in the past?

(the problem is we sometimes still see this happen!)

In the past, sales representatives were seen as pushy, aggressive, 'cowboys', and not willing to listen to their clients' needs. They were willing to do the wrong thing by their clients so they could reach their quota set by their employer and get their commission. The 'sales person' became 'salesy' and clients felt like they were not being heard. All integrity and value-giving was lost, which resulted in a lack of communication, rudeness and disconnection.

How Sales WAS: “Feature Function Benefit Solution. Tell me your pain points and I’ll give you a solution.” - Sharon Davies

Sales training used to be centred on the end goal... hitting the targets. This often results in talking AT someone; it is devaluing, disconnecting, and rude. When people go into talk AT mode, it is very difficult for them to hear the other person's story.

Urban dictionary describes 'salesy' as, “as an adjective for someone who is a cheesy, aggressive, and superficial salesperson of whatever product or service they are pitching.” When people act in this way, they are not showing any integrity or empathy. There becomes a discord in the relationship with no opportunity to find resonance.

Thankfully sales training and sales people have changed!

Julie and Sharon define 'sales' today:

Sales as a title, is a vehicle for delivering care. Looking after someone's needs. To fill and fulfill someone's needs and requirements that they have asked you about. To help resolve whatever needs solving. - Julie Gillespie

It’s accepting that you have a responsibility to sell and to bring value when selling. It’s your responsibility to know the product, have knowledge of the product, share the knowledge and find the right clientele for the product or service. - Sharon Davies

Thankfully the sales industry and its training is changing. To be able to sell or even interact with clients and customers you need to listen. It's about talking WITH them, it’s about listening to understand their needs, and asking the right questions. Some questions could be:

What is Active Listening?

Throughout this conversation with Sharon, you’ll hear her speak about active listening. So I wanted to get into what 'Active Listening' actually means. Very Well Mind refers to active listening as:

“Active listening is a pattern of listening that keeps you engaged with your conversation partner in a positive way. It is the process of listening attentively while someone else speaks, paraphrasing and reflecting back what is said, and withholding judgment and advice.”

Active listening will further your conversation.

Active listening allows you to build trust, it gives you the space to add your value, to understand the clients needs and then to provide the outcome that the client actually needs.

Sharon’s definition of Active listening

Active listening is something that we use as a sales term, when we are with a client, we actually need to listen to what the client is saying. We DON't want to just get everything out that we know about the product or services as that is talking AT them. When we actively listen we find out more about the clients challenges, and find out more about them as this helps us build trust. The other thing that builds trust is when writing our notes during the conversation, to use those notes to ask relevant questions. When we don’t actively listen, we don’t get the information that we need from the client and we don’t get the deal.

What can Active Listening look like?

Active listening is a skill that can be learnt and practiced. In the sales world it could be as simple as asking if the client is comfortable with you writing notes during a client meeting. This can build trust, show integrity, start building value, allow the conversation to go further and give you the opportunity to come back to them at a later time after doing some research on the topic. It can also look like responding and reflecting on the conversation to ensure that the information is retained.

So, who is a sales person?

A sales person is so much more than just somebody in the sales industry.

Sharon loves to explain that we have all been in sales since the age of 2. As children, we spend our time convincing our parents to let us do things. As teens, we spend our time convincing our parents to let us go places, and as adults, we spend our time convincing ourselves that we know what we are doing.

We are all sales people in one way or another and if you run a business, you are definitely a sales person. If you are going in for an interview for a job, you will be trying to sell yourself as the best candidate for the role. As a parent, you are trying to sell good habits to your children.

Everyone needs sales in their life at some point or other. What if we thought of it in another way and actively listened and really understood what the client, the interviewer, or child actually needed and delivered what they valued?

Final thoughts

It’s amazing how often talking WITH is coming up in each of the episodes. It doesn’t matter what the industry is, what position people are in, listening and talking with someone is the only way to gain a good positive outcome.

The Questions:

  1. Fill in the blank... "A conversation can___________" (This can be in the perspective of either party in a conversation)

  2. What has been the greatest lesson, good or bad, that you've learnt about having conversations?

  3. What is something you would like others to know about having difficult conversations?

Sharon’s Answers:

  1. A conversation can empower you to have success in everything that you do.

  2. Talking AT and not listening caused a loss of a large business deal. Talk WITH someone, think of the relationship before the outcome.

  3. It’s ok to ask for and get help if you need it. If you need an expert then speak to an expert. It can make a big difference. It could be a mentor, a therapist, a coach or just someone who you are aligned with.

“Who are you going to allow to speak into your life?” - Julie Gillespie


6 Steps for More Effective Active Listening


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