25 Jul 2017 | 04.43 pm
Interview: Nicola O’Neill, Harvest Resources
Experience is better than knowledge in the sales arena
25 Jul 2017 | 04.43 pm
Nicola O’Neill (pictured) is Managing Director of Harvest Resources, which designs and delivers bespoke learning solutions that target specific business challenges such as leadership and management development, performance management, sales strategy and personal effectiveness.
What do you enjoy about sales?
I like building enduring relationships with clients, and when a Harvest client moves to new company we tend to move with them. I also enjoy satisfying my inner hunter trait, winning business from competitors or coming through a tough tender process. I also enjoy getting to know a new business or sector. I love to really immerse myself in the client’s business context, so every day is a learning day.
What makes a good high-performance sales person?
Listening to the buyer is really important – the ability to listen and really hear the client is so crucial. This is when you can assist them to articulate what they really want and what will add value to them. A good sales person must be able to turn the buyer’s needs into a bespoke solution that solves their business challenge. You also need to get to know the business context that you are selling into – it is vital that you demonstrate your understanding and speak the client’s language.
How have you made Harvest more successful as a sales organisation?
The biggest breakthrough is our team’s thorough understanding and ability to execute real client partnering. This allows Harvest to not only win business but to achieve a strong referral channel too.
How have customers changed over the past few years?
People are time poor and they haven’t time for pushy product selling, so successful companies are engaging in consultative conversations. In addition, technology is playing a significant role in buyer behaviour in terms of pre and post engagement and, for some, changing the landscape totally with the emergence of Inside sales teams. Professional buyers are more influenced and sometimes more bound by procurement processes than they were before.
What impact is technology having on sales process and performance?
Our clients can educate themselves in advance of engagement, so that ensures that we stay on top of our game in relation to what we showcase and how we engage with clients. The data that technology presents really assists Harvest to develop strategies to future-proof the value proposition.
What makes a good sales leader?
A good sales leader needs to have ‘some dust from the arena’ so to speak. Experience is stronger than knowledge, but it is how they use this experience that is important. Their focus should be on coaching and teaching good practice as well as minding the numbers by building sales strategies that are relevant and inclusive of the people in the organisation. A good sales leader needs to constantly ask is where should your business be in the next number of years, as well as where is your industry or profession going in the next number of years? Having a vision that facilitates the continuous development of the value proposition should include a broad assessment on a number of factors.