“Hello, my name is Devin and I am a small business consultant with XYZ company…”
That was the line that I would use with every call at my last internship. At my core…I was a sales intern, but how long do you think someone is going to
1) stay on the phone and
2) continue to listen after you tell them that you are a sales intern?
I wasn’t lying…my job was to consult small businesses on how they could save money through outsourcing their payroll as well as some other tips that I discovered via research as to how businesses can make small changes that will save them money.
What I learned from this is that the way in which someone phrases something can have an extremely large impact on the result. I am learning a similar lesson in my current internship. We are coached to be “thought leaders.” This is not a thought leader in the sense of being the first to have an idea or innovation and leading the trend…it’s leading the thought of your clients. I had never thought about the difference between being a salesperson and being a “thought leader.” Not only does the title sound better, it puts you in a completely different state of mind.
A thought leader, in my own terms, is directing your prospect’s thought process to a conclusion beneficial to you and your potential customer, without actually “selling” to them. Simple things that you learn in discovery that will get their wheels turning to see that they do really need the product that you are selling. Simple things such as “what would be beneficial to you in this situation” instead of saying “here is my product, do you think it would be beneficial?”
In the simplest of terms, being a thought leader is planting a seed that the prospect nurtures in their own mind…instead of handing them a beautiful plant. Thinking of yourself as a thought leader instead of a salesperson not only leads to a more personalized sale, it also makes you as a salesperson feel like a helpful consultant as opposed to someone that’s selling something. –A simple change with great potential!
Being a thought leader is not the only thing I have learned this summer…there is a plethora of skills and information that I will benefit from for years (and jobs) to come. Though I have learned a lot here at Merced Systems, I can’t help but notice how much the things I have learned at The Sales Centre are benefiting me in my internship. The week before last we had our quarterly sales training from a company called Demo 2 Win . It was 3 days filled with tons of information, people from all over the world, and lots of free food! I learned an amazing amount of skills that are sure to improve my presentations in the workplace as well as the classroom.
So where does The Sales Centre come into play? The first day of training we were in teams of 4 with a given set of tools to put together a Demo (of Merced’s Software) for a real or imaginary company. We were given a 15 minute limit to prepare (these Demos usually take hours) and had to present in front of our peers. For me…my peers consisted of 16+ highly intelligent, and very successful business people. My audience consisted of VPs, Regional Directors, Solution Consultant Managers, Account Development Representatives, and oh ya…
the President and co-founder of the Company!!
The presentations consisted of an open, close, and a demo of the actual software. Now any of you that have worked in software know how detailed these demos can be. For someone that had been at the company for 2 weeks, I was shocked when my team decided that I should be one of the 2 that perform the demo. “It will be a great learning experience” they said.
While I was really excited to take on this opportunity, I was extremely nervous…many of the inside sales reps have never even performed a demo and here I was a 3rd week intern that was going to demo this software in front of a group of very prominent people.
After trembling my way through the presentation, I was showered with compliments from all directions. Everyone seemed to be impressed with my presentation skills and knowledge of the software. Everyone said that I seemed extremely comfortable and demanded the attention of the room. Though I cannot attribute the software familiarity to TSC, I can easily say that our Toastmasters program is the sole reason that I am fairly comfortable being in front of a room of people.
For the rest of the day I was approached by many people who were in the other presentation room with congratulations on how well they heard that I did. I couldn’t believe that people were actually going around telling others that I did a great job. It was extremely flattering! That night I was approached by the President of the company who told me that I did a great job and left an impression. “Slow down and take a breath” he said was his advice…which I hear commonly. I also heard someone behind me talking to the CEO telling him about my performance in the presentation. The guy from Demo 2 Win that was training us even told me that I received several votes for “Best Presenter.” WOW! I felt on top of the world. I was so excited that people were impressed and spreading the word…I called my mom the instant I got home!
At lunch right after these presentations, our VP of sales told me that he heard from multiple people that I did great. I told him that I attribute all of it to something called Toastmasters–and went on to tell him and the rest of the table about our Toastmasters program and how they should all join the nearby affiliates. It felt so good to be able to lend a piece of advice to these seasoned professionals…which I never would have been able to do without The Sales Centre and the amazing opportunities for personal and professional development that we are given.
We are truly a part of an amazing program and I am seeing the payoffs time and time again in every job that I hold. This is not only true for my 3 internships I have had, but also for my serving job, my classes, and my personal life. We are so lucky to be in a program that gives us so much. I can’t wait to see what this coming year has in store for us!