Training people to sell

The first International Sales Convention in Greece is taking place in Athens next week, from Tuesday until Thursday, organized by Response International. It will be held under the auspices of two global sales institutes, the United Professional Sales Association and Sales & Marketing Executives International, and feature the well-known sales guru, Richard Denny. The British sales expert is known for his five books, including «Selling to Win» that has been translated into Greek as well, and is the head of the Richard Denny Group of companies. He is behind the creation of the British Professional Sales Diploma and the British Leadership & Management Diploma. His main quality, however, is that he is a charismatic speaker in demand across the world for his direct approach and his ability to motivate others to achieve better performance and achievements. In his writings he reveals some key truths about selling, such as that «it is not enough today to hire someone, give him the essential knowledge about the product and send him out to a sophisticated, competitive and demanding marketplace like ours, and expect him to return with his hands full…» Denny believes that sales are the most important activity in a company and that modern professional sellers are not born but trained to be effective. They can create long-term relations with their customers and know that they cannot win over new customers with words alone. Nowadays older sales techniques are history, and it is virtually impossible to sell a product or a service to anyone who does not want it. What top and managerial staff have to do is invest in training their sellers, in order to really know how to sell. «They should learn how to spot opportunities, understand the psychology of sales, manage their time more efficiently, earn a sale when the product is not the cheapest one…,» he argues. Another point Denny makes concerns the two factors that can drag a company to a buyout or bankruptcy. The first is when the company does not sell its products or services, regardless of whether this is due to its own inability or for other reasons. The second is when it lacks the available cash and fails to receive the money owed to it in time. Regarding the first one, he stresses the significance of the seller, since with only a small investment in developing his skills the returns range from «untold profits» to the very survival of the company. His responsibility is immense, both for the sustainable development of the company and the economic life of many other people. «Looking back on the sales I have missed, I now know well that I could have achieved them had I known and asked the clients the right questions in order to draw any information needed to adjust my offer to their requirements, in a much better way than secured by a sale plan,» he writes. After all, the most fundamental skill for a professional seller is to know how to ask «how,» «why» and «when.» Denny’s gift is that the knowledge and the ideas he transmits to his audiences are practical and applicable. Although he belongs to an aristocratic family, he started working as a farming businessman in the 1960s and was very successful selling «double-yolk free-range eggs, with small feathers and hay stuck on them so as to impress,» to Harrod’s department stores, while six months later he started supplying major London stores with agricultural products. He is dubbed «the first revolutionary farmer» who turned to retail trade and won. Expanding skills Later on he started trading washing detergents and was very successful, employing some 2,000 employees. He expanded to the Middle East with products as diverse as steel, cement, wool and electronic material, and used his experience to set up the Richard Denny Group. In a recent article of his, titled «The Manager is Dead: Long Live the Leader,» he suggests that British management has at last entered the 21st century with a mentality showing clearly that Human Resources are indeed the greatest capital of any corporation. This is constantly repeated, but hardly ever applied in practice. This is a cultural shift, he says, which attributes the value which manpower deserves. And since the acquisition of good manpower is a major headache as well as pressure on managers, the effort focuses on how we can keep hold of the good employees and develop them further. «Therefore we have arrived at another cultural shift: From management to leadership. Whether we have named this a rescheduling or staff cut or another impressive name, the result is that a considerable portion of managers have withdrawn because the modern manpower needs less management and more leadership,» Denny argues. This is where the idea of motivating staff comes about, in contrast to manipulation: These are two words that are often confused in practice. According to the Institute of Manpower Studies, the word «motivation» is one of the six most used in company documents. Yet this does not mean that it is understood, too, or that the owner or manager of a company does not confuse it with manipulation. «In my most simplistic view, manipulation means that you make the others do something because you want it; whereas motivation is when the others do something because they want it themselves,» writes Denny. «Except that a huge force is hidden within the word motivation. Every human achievement in history has motivation as its foundation or its main component,» he concludes. The Athens conference will also hear, for the first time in Europe, the results and conclusions of the worldwide survey titled «Sales, Performance, Optimization Study 2006.» Furthermore the event will focus on Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Consumers (B2C) sales. Kathimerini is one of the communication sponsors. For more information contact Response International on tel 210.802.1145 or visit