Podversation with Larissa Batt
This podcast will be of interest to anyone who ever needs to persuade or ‘sell’ anything to anyone ever. Which is of course everyone. And it will be of particular interest to people for whom selling in a commercial setting makes up a significant part of their role.
We chat about:
- the importance of using the strengths approach in sales
- the danger of overusing a particular strength
- whether certain strengths are needed to be successful in sales
- and 3 top tips for introducing the strengths approach into your own sales work or sales teams
In this podcast, I’m going to be chatting with a colleague and dear friend of mine, Larissa Batt. At the point of recording, it is Larissa’s last day with Strengthscope – she is flying off to an amazing new role in a couple of weeks’ time and I was pretty desperate to catch her before she left so that I could get from her the good stuff on how you can use the strengths approach in a sales context.
For the last few years, Larissa has been in various senior sales role at Strengthscope and in her current role, she leads on all corporate sales, so she knows lots and lots about strengths in a sales context. We’re going to make this short, punchy and practical and I’d like to get straight to it. So here’s my first question:
Larissa, why is the strengths approach important in a sales context?
Perhaps the most important element of strengths in sales is around being true to yourself and enabling your sales team to play to their natural strengths. People buy from people and it’s very obvious if you’re being fake or trying to be someone you’re not.
This is also important for sales managers to bear in mind because instead of trying to mould your sales team to be a certain way, you should instead focus on helping them to tap into their natural energy and strengths because that’s likely to glean the best results.
Not only will they come across as more authentic to their customers, they’ll also be happier in their role because they’re going to be doing things they love and this will mean they’re more likely to go above and beyond for their customers. Research shows that by using a strengths approach at work, customer loyalty can be driven up by 44% which in turn has a result on customer profits.
What are the watchouts do you think?
The biggest watchout for a salesperson is definitely a strength in overdrive. This is when you overuse a particular strength to the point that it has an unintended negative impact. This is even more of an issue if your customer has very different strengths or energies to you so it’s important to get to know your customer on a human level to understand how they might react to certain conversations or situations.
I for example know that Persuasiveness is my strength most likely to go into overdrive in a sales context – it’s probably why I got into sales in the first place because I enjoy winning people over, but I appreciate that people don’t like to feel sold to. Instead, I dial up my Relationship building and Results focus strengths to really understand the customer’s perspective and map out a project delivery plan that’s going to get them the results they need.
Do salespeople need certain strengths to be successful?
The beauty of the strengths approach is that you can have a very diverse team who are all achieving the same results, it’s just the way they get there is different. The most important thing is to be aware of how to best use their natural strengths and that they build skills in areas that need addressing.
You’re actually better off having a diverse sales team because diversity in thought will lead to more creative solutions and if you’re building a project team for a larger bid, you’ll be in a stronger position if you have all your bases covered.
The only additional point I would add to this, is there are lots of different roles within sales – there’s business development, customer success, business partnering – and as you progress within your sales career, it’s important to reflect on where you’re happiest.
I started in new business development and it gave me some great skill-sets – it became obvious to me though that my true path was within Customer Success (otherwise known as account management) and that’s because of how important long-term strategic relationships are to me. As much as I enjoy winning that first deal, I’m not willing to pass the relationship on to another team member.
What are your top tips for people listening who want to use the approach in their own sales work or sales teams?
First, be aware of your natural strengths and how to use these to your advantage. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Ideally take a strengths-based scientifically validated assessment like Strengthscope®, but if you don’t have access to that, you can ask yourself, ‘Where do I perform at my best and at my happiest?’ This will give you a sense of where your true strengths lie.
Second, be aware of your risk areas be they skills gaps, energy drainers or strengths in overdrive and come up with a development plan to address these. Only focus on the areas which are affecting your sales, there’s no need to plug all gaps just for the sake of it. A great way to get a sense of your development points both positive and negative is to get 360 feedback and I encourage you to get it from customers as well as internal stakeholders.
Third, understand what makes your customers tick by getting to know the human as well as the organisation. This will help you to navigate the relationship and be mindful of potential pitfalls in the sales process. A question I quite like to ask in intro calls is what do you enjoy most about your job and what do you find most draining?
Thank you Larissa. For spending time with me and in this conversation on your last day at Strengthscope. And thank you for coming to work at Strengthscope – you have left an indelible impression on me, the team and our products in your time with us. Best of luck for the future.
I hope you enjoyed this podcast. Look out for more, based on my conversations with fascinating people over the coming weeks as I bring my Collaboration strength out and get some chats going with some folk who have a unique perspective on strengths that they want to share with you. If you’d like to get more from your every day, please do sign up to our emails for simple and practical hints and tips on everything strengths and life.
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