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The psychology of sales and clients — interview with an expert
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The psychology of sales and clients — interview with an expert

Elena Chernenok is Tranio.com’s quality management expert and the company’s secret weapon. Her job is to oversee sales processes and improve efficiency. In this interview, Elena explains why a company needs in-house standards and how to be a better salesperson.

Elena trains the sales team in how to build an effective rapport with clients

Elena, how did you become Tranio.com’s quality management expert?

I have a degree in social psychology, but interestingly, I used to work in a completely different sphere. In my previous position I worked in a youth centre specialised in psychological, medical and social services. In 2013, when I was on maternity leave, I found a vacancy at Tranio for someone with my academic background who was willing to work from home, and that was exactly what I needed at the time. I was pleasantly surprised that my letter was answered by the CEO directly — George Kachmazov — not a HR specialist. Having successfully passed the test task, I was hired to the quality management department.

What is the main focus of your work?

I was hired to analyze how sales managers work with our in-house standards when calling and holding videoconferences with clients. At the same time my colleague, fellow psychologist and running trainer, Valery Maksimov, was working on these standards. And since then, we have continued to develop and improve our client interaction processes.

What are your other roles at Tranio.com?

I help colleagues manage difficult situations like when a client reacts negatively to something. In which case, standards aren’t enough: you also need experience and professional understanding of the situation. I try to explain why a problem has appeared and how to solve it. I also organise training sessions where we role-play difficult scenarios that aim to improve our team’s behavioural habits and reactions when dealing with clients. Finally, I help with recruitment: taking part in job interviews, checking test tasks... My goal is to understand the motivation of people applying to work here.

You also hold seminars for the sales team — what are these about?

Our lectures investigate how to build a good rapport with clients, listen to needs and gain trust as well as how to ask the right questions and present alternative points of view. We are also working on more general topics like efficiency, time-management, coping with stress and making effective presentations.

Are standards really that important? Surely there are times when they can’t help… After all, sales is about people, no?

There are two golden documents at Tranio.com: the standards of phone conversation & Skype-conferencing and software in the sales process. By setting goals, we improve our service and support our sales team in their efforts. What’s most important is that a manager asks the right questions, specifically open-ended ones, in order to get a firm grasp of what the client is looking for without the call becoming an interrogation. Because at the end of the day, our clients are undertaking a very exciting journey and we want to them to succeed!

Feedback is not always appreciated — how do you approach the difficult task of giving negative feedback?

It’s true, sometimes managers argue — but realistically, there are few people who are ready to hear and understand things that need improving. So of course, at first there’s a bit of backlash because they feel exposed but controversy can be a good sign you know: it’s a chance to see the person and for them to present their point of view! If you’re not arguing, you’re indifferent, so it’s a good start.

Is it true that the Quality Management team are nicknamed the “Hounds from Hell”?

Yes, actually one colleague did call us “hellhounds” — but I think that people forget that we have a challenging job that can also be emotionally devastating. Every so often, I’m accused of looking for problems on purpose, but for me, it’s really all about achieving a better result. At the same time, I see how hard they try and that’s why I get upset by temporary setbacks and excited when they succeed.

What are the typical mistakes that new employees make?

At first, they’re afraid of clients, fearful to set up a meeting and suggesting Skype conferences with partners. They think there will be awkward questions but, as it happens, the answers to these questions are often very important in the future. It’s not enough to understand what property a client wants, but more importantly, what their motivation is. When you understand this, you can truly help the client achieve their aims.

What is the most satisfying aspect of your work?

I feel great joy to see a new sales manager becoming a pro, starting to close deals and take on board everything we have taught them. Because, ultimately, if the success of our sales managers is the success of the company.

Anna Bugaeva, Tranio

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