The Secret Behind Swedish Sales Success

In a recent article, Annika Wihlborg interviewed sales consultant Björn Strid about his book: Let Your Heart Beat Your Sales Record (Låt ditt hjärta slå ditt säljrekord).

According to Mr. Strid, the Swedish way of selling is highly respected by clients worldwide. Several factors contribute to the excellent reputation that many Swedes have earned in international business.

Based on his many years of selling a range of products (from ice cream to complex logistical solutions), Mr. Strid concludes that the typical Swedish way of selling has five guiding principles: creating trust, showing empathy, being well-prepared, taking action and knowing the relevant profit-loss figures for a company.

These principles can be seen to have grown out of the Swedish business environment. In Sweden, flat organizations are common and this enables people to take initiative and maintain a high level of sales-driven activity.

Also, successful Swedish sales people have an exceptionally high level of competence in the services and products they sell. They keep up with the latest developments in their field, and often have a strong professional background in their area of expertise. Swedes value competence and the ability to explain a product or service, as well as its full value to a buyer.

Empathy – A Very Valuable Sales Tool

But Mr. Strid believes that the most important success factor is the Swedish capacity for empathy. He says, “We Swedes also see and encourage colleagues of the person we are meeting with. That makes us different from many other international sales people who for the most part, focus only on the person with the highest formal title.”

Keep Track of the Numbers!

Another very strong success factor is, according to Mr. Strid, the tendency that Swedes have to keep track of their own sales numbers. This makes them especially good at asking relevant questions of their prospects in international sales meetings.

Taking Action to Make Sales Happen

The consistently high level of activity that many Swedish sales people are known for is another success factor. This is largely due to the relatively flat and non-prestigious organizational structures typical of Swedish companies.

The traits that Swedes bring to the negotiating table are highly appreciated by company leaders throughout the world. Swedish sales people are good at asking questions, leading meetings and – not least of all – taking the time to really see and encourage others.

They have learned that empathy is a very valuable characteristic when it comes to sales, no matter which product or service you are selling. “Swedish sales people have demonstrated consistently that our capacity for empathy, combined with our knowledge of English and our way of taking action, is a very dependable recipe for success,” according to Mr. Strid.

Mr. Strid’s five tips for sales people who want to improve their capacity for empathizing with others:

1/ Meet with people on all levels of an organization – from decision-makers and others who may be influential in the company, down to the user-level.

2/ Don’t be so eager to talk about and share what you think. Focus on asking questions instead.

3/ Follow up with the contacts you have already made. Take the time to do this instead of always looking to find more business contacts.

4/ Get in touch with your clients, even when you are not planning to sell anything. Just let them know that you care about them and that they are important. This will often lead to more business, even if that was not the original intention.

5/ Practice building empathy by asking questions about people’s personal lives as well as their business. Allow the other person to finish what they start to tell you. Avoid jumping into the discussion and talking about yourself. It’s better to ask more questions, than to move the focus onto your own experiences.

Mr. Strid is a sales coach and popular speaker who helps companies develop their sales and marketing initiatives. He is the owner of Strid & Co in Stockholm, Sweden.

About the Author: Janet Boynton Runeson is a freelance web copywriter and director of Entrepreneurial Copy. With several advanced degrees in the Humanities, Fine Arts and Economics, she has extensive experience in international marketing and specializes in cultural awareness.

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