1. No is a bad sign
This is not just an issue with sales professionals; sales managers fail to understand that “No’s”, and a lot of them, are inevitable. Maybe it is because of so many consultants claiming to have the answer, maybe it is because sales managers worked the phones in a different era, but it is hard out there now. Some sales people prospect better than others. These sales people receive less No’s, but they receive plenty of them. We can coach for a better outcome, but we will not be able to avoid rejection. However, now a sales professional knows where to place their energy.
If you are still having trouble getting interest at your company look at the following to analyze why:
- Are you using the appropriate sales process for your industry and product?
- Do you understand your potential customers well enough?
- Is your culture conducive to good sales performance?
- Are you even targeting the right prospects at the right times?
2. Price is the issue
Price is always AN issue. But it is rarely THE issue. Companies run marketing campaigns and specials trying to get in the door with customers. Sales people offer discounts. Sales professionals are uncomfortable with the costs of their products and services. Sales professionals hear that their competitor has a better price. What does that do on the street:
- Puts price into your customers head.
- Creates a lack of confidence in the sales representative’s head.
If you want to beat the price argument you must do 5 things:
- Sell the value and ROI of your products and services.
- Learn to deliver pricing more confidently.
- Connect your sales and marketing efforts
- Ask more questions about what the client wants to accomplish
- Demonstrate credibility and sincerity in the sales process
3. Manipulation is part of the sales process
Sales has a bad rap. People view sales people as pushy, self centered, and egotistical. Don’t get me wrong many sales people have earned these labels. But the very best have risen above them. Customers typically start relationships with sales people in a defensive mode until they feel comfortable with the sales professional. Customers start from this place because of their experiences with previous sales people. Unfortunately organizations sometimes support manipulative behaviors or insincerity or at the very least condone these behaviors. I use to know a sales person that would say “Once you can fake sincerity you have got it made.” He was successful for a period of time, but customers figured him out. We need to create authentic relationships with our customers based on mutual respect for 2 reasons:
- Our word is really what we have to fall back on.
- The most successful sales professionals get out of their own way by focusing on the customer; the customer’s needs, and then responding to those needs.
Great sales people influence others, they do not manipulate them.
4. We are so different from our competition!
Vendors so often think they are different. Sales teams get pumped up in meetings. They are told about the superiority of their product or the value of their service. These sales professionals bring that feeling of difference in with them to their face to face meetings and they believe they can out sell their competition. They believe they can use their sales process to differentiate themselves. The irony is…most of your customers don’t feel the same way.
In a recent study by the Management Development Corporation and the University of Michigan:
- 89% of vendors think they are able to distinguish themselves from their competition.
- 90% of the customers believe that each vendor’s sales approach is the identical.
It is clear organizations want to differentiate themselves, talk about differentiating themselves, but they rarely do in practice.
5. The most up to date sales training will change our numbers
What we need to do is train our people! Yeah right. (Written sarcastically) The latest and greatest in sales training will do little to improve your performance.
People are creatures of habit. They learn these habits along life’s way over the years. 2-3 days of intense training still won’t touch those habits especially if there is any fear, emotion, or ego wrapped up in the changing of a habit structure. If you are serious. If you truly want change. Then think about:
- How to make performance more visible
- Increasing accountability for activity not just results
- Identifying the key strategies (maximum 3) that will drive the results you are looking for
- Putting a personal change process in place to help your sales reps shift their habits
- Measuring lead indicators in order provide regular feedback and coaching.
- Rewarding and recognizing reps for meeting activity requirements as well as results
- Coach, coach, coach. And strategize on specific opportunities making it real.
To create real change in performance training is a small piece of a larger puzzle. We must pay attention more to management and systems.