- February 11, 2013
- Posted by: Dave Kurlan
- Category: Understanding the Sales Force
Prior to learning about healthy eating, I believed a bagel was a healthy alternative to a donut. After I was shown that a carbohydrate converts to sugar in the blood and there wasn’t much difference between bread, bagels or rolls; and donuts, cake or pie, I changed the way that I ate.
Most people have not seen the light, are not aware that sugar causes disease, believe that pasta, rice, grains and potato are healthy, and continue to gain weight. Many eventually become sick.
Enough of that! Let’s switch gears and discuss what you came here to read.
Most salespeople haven’t seen the light either. They aren’t aware that continuing to present, demo, propose and quote are unhealthy approaches for the pipeline. Demos and presentations are the sales equivalent of sugar (we like them and they make us feel good.) Like snacks and comfort food, they cause our pipelines (insides) to become inflamed and our forecasts (blood work) to become unacceptable.
Three years ago, when I committed to change the way in which I eat, I found that it was only difficult for 5 days. 5 days for the carb cravings to go away. 5 days before fruits and vegetables tasted delicious. 5 days until snack food lost its appeal. 5 days until I recognized how awful I felt after eating carbs which didn’t come from fruit or vegetables. 5 days until I didn’t have to rely on willpower, but instead, good old-fashioned discipline and goals did the trick.
Salespeople must go through a similar process. For 5 days, they must resist the temptation to present unless they’ve reached the step in the sales process when presenting is okay. Of course, postponing the presentation or demo until a later stage of the sales process is futile if there isn’t a formal, structured, customized, optimized sales process in place. Similarly, avoiding the wrong foods is futile until you know what the correct foods are and can make meals of them.
Sales has changed dramatically. Prospects and customers are attempting to commoditize everything you sell. You must be able to differentiate yourselves. Presentations and demos may point to differences in your offerings, but the act of presenting and doing demos makes you appear very much the same as everyone else. When everything looks the same, prospects focus on price. Consultative selling, an extremely underdeveloped skill for most salespeople, is the approach which all salespeople must master in order to differentiate themselves effectively. Unfortunately, Objective Management Group’s (OMG) data on salespeople shows that they only possess, on average, 21% of the attributes of a consultative seller.
It’s time to face the reality of 2013. Your salespeople must embrace and master consultative selling.