- June 20, 2014
- Posted by: Dave Kurlan
- Category: Understanding the Sales Force
I subscribe to several newsletters written by medical doctors who practice natural medicine. They not only provide healthy nutritional advice and natural cures, but also expose the mainstream media, doctors, FDA and pharma for pulling the wool over our eyes and publishing so much misinformation. And the misinformation is killing people!
I read most of the other sales blogs too. Some of them are from companies within the Inside Sales community which, in an attempt to sell their services, are also publishing misinformation. And the misinformation is killing sales forces.
I’m all for the new way of selling:
Migration to Inside SalesIt’s more efficient, less costly and more practical. And it will work in most industries!
Social Selling It’s one more way to get found, make connections and get introduced.
Sales Tools I’m for any tool that will help salespeople to be more productive and effective. These tools include gamification, call technology, email marketing and analytics.
Sales Automation This category includes lead nurturing, pipeline management and CRM.
Customers Already Have the Information They Need So what must salespeople do? They must differentiate themselves and their companies by being the value. It’s no longer adding value or talking about their value proposition or adding in something. It’s being of value to the customer. The best way to be of value to the customer is to have the conversation that nobody else has had with them.
The Buyer Journey Instead of Sales Process Understanding the buyer journey is fine, but without a milestone-centric sales process, salespeople cannot confidently move forward the sales process.
Customer-Centric/Customer-Focused Selling Of course salespeople must be more focused on the customer and prospect. However, that missive is being incorrectly interpreted and morphed into an epidemic of facilitation. “Tell me what you want and I’ll give it to you.” That’s just plain stupid! Anyone can do that. And companies currently have anyone and everyone doing just that. Veteran salespeople who have not adapted. New salespeople who have not learned to sell. This results in demos galore! And that’s one of the reasons that sales cycles are getting longer and win rates are decreasing so rapidly. Customer-Centric Selling is the current catchphrase, but it’s really consultative selling that makes the big difference. Consultative Selling, when executed correctly, is a sophisticated form of listening and asking questions. But’s it’s about asking the right questions, at the right time, and listening for the right information and following that up with more of the right questions. Why? To uncover and be able to discuss their compelling reasons to buy and/or move their business to you! Anything other than that makes the salesperson appear incompetent. Objective Management Group (OMG) has statistics on this that are just plain ugly. When it comes to selling consultatively, most salespeople, including the entire bottom 74%, are either not doing this at all or not doing it anywhere near how it should be done. Of the salespeople evaluated and assessed to date, salespeople possess, on average, just 22% of the attributes of a consultative seller.
Prospects are Further Along in their Buying Process Before Meeting Salespeople
That is the perception and that is what we are being told, but if this is really true, then why are sales cycles increasing in length and win rates decreasing? It’s not really later in the buying process as much as it’s later in the research process. And because of the customer-centric approach, salespeople are acting more like facilitators, gathering even less information than they did a decade ago. Prospects aren’t ready to buy at this point in their process, they’re just getting finished with looking at their options! Salespeople don’t have qualified or closable opportunities at this point, but they’re acting as if they did, creating and sending unqualified proposals, making assumptions, and hoping for the best.
So with all that’s new and all that’s the same, what is missing? If you have read some of the other articles being pushed and shared, you might notice that they are leaving out the single most important fact about sales. It’s the same misinformation that would have you believe that cold calling is dead, SPIN Selling is dead, Solution Selling is dead, Relationship Selling is dead, Consultative Selling is dead, Baseline Selling is dead, and Salespeople are doomed. They are completely leaving out the one thing that you need salespeople to do and do well. Without it you will lose, lose hard and lose often. Someone must change people’s minds and persuade them to buy from you and feel good about paying your price. Salespeople must Sell!
It’s probably not you.
Face it. Only one company can have the lowest price. Only one company can have the best product or service. Only one company can provide the best customer service. Only one company can have the most recognizable brand. Only one company can have the best and longest track record of success. Only one company can have the largest and/or happiest installed user base. If you aren’t that company on that day with that customer, you will have to change their mind! Marketing can’t do it. Inbound can’t do it. Best pricing could do it, but you might be out of business before you get a chance to find out if it worked.
What to do?
The only way to change people’s minds is with very effective, highly-trained, relevant, up-to-date, consultative salespeople [read this article for more on that]. You can’t change minds by forcing information, arm wrestling or lecturing. Demos and presentations don’t change minds either. You can change minds by using gradual perception, asking good, tough, timely questions, and helping prospects come to the realization that buying from you will be the best decision they can make.
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