- May 17, 2019
- Posted by: Dave Kurlan
- Category: Understanding the Sales Force
Most lies are truths to the people who state them. Take climate change for example. Climate change is clearly a real thing. The planet has been warming exponentially since the ice age! But to think that humans are responsible, that humans can stop it, or else we’ll be dead in 12 years, seems ludicrous to me. My statement is a lie to every reader that doesn’t agree with it, but rings true to those who agree. Lies are in the minds of the beholders.
Let’s cover some of the lies being told to companies with sales organizations and how those lies prevent sales organizations from being their best. Over the past 10-20 years, we have seen and heard the following proclamations (and you can find most of them with this Google search link:
Selling is dead. Circa 2001. This is obviously false! Currently in the US, there are around 4.5 million B2B salespeople and nearly 16 million salespeople overall and those numbers are growing.
Cold Calling is dead. This lie was so freaking good that people actually believed it! Why? If they could justify not making cold calls anymore, then their lack of prospecting might not look so bad because, Didn’t you hear? Cold calling is dead, right?” Referrals and introductions are at the top of the food chain but a cold call is much more likely to convert to a meeting than a cold email or an inbound lead regardless of how many follow-ups are attempted. More importantly, you’ll experience far less competition for your prospect’s attention by using the phone than if you use web-based cold approaches.
Inbound is King (so selling is dead). False. How many years running did we hear this lie? Hubspot, the Lion King of inbound, has a large sales force placing outbound calls to generate sales. How’s that for alive and well?
SPIN Selling is dead. False. I first read this in 2008. While it it is true that only the top 5% of all salespeople can execute SPIN, it’s still being taught and it’s still being (kind of) implemented and executed. It’s one of the oldest forms of consultative selling which, by all accounts, is supposed to be dead!
Solution Selling is dead. False. I first read that Solution Selling was dead in 2007. Most of the tech companies I have worked with, including now, in 2019, had been using some form of Solution Selling prior to my arrival so it’s clearly not dead. I believe that there is a fatal flaw within Solution Selling that makes the methodology far less effective and efficient than it could be (learn more here) and than others are, but it’s far from dead.
Consultative Selling is dead. False. According to Objective Management Group (OMG) which has evaluated and assessed 1,861,244 salespeople from companies in countries, 59% have not even begun to sell this way yet! How can something that is still trending up be dead?
Sales Process is dead. False. See Consultative Selling is dead. According to the same statistics, 52% of salespeople are not following a staged, milestone-based, customer-centric sales process. This is a huge improvement from just 10 years ago when the percentage was only 9! This too is trending up, not down, so not only is it not dead, but CRM without an integrated sales process is just a data warehouse.
Traditional Selling is dead. False. This one depends on how you define traditional selling. If we define traditional as features and benefits selling (FAB), then it should be dead and buried and forgotten. Unfortunately, it’s far from dead because more than half of all salespeople – the weak half – are still selling this way.
The old way of selling is dead. See Traditional Selling.
Relationship-building in sales is dead. False. In 2011, Harvard Business Review, the biggest publisher of junk sales science, declared Relationship Selling dead. That alone should be reason enough to call it a fake news. As a sales methodology, Relationship Selling prioritizes taking making friends and building a relationship over time because people buy from people they like. In the 60’s and 70’s, a good relationship was more than enough for people to justify buying from you. Today, not so much. While people DO like to buy from people they like, the relationship is no longer the only criteria. If you can help your prospect as well as anyone else, the relationship could be a difference maker but if you can’t meet the other important criteria, your relationship won’t help you.
Always-be-closing is dead. This. Should. Be. Dead. It fits right up there with traditional selling and FAB selling. Of the salespeople that are selling this way, most are misinformed and the rest are sales bullies. It should be dead because it leaves people with a bad taste in their mouths and gives salespeople a bad reputation.
Social Selling is dead. Already? Talk about fads! We’ve only been selling socially for several years so how can Social Selling die as quickly as Pokemon Go? The reality is that Social Selling never existed in the first place. Personal promotion? Sure. But selling? Nobody sells anything over social networks. Everything is marketing, advertising, blogging, tweeting, videos messages, connecting, and building networks and followers. Sounds like PR and marketing to me.
Outbound is dead. False. See this article.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) will replace salespeople. False. I’m sure you’re getting the same cold emails as I do. They all promise to grow your business, generate leads, make appointments, and if you don’t respond to their first attempt, then several more emails will follow. Each email is powered by AI. Each email is worse than the one that preceded it and are so awful that I’m sure that the recipients hit the delete button faster than you can say thank you. Further, AI will never be able to replicate a human having a deep, thoughtful conversation that helps a prospect become emotional. Prospects buy emotionally.
For example, check out the following consultative questions I taught a sales team to use yesterday. I used generic versions of the questions and hid the responses but you should be able to easily understand the flow. Identify a business issue that you frequently uncover and use that as you convert the questions and answers to your business.
Salesperson: So why do you need this?
Salesperson: How were you handling that problem up until now?
Salesperson: How long has that been going on?
Salesperson: If you’ve been doing it like that for all this time, why change now?
Salesperson: Tell me about the last time that happened.
Salesperson: How much it that cost when that happens?
Salesperson: So over this period of time, what has the total cost been?
Salesperson: How does you that affect you?
Salesperson: How do you feel about that?
In each case, the salesperson can’t ask the follow up question unless they get the appropriate response they are hoping for. And as the questions become more emotional and more difficult, the tonality, pace and facial expressions must change along with it? Can you imagine this type of exchange taking place over email driven by AI? No. Freakin. Way.
All of the lies we are told create excuses for salespeople to not learn, embrace, practice and apply the most important aspects of successful selling. The lies mask the best practices of great salespeople and great sales organizations because they suggest that there’s an easier way to sell where you can hide behind your keyboard and monitor. Well, I’ve got news for you. There are no shortcuts, no easy paths, no magic pills, nothing but doing the hard work. If it isn’t challenging, and you aren’t challenging yourself to improve, then AI will replace you.
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