Market leading Sales forces are singularly focused: to sell stuff.
Sales are one of the most accountable areas of the organization and often are under the constant microscope of senior leaders as they have a significant, immediate, and direct impact on the bottom line. Companies must enable their salespeople and not emasculate them. Over the past 25 years I have always preferred to hire the sales stallions over order taking geldings. Stallions require you to have a high emotional intelligence, and they will often try to get your goat, however they consistently produce and add value. While geldings wait to be told what to do, how to say it, and where to go. Mavericks are saying get out of my way or I will run over you.
Business development has been hard enough over the years. Salespeople work hard to grow their existing business while opening new business. When we look at strategies for growing a business we have a number of options;
· Sell more of what you have to your current accounts
· Sell your current accounts new products
· Sell your current products to new accounts
· Sell your current products to new accounts in new markets
· Sell new products in new markets
· Acquire another business, sell their products to your accounts and sell your products to their accounts
I am sure there are more, but above are some that I have used, and I understand the difficulty and costs associated with each. The best way to accomplish any of the above strategies, (and I recommend you only pick 3) is to know your buyers buying process and match your sales process to that buying process. Not many organizations accomplish this, but if you do, you will create tools for each stage of the buying process to help the conversation continue. If you study buyers, what would you say are “the top 5 Sins of salespeople?” As a reminder, the word “sin” means to “miss a mark, or target, goal”. So where are most salespeople missing the mark?
#1 not listening
#2 does not follow up timely
#3 does not understand the problem I am trying to solve
#4 they talk too much
#5 never built a foundation in trust
If you study your market, and conduct win-loss analysis you will find as I have that in most cases 50% of lost sales are neither about the product nor price. 50% of lost sales are due to the process the salesperson is taking to close the sale. Maybe they are doing the all too frequent; “ring the bell selling?” You know what this is…the salesman starts rattling off all the features and benefits he learned in the 15 power point slides of sales training he had and he waits for you, the buyer to ring the bell when one connects. Other words we waits for one of the things he said to hopefully connect to a problem you have, and hopefully you have been able to translate that particular feature into how it will solve your problem.
Based on the above “top 5 sins”, how can salespeople close more sales and drive explosive growth in the markets they serve?
#1. Listen and observe
#2. Ask open ended questions, seek first to understand
#3. After you understand the buyer’s problems, explain how what you are selling solves those problems (since your sales tools probably don’t)
#4. Story-Speak, don’t speak in features and benefits (ringing your bell) but instead share stories of how what you are proposing as a solution to the buyers problem solved it for others who had similar problems
#5. “Serve” your customers, don’t “sell” them
I have personally taught this system to sales teams in various industries and it drives explosive growth in sales and profits. Profits? Yes! When you sell by ringing your bell of features until one connects, (and you may or may not know why) you quickly jump to the negotiation of price. You have not built trust. Sales people who know the buyers problem, understand their pain intimately focus on solving that problem. A buyer who has a salesperson who is speaking to their problems becomes so focused on solving their problem they connect to the solution more than price.
So how is your sales team performing today?
When was the last time you observed your sales people in the targeted group you are trying to grow?
How are you trying to grow your business?
In your target group(s) what are their top problems?