The seventh and final sales Myth is sales people don’t need any new training or development. Some believe that experienced sales people already know all about selling. The only thing required is more product knowledge! Why do these organizations find sales results less than expected? Because sales people are focused upon products and not the customer.
I am amazed how often “experienced sales managers” tell me that investing in sales training and development is not his or her responsibility. Or the worst excuse is – we have no budget for this activity. Yet, in the same breathe, they talk about how sales will increase this year! How? They have no new products or services, no new sales people, no new territories, and no new sales methods. I call this “growth because I said so!” The old traditional parental approach of having no explanation for change – it’s just going to happen. This does not work for sales or parents.
The final Truth is that sales people need continuous development. The risk of poor selling strategies is a permanent loss of a customer. The excellent salesperson must have skills and knowledge in products, and have mastered effective communication, industry norms, and the ability to manage many different customer’s personalities. These are skills and knowledge that develop relationships with customers. These relationships are based upon rapport, trust and a clear focus upon the needs of the customer.
The understanding of these myths and truths have assisted our customers to successfully increase their bottom lines. The key is learning. A commitment must be made to improve the quality of the sales team. We find that successful companies invest 5-15% of annual sales payroll in development practices. Join the winners today!
Contact us today to join the ranks of the winners in sales growth and profitability. We have assisted our clients to consistently grow. Our office hours are 8-5pm Central Time and our phone number is 901-757-4434.
The sixth sales Myth is that successful sales people focus upon the product or service being offered! This idea has been amplified by operations oriented management and product managers who are in love with “their baby”. I have never seen a product or service sell itself. Someone had to differentiate the product or service from the competition’s and value during the process. Sales people need to demonstrate the superiority of their product or service over the many options open to the customer.
An unusual situation occurs when an founder of a company retires and leaves his or her company in the hands of an operations oriented manager. These managers have a common tendency of taking the old established accounts – that were actually the personal accounts developed by the founder – and turning them into “house accounts.” This action is strictly a method of eliminating a commission to a sales person on these “established” accounts. And, I have been told by these managers – that the “house” accounts will do business with us “just because of who we are!”
The truth about this “house” account stupidity is that these old and profitable accounts will leave due to a severe lack of action. Competitor’s are smart and become more aggressive in going after these “house” accounts. They offer innovative new products and in some cases partnerships or joint ventures to win the business. “House Accounts” must be aggressively marketed by the company and your best sales people should be assigned to these legacy accounts.
To summarize the sixth Truth, being successful (growing and profitable), your sales process must be focused upon the customer. For customers to buy, they must feel that you are offering the best value, not the best prices. They must feel you understand their issues (not learning at their expense) and offer innovative new ideas and opportunities. You show that you will be involved for the long-term, not here today and gone tomorrow. I’m seeing too many companies abandon customers during the tough economic times. They justify these decisions as making economic sense and necessary due to the economy.
Most importantly, they trust you, they feel that you have their best interest at heart and that you will do what you say you will do! Remember, you are in business to sell and grow – both your company and your customers’ company. You always have a choice – make the right choice and grow.
The next Myth is that sales people must be “showing and telling” customers about their product or service. Canned scripted presentations abound. This activity usually leads to a price driven buying decision! Some consider presentation ability to be the key sales success factor. They think that sales people should present their product whenever customer shows even a glimmer of interest.
This show and tell mentality comes internal focused people. Its all about the product or service and therefore has nothing to do with the customer’s wants or needs. This method leads directly to the previous myth that you needed to be excellent at handling objections. Well, the only reason for handling objections is the lack of customer engagement and involvement. When the customer has no interest in a product or service, the old school sales person would attempt to trick or pressure a “yes” just to make one sale. The downside to this approach was no repeat business and a high return rate or order cancellation.
Today’s Truth is that sales people must focus first and foremost on the customer. They have to master questioning and listening skills to be successful. Customers demand that you totally understand their unique situation (even if its not really unique – they believe it is unique.). Customers want salespeople to know the customer’s industry and the company’s specific issues. This requires sales people to utilize value added selling of customer specific solutions. At the same time this yields the benefit of higher profitability than can be achieved using the bidding method or generic open bid packages.
Customers want to deal with people who care about the customer’s success. The customer needs to feel that the sales person will support the customer – even in difficult times like today’s economic environment. Take the time to build relationships within an organization. Go wide and deep to insure that everyone is supporting your product or service. These people will override the blockers within the organization that want your competitors to win. Take the external point of view – know your customer’s situation, support their growth and needs and help them win using ROI and creative results.
The Fourth Sales process Myth is that tricks, methods and techniques should be used to overcome the customer’s objections. This will allegedly “close” the order. However, today’s customers do not want to be sold anything. They recognize and resent manipulation. They plan to buy value to satisfy their wants and needs. They seek truth rather than clever selling tricks, methods and techniques.
The Sales Executives who believe that the only thing a good sales person needs to learn is how to handle objections – have not been in the field lately. I give them the benefit of the doubt here. These sales executives were trained in the old traditional methods of selling and have not learned that there are newer and more effective methods to use.
Today, the best sales people earn the trust of their customers, learn about the current situations and compare to the desired situation, calculate what needs to be done to close the gap and then produces an ROI statement for the customer to use in their decision process. Simple yet, not easy. Discipline is a key measure for these sales people to be successful. No presentations can be made until all the issues are found and value calculated.
The Truth is sales people must understand both the selling process and the buying process to be able to win the trust, confidence and business of their customers. Successful sales people seek to understand the customer’s buying process and then align their selling process accordingly. It is important to align the sales process with the buying process. This alignment insures both processes are working to create a win-win position. Major mistakes occur when the sales process gets ahead of the buying process and price based presentations are made before the customer is ready to decide. ( Some cases we have found the customer has heard an entire presentation – including a low price – without even knowing they had a need to buy something.)
Objection handling should be a very minor issue when the sales and buying processes are aligned and the sales person uses questions to both uncover issues and involve the buyer in the process. Issues are discussed and solutions are found without the need for tricks and techniques to persuade. Engage the customer in the sales process from the beginning and align with the buying cycle and watch your sales success grow.
The Third Sales Myth concerns the role of enthusiasm in successful selling. In the old traditional school, sales people were taught to be enthusiastic and customers would buy. Today, research has shown that a high percentage of buyers are mistrustful of enthusiastic salespeople. They label them as shallow and self-serving!
These type of sale people usually have no knowledge of the customer or their needs, systems, processes or even the customer’s customers. There is little substance on the part of the sales person other than the stated – “Trust Me!” The customer feels left out of the process, has wasted their time with someone that has no idea regarding how to help the customer, and little creativity or problem solving is displayed.
The Truth shows a sales person’s self confidence has a more positive impact on both the salesperson and customer. Why? Self confidence is derived from a combination of self-mastery, knowledge, experience and trust in one’s own ability. Research shows that buyers have more trust in people who exhibit high levels of self-confidence (not ego!).
The interesting part about the confidence level is an introverted sales person can demonstrate the self-confidence that customers want over the extrovert. This has confused some sales managers or executives that believe that all sales people have to be extroverts. Wrong again. Introverts with certain strong motivators can win more sales, customers and business than extroverts. The selection process uncovers these key traits for successful selling.
While enthusiasm is helpful in some cases, confidence is a bigger factor regarding success. And, people who are optimistic can be more successful in the selling environment than people who are pessimistic or negative. Learn how to pick the winners from the candidates and insure your success in the marketplace.
The Second Myth of Sales involves the selection of sales people. Many sales managers believe that anyone can sell, so the hiring process is easy. Just hire anyone and put them in the job. No training necessary if they follow the instructions of the sales presentation. Well, maybe some product knowledge training which has been up to 85% of the sales training budget for many companies (commodity companies). If a person can fog a mirror, they can fill the position! Major mistake were made using this method.
Then if a person does not work out, fire them and replace the person with another. No problem using this method. The problems of this method of hiring is really a big problem. This process belief ignores both the direct costs of bringing the wrong person “up to speed” and then replacing them, as well as the indirect costs of lost business and dissatisfied customers. The indirect costs can be very large depending upon the size of average customers and average sales volumes. I have seen one bad hire cost a company several million dollars with lost customers!
The Truth is that the proper effort used on the front end will have the right sales people doing the right sales job. Successful sales people can be found using effective selection processes. Organizations using proper hiring methods get better results by increasing sales, improving profitability and reducing turnover.
A proper hiring process includes a complete understanding of the sales position. Accountabilities are established for outcomes, types of territories, number of accounts within a territory, percentage of market-share (using different categories – total customers, products or services mix, etc.). Then an accurate establishment of traits needed for the position to be successful are identified – before talking to the first candidate.
Other criteria are identified and weighed as to level of importance in the hiring process. Then behavioral interview questions are both identified and selected or assigned to the interview team. Standards are set for identifying potential high performers. Assessments are used to create objective information on each candidate. And, multiple people are interviewed in order to have a selection of top talent.