Last week, for the second year in a row, our son played in a 12U baseball tournament in Cooperstown, NY. Last year, he played with boys a year older than him and the tournament inspired this very popular article on the Top 5 Mistakes Salespeople Make. This year's tournament was special, it was exciting to be there, and a privilege for him to be on such a talented team. However, nothing could ever top last year, the baseball equivalent of showing up at Disney World for the very first time. This year, we knew what to expect.
On the trip back home, I didn't need to play racing legend Mario Andretti to get us where we needed to be on time. I kept it to the speed limit, enjoyed the scenery and for the first time, experienced stress-free driving. Not only that, I wasn't tired like I usually am during and after driving 4 hours.
What does this have to do with selling? A lot. Magic, racing and expectations are major factors in sales. We will discuss the role of each and how salespeople can be more consistent when they better understand those 3 factors and learn to manage them.
Magical - Sometimes, salespeople start an opportunity with all of the wonder and amazement of a first-time Disney visit. This can happen when the company is huge, the opportunity has more zeros than ever before, or the salesperson has an audience with a high-ranking, well-known executive. Unfortunately, wonder, amazement and intimidation are like the young child watching the Main Street Disney parade. They lead to an excited, emotional salesperson who will probably be unable to see the forest through the trees.
Racing Car - Frequently, salespeople can't wait to reach a sales milestone they are comfortable with. That's usually a presentation, demo, proposal or quote. Consider that as well as prospects who declare that they have only 20 minutes. Either scenario causes salespeople to rush through their calls while they fail to ask meaningful questions, don't carefully listen to responses, and skip the follow-up questions. They are so focused on getting to the end that they don't relax and take in the scenery. They fail to uncover the compelling reasons for their prospects to do business with them.
Know What to Expect - There are some occasions when salespeople don't rely on their experience and instincts. Instead they fail to recognize that they have been in this situation, faced these challenges, or met with these kinds of people before. They need to realize that their prior experience has fully prepared them for this moment. When they know what to expect, the call will likely go according to their expectations.
Have you or your salespeople ever walked into a sales call to find people in the meeting that were not expected? Salespeople should always know, in advance, who will be in the meeting and what their role is. If unexpected people attend the meeting they should ask:
- What is their role in the company?
- What is their role in this meeting?
- What is their role in selecting a partner (vendor, source, solution, company or product)?
- What do they know about me?
- What do they know about us?
- What do they know about what we have already discussed?
Is there anyone who will attend the meeting or who is in the meeting that shouldn't? Is there anyone else that should? Are they in agreement with what has been discussed so far?
Is there a potential partner that they favor? Why?
What would you have to do in order for them to consider you?
Most salespeople never even think to ask these questions. Others gloss over them. But these questions are more important than a conversation about your capabilities.
If you ask the right questions, you'll know what to expect even when you haven't been there before!
Knowing what to expect and uncovering compelling reasons to buy are both crucial components of sales coaching. SellingPower posted this video of me talking about the essence of sales coaching. Want more? This is the last call for my top-rated, two-day event on How to Get the Most Out of Your Sales Force. The highlight of the two days is the best darn training you will ever attend on the right way to coach salespeople. If you want to attend, use SLI-DK-UTSF for a great discount.
Finally, the latest issue of Top Sales Magazine was published today and it features a lead article written by me.