How Many of Your Salespeople are Addicted to This?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Dec 14, 2011 @ 09:12 AM

hopiumI was working with a client's sales team yesterday and one salesperson shared that he had given up his "hopium" addiction.  Hopium?

It's a new term - I couldn't find any documented use of the word prior to 2008 and most references are from the past couple of months.  It's in the urban dictionary but not the traditional dictionary.  Hopium is defined as a combination of Hope and Optimism.  Okay, that makes sense.

But the salesperson who used it didn't mean he had given up his addiction to hope and optimism.  He meant to say that he had given up his addiction to Happy Ears.

I've written four prior articles about Happy Ears.  

Happy Ears - 2nd of the 10 Competencie that are Key to Building a Sales Culture 

5 Steps to Coaching Your Salespeople Beyond Happy Ears 

When Agreement is Really Disagreement - Happy Ears for Salespeople 

Happy Ears or an Empty Pipeline?

Your salespeople must have a formal, structured sales process that they follow religiously so that they know exactly where they are and what they must accomplish next.

They must master the more challenging competency of advanced listening and questioning skills -required for selling consultatively and achieving trusted advisor status.  

They must be able to identify a prospect/customer's compelling reason(s) to buy from them.  

Prospects have little incentive to answer qualifying questions and continue a discussion with a salesperson if they lack a compelling reason to buy from them.  Salespeople intuitively know this and when unable to identify a compelling reason to buy, quickly skip ahead to the presentation.  When prospects react positively to the presentation or demo, happy ears kick in.  They like it.  They're interested.  It's cool.  They could use it.  Salespeople hear what they were hoping to hear and then make the mistake of drawing conclusions like, "Good opportunity for this quarter."  "Qualified".  "Closable".  And then they chase.

The antidote to happy ears is to develop the ability to ask the questions that most salespeople are afraid of.  One example is, "You already have a relationship with XYZ, so why would you leave them to work with us?"  That's a scary question if you haven't identified their  compelling reason to buy from you but if you know the answer, the question is powerful.

Hopium.  The salesperson was able to give up his hopium addiction - addiction to hoping he would get the business - because he can now ask all of the tough questions that didn't occur to him or scared him before.  Why was he scared?  Lack of sales process didn't make it apparent that he was in a bad neighborhood.  Lack of methodology meant that he was not taking a consultative approach.  Lack of consultative selling skills meant that he didn't have the listening and questioning skills needed to ask the tough questions.  Now he knows exactly where he stands, how it's really going, and whether he will close an opportunity - or not!

Do your salespeople have a hopium addiction?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Coaching, Sales Advice

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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