Companies Surprised by Unexpected Remote Selling Challenges

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Apr 09, 2020 @ 17:04 PM

roller-coaster

Forget Consultative Selling, Value Selling and Sales Process - the things I talk about most often.  The inability to sell that way is nothing - and I mean nothing compared with what I'm going to explain today!

For most salespeople and companies, the last three weeks has been an absolute roller coaster. Most companies expect their sales teams to be not only active, but proactive; to replace face-to-face meetings with virtual meetings; and to continue pipeline building so that there is business to close when we return to work.  But is that what's happening?  In today's article, I'll blend my usual mix of statistics with some personal observation from the clients I have been helping for the past three weeks.  I also included three videos that I extracted from a sales training session earlier this week.  You'll be surprised!

Yesterday, in a previously scheduled virtual training program to a global seller of test equipment, I learned that they weren't handling the "new" objections (we're not meeting with anyone now; we're not spending any money now) in a way that was consistent with how I trained them to handle objections just one month ago!  This helpful one-minute video about handling these objections was extracted from the training.

 

I was further surprised when I asked them if they had moved their face-to-face meetings to virtual meetings.  Only 3 of their 18 salespeople were doing that!  This two-minute rant about their lack of virtual meetings was also extracted from that training.

 

I was surprised again when I asked if they were making outgoing calls and building pipeline on deals they couldn't close today.  Less than a third of them were doing so.  My final three-minute rant, extracted from that training, is about their lack of proactive calling.

 

Should I have been surprised?  Upset?

Kurlan & Associates had Objective Management Group (OMG) evaluate this company's sales force last summer and the following bullet points are among the things we learned about their sales team that are still very relevant today:

  • Their regional sales managers weren't coaching - ever.
  • Their sales managers weren't holding their salespeople accountable and  83% of their salespeople were making excuses.
  • 75% of their salespeople weren't motivated and 84% weren't goal orientated.
  • Nearly half of their salespeople are fishermen (they won't hunt but they'll follow up on an inbound lead), half were potential hunters (they would hunt if someone required them to but as I mentioned above, the sales managers aren't holding them accountable) and only one - one! was a pure hunter.
  • 75% of their salespeople had Closing as a weakness and their average score in the Closing competency was only 28!
  • Eleven out of twelve salespeople lacked commitment to achieve greater sales success
  • Half of their sales force was in the bottom 35 percentile of all salespeople
  • Only half of their salespeople were well-suited for working remotely.

Remember, these factors were discovered last summer and are still impacting their ability to get anything productive accomplished today.  In addition to these issues, they scored poorly in 9 selling Competencies other than Closing, 6 Sales DNA Competencies and 2 Will to Sell Competencies other than Commitment, Excuse Making and Motivation.  Click here if you want to see what the average scores are for nearly 2 million salespeople in all 21 Sales Core Competencies that OMG measures, what they are in your industry, and what they are in your company.

Go back and review the last bullet point - suitable for working remotely.  In the old days - February 2020 - this finding only applied to salespeople who were covering a territory remotely from home office, and who worked for sales managers that didn't closely manage them.  Today it applies to every sales person on the planet that is not being closely managed by a sales manager.  With existing salespeople it's nice to know.  When you're hiring new remote salespeople, it's an important criteria of the recommendation to hire.  Under today's conditions, it could be the most important factor aside from selling capabilities.  Three of the key attributes of working remotely are:

  • Self-Starter
  • Works independently
  • Works without supervision

I looked at the data on the most recent 61,000 employed salespeople that OMG evaluated and found that only 41% overall were suitable for working remotely. 

Sales Percentile Percent Suitable
for Remote Selling
Elite (Top 5%) 67%
Strong (Next 15%) 61%
Serviceable 51%
Weak (Bottom 50%) 33%

As you can see in the table above, even a third of the best salespeople in the world aren't suitable for working remotely!  How will the bottom half perform?  And when two thirds of the bottom half can't effectively work from their homes, and most industrial salespeople fall into the bottom half, they're kind of screwed!

You can't make a salesperson who is not well-suited for working remotely suddenly suitable.  But as with the Pandemic, you can mitigate.  Have a conversation over video three times per day instead of once per week!

These times are different enough.  You shouldn't have any use for a salesperson who won't double down, work twice as hard, and find business wherever they can right now.  

Comments?  Leave them here on the LinkedIn discussion.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, overcoming objections, delayed closings, remote selling

Are Salespeople Still Using the Hard Sell?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 27, 2019 @ 09:03 AM

hard-as-a-rock

When you hear a phrase like the hard sell, do you instantly think of car salespeople?  Insurance?  Replacement windows?  No offense intended to those of you in one of those three industries!

While someone's reference to a hard sell may differ, the perception of the hard sell is fairly universal.   After prospects state an objection, say they're not interested, or tell the salesperson, "No," prospects tend to raise their resistance.  Most salespeople have been trained to handle these objections and put-offs and therein lies the problem.  There are proper and effective ways to handle these, and there are improper and ineffective ways to handle these.  When you use the wrong approach it will appear to the prospect as if you are using the hard sell and their resistance will go up even further.

Most salespeople think that the hard sell consists of arm-wrestling, hammering or pressuring their prospect.  While all three of those approaches are variations of the hard sell, most salespeople overcompensate so much that they wouldn't be caught dead using them.  Instead, salespeople are guilty of the hard sell when they aren't aware of it.  All it takes to be perceived of using the hard sell is to attempt any of the following ten things in response to a prospect's increased resistance:

  1. Recite talking points
  2. Attempt to overcome an objection
  3. Share product features
  4. Explain the benefits
  5. Tout their capabilities
  6. Use logic to make a point
  7. Make the prospect wrong
  8. Try to close after a prospect says, "No" or "Maybe."
  9. Attempt to continue the conversation after hearing, "Not interested" or "We're all set."
  10. Fail to listen to the prospect and continue talking instead

That's right, most of you, without realizing it, are guilty of what you try so hard to avoid, the hard sell.  It's not so much that you are using the hard sell, as it is your prospect perceives it as the hard sell.

So what can you do instead?

Lower. Their. Resistance.  Watch this very short video about lowering resistance.

 

Lowering resistance must always be your first order of business.  

How?

Phrases like, "You're right," "I understand," "I agree," "Makes sense," and "Of course" all work fairly well.  And then you should ask permission to ask a question.  Just make sure that you don't do any of the ten things I listed above!

The actual question you ask is less important than whether or not you ask one.  Your question should be based on something you just heard, like, "You just said that you don't think this is something that you need. Can you tell me why you feel that way?"

Managing and recovering from resistance is the real art of selling. 

I just released my online, self-directed, on-demand, advanced selling skills program featuring nearly 30 lessons with recorded, actual role-plays that demonstrate the most difficult selling scenarios of all - the art of selling.  Subscribe here.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, asking questions, hard selling, advanced selling skills, overcoming objections, online sales training

Case History - Another Pitiful Sales Cold Call Exposed

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 02, 2015 @ 07:03 AM

objection

Copyright:  123RF Stock Photo

The salesperson who cold-called me gets kudos for, well, cold-calling me and getting through.  Unfortunately, it all went downhill from there.  She said she was calling from Charter Business and wanted to talk about phone and internet.  I told her that we were all set and that's when it got interesting.To her credit, she pushed back.  Unfortunately, her skills were as bad as most salespeople and when she pushed back, she did it completely wrong.  Here's what happened:

I said, "We're happy with what we have." (which is completely true).

She said, "Is there another time we could review what we have to offer?" 

Did I say I was too busy to talk right now?  Was she reading the wrong objection handling tactic from her computer monitor?  Was she learning disabled?  Or was she simply not listening?  I'm placing my bet on the likelihood that she was not listening.  When salespeople fail to listen, not only do they fail to gain favor, traction and velocity, but they perpetuate their well-earned reputation as a group of people who do not listen, only care about making a sale, and who couldn't care less about helping.

If she was listening instead of reading a script, she would have heard the word "happy."  Usually, when a prospect simply doesn't want to engage, they'll say, "We're all set."

She could have pushed back in so many ways...notice how each of these goes a bit further:

  • "I don't hear that very often, who are you using?"
  • "That's great to hear; you must be thrilled!"
  • "Terrific - what are you most happy with?"
  • "That's interesting because most of my new customers began by saying the very same thing - that they were happy."
  • "Since you're happy, you must never have to wait for a page to load..."
  • "And every file transfers instantly..."
  • "And videos never have to buffer..."
  • "You can easily store all of your large files in the cloud..."
  • And your voice calls are always perfect..."

She wouldn't have been able to turn me around, but I am certain she would have been able to turn around any prospect who was able to recognize that their service wasn't as good as it could be.

Most salespeople are afraid to push back.  It's a shame when someone is actually willing to push back, but hasn't been properly trained on how to do it effectively.

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, overcoming resistance, cold calling, lead generation, phone sales, overcoming objections

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight 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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