Salesperson's Terrible Reaction Part 2

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 31, 2016 @ 10:10 AM

weaknesses.jpg

I posted a very short article where I discussed one salesperson's reaction to a great sales role play.  I received a number of emails telling me how helpful the video, story and lessons were.  

The article highlighted Self-Limiting beliefs or negative self talk. Today we will take it a step further and discuss the other things that could have been at play - hidden weaknesses - and the interference they cause salespeople while selling to their prospects.  Like chains, salespeople are only as strong as their weakest link...

The salesperson (let's call him Fred) really believed – from conviction – that the approach was too direct.  I had challenged his personal values and when you challenge someone’s values they will usually dig in their heels. 

Suppose someone else in the room felt exactly the same way as Fred, but wasn't as comfortable confronting me as Fred was.  Would that have been any different?  Yes, it certainly would!  Their fear of confrontation would suggest that they have a need to be liked - technically known as Need for Approval - a very common, yet hidden sales weakness that prevents salespeople from asking questions and pushing back for fear that the prospect will not like them anymore.  I don't believe that Fred has this weakness or he would have been too uncomfortable confronting me and digging in his heals in front of the group.  He was definitely not uncomfortable when he made his case!

Need for Approval affects more than half of all salespeople but only 6% of elite salespeople have the weakness while 78% of weak salespeople have it.  That says a lot, doesn't it?

To say that Need for Approval gets in the way of selling is an understatement.  This weakness alone can interfere with the execution of every stage of the sales process.  For example, it's crucial that modern salespeople have the ability to take a consultative approach in order to differentiate themselves from the competition.  A consultative approach requires asking a lot of questions, pushing back, punching holes, and sometimes, gently confronting. Salespeople with the need to be liked simply will not do that.

When Fred reacted, we were in a role play where we were having a financial conversation.  His reaction could have been triggered by his own discomfort talking about money, a hidden weakness that prevents salespeople from having financial conversations.  Salespeople with this weakness often skip over financial qualification steps and can't dive in for a deeper discussion when there is a challenge finding enough money to pay for what needs to be bought.  Those salespeople often under or over propose because they always fail to learn exactly how much money their prospects will spend with them.

Today it is more difficult than ever to be successful in sales.  The most important take away from these examples is that when salespeople further complicate the modern challenge of selling with their own weaknesses, success becomes even more unlikely and difficult to achieve.

Make sure you read Dan McDade's article - part 3 in his lies or myths series - on sales and marketing alignment.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Need for Approval, sales process, sales qualifying, hidden sales weaknesses, EQ

You're Afraid to Sell Because You Think There is Hope

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 24, 2014 @ 07:11 AM

bandofbrothers

It may have been in episode 4 or 5, in season 1.  It was definitely in the HBO series Band of Brothers.  Thanks Chris, for recommending it.  I can't believe I'm a decade late watching this!

A soldier was telling an officer that after the drop into Normandy, he simply hid in a ditch.  The officer asked if he knew why and he replied, "Because I was scared!"  The officer said, "You were scared because you thought there was hope.  The sooner you can accept that you're already dead, the sooner you can function as a soldier."

Think about that statement - not just its war implications, but also its life, and of course, sales implications.

Some people worry constantly about troubled love ones until that trouble causes their death.  The worrying ends because in those cases, death eliminates the fear.

In sales, we certainly don't want salespeople to have a defeatist attitude - nothing could be worse than that.  But on an opportunity by opportunity basis, there is tremendous power in believing we have already lost, or that we cannot possibly win this deal or account.

Why?

In battle, if we believe we are already dead, then what's the worst that can happen?  If we are already living the worst that can happen - death - then we won't be afraid, we won't be tentative, and we will do not some, but all of the things we were trained to do.  We'll fight!

In sales, if we believe we have already lost, then what's the worst that can happen?  If we are already living the worst that can happen -  we lost - then we won't be afraid, we won't be tentative, and we will do not some, but all of the things we were trained to do.  We'll sell!

"We'll sell" means that we'll ask all of those good, tough, timely questions that salespeople don't always ask; qualify more thoroughly than ever before, and not give in to the pressure of an early demo, presentation or proposal until the milestones in our process tell us that it's appropriate. 

Most salespeople fail to achieve because of their fear, but if we can eliminate the fear, only a lack of selling skills would hold them back and those can be taught.  Sure it can take 8 months to a year to train and coach salespeople to master consultative selling.  But that's a hell of a lot better that the 2-3 years it can take when all of their fears still prevent them from even trying what they are being taught.

Pop culture, especially a movie that tells a true story, can provide a better context for change than when we map out steps and teach.

You won't get this deal, so stop being afraid.  Do the things you've been afraid to do because you don't have anything to lose!

 

 

 

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, fear of failure, selling fearlessly, selling skills training, sales fears, sales qualifying

Why Prospects Don't Buy From You Today!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 @ 14:10 PM

world Series 2014

Did you watch any of the 2014 World Series?

I watched a few pitches of Game 6 and I'm a baseball guy!  Why so little?  I was watching Jake Peavy give it his all, trying to hold things together, and thought to myself, "Why am I watching this?  I don't care about either of these two teams.  I'm not engaged."  I'm guessing that if you're not a Giants or Royals fan, you may not have seen too much of this World Series either.  I do plan to watch Game 7 - as long as it keeps me engaged.

Engagement.  There is a huge connection between what I experienced with the World Series, and what prospects experience with salespeople.  If you can understand and apply this analogy it will make a huge difference in the quality of your calls and meetings.  Here are the four most important things for you to know.

Think back to the last time you were a prospect - for something - anything.  Other than a shiny new car or your next home, were you excited?  Really excited?  Were you anxious to talk with a salesperson about long distance or VoiP, insurance, payroll, shipping, a new machine, software, office furniture, computers, legal and accounting, landscaping, seal-coating your driveway, a fence, an industry-specific tool or device, anything?

No, of course not.

So, it stands to reason that your prospects aren't all that excited about meeting with you or your salespeople either.  That helps to explain all of the cancellations and postponements that so many salespeople experience!  The prospects will meet if they have to - if they need to - but not because they are simply interested.  Even that is interesting.  You know they need to meet, but they aren't admitting that.  So, you ask why they wanted to meet and they explain that they are "investigating other options, exploring what's available, or curious about your capabilities."  But, if you know that they are meeting with you because they need what you have, you can push back.  You can say, "Most people are too busy to meet with me unless there is something they were really hoping I could help with.  In your case, what would that be?"

Making this situation a bit more challenging is that salespeople get really excited about talking to, meeting with and presenting to their new prospects.  The reality is that there is a huge lack of alignment in the levels of excitement between salespeople and prospects.  So, how can you get them as excited as you are about discussing and showing them what you have?

It's not easy, but you can do this if you can help them solve a business problem.  At the same time, that's the exact mistake that so many salespeople are making.  They start by trying to demonstrate that they can solve a business problem.   I know.  I sound like I'm contradicting myself even though I'm not.  What I'm saying is, you can't demonstrate your ability to solve their business problem until they have admitted that they have a business problem!  This can't occur until after they have:

  • Told you about the issues that contribute to their business problem,
  • Told you about the business, personal, emotional and financial impact or consequences of their business problem,
  • Quantified the cost of this problem if it's left unresolved, and
  • Expressed their desire to accept your help.

You still need to qualify them.

My favorite Qualification Articles are: 

Top 5 Reasons Why Salespeople Don't Qualify Effectively

Top 10 Reasons Salespeople Struggle to Get Decisions

Top 10 Criteria for a Qualified Sales Presentation

Then, and only then, is it appropriate to demonstrate how you can solve their business problem.  Then, they will be as excited as you are.  Then, they will be ready to buy.  Then, they will take action.

How can you make the transition from demonstrating your product, to demonstrating your ability to solve a business problem, to doing that only after having learned about their desire to get your help?

I'll be honest with you.  It's not easy.  It involves learning to master the art of Consultative Selling, and specifically, how to listen and ask follow-up questions the right way.  For most salespeople, that takes 8 months of training from someone who actually knows what they're doing.  And not many sales trainers and coaches have the ability to teach this the right way.  It is a very elite group!

Prospects will get as excited as you when you learn how to get them excited - not by doing demos and presentations, but by asking enough good, tough, timely questions to learn about them and their business issues.  Then you'll know they are saying, "Wow, she really gets it.  I want to work with her!"

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, selling tips, Closing Sales, sales presentation, sales qualifying, Jake Peavy

Are Sales Cycles Really Getting Shorter?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Dec 11, 2009 @ 10:12 AM

I read an article that claimed that winning sales cycles are getting shorter. 

While I agree with everything else in the article, I questioned the 23% shorter because our substantial data does not support this claim.  So where could the discrepancy be?

Let's start with the author's statement, "from qualify to close has reduced by a little more than 23%".  

I've previously written that more than 90% of salespeople we have assessed don't have or follow a formal sales process. Despite that, even in companies lacking a formal process, there may be a milestone called "Qualified" but, exactly where, and when, does this milestone take place?  Some companies attempt to qualify far too early in the process and, as a result, either fail to convert their opportunities, or their process drags on for much longer than necessary.  Why?  Because "qualified" is not a buying motivation - it doesn't compel anyone to take action.  On the other hand, if a company is using a time-tested, proven, sales process where qualification takes place immediately after determining that the prospect has:

  • compelling reasons to buy,
  • compelling reasons to buy from you,
  • some urgency to solve a problem,
...the sales cycle will accelerate.  This includes a lightning fast qualification where the prospect cooperates in qualifying themselves instead of withholding information.  Why?  They're motivated!  So a company that is qualifying at the right time should shorten their sales cycle from that point forward.

The next question revolves around criteria.  What is the criteria for "Qualified"?  In most car dealerships, if you are able to walk in under your own power, you are a qualified buyer.  In B2B sales, surprising as it may seem, many salespeople continue to take that approach.  How do they know the prospect is qualified?  One of the answers I heard recently was, "They seemed interested and they agreed with what I said".  There can be as many as 30 qualifying criteria that a company may incorporate and all companies must have at least the following eight:

  • prospect is committed to solving the problem identified;
  • they will spend more money to do business with you;
  • you know their time line to have a solution in place;
  • you know their criteria for a decision;
  • you know their process for making a decision;
  • you have spoken with the decision makers and are aware of others that may be involved;
  • you know they have and will spend the money required to solve their problem;
  • you have both a needs and cost appropriate solution;

So even if a salesperson is qualifying at the right time, the number of qualifying criteria has a great deal to do with how qualified an opportunity actually is and the more qualified it is, the more likely it is to close.  For example, if we added three more criteria:

  • competition has been eliminated;
  • doing it themselves is not an option;
  • putting it off until is not an option

...the percentage of qualified opportunities that convert to closed would increase further still.  As you can see, the timing and number of filters has more to do with how likely things will move along than anything else.

Since the article's author used client data as the basis for his statistic, I would simply guess that the 23% reduction in time from qualified to closed represents a before and after picture of their clients - a comparison of those who:

Were previously not qualifying as outlined above (before they became clients).

vs.

Adopted and/or formalized their process so that they were qualifying as outlined above (after they became clients).

Objective Management Group's data on the salespeople we've assessed tells us that most salespeople are providing their quotes and proposals at inappropriate times (85% to early), presenting at inappropriate times (84% too soon) and following up inappropriately (92% don't have a reason to follow up ).  The reason?  They weren't qualifying at the appropriate time!

So, 9 of your 10 salespeople aren't qualifying at the right time and with the right criteria.  You decide to get some help to create a formalized, optimal sales process.  You get your salespeople trained long enough and effectively enough to master the consultative skills necessary to develop motivated buyers with compelling reasons to move forward.  They now qualify effectively and appropriately.  How much shorter will the back end of your sales cycle be then?

Since 90% of your salespeople are now converting 50% more prospects to motivated buyers, who have the urgency to self-qualify, in order to get their problems solved, it should be a lot more than 23% shorter!

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, Sales Force, sales cycle, sales qualifying, sales assessments

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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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