Customers Love to Buy so Why Do Salespeople Struggle to Sell Them?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 02, 2017 @ 06:10 AM

happy-buyer.jpg
Image Copyright iStock Photos

I just returned from the local car dealer.

Have you ever noticed how happy people are when they are buying things?  What about you?  How did you feel the last time you took delivery of your new car?  Was it the new car smell?  The finish?  The wheels?  The look?  The brand?  What about the last time you bought a new smartphone, tablet or notebook computer?  And how happy were you when you moved into your house or apartment?  When you installed the swimming pool, bought the boat, renovated the kitchen, painted the house, bought new furniture, the flat screen TV, or a new wardrobe?  Happy buying extends to vacations and even sporting goods.  It never ends!  The excitement from these purchases tends to last much longer than the moments themselves.  

So if we all love buying stuff, why do salespeople struggle so much when they try to sell stuff?  Why isn't it as friction-free as an abundance of happy buyers would suggest it should be?

There are at least 13 reasons for this:

  1. Many salespeople try too hard to sell instead of helping people buy
  2. Many salespeople try to sell stuff that some people don't want or need
  3. The B2B buying experience is different from the B2C buying experience
  4. Many salespeople and customers don't have the same goals
  5. Many salespeople put their own interests ahead of those of their customers
  6. Many salespeople don't know how to lower their customer's resistance
  7. Most salespeople are predictable and obvious and their customers hate it
  8. Most salespeople don't know how to have a real conversation about issues and the impact of those issues
  9. Most B2B salespeople don't know how to make the B2B conversation personal and fail to get their business customers to the happy place that consumers get to
  10. Most salespeople are absolute amateurs when it comes to the consultative approach to selling, the only approach that makes it personal
  11. Most salespeople aren't able to sell value with any degree of effectiveness so the buyer-seller conversation ends up focused on price
  12. Most salespeople don't take the time to develop relationships
  13. Salespeople are ineffective at getting and setting realistic expectations

There are more reasons but I'm equally sure you get the gist of this.  How can you make the B2B experience more pleasant, helpful, personal and value-based and less about your goals and needs, which raise resistance?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, Closing Sales, b2b sales, selling skills, B2C Sales

How Boomers and Millennials Differ in Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 18, 2016 @ 13:05 PM

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I hate this article already - the last thing we need is another article to help us to understand Millennials.  Except for one thing.  Most of you reading this are Millennials and you probably need to better understand boomers.

We've all heard many of the distinctions of Millennials - how they like to work, where they like to work, when they like to work, how little they like to work, how entitled they are, how money isn't that important, how they want to change the world and be a part of something bigger than themselves.  So I'm not going to write about any of that in this article.  Instead, I'm going to talk about several tendencies that differentiate these two generations of salespeople.

We can begin with Motivation.  Boomer salespeople are generally extrinsically motivated - motivated by money and things - while Millennials are typically intrinsically motivated.  They would prefer to love what they do and strive for mastery.  Here is more on the difference between these two types of motivation in sales.

We can talk about New Business Development too.  Boomers are much more likely to pick up the phone and make a call - even a cold call - to initiate contact and follow up and they prefer to meet face-to-face.  Millennials are more likely to use their social networks - LinkedIn, Twitter, Text and Facebook - to initiate contact - and email to follow-up and they tend to prefer selling by phone.  The two newest selling roles - SDR's and BDR's - are both top-of-the-funnel roles where the reps simply schedule meetings and calls for account executives.  These roles are filled almost exclusively by Millennials.  I hear you.  "But they are on the phone and you said they don't like using the phone!"  Exactly.  And that explains why they are so bad at it. The latest statistics from ConnectAndSell tell us that these reps book, on average, 1.5 meetings per week.  If that is the only thing they are required to do, shouldn't the number be more like 2-3 meetings per day?

And speaking of Selling Skills, Boomers are far more likely to have professional selling skills while Millennials are more likely to frame selling in the context of demos, proposals and follow-up.  It might not be their fault, as most of them are in the aforementioned top-of-the-funnel roles, while Boomers are almost always found in outside territory, major account, vertical or account management roles.

One of the new things that Objective Management Group (OMG) introduced last month is industry statistics where the results of a company's sales force evaluation are compared against other companies in their industry.  Here's an image from a slide that looks at the average scores for salespeople in 6 major strands of Sales DNA and how this sales force (burgundy) compares to similar companies (blue) as well as all companies (green).

industry-comparison.png 

Regular readers know that OMG has evaluated more than one million salespeople from more than 11,000 companies.  I am hoping that in the coming months, we can filter our data by generation and share the differences in the 21 Sales Core Competencies that we measure.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales motivation, inside sales, selling skills, top of the funnel

Sales and Selling - Which Has Evolved More?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jan 19, 2010 @ 05:01 AM

Let's compare the evolution of selling to the evolution of salespeople.

Which do you think has evolved more?  After all, both have been around since there has been anything to sell.

Selling was fairly late to evolve.  A formal sales process didn't exist before the middle of the 20th century and I can make two points about AIDA  - the first of its kind.  AIDA was an acronym for Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.

  1. It is primitive by today's standards
  2. Despite how primitive it is, it is still a more formalized process than what 92% of salespeople are out there doing according the data of Objective Management Group.
There isn't much evidence that sales experts existed prior to Elmer Wheeler in 1936.  If you haven't read my book, Baseline Selling, then you probably don't know that Elmer invented two concepts that are well-known today.  
  1. "Sell the sizzle, not the steak" appeared in his manuscript, "Tested Sentenes That Sell" from 1936
  2. In his 1947 book, "How to Sell Yourself to Others", he introduced Pain as a buying motivator, and the negative sell as a powerful selling tactic.

Selling evolved more later in the 20th century and into the 21st century with more systems, processes, styles and today, tools and applications.  However, I was recently looking at the data to see two things. How salespeople had evolved or adapted looking at two points in time:

  1. the height of the good times  - early 2007 before the free fall - and at the height of the recession - early 2009.
  2. when we began collecting data - early 1990's - and today.

What I found amazed me and will surely amaze you.  Ready? Salespeople have not changed in any way since the recession.  The statistics are identical with one exception - the percentage of salespeople who are hitting their numbers has declined significantly.  However, the skill sets have not improved despite the need for them to.  And the weaknesses are just as plentiful as they were, despite the need for them to be overcome.  

Surely, when I compare today's data with the data from 20 years ago, there is change, right?  Wrong.  Same findings.

We don't have data from the 50's but if we did, I suspect I would find the same thing.  Selling has evolved, the markets have evolved, the prospects have evolved, the expectations have evolved, the tools have evolved, companies have evolved and salespeople have not.  Who is to blame?  While companies should take part of the blame for not doing a better job of training their salespeople (training is not a seminar once per year!), salespeople must take the brunt of the blame for not developing their talent on their own, putting themselves through the equivalent of four years of sales college.

What do you think?

(C) Copyright 2010 Dave Kurlan


Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, Sales Force, sales weaknesses, selling skills, elmer wheeler

Top 6 Reasons Why Most Sales Training Doesn't Work

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 24, 2009 @ 21:06 PM

If you invest in sales training, especially now, you also need it to work now, not in 12 months.  Why does it take so long for most sales training to make a difference and why does most sales training fail to make the difference you expect? There are a lot of possible reasons and I'll attempt to explain them here.

  • Sales trainers want to sell sales training so they skip or gloss over the more important issues like
This is why it's so important to work with a sales development expert - someone who takes an integrated, thoughtful approach to the sales force.
  • Sales training is too difficult to understand and apply and trainers make it even more difficult with their complicated processes, non-intuitive tactics and tricks. Instead, they should make it as simple as possible by making it memorable, intuitive, and easy to apply. 
  • They tend to demonstrate their strategies and tactics through role play, which is fine, but their role plays demonstrate more tactics than what they have already taught.  They should never include more in the role play than their audience has learned from them.  Here is an example.  You take a seven year old to the movies.  If it's an age appropriate movie, rated G or PG, all of the previews are age appropriate and the seven year-old gets it - all of it.  However, if you take the seven year-old to a PG-13 movie, then the previews are a bit overwhelming. The seven year-old can tell you whether it seems exciting, funny or scary, but the seven year-old doesn't understand the theme, content or mature dialog. They haven't been exposed to that stuff yet.  Same thing with your salespeople.  If the trainer has already exposed them to the basics, and includes only the basics in role play, the salespeople get it.  It's age appropriate.  But if the trainer includes material that the salespeople haven't been exposed to, they can only tell you whether they like it or it seems scary.  The role play is a bit overwhelming because they haven't been exposed to that stuff yet.
  • Some of the sales trainers just aren't that good. They fail to relate, engage, understand, entertain and change the salespeople they are training.
  • Much of the content isn't that good.  Some of it is just plain outdated while much of the other content around isn't complete, only focusing on certain parts of the sales cycle.
  • Some of them only know strategies and tactics but they don't understand the laws of cause and effect.  They can't get to the real reasons why salespeople fail to execute the strategies and tactics.

There are at least as many more reasons but this article is already longer than it should be.  We'll just call it part 1 and I'll circle back with part 2 at a later date.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales training, sales leadership, Sales Tactics, sales management training, sales evaluation, sales trainers, Selling System, sales strategy, selling skills, sales test

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About Dave

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

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