Selling is harder today. Prospects are more educated; the competition is ferocious and differentiating yourself requires better skills and execution.
If you don’t change how you sell and how you manage, the competition will win. It’s a zero-sum game, you must either commit to improvement or ride status quo to the end.
Salespeople today must be highly effective hunters, skilled at having wide-ranging business discussions, steadfast in their commitment to walk away, tenacious at closing, and capable of establishing high-value relationships on the first meaningful call.
Using Objective Management Group data, I compared average salespeople with 10-15 years’ experience to average salespeople with 3-5 years. The seasoned group is slightly better. In relationship creation, hunting, consultative selling, qualifying, value-selling and sales posturing their scores are 3-5% higher. The percentage of “veterans” OMG defines as having strength in these same areas is 10% higher than the newer salespeople.
This means average new salespeople do improve over ten years but only marginally and that a higher percentage of veteran salespeople were either strong when hired or became strong in these critical skills.
My conclusion: the status quo is way too acceptable.
The term, gift of gab, has been used to describe “born salespeople." Unfortunately, one reason salespeople struggle with improvement is wordiness or over-talking. As a result of this:
- Prospects get bored
- Prospects get confused
- We oversell
- We talk over prospects
- We lose our train of though
- The discussion is no longer a conversation
- We sound like a salesperson
- We don’t hear what people say
Our brains are wired to continue “normal” behavior. This means doing what we have always done. Patterned behavior can be changed but the new behavior must be repeated many times before it begins to become normalized. Learning to shorten your statements and questions requires practice and intentional application. You need a coach to listen to you and tell you when you are off course.
When you use lots of words, it’s hard for people to understand. They tend to ask clarifying questions which can reinforce the behavior.
Try to avoid the first long-winded statement, this makes it easier to manage yourself. It’s best to leave props (literature, presentations, talking points) at home since they may get you talking. Above all else focus on listening and asking about what you heard.
If you are really committed to be a better salesperson or manager, you need to become comfortable being uncomfortable. You don’t have to like it, you just have to do. Comfort comes from discomfort. Discomfort is a natural response to changing what is normal. If what you are doing feels too comfortable, it likely means you are not getting better, and getting better is a requirement for continued success in today’s sales environment.
If you are brave enough to look in the mirror, click on the link below.