In Part One of this article series, I talked about how Inbound Marketing leads have changed the nature of selling and how sales and marketing must interface better. I also talked about how an information feedback loop between sales and marketing is critical to the growth of sales and the success of the organization. Frank Belzer’s book, SalesShift, best captures this change in the market and in how sales must be done in an Inbound world.
In Part Two, I discussed how the selling process is necessarily different as a result of the nature of leads generated through Inbound Marketing and how there are certain key skill sets, such as consultative selling, which must be mastered to survive and thrive in this new environment. I explained how two important, potential, hidden weaknesses can thwart a salesperson’s efforts to master this kind of selling.
In this article, Part Three in the series, I'm going to look at three other hidden weaknesses which can get in the way of salespeople. Hidden issues are important to understand because they can trump your knowledge and skill. Training your people on how to sell consultatively will give them the knowledge which they need to sell in an increasingly Inbound world, but that won’t be enough to execute it. To do that, the barriers, preventing them from performing at their best, must be removed .
In Part Two, I discussed Need for Approval and the tendency to get Emotionally Involved. These two are of particular importance for consultative selling. As I described in that article, Need for Approval can prevent one from asking tough questions; getting Emotionally Involved can result in losing control of the conversation. When these weaknesses are strong, you’re missing your rudder and will have trouble navigating through the buoys and obstacles under the surface.
Three others of the most common hidden weaknesses include Discomfort Talking about Money, a Non-Supportive Buy-Cycle, and Self-Limiting Beliefs. Let’s look at each one individually and think about how these might be affecting your sales people.
When someone is uncomfortable talking about money, it is harder to have conversations which lead to uncovering the budget, trial-quoting, and otherwise getting over the hurdle of price. Ask yourself, "What is a lot of money?" Find out if your salespeople are asking for more money than is comfortable for them. Dave Kurlan wrote about this problem in this article a few months ago. How uncomfortable are your prospects talking about money?
A non-supportive buy-cycle is referring to the strong correlation between how a salesperson makes purchasing decisions for themselves, and what they are willing to tolerate from and empathize with the prospect. Most of the time, we think of empathy as a good thing. And it certainly is a good thing in a sales setting if it contributes to your understanding of your prospects’ issues, concerns, fears, and desires. When you empathize with your prospects’ put-offs, it becomes non-supportive.
Self-limiting beliefs (or as we call it, your “record collection”, if you are old enough to remember what records are) refer to the thoughts which we have about an outdated reality, even if they once served you. Dave Kurlan has written about this issue as well in this article and he points out that our assessment research of over 650,000 salespeople reveals that the following three beliefs are the most common ones standing in the path of success for most sales people. They are, "I must make a presentation", "It's not OK to ask a lot of questions", and "It's OK if my prospects shop around".
Are any of the above hidden weaknesses getting in your way or getting in the way of your sales people? Do you ever suspect that the ability of your sales team is really a lot better than their achieved results, but you don’t know why? More than ever in the new world of Inbound marketing, the keys to success are moving past these issues and building a sales force of people who have no fear asking enough or the right questions, and who are able to engage in a business conversation rather than a sales pitch.