Yesterday, I was leading a training program for a group of veteran Objective Management Group (OMG) Partners and experienced sales trainers. One attendee asked the hypothetical question, "What is the most difficult part of the sales process?" That sparked some very interesting discussion because at the outset, there was disagreement, even among the experts, as to what was really the hardest. The votes formed a typical bell curve with 25% saying the opening of the first scheduled call or meeting, 50% identifying the crucial midpoint where the compelling reasons to buy must be uncovered, and 25% said closing.
We discussed the various challenges associated with all three milestones and when all was said and done, everyone agreed that the midpoint, that crucial point in time where compelling reasons to buy must be identified, is the most difficult for salespeople.
Why? Well a quick look at the following list of mini-milestones, that must be accomplished in order to get to the point where compelling reasons will be shared, tells the whole story. How many of your salespeople can do all of this in their first meeting?
- Ask good, tough timely questions,
- Listen intently,
- Develop a relationship,
- Show humility,
- Demonstrate expertise,
- Experience some intimacy,
- Appropriate Positioning,
- Push Back,
- Make Accurate Predictions,
- Have Patience,
- Develop Trust,
- Show Understanding,
- Get to the Truth,
- Identify the Personal Impact,
- Get Prospect to an Emotional level,
- Have Guts,
- Uncover the Compelling Reason(s) to buy and/or move their business to you,
- Create urgency, and
- Quantify the value of the prospect's opportunity or cost of their problem.
Selling is becoming more difficult every year. The consultative approach, outlined above, is the key to differentiating, shortening the sales cycle, increasing win rates, and growing sales. Unfortunately, all of this occurs in just one stage of the sales process and fewer than 26% of salespeople consciously include that stage. Even worse, only 6% are able to accomplish the mini-milestones on my list.
Remember this: Taking the easy approach - jumping to the demo - makes selling more difficult. Taking the more difficult approach - slowing down and accomplishing those mini-milestones - makes selling easier.
By the way, if you missed the webinar that I hosted earlier this week, it was the Magic of OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment. It's very fast-paced, interactive, and runs for about 40 minutes. You can watch the recording here.