It's a catch-22 that I find myself in all of the time. In this business, I can't ever be better at training, coaching, evaluating, consulting, and general sales expertise than I am when actually selling. If I am less expert at selling, I will lack credibility. I become one of those people who, if they can't do it, they teach it. On the other hand, I can't be better at selling than at providing expertise because it is often very threatening to potential clients. They fear being sold something - especially consulting services - from someone who could possibly fail to meet expectations, and my business would fail if I caused that to happen. So what is a sales expert to do? Let's answer that question, discuss how it applies to you, and share some questions that will help you sell more of what you have!
I need to let and help people buy from me and cannot, under any circumstances, sell. I've been doing it that way for 30 years and it has worked so far! The balance is so, so important. This is something that can be transferred to any sales force. If you understand the delicate balance I described, you and your salespeople can apply the same balance to your prospects and customers. Make sure they buy from you, but don't be found guilty of selling to them.
If you get the hang of that approach, you'll have taken the first step to becoming a consultative seller! Because in order for you to help prospects buy, you must become adept at listening and asking questions. If you do nothing but listen and ask questions, everything will change. Of course, they need to be good questions. As soon as you ask a dumb, stupid, moronic question, that conversation will end. So what are good questions? Any question that:
- Helps your prospect to go wider and deeper in response to what you just heard,
- Encourages your prospect to provide further details,
- Uncovers the consequences of an issue they shared with you,
- Gets your prospect to share how those consequences impact them, and
- Monetizes the issues and impact they have discussed.
The only problem with all of this is that most salespeople can't do it! This article discusses why more salespeople suck than ever before and this article explains consultative selling in much more detail!
Recently I was asked to take a look at this article on the Salesforce.com blog about the 3 must-have elements for building sales teams that soar. They were hoping that I would not only share the article, but especially the infographic that you see below. They did a great job on the infographic. Some of the information in the article is good, some is good common sense, and some - well some contains made-up statistics! When you see numbers like 50% and 100X, you know there isn't science behind those numbers. And the days of reps calling 120-170 prospects per day? Sure, maybe in 1970 when prospects answered their phones. Sure, if the same reps don't also have to conduct actual sales calls/meetings. Sure, if the sales manager wants to burn their reps out after a month. Seriously, if a dial that goes to voicemail takes an average 3 minutes and you have a ten-minute conversation with 10% of the 170 people that you dialed, you would have spent :
- 10 minutes x 17 conversations for 170 minutes or nearly 3 hours,
- 153 dials x 3 minutes for 459 minutes or 7.65 hours,
- And with four 10-minute breaks and a lunch hour, that's an 11.5 hour day and no time to conduct any sales calls or meetings!
If reps are still doing dialing-for-dollars, 3 hours per day is plenty unless they are in a call center and all they do is schedule meetings for account executives. Half a day for prospecting and half a day for following up with sales calls makes much more sense! And remember, you won't have time to sell consultatively if you are cranking out that kind of call volume. That can only lead to transactional selling which, unless you sell something extremely simple, very inexpensive, and for the lowest price, transactional selling won't accomplish anything.