Data: The Top 10% of All Salespeople are 4200% Better at This

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 07, 2021 @ 11:09 AM

dont-care

My wife and I entered the small jewelry shop and were greeted - not with a warm welcome - but with a matter of fact "my name is...and I'm the owner...and I created everything in the store" which was followed by fifteen minutes of non-stop presentation of everything she created.  

You've been in a store like this and you know exactly how you have reacted to that.  It includes thinking all of the following:

  • Stop!
  • Shut Up!
  • I don't care!
  • Go away!
  • Oh wait, I can go away!
  • Please stop so I can leave!
  • Your stuff is not even that good!
  • Has anyone ever listened to this?
  • You've got to be kidding me!
  • There's more?
  • OMG make it stop!!!

When it was over my wife said "thank you" and we walked across the street to a gallery where we were quickly greeted - no greeted is totally the wrong word - instructed to "put on a mask!"  The mask thing again.  About ten minutes later he caught us staring at one particular painting for several minutes and asked, "Are you familiar with her work?"  We said, "No" and he took the opposite approach of the Queen of all Jewelry and walked away!

So in one store we weren't the least bit interested, she didn't notice, didn't care and kept on keepin' on.  In the other store we would have bought that painting and he abandoned us.

I don't usually write about retail selling and today's article is not about retail selling except to make a couple of important points.

If we all know how boring, irrelevant and agonizing it is to be presented to when we aren't interested, then why do salespeople, who have surely been on the receiving end of the scenario described above, insist on presenting before they have a qualified, interested prospect?  It's stupid, irresponsible, and a huge waste of time.  But they persist.

Salespeople aren't great at taking a consultative approach.  According to the data from Objective Management Group's (OMG) evaluations and assessments on more than two million salespeople around the globe, only 14% have the Consultative Seller competency as a strength.  Only 42% of the top 10% have it as a strength and as you might guess, 0% of the bottom 10% have it as a strength.  You wouldn't think that anything could be worse than that, right?  But if you look at the bottom 50% - the bottom million salespeople, only 1% have the Consultative Seller competency as a strength. The top 10% are 4200% better at taking a consultative approach than the bottom 50%!

The Consultative Seller is one of twenty-one Sales Core Competencies measured by OMG and each competency has between six and twelve attributes or an average of around nine.  In addition, there are 10 additional competencies with attributes combining for around 450 data points per salesperson and approximately 945 million data points in total.  You can see some of the data here and compare industries too.

Back to the story.

When salespeople have been trained to listen and ask questions first some still choose to tell their prospects everything they know up front.  Why?

I can think of ten potential reasons and none of them are very good:

  1. They lack experience and all they know is what they learned in orientation training
  2. They need to be liked and fear that if they ask questions their prospects will become angry
  3. They don't agree with the consultative approach
  4. Their sales manager is not holding them accountable for taking the consultative approach
  5. Their sales manager is not reinforcing the consultative approach through coaching
  6. They don't listen very well and as a result, don't know which question to ask
  7. They don't know what "good" sounds like and can't replicate it
  8. They haven't practiced and lack confidence
  9. They think that listening and asking questions delays getting to the demo
  10. They are doing fine doing it the way they are doing it

Everything on my list is symptomatic of numbers four and five. With reinforcement coaching and accountability, every other reason goes away.  That brings us to the next point/question.  Why aren't sales managers doing numbers four and five?

I can think of ten more potential reasons and none of them are any good either:

  1. They are spending too much of their time on personal sales
  2. They need to be liked and fear that holding their salespeople accountable will make them angry
  3. They don't agree with the consultative approach
  4. Their boss is not holding them accountable for implementing the consultative approach
  5. Their boss is not reinforcing the consultative approach through coaching
  6. They don't listen very well and as a result, don't know which question to ask their salespeople
  7. They don't know what "good" sounds like either and can't replicate it
  8. They haven't practiced role-playing and lack confidence
  9. They agree that listening and asking questions delays getting to the demo
  10. They are doing fine doing it the way they are doing it

Most of these reasons are essentially the same.

It's a top down problem and the folks at the top just hope the folks at the bottom take care of business and don't really care how. And therein lies the problem.  Ambivalence from the C-Suite basically suggests that they just don't care.

What can we do about that?  Rocky LaGrone had a great answer to that question!

Rocky said:

"You could take a stick and beat the C-suite over the head repeatedly until they cry Uncle and then start to listen.


Their biggest problem however is not their ambivalence. It's the fact they don't even know it's a problem. They rely on the sales leader because most of them (C-suite) don't understand sales. Sales is some fuzzy, hard to grip, intangible thing that is a bother but still necessary. The sales leader tells them, "all is good, numbers are coming, next quarter will be better, we are working on it, we need better pricing, we can't produce the product and deliver on time anyway, if we only had the Glen Gary, Glen Ross leads!" Or some other solid excuse...

Then they (C-Suite) play chase and try to fix everything except the cause. For example: Let's get a new CRM, new compensation plan, new marketing, new website, new brand, or something else that exacerbates and hides the real problem. Real problem - wrong sales people, wrong skills, wrong Sales Manager."
 
Thanks Rocky!

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales presentation, listening skills, questioning skills

Senate Confirmation Hearings Shows Us What Salespeople Do Wrong Every Day

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 12, 2020 @ 18:10 PM

Day 1 on Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court confirmation hearing begin in  Senate

Oh no, another post on the political climate.  Don't worry, I'm not taking sides, I'll be right down the middle, and very critical of both sides.  And stay with me for the pivot to the good stuff - my sales analysis.  Here goes!

It was Columbus Day in the US so I had a chance to catch the first day of the Judiciary Committee's Senate Confirmation Hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett.  It featured 10-minute opening statements by both Republican and Democrat Senators and finally, by Judge Barrett herself.

In my opinion, there weren't any winners today.  In 10-minute increments, both sides demonstrated everything that goes wrong when salespeople make presentations. Make no mistake, politicians are very much always selling and their performances usually give salespeople a bad name.

The Democrat messaging, although consistent, was extremely negative, with all of the senators regurgitating the same talking points: Covid-19 safety concerns, the process being a sham, and threatening that Americans will lose their health insurance if Judge Barrett is confirmed.  Although we want salespeople to articulate consistent messaging, especially with their value propositions, negative messaging turns people off, and if these presentations had been delivered by salespeople, most prospects would have responded with, "You guys are all the same!"  You don't want to be in a selling situation facing prospects who share that perception!

The Republican messaging was as inconsistent as the Democrats were consistent. Most addressed different topics from each other, but the real issue was that they were on the defensive the entire time as if they were handling objections.  When salespeople are in objection handling mode their prospects' resistance goes up making it very difficult to sell anything.

I understand why both groups chose the strategies they used. 

The Democrats could not risk leveling personal attacks on Judge Barrett the way they did on Justice Kavanagh so they attacked the process, the President, the Republicans, the timing, the rules, and claimed that the impact of having this judge on the supreme court would be catastrophic.

The Republicans were already under fire by Democrats and the media for moving forward to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg prior to the election so they defended themselves by citing precedent, constitutionality, qualifications, religious freedom, history, and unfair attacks.

Both sides were right to have strategies but the strategies were poorly executed. Strategies of attacking and playing defense are both losing strategies.

Salespeople must never go on the attack and must never go on the defensive.  

Instead of attacking the competition, salespeople can ask questions about their prospects' personal experiences, what they want and need, why it's important, how they feel about it, and what would make things better.  You can accomplish the very same things, only better, without ever mentioning the competition or saying anything bad about them.

Instead of getting defensive in response to objections, whether real or perceived, salespeople can - you guessed it - ask questions using the very same approach described above.

Elected officials suck as role models, especially when making self-serving politicized partisan presentations.

Learn from this debacle!  The key to sales success lies in listening and asking questions, not delivering cleverly worded presentations.  It's important to note that listening and asking questions are consultative selling skills and are attributes of both the Consultative Selling Competency and the Value Selling Competency.  Check out the 10 selling competencies in the screen shot below which shows the percentage of all salespeople who have that competency as a strength.  

You've probably heard that 80% of all revenue comes from 20% of all salespeople.  Here is how the top 10% of all salespeople fare in the same ten competencies:

Except for Hunting and Relationship building, the top salespeople are two to three times more likely to have these competencies as strengths.

I'll show you the same ten competencies, but this time for the bottom 50% of all salespeople:

You are reading this correctly.  Only 1% of the bottom half of all salespeople have Consultative Selling and Qualifying as strengths and none having Closing! So that's why more than 50% of all salespeople don't hit their quota each year!  Most salespeople suck at most selling competencies so perhaps they should all become politicians.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales presentation, selling value, sales and politics, amy coney barret

Putting Some Hollywood into Your Sales Presentations

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jun 18, 2019 @ 14:06 PM

Bohemian-Rhapsody-Featured-Art

Last week I wrote about First Impressions and today's topic is presentations.  That's quite the change in direction from Consultative Selling, Sales Process, Assessments, and Performance.

What do Bohemian Rhapsody, Rocket Man, Miracle and Argo have in common and what do they have to do with selling?

What do Unbroken, Hunt for Red October, and A Few Good Men have in common and what is their relation to selling?

Let's tackle the issue of presenting your solutions to two different audiences:

  1. Those who are very familiar with what you have, what you do and how it works;
  2. Those who are unfamiliar with what you have, what you do and how it works.

Think about a time when you were being sold, and the salesperson was blabbing the company's talking points, capabilities, features and benefits and you either already knew that stuff or weren't particularly interested in hearing about it  Wasn't that an awful experience?  It doesn't have to be that awful.  If you saw Bohemian Rhapsody, you already knew what was going to happen to Freddy Mercury and Queen but the movie sucked you in despite that.  If you saw Rocket Man you already knew the story of Elton John but the movie grabbed you by the throat and didn't let go even though you knew how it would end.  If you saw Miracle, you already knew that the 1980 USA Olympic Hockey Team defied the odds and beat the Russians to win the Gold medal but they had you immersed despite that.  And if you saw Argo you already knew that the hostages escaped from Iran but you were still on pins and needles hoping they made it out of Iranian airspace.

The presentations to people who know you and your company don't have to be boring and repetitive.  What can you do to transform your presentation so that you achieve the same emotional reactions as those four movies do?  You need to stop taking your presentations for granted, stop sleep walking through them, stop treating them like you're reciting the multiplication tables and infuse some drama, interaction and suspense.

Your other audience is the group that isn't aware of your capabilities.  Most of us who watched Unbroken weren't familiar with the story of Louis Zamperini.  Most of us who watched Hunt for Red October and a Few Good Men weren't even aware that they were true stories!  When presenting to new prospects, people who aren't familiar with you, how can you tell your story in such a way as to get your new prospects to react emotionally in much the same way as you would have reacted after those movies?  "Wow, I'm so glad we saw that - I had no idea!"  Again, infuse some drama, interaction and suspense into your presentations!

The Sales Competency on which salespeople generally score the highest is Presentation Approach - presenting the right concepts to the right people at the right time for the right reasons.  That said, there is still room for improvement.  OMG's average score for all salespeople is 71% but there is less disparity between the top 5% and the bottom 10% than any of the other 21 Sales Core Competencies.  Elite salespeople are "only" 157% better at Presentation Approach than the bottom 10%.  Want to see all 21 Sales Core Competencies, the scoring variances by industry and how you and/or your team measure up?  Click here.

Bonus lesson:  Bohemian Rhapsody has a scene where Freddy Mercury articulates Queen's Positioning Statement. Watch it here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales presentation, dka, Bohemian Rhapsody, rocket man, argo

3 Tweaks to Your Sales Approach Are Steps Toward Sales Greatness

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 19, 2018 @ 06:03 AM

traffic-circle.jpg

Consider how frustrating it is to approach a traffic circle, or as we call them in Massachusetts, a rotary, during rush hour.  You very slowly make your way towards the circle in a long line of traffic, attempt to merge into a congested circle, travel around to the other side of the circle, and finally exit the other end.  Being a bit impatient, I'm usually screaming to myself, "Come on - don't stop! - let's get moving - let's go!"

Hold that thought.

I believe that role-playing is the single most important thing I can do with salespeople to help them to become great.  There are three kinds of role-plays:

  1. I play the salesperson's part and the salesperson plays the prospect. This is my preferred method as it demonstrates exactly what the conversation should sound like.
  2. I play the prospect and the salesperson plays the salesperson.  This approach works best when conducting pre-call strategy and usually serves to show me how ill-equipped the salesperson is to have the desired conversation.
  3. The salesperson plays the salesperson and another salesperson plays the prospect.  This type of role-play occurs later in training when the salesperson has the foundational skills to execute the sales process correctly and to play the sales part with some confidence.

When I finally reach scenario 3 with salespeople playing their own part, it seems a lot like approaching the traffic circle. Let me explain.

When there is a question they need to ask or they need to summarize what they heard, the traffic circle scenario comes to life.  They slowly approach the circle, and when they finally reach the circle, travel around it a couple of times before exiting and finishing their comments.  In other words, they talk in circles, confusing, distracting and boring their prospect.  Take a step toward greatness: Be direct and concise because less is more memorable and powerful while being less confusing and boring.

Consider how a professional baseball or golf coach may break down swing.  Take a practice swing or two, get in your stance, use the proper grip, bend at the knees, open some at the waste and shoulders, eye on the ball, smooth, extend, hold your follow through, etc.  If you want to hit the ball solidly you must do those things in that order, but you can't be saying those things to yourself as you get ready to swing or bad things will surely happen.

Hold that thought.

You may have several talking points.  You may have rehearsed or even memorized those points; what you want to say about them and the order in which you want to say them.  But if you use your talking points and sequence, your prospect will be totally bored by the logic and mind-numbing time it takes for you to go through them.  A step toward greatness: Abandon the formality and sequence and simply have a conversation.  If there is a question or comment that makes it appropriate to introduce one of those talking points, then fine, but keep it conversational and do not become presentational.

Don't you hate it when a good prospect derails your momentum by asking for references?  This is truly a combustion point in selling.  (There is a great Disney book on combustion points called Be our Guest) You don't know if the prospects really want to talk with people or are using the reference requests to get rid of you.  You don't know whether to provide references, which ones to provide, whether they'll follow up with a call, or what your customers will say to them.

Hold that thought.

Today, it's helpful to have video on your smart phone, of several happy customers that can speak to any concerns your prospects might have.  No delays.  No wondering.  On demand references and testimonials.  Take a step toward greatness:  Everyone on the sales team must record a couple of great 1-minute videos from their best and happiest customers. The videos can be shared across the sales team so that everyone has a robust library of customers who can do the selling for you.  Third-party testimonials are much more powerful than the promises of a salesperson any day of the week. 

Speaking of testimonials, many of you have read my best-selling book, Baseline Selling.  Since writing that book, I have written, shared (complimentary) and given you the opportunity to read more than 1,700 articles on sales and sales leadership right here on my Blog.  I would be most grateful if you would return the favor by writing a review of my book at Amazon.com.  

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, sales conversation, sales presentation, listening skills, talking points

What the Blizzard of 2015 Can Teach Us About Sales Presentations

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 28, 2015 @ 11:01 AM

blizzard

As most of you know, we were absolutely clobbered by yesterday's Blizzard of 2015 which gifted us with 34 inches of snow and even higher drifts.  Wishing to be prepared, I went to Staples the day before the storm and purchased every last one of the small devices that recharge phones and tablets.  That evening, I made sure that each was fully charged so that if we lost power, three of us could recharge our 7 combined devices and remain connected and productive.  As unlikely as it seemed at the onset of the storm, we never lost power.  But we were prepared!

I noticed a similarity to all of the occasions when we have taken winter vacations in Florida and especially Orlando.  It never fails that when we go expecting warm weather, it becomes cold enough that we need to purchase sweat shirts.  Of course, whenever we prepare and bring the sweatshirts along, we never need them - ever - but at least we were prepared!

The concept of being prepared is very misunderstood in sales.  Here's why...

Most salespeople believe that being prepared means being prepared to handle objections and present.  Of course, one wouldn't handle an objection that wasn't presented, but most salespeople overprepare their presentations and rarely present the right stuff, the right way, at the right pace, to the right people, at the right time.  Unless you are conducting a webinar, there should be no such thing as a canned presentation, one that is appropriate for anyone and everyone.

Salespeople should be prepared to do take one or more of the following 10 steps relative to presenting:

  1. Not present at all when it isn't necessary
  2. Present only a subset of what you would normally present (right stuff)
  3. Present something completely different from what you would typically present (right stuff)
  4. Present in a different way than you would normally present (right way)
  5. Present only if the prospect(s) were completely qualified (right time)
  6. Present only if all necessary parties are present and accounted for (right people)
  7. Present not only your product/service or solution, but much more importantly, how you can uniquely help them address their most compelling reason to buy from you (right stuff)
  8. Ask questions as you go along (right pace)
  9. Change or abort your presentation in real time based on unexpected answers to your questions (right stuff)
  10. Explain how this impacts their business (right stuff)

It's also imperative that you not present until you have:

  • Uncovered their compelling reasons to buy from you
  • Differentiated yourself
  • Quantified the opportunity
  • Thoroughly qualified the opportunity

Preparation doesn't stop there.  You should also have done the following before presenting:

  • Role-played the anticipated call or meeting with a manager
  • Done enough research on the company so that you know what's going on
  • Know who you are competing against and how your prospect believes you compare
  • identified potential references if you need them (same size, same issues, same industry, same title, etc.)
  • Identified both a needs- and budget-appropriate solution

Preparation doesn't mean prepared to do a certain thing, a certain way at a certain time; it means prepared for anything and everything.  When you are completely prepared, you won't need to be, but if you aren't prepared, you'll pay for it.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales presentation, sales preparation

Why Prospects Don't Buy From You Today!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 @ 14:10 PM

world Series 2014

Did you watch any of the 2014 World Series?

I watched a few pitches of Game 6 and I'm a baseball guy!  Why so little?  I was watching Jake Peavy give it his all, trying to hold things together, and thought to myself, "Why am I watching this?  I don't care about either of these two teams.  I'm not engaged."  I'm guessing that if you're not a Giants or Royals fan, you may not have seen too much of this World Series either.  I do plan to watch Game 7 - as long as it keeps me engaged.

Engagement.  There is a huge connection between what I experienced with the World Series, and what prospects experience with salespeople.  If you can understand and apply this analogy it will make a huge difference in the quality of your calls and meetings.  Here are the four most important things for you to know.

Think back to the last time you were a prospect - for something - anything.  Other than a shiny new car or your next home, were you excited?  Really excited?  Were you anxious to talk with a salesperson about long distance or VoiP, insurance, payroll, shipping, a new machine, software, office furniture, computers, legal and accounting, landscaping, seal-coating your driveway, a fence, an industry-specific tool or device, anything?

No, of course not.

So, it stands to reason that your prospects aren't all that excited about meeting with you or your salespeople either.  That helps to explain all of the cancellations and postponements that so many salespeople experience!  The prospects will meet if they have to - if they need to - but not because they are simply interested.  Even that is interesting.  You know they need to meet, but they aren't admitting that.  So, you ask why they wanted to meet and they explain that they are "investigating other options, exploring what's available, or curious about your capabilities."  But, if you know that they are meeting with you because they need what you have, you can push back.  You can say, "Most people are too busy to meet with me unless there is something they were really hoping I could help with.  In your case, what would that be?"

Making this situation a bit more challenging is that salespeople get really excited about talking to, meeting with and presenting to their new prospects.  The reality is that there is a huge lack of alignment in the levels of excitement between salespeople and prospects.  So, how can you get them as excited as you are about discussing and showing them what you have?

It's not easy, but you can do this if you can help them solve a business problem.  At the same time, that's the exact mistake that so many salespeople are making.  They start by trying to demonstrate that they can solve a business problem.   I know.  I sound like I'm contradicting myself even though I'm not.  What I'm saying is, you can't demonstrate your ability to solve their business problem until they have admitted that they have a business problem!  This can't occur until after they have:

  • Told you about the issues that contribute to their business problem,
  • Told you about the business, personal, emotional and financial impact or consequences of their business problem,
  • Quantified the cost of this problem if it's left unresolved, and
  • Expressed their desire to accept your help.

You still need to qualify them.

My favorite Qualification Articles are: 

Top 5 Reasons Why Salespeople Don't Qualify Effectively

Top 10 Reasons Salespeople Struggle to Get Decisions

Top 10 Criteria for a Qualified Sales Presentation

Then, and only then, is it appropriate to demonstrate how you can solve their business problem.  Then, they will be as excited as you are.  Then, they will be ready to buy.  Then, they will take action.

How can you make the transition from demonstrating your product, to demonstrating your ability to solve a business problem, to doing that only after having learned about their desire to get your help?

I'll be honest with you.  It's not easy.  It involves learning to master the art of Consultative Selling, and specifically, how to listen and ask follow-up questions the right way.  For most salespeople, that takes 8 months of training from someone who actually knows what they're doing.  And not many sales trainers and coaches have the ability to teach this the right way.  It is a very elite group!

Prospects will get as excited as you when you learn how to get them excited - not by doing demos and presentations, but by asking enough good, tough, timely questions to learn about them and their business issues.  Then you'll know they are saying, "Wow, she really gets it.  I want to work with her!"

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, selling tips, Closing Sales, sales presentation, sales qualifying, Jake Peavy

To Salespeople, Demos and Presentations are Like Snack Food

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 11, 2013 @ 09:02 AM

bagel donutPrior to learning about healthy eating, I believed a bagel was a healthy alternative to a donut.  After I was shown that a carbohydrate converts to sugar in the blood and there wasn't much difference between bread, bagels or rolls; and donuts, cake or pie, I changed the way that I ate.

Most people have not seen the light, are not aware that sugar causes disease, believe that pasta, rice, grains and potato are healthy, and continue to gain weight.  Many eventually become sick. 

Enough of that!  Let's switch gears and discuss what you came here to read.

Most salespeople haven't seen the light either.  They aren't aware that continuing to present, demo, propose and quote are unhealthy approaches for the pipeline.  Demos and presentations are the sales equivalent of sugar (we like them and they make us feel good.)  Like snacks and comfort food, they cause our pipelines (insides) to become inflamed and our forecasts (blood work) to become unacceptable.  

Three years ago, when I committed to change the way in which I eat, I found that it was only difficult for 5 days.  5 days for the carb cravings to go away.  5 days before fruits and vegetables tasted delicious.  5 days until snack food lost its appeal.  5 days until I recognized how awful I felt after eating carbs which didn't come from fruit or vegetables.  5 days until I didn't have to rely on willpower, but instead, good old-fashioned discipline and goals did the trick.

Salespeople must go through a similar process.  For 5 days, they must resist the temptation to present unless they've reached the step in the sales process when presenting is okay.  Of course, postponing the presentation or demo until a later stage of the sales process is futile if there isn't a formal, structured, customized, optimized sales process in place.  Similarly, avoiding the wrong foods is futile until you know what the correct foods are and can make meals of them.

Sales has changed dramatically.  Prospects and customers are attempting to commoditize everything you sell.  You must be able to differentiate yourselves.  Presentations and demos may point to differences in your offerings, but the act of presenting and doing demos makes you appear very much the same as everyone else.  When everything looks the same, prospects focus on price.  Consultative selling, an extremely underdeveloped skill for most salespeople, is the approach which all salespeople must master in order to differentiate themselves effectively.  Unfortunately, Objective Management Group's (OMG) data on salespeople shows that they only possess, on average, 21% of the attributes of a consultative seller.

It's time to face the reality of 2013.  Your salespeople must embrace and master consultative selling.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales training, sales presentation, sales demo, commoditize, differentiate our company, sales assessments

How to Prevent Crashing and Burning in a Sales Presentation

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jul 19, 2011 @ 14:07 PM

crash and burnEarlier this week I posted the Top 5 Sales Presentation Tips.   What if you followed the 5 tips but failed to follow the important warning in my conclusion?

What if you already scheduled a presentation but you should have scheduled a discussion?  

What if you planned to talk capabilities and unique value proposition but you should have planned to ask questions to uncover their issues, problems and challenges?

What if you planned to present your company story/history but you should have planned to uncover their compelling reasons to buy?  What if you simply screwed up the entire meeting agenda?

Bad strategy but no worries.

When you are ready to present, say, "I'm excited about presenting our capabilities and unique value proposition and I would like to make it as relevant as possible.  Is it OK if I just ask a couple of questions to help me put things in context?" 

When the prospects approve, ask, "Can you share what caused you to begin seriously looking at [what you sell]?"

Where you go from there depends on the development and capabilities of your listening and questioning skills, along with how well you can sense exactly what you need to hear.  Here is an example of some sample dialog on sales listening and questioning to uncover compelling reasons to buy.

Companies are currently buying in such a way that it has them inviting salespeople in to present at the end of their buying process.  Salespeople take that bait, present, propose, chase them for months, and wonder why it's so difficult to get the business closed.  After all, if salespeople show up at the end of the process, shouldn't the sales process move more quickly?

The short answer is "No."

To accelerate the sales process, salespeople must create urgency; and there isn't any urgency after they have presented and proposed.  Urgency is created only after uncovering the prospects' compelling reasons to buy.  THEN, the sales process will move along more quickly.

So the increasingly difficult challenge for salespeople, even if they recognize it (and most don't), is this: When they are invited in to present capabilities, they must compare it to driving into a dead-end alley.  They must shift gears into reverse because if they push forward they will crash, burn, blow-up and die.  

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, sales presentation, sales capabilities

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave

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