10 Prospect Rules That Salespeople Must Learn to Break

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 24, 2022 @ 07:01 AM

restaurant-masks

This is not an article about COVID but I will begin by asking which COVID policy you believe is the most stupid.

My vote is for the mask requirement in restaurants because the premise is so moronic.  While you're alone with your group at the front door and until you reach your table you must wear your mask.  Then, when you're seated at your table, among all the other diners, you can remove your mask.  The most literal conclusion is that the virus isn't contagious while you are sitting and eating your food, only when standing and walking.  The same can be extended to the airlines where the virus won't spread if you are unmasked with your mouth open to eat or drink, but will most certainly spread if you are sitting with your mouth closed without a mask.  

Like I said, this is not a COVID article because if it was, I could write a book about the data, science, policies and hypocrisies.  However, there is a sales equivalent to the stupid restaurant masking requirement and that is what we will discuss in today's article.

Have you or your salespeople ever been told by a prospect that they can't:

  • Share who the decision maker is
  • Allow you to speak with the decision maker
  • Allow you to meet the decision maker
  • Share the actual budget
  • Divulge who you are competing with
  • Provide feedback about how you compare with the competition
  • Answer your questions because they don't know the answers
  • Explain the problem your product/service will solve because they were simply tasked to gather information
  • Meet because they only need a quote or proposal
  • Share the criteria for what constitutes a winning partner/proposal/quote etc.

There are two interesting takeaways from this list of 10 prospect rules.

  1. Most salespeople aren't even asking most of these questions or alternate questions.  I teach salespeople to ask alternate questions because let's face it - these questions suck like a vacuum cleaner.
  2. The salespeople who do manage to ask questions like these and don't get them answered wouldn't dare push back and/or try again to get the questions answered

There are two reasons for salespeople not being able to push back.

  1. They don't know how to push back because they haven't been trained and coached to push through these challenges.
  2. They need to be liked.  According to the data from Objective Management Group (OMG) and their assessments of more than 2,177,025 salespeople, 59% have Need for Approval or the need to be liked.  Salespeople who need to be liked are uncomfortable asking questions, more uncomfortable asking lots of questions, and find it impossible to ask good, tough timely questions.  There is no chance they would ever have the difficult conversation that would differentiate them from their competition.

It's a powerful weakness found in the area of Sales DNA.  It is so powerful that when salespeople finally overcome the weakness, using OMG's Sales DNA Modifier, that their sales increase by 35%! 

Not needing to be liked is one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies measured by OMG.  You can see all 21 here and if you're up to it, sort by industry and even by company.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, omg, sales objections, sales tips, sales assessements, sales evaluations

Bob Chronicles Part 6 - When Salespeople Suddenly Make Things Your Problem

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jan 20, 2022 @ 07:01 AM

airplane

Both AT&T and Verizon have delayed activating their 5G networks near airports because it might cause interference with airplane guidance systems on certain planes, like Boeing 777s.

Forgive my cynicism, but how long have the airlines known about that?

They have probably had years to prepare for this deployment and update their own technology but didn't and now, at the eleventh hour, they sounded the alarm and tried to make it the carriers' problem.  

Can you think of any selling scenarios for which this would be a good analogy?  I can!

Scenario 1:  Your salespeople were scheduled to begin using new technology or even to take an OMG Evaluation and the night before the deadline you start hearing all the reasons why they haven't been able to set it up, enter their data, get online, complete the project, turn it in, upload, download, unload, or do it correctly and all of a sudden it has become your problem.

Scenario 2: Bob was informed 2 weeks ago that an important customer proposal would be due by the end of business today. At 4pm, Bob was in a panic, screaming that he needed pricing in the next 10 minutes or you'll lose the business.  Suddenly it has become your problem.

Scenario 3: Recently, an opportunity became closable and yesterday was the day to get it closed. Yesterday, for the first time, Bob learned there was another competitor who proposed an alternate solution that the customer liked and at a lower price. Bob must respond to this situation today and needs you to be on the call.  Suddenly it has become your problem.

Scenario 4: A decent sized opportunity has been stuck in the pipeline for weeks and Bob has assured you that despite the lack of movement it is still good to go. Your Spidy-sense suggests that it's anything but good to go and you urge Bob to follow up and you share your strategy with him.  Bob, who always knows the best way to proceed, resists and you know that if this opportunity sits another day it's as good as gone so if anyone is going to follow up it isn't going to be Bob.  His resistance to following up has made this your problem.

Scenario 5: Bob tells you that he has a huge opportunity but needs references before they will meet with him.  He doesn't have any good references of his own and wants to use your references so now this has become your problem.  Watch this 2-minute video rant to see how I feel about premature requests for references.

We know Bob is a weak salesperson and he isn't alone as half of the entire population of salespeople are very Bob-like in their behavior.  I'm sure you can think of a dozen more examples and I hope you will add them to the comments below.  I've written about Bob before and you can "catch up" here:

Part 5

Part 4

Part 3

Part 2

Part 1

Over the nearly 2,000 articles on this Blog we have discussed evaluations, assessments, sales performance data, consultative selling strategies, examples, closing, prospecting, qualifying, advanced selling tactics, coaching, recruiting, accountability, pipeline, sales process and more.  However, we have rarely, if ever, talked about the importance of being organized, proactive, detailed, prepared, and ahead of schedule to avoid the problems that sabotage so many salespeople.

I mentioned that Bob is among the weakest 50% of all salespeople.  You can see the data here.

You can avoid hiring salespeople like Bob by using the most accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment on planet earth.  You can check that out here.

You can evaluate your existing sales team to learn whether you have a team full of Bobs or only some Bobs.  You can learn more about that here.

Finally, if you want to see samples of our sales, sales management, sales leadership insight reports, sales team evaluations, or sales, sales management and sales leadership candidate assessments, click here.

Image Copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales pipeline, sales tips, sales calls, closing deals, time management, sales assessments, pipeline management, sales team, organizational skills

My Most Popular Sales Article of the Last Ten Years

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 13, 2021 @ 07:12 AM

nutcracker2019

This is my annual nutcracker post.  I first wrote the article in 2011 and people loved the analogy between the Nutcracker and a sales call.  I make minor modifications to the article each year as current trends, best practices, and recent data dictate.

Last year, The Boston Ballet cancelled their performance of the Nutcracker but we will be in attendance next week and look forward to continuing the tradition.

Please enjoy the article and share it.  It's not only popular, it's one of my all-time favorites as well!

The Top 3  Lessons  from Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker"

If you attend a performance of the Nutcracker or simply listen to some of the suite during the holiday season, one of the selections is the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy".  Perhaps you can't match the music to the title, but I'm sure if you listen to the first 30 seconds of this version, you'll recognize the melody regardless of your religion or ethnicity.

Even though you've heard this song in advertisements and movies and television shows during  every Holiday season of your life, can you identify the four primary musical instruments being played at the beginning of the selection?

In this version, you hear the glass harmonica (most performances feature the celesta), oboe, bassoon and flutes.  Listen again.  Can you hear them?

As with the familiarity of "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy," salespeople find familiarity in the sounds, questions, comments and discussions during their sales conversations.  While you may not be able to distinguish the specific instruments creating those sounds in "Dance...," your salespeople might not have the ability to distinguish credible comments and questions from noise.

Suppose your salespeople hear one prospect say, "This has been a very interesting and productive conversation and we might have some interest in this."  And imagine another prospect at the same meeting says, "We'll get back to you next month and let you know what kind of progress we've made."  And still a third might say, "In the meantime, please send us a proposal with references and a timeline."

There are three important lessons that arise from this:

Lesson #1 (based on Objective Management Group's data of more than 2 million salespeople) - Out of every 100 salespeople:

  • 70 quickly begin working on a proposal and tell their bosses that their large opportunity is very promising because all 3 prospects in the meeting were very interested;
  • 19 leave the call and make 2 entries in their journals - "propose" and "follow-up" - and eventually, they'll do both;
  • 11 are still at the meeting, asking a lot of additional good, tough, timely questions.

Lesson #2:

  • Prospects' voices are like musical instruments.  Each instrument in "Dance..." has a specific role in the performance.  If the wrong instrument or notes are played or played at the wrong time, the entire performance is ruined.  Prospects' comments also have different meanings depending on their business titles and their roles in the buying process.
  • If "please send us a proposal", "we're interested" or "very productive" are spoken from an Executive - the CEO, President or a VP - it has a far different meaning than if the comment were to come from a buyer in Procurement.
  • When any of those 3 comments are spoken by a user - an engineer for example - rather than a buyer or an Executive, the comments may be far more genuine, but carry much less authority.

Lesson #3:

  • Sometimes it's more fun to listen to a song, symphony or simple melody and to figure out how and why the composer or arranger selected the particular instruments to play the particular parts of the selection.
  • Your salespeople must apply that wonder and analysis to their sales calls.  The prospect may be the composer (started the initiative), arranger (selected the vendors to talk with), director (charged with the initiative and conducting the process) or musician (following directions of the conductor).  It's the salesperson's job to figure out who they're dealing with, what role they play, what influence they'll have and how to get the various players aligned on the compelling reasons to buy and your ideal solution.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, asking questions, sales tips, Nutcracker

Top 10 Sales and Sales Leadership Articles of 2021

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Dec 07, 2021 @ 10:12 AM

top-10-articles

There are two articles that I post each and every December.  This is the first - the top articles of the year - and later this month I will post my annual Nutcracker edition which I have been doing since 2011.

There are several criteria for choosing the top articles of the year, including, but not limited to:

  • Views (Article)
  • Popularity (likes on LinkedIn and Twitter)
  • Engagement (comments to the article, via email, and on LinkedIn)
  • Personal (my favorites) 
  • Value (insights for the community)

Some of the criteria is subjective and some is measurable.  I believe value is most important, although it might not be reflected in views or likes, and then engagement.  I think views are less significant because people could read the article but not like it.  Popularity is a good barometer but not everyone sees what is posted on LinkedIn and Twitter and the time of day influences that.  So with all that said, here are the top 5 Sales Articles and the Top 5 Sales Leadership articles of the year.

Top 5 Sales Articles (in no particular order)

  1. 2 Questions That Will End Every Request for a Better Price
  2. Salespeople Will Close 50% More Business By Changing This One Thing They Do!
  3. Crappy Salespeople and Lack of Urgency Alignment  - The Bob Chronicles Part 4
  4. 31 Conditions That Predict Your Sales Opportunity is in Trouble  
  5. Data - Top Salespeople are 631% More Effective at This Than Weak Salespeople (Bob Chronicles - Part 3) 

Top 5 Sales Leadership Articles (in no particular order)

  1. How to Use Buckets to Improve Sales Performance and Coaching
  2. How Pitchers Fielding Practice is Exactly the Same as Salespeople Role-Playing 
  3. Startups Almost Always Get The Sales Thing Wrong 
  4. Why I Believe We Should Blow up the Business Development Rep (BDR) Role in Sales  
  5. MUST READ: Are Assessments as Evil as the Persona Movie Suggests? 

The Most Viewed and Commented article was "Salespeople will close 50% More..."

My personal selection was a tie between my favorite for pure fun - Pitchers Fielding Practice - and for insights - the article on Evil Assessments.

There you have it - the top ten articles from 2021.  Which one is your favorite?

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales leadership, sales pipeline, sales tips, sales assessments, personality assessment, best sales management articles, best sales articles

Two Selling Strategies That are More Effective Than Facts and Figures

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jan 28, 2021 @ 22:01 PM

Famous Scouting Reports of Hall of Fame Baseball Players - HowTheyPlay -  Sports

I hope this is one of my more entertaining articles, although most of the enjoyment will come from the links within.

Each year around this time I start thinking about Baseball because I miss it so much.  Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron just passed away becoming the 9th baseball HOFer to pass in the last 12 months.  Today there were multiple videos showing wild triple plays in my Twitter feed. I've been a lifelong Red Sox fan, but I miss the Red Sox a lot less than I miss watching my son play baseball.  He's at college now, where as of today, baseball is on hold - again - still - because of COVID-19.

In 2005 I took my passion for sales development and my passion for baseball and married them together to write the best-selling book, Baseline Selling - How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball.  Today, fifteen years later, that book is still #16 on Amazon. 

In addition to the corporate training that Kurlan & Associates provides, there are also 3 self-directed Baseline Selling online courses.

I thought I was pretty unique when it came to combining selling and baseball but I was wrong.  Meet Tom Schaff, the Sales Commissioner of Major League Sales.  While his company name and his title were both modeled after baseball, you haven't heard anything yet.  Tom is the owner of the largest baseball bobblehead collection in the world!  Check out this article.

So why should any of this be important to you?  Because I'm going to share two secrets of my success.

Most of my articles begin with a Story and despite not writing about story telling very often, it is a very important part of selling.

When faced with a strong objection, most salespeople become defensive and respond with facts, figures, data, logic and talking points.  That accomplishes only one thing.  It raises a prospect's resistance and it's extremely difficult to help someone buy from you when their resistance is high.  You can lower their resistance and at the same time deal with their objection by telling a story.  You can share a story about someone like them, about another customer, about another salesperson, about you, about an application, a success, a failure, a sport, or even a vacation.  I've done all of that and more. 

This month, I started articles with short stories about a fox, crappy movies, and The Beatles. And in December, I told the story of my dog, Dinger, who has better listening skills than most salespeople.

I think there is something even more powerful than a story and that's the analogy.  I use analogies more frequently than stories because it's even more effective to use an analogy.  It will come as no surprise that some of my best analogies use baseball.  Check out Salespeople are Like Little Leaguers, or Coaching Lessons from the Baseball Files, or What Sales Managers Do That Make Them So Ineffective. I've used dozens upon dozens of non-Baseball analogies as well and many of them can be found on this list.  Some of the best and most controversial analogies I have used were based on politics.  Check out this article about conducting opportunity reviews, and this article about the most recent Supreme Court Nomination hearings.

The bottom line is that stories and analogies will always work more effectively than logic, talking points, facts or figures. Consider the things you love and or know a lot about, how they relate to what you need your audience (your prospects and customers) to do, and how you can weave those two topics together.  You and your customers will both have a lot more fun if you learn to sell that way.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, sales tips, sales analogies, Baseball, storytelling

How a Mug of Dunkin Can Help You More Effectively Sell Value

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Dec 09, 2020 @ 08:12 AM

Amazon.com: In case of accident my blood type is dunkin donuts Cheap  lasunandsport Mug Coffee Mug Gift Coffee Mug 11OZ Coffee Mug: Kitchen &  Dining

I won't suggest that a cup of Dunkin coffee will make you more alert and more effective.  It's much more helpful than that.

This is another Bob story. Bob was on a sales call and the prospect told him that they were looking for the lowest price.  I hope you hate it when that happens.  It's a bad thing because while Bob was supposed to be selling value, a price-based conversation is transactional yet he's supposed to be taking a consultative approach to support the value he provides.  Would you like to guess what Bob did instead?  Yup, he got them his best price.  Ugh!

So what should Bob have done instead to turn this around and not waste everyone's time?

There are four things that Bob should have done and he must do them in the proper sequence:.

  • First, lower resistance - Bob needs to acknowledge that he heard them and say, "I understand."  Then he can leave it alone.  He has lowered their resistance and that was the goal.  He can come back to this topic later.
  • Uncover their compelling reason to buy - Bob can't sell value if he doesn't know their compelling reason to buy, buy now, and buy from him instead of his competitor.  This is the most important thing to focus on because if he doesn't uncover that reason and create urgency, he won't be able to provide and sell value, and neutralize their stated goal to buy at the lowest price.
  • Monetize their compelling reason - problems have consequences, including operational, functional, conceptual, emotional, economic, and perceived consequences.  These consequences must be monetized to include hard costs, cost of time lost, cost of not solving the problem, the gain from solving the problem, etc.  This is where value actually comes from! Bob must take the time to walk his prospect through what the problem really costs.
  • Sell Value - Bob must ask if, in order to solve the (cost that was calculated) problem the right way, they are willing to spend a little more with him.  If yes, he can ignore their lowest price comment because he successfully sold his value.  If not, he must learn whether they always buy this way or just this time.  For example, if they claim to always buy this way, he can find the weak link in that behavior.  Do they ever get coffee at Dunkin' Donuts? Really?  How often?  Why are they paying around $2 for a medium cup of coffee from Dunkin when It costs only 88 cents to make it using a DD K Cup in a Keurig machine, and only 30 cents to make a mug yourself using DD ground coffee that you buy for between $8-$10/pound.  They are paying as much as 650% more for the value of not having to make it themselves.  Now Bob has precedent that they don't always look for the lowest price.  He could also use a car analogy.  Most of the people you are selling to are not driving Kia's or low-end Fords, Chevy's and Chryslers.  They paid more for a better car! Analogies are great for changing perceptions.

Selling value has nothing to do with sharing value propositions, telling people why it's better to do business with you or trying to meet a competitors's price. Those approaches take away from value and make you sound just like everyone else.  Selling value is about being valuable to them!

Dunkin has made it into my Blog a lot, having written about them four previous times:

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, selling tips, sales tips, selling value, dunkin, lowering resistance

A Tale of 3 Squirrels and Their Human Counterparts in Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 28, 2019 @ 11:10 AM

squirrels2

It was rainy and cool so the leaves are dropping from the trees, the peak color has passed and it's time to focus on something else.

Speaking of focus, this morning I was watching 3 squirrels each doing their thing.

Squirrel #1, who I named Ernest, was finding lots of nuts and burying them.  His nest was full and he will reap the benefits of his hard work over the winter.

Squirrels #2 and #3, who I named MT and LayZ, were playing.  They were running up and down tree trunks, jumping from limb to limb, running in circles and generally chasing their tails.  They don't yet have nests and unless they make a commitment, become disciplined, and get to work, they will starve to death this winter.

Ernest, MT and LayZ are no different than their human counterparts who find themselves in sales roles.  The top salespeople are like Ernest and the bottom salespeople are like MT and LayZ.  For evidence of that claim, take a look at the table below with a sprinkling of data from Objective Management Group (OMG) which has evaluated 1,910,915 salespeople from  companies.

squirrels

Ernest would be an Elite salesperson.  Elites make up the top 5% of all salespeople.  MT and LayZ would be weak salespeople who make up the bottom 50% of all salespeople. As you can see from the 6 findings I included in the table, elite salespeople like Ernest are 208% stronger than weak salespeople like MT and LayZ.

The 2 findings most consistent with Ernest's focus and discipline are Commitment and Prospects Consistently, where Ernest is 92% and 82% stronger than MT and LayZ.

Even more importantly, Ernest is 326% stronger in the Hunter Competency.  The Hunter, and Commitment to Sales Success, are two of the 21 Sales Core Competencies that OMG measures. The other four findings listed above are all attributes of the Hunter Competency.

No matter how much selling evolves and how many complimentary selling tools become available, one thing will always remain constant.  B2B sales requires a full pipeline and a pipeline that yields results is built from a consistent prospecting effort, born from commitment and discipline.

With or without leads, a BDR team, or outsourced appointment setting, it is a salesperson's responsibility to be sure that the pipeline always has the 3 F's:

  1. Full (consistent daily effort to keep the pipeline full)
  2. Filled (qualified opportunities in the pipeline, lesser ones out)
  3. Fluid (opportunities in, opportunities moving and opportunities closed or archived)

Most salespeople don't even know the threshold for a full pipeline.  It's the number of opportunities required to sell one multiplied by the number that must be closed.  It doesn't matter if it's one account, one order, or one contract as long as the same definition is applied universally throughout the pipeline.  Additionally, the number required to sell one is not the number of proposals required to sell one.  It's more like this (if you close 33% of your proposals):

  • Closed: 1
  • Proposals Required (Closable): 3
  • Qualified Opportunities: 4
  • Opportunities with Compelling Reasons to Buy (Prospects): 6
  • New Opportunities (Suspects): 8

You can see that the typical pipeline requires 21, not 3 opportunities to sell 1, .

Don't be MT or LayZ.  Be Ernest with your pipeline building efforts.

Share your comments in the LinkedIn discussion for this article.

Images Copyright iStock Photos MT and LayZ, and Ernest

Topics: Dave Kurlan, closing, sales pipeline, prospecting, sales tips, discipline

Did You Know That The Beatles Taught us About Selling?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 26, 2019 @ 06:08 AM

beatles

While this should be a fun, end of summer article I'm guessing that you don't actually believe that the Beatles taught us about selling.

The Beatles recorded 18 songs where the lyrics talked about selling plus I included two bonus titles by other artists to bring the total to 20!

The Beatles. 

Can you name the song that went on and on about building relationships?  Of course you can.  It was:

I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND 

Can you name the song about prospects who refuse to schedule a first meeting or appointment with a salesperson?

YOU WON'T SEE ME (Time after time you refuse to even listen)

Are you getting the hang of it?  What must salespeople do to accelerate the sales process?  For this the Beatles recorded:

SLOW DOWN

The Beatles wrote a song about price objections too!

IT'S ALL TOO MUCH

They wrote a song describing the alarm that sales managers sound with their salespeople who have stale and/or stuck opportunities in their pipelines:

YOU'RE GONNA LOSE THAT GIRL

And they wrote one for the day after when salespeople learn that their sales managers were right about those opportunities:

YESTERDAY (all my troubles seemed so far away) 

The Beatles recorded a song by the same name as one of their movies about salespeople who, after the previous two days and titles, needed to rebuild their pipeline.  It was called:

HELP (I need somebody, help, not just anybody, h-e-l-p)

Sometimes selling is easy because there is low hanging fruit from renewal business and call-in business.  The song they recorded for that was:

COME AND GET IT

You might remember their legendary song about negotiating called:

WE CAN WORK IT OUT

They even recorded a song for long sales cycles where the decision makers change over time called:

THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD (that leads to your door)

Some salespeople make the mistake of calling on prospects repeatedly over a span of years, despite the fact that the prospect has never, ever bought anything and never, ever will.  The Beatles recorded a song about that too, called:

YOU NEVER GIVE ME YOUR MONEY

I asked the salespeople that I coached to  develop wish lists, and then reach out to their network to learn if anyone knows an executive at one of the wish list companies.  The Beatles recorded it first but Earth, Wind and Fire had a bigger hit with this song: 

GOT TO GET YOU INTO MY LIFE

Too many salespeople feel like they've won when the only thing that happened was that they were considered for an opportunity, like when they receive an RFP or RFQ.  They actually thank their prospect for the opportunity to be considered!  In honor of that, the Beatles recorded:

I'M HAPPY JUST TO DANCE WITH YOU

Today, salespeople send out a lot of unanswered emails.  The Beatles anticipated this more than 50 years before it happened when they recorded:

NO REPLY

Salespeople are often guilty of developing Happy Ears where they hear what they want to hear, even if it isn't true or factual.  This often gives them a false sense of hope so for this problem, the Beatles recorded:

DON'T LET ME DOWN

One thing that hasn't changed in years of selling is prospects that make a decision to not make a decision, forcing ineffective salespeople into follow up mode.  The Beatles were thinking about that decades ago when they recorded:

I'LL BE BACK

One of the most important skills that salespeople must develop is the ability to listen and ask questions.  Not surprisingly, the Beatles recorded:

TELL ME WHY

Unfortunately, many salespeople don't ask those questions, won't push back, won't challenge a prospect's thinking because they are afraid the prospect won't like them anymore. As a result, they choose to ignore it and move on.  The Beatles covered that with:

LET IT BE

Now for the two bonus songs.  Can you name the song that makes it obvious that if you talk to the wrong person, you won't close the deal?  That song would have been:

SYVIA'S MOTHER by Dr. Hook where he wants to talk to Sylvia but can't get through because her mother is playing gatekeeper.

Can you name the song about salespeople who try over and over to sell something that their prospect has no intention of buying because they don't have the problem that the salesperson's product solves?  That would be:

HONKEY CAT by Elton John where he talks about trying to find gold in a silver mine and like trying to find whiskey in a bottle of wine.

Your turn.  Can you name a song - by any artist - that describes selling?  Leave your comment in the LinkedIn thread.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, selling tips, sales tips, the beatles

10 Reasons Why Salespeople Hallucinate

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 15, 2019 @ 14:05 PM

hallucinate

I was in the basement of our home looking for something when I saw it.  It moved left to right, low, between the stored Christmas trees.  I took another look and this time it moved right to left.  Each time I moved, it moved.  I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized it wasn't a critter but a shadow that I was casting.

I saw something that simply wasn't there.  A figment of my imagination.  You could even call it a hallucination.

Salespeople frequently have hallucinations where they think there is something there, like a great opportunity, and in reality, there isn't anything there.  Not even close.  And then there are the salespeople who don't see an opportunity when there is actually a great one hiding in plain site.

Let's talk about the many reasons that these scenarios occur.

Let's start with my top 10 reasons why salespeople hallucinate an opportunity where there is none:

  1. The prospect seemed to like them and was open
  2. The salesperson did so much talking that they failed to identify whether or not there was a compelling reason to buy
  3. The prospect didn't voice an objection so the salesperson assumed that they were a go
  4. The salesperson failed to differentiate but assumed they were effective
  5. The salesperson failed to thoroughly qualify and assumed that it was all systems go
  6. The sales manager did not inspect the opportunity or coach to the opportunity after it was updated in CRM
  7. The prospect was not comfortable sharing and the salesperson was not comfortable challenging that
  8. The prospect asked for a quote or proposal and the salesperson took that as a buying signal and went into facilitation mode
  9. The salesperson began with a demo and the prospect, who was not the decision maker, thought it was nice to have but not a must have
  10. The salesperson assessed all of the competition, the size of the company, how hard it would be to get the business and decided for the customer that it wasn't worth pursuing.

 If you or your salespeople are guilty of one or more of these selling sins, it's time to take professional selling more seriously.  Salespeople are hired and well paid to have sometimes difficult discovery conversations with sometimes difficult prospects.  Those who retreat to the office to quote are behaving like minimum wage facilitators.  Facilitating is easy while selling is challenging so do your job, push through the uncomfortable stuff and differentiate!

Coach your salespeople through all 10 of these difficult selling scenarios by attending our one-of-a-kind, two-day, Sales Leadership Intensive on June 4-5.  Two days of great training and discussion all oriented towards making you a master of sales coaching.  Visit http://kurlanassociates.com/sales-leadership-event.  As of May 15, 2019, we have 8 seats remaining and they won't last long! 

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales tips, sales effectivnes, dka

When Good Prospects Can be Worse Than Tough Prospects

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 17, 2018 @ 17:01 PM

traffic-1.jpg

I was on the way to a meeting and the traffic was stop and go - not moving for a minute, then back up to 30 MPH, and then back to a dead stop.  I've been driving since 1972 and have driven in all kinds of conditions.  Pitch black on a moonless night on a narrow winding road with no street lights; on a 4-lane highway in white-out conditions where you can't see where the sides of the road are, down-hill on black ice with zero control of breaking and steering; snow-covered, two-lane road with cars stranded all over the place during the height of a blizzard, torrential rain when the roadways were flooded, heavy fog when you can't see the hood of your own car; and over a bridge in a tropical storm where the wind was blowing so hard it was difficult to keep the vehicle on the bridge.  I haven't driven off-road.  

Comparing the stop and go traffic to the other conditions I have driven in got me thinking about a sales analogy that you might find helpful.

As bad as those conditions may have been, they didn't surprise me, they didn't change, and other cars were not really factors in dealing with the conditions.  While it was challenging to drive in those conditions, I was prepared for those conditions.  The weather forecast called for those conditions. I knew about those conditions before I entered the vehicle.  It was as bad as I expected but not worse than I expected.

On the other hand, stop and go traffic, even on dry roads with sunlight, scares the crap out of me because I don't know what will happen next, when it will happen, or where it will happen.  As white as the knuckles get in the worst conditions, in stop and go traffic I can get lulled into complacency and then, BANG.  Someone slams on their brakes and it's time to brace for impact again.

Good salespeople can handle the toughest prospects because they are prepared for those prospects.  They know what they are walking into and those prospects are consistent.  They are as bad as expected but not worse than expected. 

On the other hand, stop and go prospects are extremely scary.  One minute everything is fine, they're a good prospect, and the next minute everything is wrong and they're a tough prospect.  You finally get them comfortable again, they're a good prospect again, and then BAM, they go off the rails again.  Their inconsistency can be unnerving and even the best salespeople get caught off guard, are truly surprised by the behavior and frankly, don't always know what to do.

So what should you do?

The same thing you should do in stop and go traffic.  Don't get lulled into complacency in the first place!  If the prospect goes off the rails, slow down, take a deep breath, ask them what just happened, back up and MAKE SURE THEY ARE COMPLETELY FINE BEFORE YOU SAY ANOTHER WORD.  Don't move forward if they aren't 100% OK because that's then they're most likely to go off the rails again.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales tips, cold prospect

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned awards for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog for eleven consecutive years and of the more than 2,000 articles Dave has published, many of the articles have also earned awards.

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