Thought Leadership on Creating a High Performing Sales Culture presented by Sandler Training Chartwell Seventeen Advisory Group.
In my well-traveled career in sales and sales management I have been inspired by many quotes pertaining to sales and the selling process. One in particular resonates the loudest:
“People will buy HOW you sell to them, much sooner than they buy WHAT you sell to them.” –David Sandler
With this in mind, I invite you to reflect upon your recent interactions with your prospects to see if you are facilitating an effective buying process, or if you’re coming across as someone who is just looking to make a sale. Below are a few “sales fails” that many salespeople, including myself, have been guilty of when sitting across from a prospect.
Fail #1: In an attempt to sound different than your competition you wind up sounding exactly the same
“And what separates me from my competition is…”
It’s hard to keep the competitive side of us in check. Especially when we get baited by a prospect with the all too common question, “What makes you better than your competition?” I bet you have a really good response to this. Maybe something that entails superior quality, years of experience, market leadership, integrity, etc. You probably can deliver that with great bravado too. Unfortunately, so can your competition. And to the ears of your prospect it all sounds the same.
Try this instead:
People buy for their reasons, not yours. The next time you are asked this question, put it back on your buyer. Who are they currently working with and why might they be looking for something better? Work off of their responses. Perhaps their current competitor is doing a great job and there isn’t much you can do better. On the other hand, if you can mutually discover gaps that your product and service can address, your buyer will be in a better position to engage with you.
Fail #2: In an attempt to show excitement and enthusiasm, you lower your credibility
“I would love to share our capabilities with you.”
It’s perfectly okay to be excited and engaged about the solutions you can provide to your prospects. However, if you prescribe overly strong enthusiasm onto your buyer, they may not have the chance to feel for themselves how your services or products fit well with their needs. A sales call is not the place to get your emotional needs met, and if your buyer gets the slightest whiff of “commission breath” they can shut things down pretty quickly with a “let me talk it over with my team and we’ll get back to you.”
Try this instead:
Once you confirm that your prospect has a legitimate need for your product or service, and they are committed to addressing the issue, you can pose a question like this: “John, it sounds like the issues you raised are pretty important. Would it make sense to invest 15-20 minutes on a call where I can demonstrate how we’ve helped people like yourself address these challenges?” Let them discover how what you offer fits in with their issues. While it’s the seller’s job to control the buying process, it is ultimately up to the prospect to feel like they’re in control of the decision.
Fail #3: In an effort to engage a prospective buyer, you jump too soon to discussing the solution, as opposed to the problem
“Our software can help you maximize your current productivity by 80% at a third of the cost of our competitors.”
Have you found yourself launching into presentation mode too soon? It’s tempting, since you’ve spent time and energy learning the technical ins and outs of your product or service, and it’s natural that you would want to impress and educate your buyer. In reality, many buyers tune out when you lead with the pedantic spiel. People are most connected to their issues and challenges. Unless you start with their issues first, it will be a challenging task getting them to connect your solution to their problems.
Try this instead:
When starting a meeting with a prospect, outline two or three common challenges that your existing clients were faced with when they enlisted the help of your product or service. It might sound something like this: “Linda, when I speak with other heads of marketing they usually tell me things like “issue X” or “issue Y,” while others are really finding a challenge dealing with “issue Z.” When you think of your current landscape, which of those would be worth a further conversation?” Now you’re in a discussion about their issues.
David Sandler stated that selling is a fine-edged business. It’s a series of small tweaks and adjustments that can have a larger impact on your outcomes, as opposed to that “silver bullet” question or move that will ultimately get you the sale. What tweaks can you make in your approach to allow for the best possible outcome?