Your business lives or dies on its sales numbers. When you and your sales team are nailing it – business is good, life is good. When you’re not nailing it, business is hard work, unrewarding, and everyone suffers.
Let’s face it – it’s no fun at all to realise that you’re missing out on opportunity after opportunity. It’s frustrating and tiring to experience any of the 8 signs that your approach to selling isn’t working. But, it’s also a blessing in disguise if you’re willing to adjust your approach.
The 8 Signs That Your Approach To Selling Could Be Improved
The 8 signs I see most often that indicate a very real opportunity for your business to create a big improvement in sales are these:
- Painfully long selling cycles
- Unmet sales forecasts
- Bad sales habits that are eroding margins
- Prospects demanding – and getting – costly price concessions
- Lack of common sales culture or methodology
- Hiring sales people that don’t work out
- Bidding wars
- Over-promising that creates customer dissatisfaction
At a more personal level there are some other tell-tale signs that a few small tweaks by the relevant salesperson (which might be you) could pay some big dividends. These include
- Prospects increasingly wanting to think it over
- Gatekeepers easily turn you away and you have no strategy for dealing effectively with voicemail and email
- You’re uncomfortable discussing price and fees
- Your answer to addressing most competitors selling advantages is to lower your price
- You take rejection personally and let it affect your performance
- You blame poor sales performance on other things outside your control
A Salesperson Is Starting On The Back Foot
Consumers are wary of salespeople. They’ve been exposed to old school, hard sell, and traditional selling techniques for decades. They can see them, taste them, and smell them from a mile off. Their defensive walls go up as soon as they feel sold to – even if they do actually need what you’re selling.
Ideally the sales encounter should be seen as a win:win situation. But, if you’ve spent some time in the trenches you’ll understand that that isn’t the perspective that your prospects come to the party with. Instead, they usually see themselves as individuals with something to lose: their money.
This means that your prospect is likely to take an adversarial approach – and that their objective is to get as much from the consultation as they can without committing to a purchase. Many prospects think they’re doing the sales person a favour simply by granting them an audience.
The salesperson ends up being “played” by the prospect – like a puppet on a string. In fact, the sales process is like a dance, where the prospect tends to take the lead. This isn’t a recipe for success.
The Prospect Takes The Lead
In most sales situations the prospect ends up being in control of the situation. And by that we mean that they
- play their cards close to their chest
- want to know what you know – without paying for it
- commit to nothing
- go AWOL and disappears – (in dating circles I believe they call this ghosting)
It’s natural that prospects would behave this way given that they’ve been exposed to traditional selling systems for so many years. And by a traditional selling system I mean that the salesperson is typically:
- Selling features instead of benefits – but people don’t buy them. They buy solutions to their problems;
- Waiting until the end of the sale to disclose price and terms, which means the salesperson and prospect may both be wasting valuable time;
- Relying too heavily on presentation skills to seal the deal, only to discover the interest was never there;
- Focusing on handling objections which puts the salesperson in a positive selling role which prospects almost always respond negatively to;
- Falling into the pitter patter of well known and over-used closing techniques which are probably well known to prospects, and easily deflected.
A More Effective Approach To Sales
There is an alternative which in some ways flips the sales approach on it’s head. It feels much more natural and personal, and much more effective. Everybody wins with this approach which we cover in our free four hour introduction for anybody who’s selling.
The steps are:
- Establish real rapport, and stop acting like a salesperson
- Establish an up front contract
- Uncover and probe your prospects pain
- Get all the money issues out on the table
- Discover your prospects decision making process
- Present a solution that will solve your prospects pain
- Reinforce the sale with a post-sell
Sales success relies on your ability to truly connect with and understand the problem that your prospect needs to solve. And the business isn’t won or lost at the time of some artificial close – it’s won or lost on the sales dance floor.
Who will take the lead, you or your prospect?
Contributed by Rebekah Tucker of Sandler Training Australia and New Zealand.