Times are tough for sales professionals everywhere. Customers are slashing budgets, shuffling business priorities, reorganizing internal responsibilities and avoiding almost every unnecessary risk. Today’s business climate has many prospects running scared and spending time with a salesperson is not exactly at the top of anyone’s list.
So what can you do to increase your chances of sales success in this turbulent economy?
Hint: The answer is right there in your mirror. That’s right . . . it’s YOU!
It’s easy to blame the weak financial markets, the relentless competition or even the boss’s unwillingness to negotiate as primary reasons for your lack of success. Hiding behind these excuses is simple and painless. But unfortunately it also creates the perfect environment to start losing your edge. Given enough time, you’ll find yourself turning into a serial deal killer.
Here’s a quick countdown of the four worst “selling” crimes being committed today and some practical advice on how you can avoid them.
Crime #4 – Assuming “no” when you really don’t “know”
Stop assuming they won’t take your call, agree to an appointment or do business with you. Too many reps simply give up because they don’t hear back from prospects right away. They throw proposal after proposal out the door and then lose interest in following up because they get distracted chasing the next opportunity.
Please understand that I’m not giving you license to become a pest, but I am encouraging you to become more persistent. Quit making decisions for your prospects and move forward the remainder of this year with a relentless “go for no” attitude. Sure you’ll face a little more rejection, but that helps clean out your funnel and forces you to focus on the right opportunities. I know it hurts to lose, but you can’t lose what you don’t have. And you just might be surprised how many times you’ll hear a “yes” if you’re willing to stay engaged.
Crime #3 – Talking too much
Many sales people get hired because they have the infamous “gift of gab.” There is a pretty good chance that you’ve worked with someone who loved nothing better than the sound of their voice. These reps are great at telling stories, but they struggle to connect and create deeper dialogue with prospects and customers.
Many customers are being asked to do more with less today. Spending time with an overly friendly (see all chatty) sales rep isn’t a priority, it’s a liability.
Being able to clearly and succinctly articulate a compelling story is vital to your success. Your goal is to be brief, be bright and then be gone.
Before you make your next call, ask yourself; why, given all of the competitive alternatives available, should this prospect want to do business with me right now?
Crime #2 – Failing to ask for commitment
One of the major reasons reps don’t get the business is because they hesitate to ask for it. Don’t focus on the outcome, focus on the process. If you’ve done the right things in the right way, it becomes your professional responsibility to be assertive.
When should you close? Early and often! Asking for little commitments along the way makes asking for the final commitment much easier. Plus you’ll quickly learn how realistic the opportunity is. Customers who are unwilling to make small commitments along the way are going to be even less enthusiastic about making a bigger commitment later on.
Crime #1 – Purposely (or mistakenly) using less than adequate skills
If you’re going to sell more every year, you need to get better every year. Sales people who think they’re done learning are usually just done. And that’s OK if your closing question is “Do you want fries with that?”
There is an abundance of sales books, tele-seminars, podcasts, webinars, and sales training programs available today. What are you waiting for?
So where should you focus? Start by honestly answering a few of these questions.
-How much preparation are you putting into each call?
-Are the questions you ask thought provoking or mind numbing?
-How valuable are your ideas (i.e. would prospects pay for them?)
-What are the top three obstacles that prevent deals from closing?
-How do you clearly and concisely address these obstacles?
-What are you doing every week to help build better relationships?
Make a commitment right now to sharpen some of your selling skills. I’m confident it will help you win more opportunities and create more success!
It takes courage to admit you could be a better sales rep and confidence to believe you can change; it takes nothing to create excuses.
Speaking of Sales is about finding, winning and keeping customers for life. If that’s part of your job, then you won’t want to miss the next issue.