One of the sales people I work with shared that she was struggling with a prospect. The prospect was polite, but aside from agreeing to continue the sales process was not sending any clear buying signals. In fact, she seemed a little distant. The sales rep was smart enough to ask, “Do I have a chance of selling you this system?” The prospect honestly answered, “No, my best friend sells for the competition.”
Good people that can sell make great sales people. Good people that can’t sell, don’t. It’s easy to be swayed by someones charisma or charm. Just because you like them and they fit in with the team does not mean people will buy from them. What you need is a crystal ball to hire good sales people, or something like one.
Some salespeople I work with have a higher than normal no-show or cancellation rate with their appointments. They are hard working, honest sales people seemingly doing the right things, yet people are still no-showing them. Their problems might be in the phrasing they use, not confirming appointments, or not setting specific times to meet but the root problem lies in how valuable they believe it is for a prospect to meet with them.
This is a simple and short reminder on measuring sales activity. Have you heard the phrase, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure?” It’s true. If you want to manage a sales person/team you need data to base your coaching, support and decisions on. You’ll find some of that data in sales activity.
If you are a sales manager or owner you probably hear the same things I do related to pricing. Sales people will say they need to discount for this or that. It is either a competitive situation or a loyal customer deserves a good deal. My stance is to not discount as a practice but be open to negotiations if needed for the right reasons. When one salesperson is consistently having pricing issues or objections you probably don’t have a pricing problem you have a selling problem. This is how I address the problem.
Today a sales person called with bad news. Unresolved service issues caused a good customer to cancel service. The salesperson explained they had repeatedly worked with a vendor to resolve the issue but problems persisted. What the salesperson was saying was, I did all I was supposed to do, I sold the deal, helped resolve issues, took the complaints and now I am eating crow with a charge back looking me in the face.
We just hired a new sales rep at one of our client businesses. We took our time and and followed our hiring process to find the best qualified person that was a good fit for the sales team. In a world of greed and “looking after mine”, there are still people (a lot of them) who want to be part of a team-oriented department.
H. Dale Burke in his book, “Less is More Leadership” has a great quote. “When your memories are more exciting than your dreams, you’ve begun to die.” If you find yourself talking more about what was, than what can or will be you might need some resuscitation. Growing your business through a sales team requires a clear vision that will motivate them to stretch. They need a compelling reason to move out of the comfortable and stable environment they have.
Wouldn’t you like to know what the most important sales question is to ask? When I started consulting I met with Harvey Meier (www.harveymeier.com), a 30 year veteran to management consulting and asked him, “If you were to give me one tip to help me in consulting, what would it be?” He responded, “Ask one more question.” He explained, when you are ready to begin sharing a solution to your prospect, stop and ask another question. It has been one of the best business and selling tips I have received.
One of my client’s sales people called today and left me a message. He explained how he had a tough night with personal stuff and the morning had not gone much better. His day was heading down hill which included his sales production. He then made a choice to “sharpen his axe” or in his case his mind and sales tools. He pulled off the road and pulled out a book and read for 20 minutes. He said his day turned completely around and productivity went back up in the afternoon.