Smart Selling

Ten Ways Sales Is Killing Sales – Part 2

This is the second in a two-part series on how technology can help sales reps avoid common mistakes that end up costing them a sale.

Most sales reps are highly motivated and willing to work hard. They understand that knowledge about the product, the customer and customer pains are all key to a successful sale. They are less comfortable with the idea that selling is really more about buying than selling.

Some would call this guided selling; others would say it is just a matter of being easy to buy from. Let’s explore a couple of those ideas in the context of selling and buying products.

6. Talking tech without knowing tech

For many products, especially those of a technically complex nature, sales responsibilities are frequently split between Sales and a technical pre-sales team. The problem with this is that customers never are sure who they are talking to. Sales hates delays, and when technical issues arise, particularly those that would appear to be show stoppers, some sale reps will feel compelled to “handle” the technical issues themselves.

CPQ is designed with technical information built into the scripted interviewing process. The question and answer arrays are all created and edited by the engineering and product teams. This means the reps are excused from needing to know this information; they simply need to ask the questions and record the answers per the script. If the answer is not provided, the configuration process will not proceed.

7. Trying to “control” the sale

How many sales training courses have you taken where the goal is to somehow maintain “control” of the sale? This desire is wholly misplaced. It will surface in a variety of ways. One I find most irritating is asking a simple question and being told that someone will have to visit my location for some level of a review process prior to answering the question.

Sales does not control sales. Buyers control buying cycles, and they know what their motivations are during the assorted phases of the process. They know when they want information, when they want a quote, when they want to ask a specific question and when they want to buy.

Let the customer drive the process. Make it easy for the customer to get what they want. Enable the sale, don’t attempt to control the sale.

8. Minimizing concerns of the customer

No one likes to be “indulged” or enjoys a condescending answer to a question. Telling a customer that their concern over some perceived issue is “nothing to worry about” is just about as offensive as it gets. I remember well a pre-job site inspection conducted by a colleague. It was executed over about 10 minutes and summarized for the customer with the comment, “piece of cake.” Unfortunately, the job turned out to be far more complicated, long running and expensive than anyone envisioned.

Listen to the customer. Take their concerns seriously. Refer to the CPQ scripting before answering any question, and if necessary, bring in the experts. This will build confidence on the part of the customer that you know what you are doing and that you are taking them seriously.

9. Answering around questions

It’s a political year with candidates appearing on TV, radio and social media with great frequency. During interviews with candidates, I always find it amazing how they never really answer a question. The press will ask, “What’s your position on Issue X?” The politician will almost always provide an answer that’s something like, “Issue X concerns many citizens greatly. I have spent many months studying Issue X, and I find that the opposing candidate doesn’t have a viable solution to the Issue X problem. This is troubling, and I’m sure that the voters share that concern with me.”

Great answer, but it has nothing to do with the question. Sales reps do this all the time. Question: Why is it so expensive? Answer: Our quality control is second to no one in the industry. Question: How many companies like ours use this solution? Answer: This product is very new, but we have many customers using it successfully.

Just answer the question.

10. Telling the customer they are “just like” another customer

People don’t need to be told they are “special,” but they also don’t appreciate being told they are ordinary, run of the mill or just like someone else. Not many couples would go much beyond a nodding acquaintance if one person shares with the other that they remind them of their parent. Your wife doesn’t want to be your mom, and you husband isn’t interested in being your dad.

The same is true with B2B relationships. You will not inspire confidence by telling your contact at GM that they are just like Ford.

All customers are unique, their pains are unique, and it is likely that the ideal solution to their needs is also unique.

If you let the initial relationship be guided by the CPQ interview script, you will let the customer know that they are important to you and your concern is to learn about them.

Selling is an old profession, and it has gone through many developmental iterations.  The biggest revolution in Sales is the one that is going on right now. Guided selling, buyer-driven selling or whatever you want to call it. The two primary rules are:

Keep your eye on the customer; make things work for them. Be honest and responsive. You can’t fail.

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