Sales people are having a tough time these days. A poor economy makes people and companies spend less, while
providers of goods and services push harder (as they may also be running low on cash). And when you become pushy, that’s when people take a step back – perhaps towards a competitor who does something differently.
The worst thing you can do in a crisis market is to do the same thing as you did before, just push harder. For sales people (just like for investors), the hard times are a chance to try smarter strategies and build lasting partnerships.
Have you ever received a phone call from a salesperson with an annoying robotic voice introducing a product you felt you didn’t need? The negative vibe of such calls can linger in us for hours. Many such calls include three extremely common prospect-repellents, things a sales rep should never do (unless he wants to get rid of someone).
These three ugly sales habits are easy to understand, including the damage they do. But they are hard to shake, because they come from basic human nature, and yes, salespersons are people too! (Sorry for the pun!) When sales reps do their jobs, they want to have a low-risk day (first problem below), they want to help (second problem) and they are convinced they are right (third problem). And yet, if you arein sales these perfectly reasonable attitudes can get you in trouble.
- Problem: Your sales script or PPT is your “comfort zone”. Many sales reps stick to their pre-prepared scripts or slides because they are predictable, thus make them feel smarter. But sales results can only come from interaction with the prospect, which is an unpredictable environment. That is also why many presenters don’t take questions. SOLUTION: No one gets paid for delivering written text unless you add value. True, prospects can be unpredictable if you don’t know about them. For instance, are they looking for a tried-and-true traditional solution or innovation with a “bang!”? Sales people can figure such things out in advance, reducing the emotional risk of interaction.
- Problem: You think your job is to introduce the product. Good salespeople know everything about the product or service they sell. Clients don’t want to know everything about the stuff they buy. If they wanted to be experts, they would not call an expert. SOLUTION: The salesperson’s job is to show how the product solves problems, and to coach the prospect through the decision-making process. We always advise participants of our selling courses to minimize technical information to the level the prospect really needs. This especially applies to technical sales, who love their stuff. But like a doctor, you can scare people with the nitty-gritty details of what you deliver.
- Problem: You get upset by resistance. Old-style sales training was always based on client resistance, because so many sales people hate it. (“How dare they criticize my product?!”) People meeting resistance often display physical stress reactions, such as increased heartbeat or nausea. Of course, these do not help sales performance. SOLUTION: Resistance is always an implicit request for more information. (“Why should I buy from you rather than your thousand competitors?”). It is not an ego-fight, it is a conversation starter. Smart sales people welcome it as the first chance to coach the prospect through the decision-making, or finding out early if the prospect is not committed to your solution.