Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Facts and Fallacies About Selling: Fallacy #5

Fallacy #5: The law of averages – making a maximum number of daily sales calls is the biggest factor in selling success.

Reality: This was never true.

The ability to qualify a prospect, and engage in a conversation that inspires and motivates them to buy sooner rather than later (if it is in their best interest to do so), is a professional salesperson’s most valuable asset. The average salesperson says, “These prospects are not interested.” A professional says, I failed to interest them.”

If a salesperson’s activity level is so low that it is impossible for them to hit targets, then we recommend increasing their activity levels. However, increased activity alone cannot produce sustainable blockbuster results. Increasing the activity levels of ineffective salespeople may produce a small up-tick in sales, but at what cost?

Companies would be wise to analyze the cost of lost sales due to lack of sales competency. Most salespeople increase sales from 15 – 80% by increasing their sales effectiveness through proper training and coaching*. Hence, without improved sales skills effectiveness, if they make 20% more calls, the organization loses even more productivity and could lose potentially profitable customers forever.

Ineffective salespeople making more sales calls could mean you'll lose potential customers faster.

* Knowing how to sell is not enough. Many salespeople are good conversationalist about selling techniques, but are not skilled enough or in the habit of applying these principles in their day-to-day selling activities. For example, most sales managers and sales people agree that finding out what the customer wants/needs and what would motivate them to buy from us is critical in securing and keeping profitable customers. However, on sales calls, salespeople behave in a distinctly different way. They may say the sell "solutions", but their questioning and listening skills are minimal and basic, so they tend to default to "selling" a solution" with ineffective or no diagnostics at all. Others wast prospects time and resources conducting drawn-out or ineffective "needs assessments." In today's market, prospects expect easy to execute, customized solutions that are cost-effective and well articulated by product advocating salespeople.

Effectively executed, the questioning phase is revealing for both the potential client and the salesperson. Then, in the all-important conviction step, salespeople clearly and specifically explain their offering in concrete terms. We contend that, if talking with a salesperson has no value in-and-of itself, salespeople can be replaced by a well-crafted web-site. If all they do is recite facts, features and generic benefits, they are wasting our company's money and our prospective customer's time. However, most of our clients need and want  professional help in making a wise buying decision. That is the job of today's professional salesperson and clients invite then in with open-arms once they sense their value.

Motivation is woven through the buying process. In our sales calls with salespeople who sell both tangible and intangible products/services, we see them try to create an artificial "sense of urgency" and, in the process, miss the client's real sense of urgency. Their tactics are transparently manipulative and create more doubt than reducing doubt in the min of the prospect.

As Dr. John Geier Ph.D., co-author of the DISC Behaviour Indicator Profile says, "People do things for their reasons, not ours. Each of us has our own private logic and everything makes sense to us no matter how bizarre our actions seem to others."

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