In this first post of 2022, I’d like to offer a practical gift to every seller in our business (and beyond) as you start this next annual chapter of your sales career. It comes in the form of an observation and some advice.
You are shooting yourself in the foot and it’s clouding your vision, mucking up your forecasts and making your sales cycle longer and more unstable. And it doesn’t have to be that way.
In my recent sales workshops, I’ve outlined the three self-inflicted wounds that can be fatal to your win-rate, but that are also easily corrected.
The Sales Call with No Purpose. Also known as the first call or the introduction. This is an assumption that’s as common as it is deadly. It’s just a first call or I’m just meeting a new team member… Reps tell themselves that we’ll just use this time to get to know each other… introduce them to the site… find out about their plans and goals. By wasting this at-bat, you’ve just added 3-4 months to your sales cycle, wasted your client’s time and probably came away with the same vanilla-mush information that they would have sent with an RFP – to anyone. Instead: Bring one slide filled with information about the client, another with the problem you feel you can solve for them, and 3 or 4 of your own slides about how you would solve it. Even if you’re wrong, the client will make you right.
Defaulting to Another Step instead of Closing. What does a salesperson say when they don’t ask directly for the client’s business? Usually, they just ask for another meeting, or the opportunity to write things up and send a proposal. The customer may have been ready to take a much more specific step – to recommend the plan, to assign budget, to prioritize the idea with their team – but the rep will never know because the question was never asked. Add at least six weeks to the process. Instead: Decide in advance on the most specific step this customer can take to advance the business and practice asking them for it. A good closing question features the phrase Will you… and includes a verb (action to be taken) a number (liberal estimate of cost) and a date (for activation, launch, commitment). Let them tell you that something else is needed. Don't create your own delays.
Chasing Unqualified Objections. Sometimes customers ask for discounts or special service, other times they just throw out questions about possibility. Could we structure the deal differently? Can you integrate with this kind of measurement? Can you put a pixel on it? This throws many sellers into a tailspin of activity. They chase down the answers. They burn extra weeks (and burn out their own team members) only to meet yet another question or objection… or radio silence. Instead: Learn how to use a conditional close. If we’re able to do that, would you recommend us? Is this the only issue standing in our way? A good rule of thumb is don’t answer a question until you know it’s the only question. It’s a simple way to qualify not only the opportunity but also the decision maker you’re dealing with.
Wishing you all a marvelous year filled with creativity, excellence and success.