Painting a new picture of a Sales Professional
We’ve all experienced those rare but unforgettable moments of complete and utter surrender to the skills, technique and enthusiasm of a true “Sales Professional.” We entered the scenario totally convinced that we were not going to buy. We even had the conversation in the car on the way over, making a pledge with our spouses that no matter how good it sounded, we weren’t buying! Then about half-way through the presentation you began to rethink your previous assumptions. You looked over at your spouse and shared a look that said “maybe there is something to this.” By the end of presentation, you did not change your mind, but you made a new decision based on new information that made you want to buy what they were selling.
It was masterful: the timing of his questions, the tone of voice, the amazing ability to listen to what you were really asking for. It was like poetry in motion. It seemed like that salesperson could read your mind – and wow – even understood your pain. We were helpless and totally at the mercy of the Sales Professional’s defined process and sequence, and the most fascinating of all, we loved every moment of it! The process was effortless, enjoyable and we even spent more money than what we had originally planned.
Why? Because the level of professionalism made us feel that our needs were safe we could trust this person. We felt comfortable enough to be confident that this process would solve our problem and add value to our lives. You see, we love working with true professionals. We love buying from them because they make our lives easier. Even better, we love referring them because they make us look good. We tell their stories at dinner and we go out of our way to ensure our friends and family use them.
So here are a couple of questions to consider. How many sales people do you know that are that good? My guess is that it’s a low number. Why is that? I believe that the answer lies in the fundamental problem with the sales industry: there are few systems to create true “Sales Professionals.” There are often very few barriers to entry in the field, little real sales training and often poor management systems that fail to hold people accountable. The madness has got to stop!
Defining the problem
As a consultant, over the last decade I have consistently seen the following gaps with many salespeople. I encourage you to use this article as a springboard for discussion with your business partners to delve into ways to improve your business models.
Using marketing as a cop-out to selling
Marketing and selling are both absolutely necessary to build a successful business, but very different. Struggling salespeople tend to prefer marketing because of the simple fact that it reduces the amount of rejection they need to face. Marketing, in its simplest explanation, attracts prospects to call us; while selling forces us to find people to call on and risk rejection on a daily basis.
Lack of defined job descriptions
This problem is worse in some industries than it is in others, but is widespread enough to warrant a look at. For example, ask 100 Real Estate Agents what their job is, and I would bet that all 100 would say something like “to sell homes.” Or they’ll give the text book answer, “to help my clients.” The challenge with seeing the job as “selling homes” is that getting a client into or out of a home is a “result,” but not a “job.”
Confusing activity with productivity (results)
This is a result of bullet point #2. If people don’t know what their job truly is, then any opportunity can seem like a good way to spend time. They live their work life like a feather in the wind, going in whatever direction the winds of “opportunity” decide to blow. It’s is easy to look “busy” while being broke. Perhaps this statement appears blunt, but the faster we can get real, the sooner we can solve the problem.
No structured, sequenced sales system (workflow)
Not having a predefined, step-by-step process to take prospects from initial meetings to close, salespeople can find themselves not only eating up their time, but even worse their clients’ time. TheSalesBoard.com research showed that 80% of sales people do not understand what the primary purpose of their sales call is. Their research goes on to say that by having a clear “commitment objective” you can cut your sales cycle by 25%. That equates to three extra months of sales time!
No “canned” presentation of value
I have seen many people go into sales calls with out any prepared presentation, resulting in them saying something different at every sales call. You cannot depend on your ability to talk to save your from this one. Every successful salesperson you know has perfected their scripting and presentation. And the true “Sales Professional” can deliver his or her presentation on a napkin just as effectively as using a PowerPoint. The ultimate goal of having a “canned” presentation is to make it sound and feel natural.
NO TRAINING in the Fundamentals of Selling
This was the first thing I noticed years ago. In many industries, because of either a very favorable market or because of a great marketing department, there was no great need for sales skills. Business was so abundant that anyone could make a great income. This was particularly true in the mortgage industry during the early 2000s. I was challenged about this once by an originator who said, “Well I made $250,000 in the ‘Refi’ boom, so I must be a sales professional.” My response was that a lot of people made $250,000 then. The sales professionals however, made $700,000-$1,000,000 during that time.