Today I worked with an enthusiastic group of software sales people coaching them in how not to sell, or maybe how to not sell! Yes, you read it right. It was a struggle, for them and for me. They have been taught badly and managed badly, they have stretching targets and they push hard to hit them. Problem is, they don’t hit them, and they don’t enjoy trying to hit them either. So.. what is going wrong for these bright people with great products and services?
They are taught product specifications and features. They are taught competitor product specifications and features. They readily flick to the correct page of their busy glossy brochure so they can gleefully prove that everything they say is true. They can produce at will, supporting data, graphs and pie charts to show their capabilities and they can even show the smiling faces of recent happy clients who have chosen them above all the competition – even when their prices are higher and delivery times slower. The truth is, their briefcases are full of reasons why you should buy from them, and in one particular section, they keep their most deadly weapon – the prices and discount rate cards! How can they possibly fail!
Their approach to sales is simple and doomed to failure. Apparently, sales is a numbers game and if you do enough activity, speak to enough prospects, you will achieve target and earn bonus – really? Again, the problem with their approach is what they say to the unfortunate prospect (victim). They are experts at telling their prospects lots of great news, and have absolutely no idea why it might be better to ask them questions. They have offers and discounts and these become more attractive towards the end of the month, and almost ridiculous towards the end of the quarter. It’s a perfect example of an approach which drives the wrong behaviours, de-values the company brand and offering, and rewards the wrong results.
This article is not written so much for people who recognise themselves in the scenario above and need the solution, it’s written more for the rest of us who sometimes wonder if we are lone voices out there trying hard to do it the right way. Are we rewarded for spending time building rapport, positioning our approach and positive intention, gaining license to ask challenging questions, asking powerful and thought provoking questions leading to important conversations, stacking up stated needs, wants, worries and desires against potential solutions, articulating those solutions through repetition and summary of the prospects actual words, handling questions, queries and objections with a light and professional touch, trial closing before letting common sense and mutual realisation close the deal… of course we are! We treat people with respect, act as their trusted advisor and enjoy our art. We exceed targets through repeat sales, cross-sales and up-sales.
We get recommended and referred. We get thanked and become friends with our clients and we study all the time to do it better the next time.
In summary.. build genuine rapport, ask powerful questions, listen, present solutions which match stated needs, handle challenges with respect and close on advantages and benefits – not a product feature anywhere to be seen!
From Chris Gale at Xceeda Group