Sales is hard. That’s why, like good quarterbacks, actors, and financial wizards, the really good get paid very well. A typical sales person might say the following things on any given day:
- I get rejection all the time.
- When I cold call or network, people don’t really want to talk to me.
- Cold calling doesn’t work.
- I lose deals to the competition all the time, even when we are logically the better solution.
- Prospects lie to me all of the time.
- There are so many hidden decision makers today; it’s more difficult than ever to sell.
But is it really that hard? As I look back over just the last year about what my clients changed to make selling easier, everything seems to be common sense.
- The sales people prospect for a high percentage of their time (over 50%), get lots of no’s, but as a result have more opportunities in their pipeline. In fact it has become so easy to predict sales success just by isolating prospecting activity.
- The sales people only prospect people who are likely to have problems that their product or service will solve. This reduces the amount of noes that they actually get, and increases the amount of people that want to talk to them to see if they can be helped.
- The sales people have regular conversations with clients who are very happy, and leverage those conversations to get referrals and introductions.
- The account representatives who assist the clients have developed their own skills, so client retention rates are stable. This allows new business to actually count and takes pressure off the sales people. Less pressure means that the sales people will focus on the right clients versus the easy to get clients that end up being high maintenance.
- The sales process that my clients use exposes the need for the decision makers to be part of the buying process as early as possible, eliminating surprises.
- The conversation that the sales people have when making cold calls works to help the call recipient figure out if they should continue or end the conversation. Rarely does a highly qualified prospect not want to schedule a longer conversation once they realize they have a problem and that there might be a better solution to solving that problem.
Isn’t all of this common sense? Isn’t this just sales 101? While it is common sense, it is not common practice.
I believe the reason it’s not common practice is because people don’t seem to know how to make these things happen. They understand that they should, but the how is missing. They end up making up things that actually accomplish the complete opposite.
- They prospect via email rather than calling.
- They call smaller accounts than they should because they think that will be easier.
- They start sales conversations low in the organization, instead of prospecting the decision maker because they think it will be easier
- They focus on sales growth instead of at least equally focusing on client retention.
Why do CEOs and sales leaders continue to try to make things up about sales? Why don’t they mimic companies that have proven track records of success and just do things like they do?
Which company are you? Are you the one making up things about sales, or the one doing things the optimal way? If you can’t figure it out, just look at your growth. If you have been relatively flat year over year, you know the answer.