Sales performance booster cook book
Sales performance is the topic of many books. In so many variations. It is like with standards: The great thing is, that we have so many of them. And it is up to you to find out which one applies best to the current situation.
I can’t deliver THE ONE recipe, but I can provide you with some thoughts and experiences from my own sales activities.
If you want to read good articles about positive sales and how to deliver more than expected, you should take a look at Deb Calvert’s publications.
Deb interviews a lot of people about the changes in sales e.g. here.
The basic message I hear is that sales people should invest more time in understanding people better, REALLY delivering solutions, REALLY helping customers to solve problems etc.
And from an ethical standpoint most people will follow these thoughts. It feels good, it sounds right, the message can be spread without resistance.
BUT there are very successful sales people out there that tell you exactly the contrary. They tell you to NOT ask questions, to NOT think in advance, to NOT really solve the clients problems. And their arguments are pretty understandable, too.
This is a message nobody wants to tell to the public. It sounds like selling only for the personal advantage. It sounds “not customer oriented”. It sounds bad.
Whose arguments are right?
I can’t give you the answer. Not because I do not know. It is because we are in Switzerland and a neutral position is inevitable.
Just a joke.
In fact, there is no black or white answer. But I tend to support the “ugly” message. And I will show you why I think that this approach often delivers bigger value to both parties:
A sales person must deliver sales performance and sell to fulfill his targets. So if he has the chance to sell something that makes sense, he should do so. This can be a perfect synergy: The customer has a need and the sales has the solution. It is a win-win-situation.
What often hinders sales people and consultants from selling is the idea, that they are in charge to “deliver the PERFECT solution”. To “protect the customer from investing” in things that do not perfectly match the ideal future scenario.
I often heard these sentences from solution sales people: “How can I sell something if I KNOW that the customer will run into troubles in 6-12 months. I know that this solution is only a temporary approach. Latest in 12 months will the customer understand that I am right!”
And in >90% of the cases the answer to my question is the same: “Ok, from the last 20 projects: which have you won – and which have been closed by your competitors?”. Silence. Then: “Well just two, but the competitor’s offers have been obviously wrong.”
Why is this approach WRONG?
The sales wants to protect the customer from a wrong decision. Wants to save the customer’s money for a better solution. The consultant has a vision about the “ideal solution” for the customer.
But the customer did not ask for a business redesign or visionary approach. The customer has a current problem that he wants to get rid of. He wants to have that thing from the desk. NOW. And he is willing to spend a certain amount of money to achieve this goal.
And what happens if a pampering sales and a visionary consultant start to protect the customer?
They create a new and even bigger problem on the desk of the customer. They do not help him to get rid of the load, they add load.
Lessons from that post
My lesson I want to tell you is: If you can solve a customer’s need NOW and he is willing to pay for this solution. SELL. He will be happy with that and you did a great job.
As you know that there is more potential to help the customer, come back to him some weeks later. Ask about the progress with the last solution and ask the question, if the time is right to do another step forward together.
If you can make another small step forward and reduce the load from his shoulders another time, do so. SELL. You will be the best friend. You unloaded the task list of the customer.
Also stop thinking that your broadband visions are visible to your customers. You might be right with what you see, but perhaps you are wrong – and the transformation of companies for bigger approaches needs long periods of time. You don’t have time in sales to wait for a company’s transition.
So, before really being asked to put on the seven league boots, don’t hinder your customer to invest in small steps. Don’t try to protect him because YOU think the steps should be bigger. It is not about you, it is about helping the customer at his speed.
Posts are a fantastic source for spreading theory. Especially in sales there is no “one way fits all” recipe that can be applied to all situations.
Still, having a wide set of theories in his pocket a sales is able to try things out and find the best methods that work for him. And what works with one customer can fail at another.
So, keep being curious, try things out and ask your prospects and clients about your performance, too! You can start great and useful discussions with your prospects if you ask them about their personal experience when working together with you.
Let them tell you. Don’t interrupt. Just listen and learn.