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Your Salespeople are Killing Your Sales

Jan 15, 2019

27 years ago Alec Baldwin delivered a three-word movie line that will live in sales infamy…”ABC, Always Be Closing”. His verbally abusive speech was meant to motivate and inspire a group of salespeople to get clients to “sign on the line which is dotted”, dangling the prospect of better leads coupled with the threat of losing their jobs.

Today, our approach to sales has not changed much. Well, perhaps the rhetoric has. Our language has become somewhat more sophisticated, incorporating such things as value and strategy, partnerships and being a trusted advisor, and numerous methodologies like Challenger Sales and Target Account Selling. But the goal is still the same– close deals. Although now we have more robust sales playbooks in place, along with sales people who are thoroughly trained in negotiations, objection handling and closing techniques. As a result, we expect to secure even more logos, larger contracts and longer engagements. On the surface, it makes sense. With all the cost and time invested into the sales organization, things should be getting better.

So, what prevents so many companies from consistently hitting their sales targets? I will tell you what it’s not. It’s not the strategy, it’s not the playbook and it’s not the market opportunity. It’s the people.

My colleagues have been writing for several months about the tendency people have to Avoid & Control. Research shows that we are all wired to avoid risk, conflict and uncertainty. Instead, to get what we want, we work to control outcomes, processes, and perceptions. I see this nowhere more prevalent than in sales.

· Controlling the conversation, talking too much, demonstrating to the buyer that we really don’t care to hear their needs. Or talking too little, effectively giving the buyer full control.
· Controlling the process, turning data gathering into an interrogation.
· Avoiding conflict by not raising the real issues. Wanting everyone to remain ‘comfortable’ by withholding feelings, perspectives and concerns.
· Avoiding complexity by selling features, advantages and benefits.
· Steering the conversation to everything but price, avoiding the risky proposition of getting rejected or having to prove an ROI.

Any of this look familiar? These avoiding and controlling behaviors are hurting your business! They have a huge impact on your top line, effectively negating much of the important work you’ve done on training, systems and processes.

In order to maximize your sales team and its opportunities, and to reach the full potential of your sales methodology, your people need a fresh perspective on engaging their clients and prospects. Imagine a sales team that:

· Gets critical issues on the table so they can be worked on
· Engages buyers in a meaningful two-way discussion
· Actively listens to hear your client’s real needs
· Challenges your clients to think differently
· Collaborates internally and externally to build a solution that’s best for everyone

Reach out to us. We’d love to talk to you about how to develop your sales talent to truly be effective in the field. A team that engages your clients, instead of controlling them.