On the whole, sales, selling and negotiation are misunderstood, often by people even employed in these roles.
Most people think of sales when it comes to buying or selling something and people usually only associate negotiating in terms of price…or hostages.
I am considered a sales extraordinaire and many people call me “The Negotiator”. Recently, I was even referred to as a “Super Human” in terms of my ability to negotiate, so this is certainly a topic I know a thing or two about.
Allow me to expose 6 attributes that will kill your potential to make sales.
1. Inability for people to sell themselves
The phrase that usually calls this out is “I don’t like talking about myself”. Or even “I don’t like the selling part of my role, I just want to build homes/help people/give financial advice/make money/insert other expertise here”.
One of the most fundamental elements of sales is the ability to sell yourself.
If your people are unable to sell themselves as a representative of your company, how will they sell your product or service?
Are you losing sales to competitors because your salespeople don’t know how to sell your point of difference? Can your salespeople articulate what problem they solve? Try them out and ask them that exact question.
2. Understanding the Difference between Selling and Negotiating
Selling is an exchange of goods or services for money. Although mostly transactional in nature, the sales process entails many elements of negotiation.
Most people relate to “selling” in the capacity of buying or selling something.
Negotiation on the other hand is a discussion aimed at reaching agreement. It is generally not transactional.
Throughout the sales process, negotiation techniques are used with the aim of moving your prospective customer towards a positive buying decision. If handled correctly, even the most hostile of customers can be (willingly) pacified when dealing with someone in customer service who is skilled in negotiating.
The difference between a salesperson and a negotiator is in their ability to use conversational competence in order to progress a discussion which leads to mutual agreement.
Are your salespeople just ‘salespeople’, or are they actually skilled negotiators? Observe them when a prospective customer tells them they are not ready to buy yet…
3. Wrong type of salespeople
The old adage used to be to recruit salespeople who will be fantastic relationship builders, especially for those commodities which involve a long sales/decision making cycle. However, this is an absolute killer for your sales.
Research suggests that customers value salespeople who can teach them something new, challenge their current ideas and use creativity to help them solve a problem. The same research concluded that very few customers mentioned “relationship” was something of value in a sales or negotiation process.
For decades now, sales managers have been hiring relationship builders, thinking that these kinds of people will win over customers, however studies show that this kind of salesperson is actually the least effective when it comes to making sales.
Do you know how to hire the right kind of salesperson? Watch how your existing sales team handle objections like “it’s not the right time to buy now”, or “I just want to think about it”, or “the price is too high for me” and see if they can get the prospect to willingly commit to purchase.
4. Lack of trust established
In a piece of research by Amy Cuddy, she revealed that when making a first impression, customers are sizing up if they can trust you and if you have competence to be able to assist them. This research concluded that these two elements must be established in that order. Trust first, competence second.
To establish trust, you need to make your interaction more about your customer and less about you. The best way to do this is to become a master at asking the RIGHT questions.
5. The “Show up and Throw up”
I appreciate that your company is a market leader or has a unique point of difference, however your prospective customer does not care for that upon their first interaction with you.
Most salespeople get caught up in vomiting their product and company information all over a prospect during the first interaction, after all, they’ve come in to hear about that, right? Wrong.
Your customer has come in with a problem and the role of the salesperson is to give them the right information so they can make an informed decision as to whether your product is the right fit.
Time and time again, I watch people asking the wrong types of questions, in the wrong way, at the wrong time.
Executed correctly, you should only need about 8 questions to ascertain all the information necessary to establish a customer’s motivation and capability to proceed.
Irrespective of the commodity being sold, there are a handful of questions that are transferable across almost any product or service. Here are just some of them:
- What is most important to you in terms of your purchase?
- How long have you been considering XYZ?
- What has stopped you doing this previously?
- Tell me about your decision making criteria?
Do you know the right questions to ask which will promote maximum dialogue in return? Ask your salespeople to tell you the exact list of questions they use during a first encounter with a prospect.
6. Lack of sales process
Ask any unskilled or unsuccessful salesperson about sales processes and they will tell you “I don’t need a sales process because every customer is different”.
Like any framework, its benefit is to help you stick to a process of ‘best practice’. A sales process will provide a map of how to identify the problems your prospect is experiencing, whilst allowing your prospective customer to see how you will help them.
An affective sales process will maximise the number of people who convert into becoming actual customers. An ineffective process will see your prospects disengage and ‘opt out’, which is most commonly evident by them not returning phone calls or emails.
What process does your business follow? Ask your salespeople how they move a prospective customer along the buying process and exactly what their process is.
If you want to decrease the time of your sales cycle and increase your conversion ratio, then mastering these 6 elements is key to creating a culture of high performance across your business’ sales function.
Helping organisations and individuals to win with their words and become outstanding negotiators and salespeople.
If you would like to benefit from increased sales, more closed deals, enhanced leadership and better performing teams, you can contact me here.