1. Prospects fail to see you as the Expert.
The last thing you ever want is a buyer or a prospect to label you a salesperson because sales people, no matter how good they are, are unwanted pests. Master sales people take great effort to distance themselves from this perception by positioning themselves as an expert and an authority figure of local prominence in their market or industry.
Being perceived as an expert takes more than just knowing about your product or service. Frankly, anyone with adequate study can learn product information and regurgitate it to the prospect. Being perceived as an expert in the buyer’s eyes means positioning one’s self as the authority figure with celebrity status. Successfully done, this distances you from the product peddlers who are simply pitching product information at the lowest cost.
2. Your prospects think what you are selling is a “commodity”
The unvarnished truth is that – at least in the eyes of the buyer or prospect – the product or service you are selling is a commodity. If you are honest, you will admit that there is very little difference in what you sell and what your competitors sell. There may be minor differences, and you may offer some bells and whistles they don’t, but ultimately if you quit your job and went to work with your top competitor, you would essentially be selling the same thing.
To prevent being “commoditized” you must redirect the sales process to one that talks about their problems not your products. Far too many sales people allow the prospects to control the conversation and the sales process by focusing the discussion on the product and the price. When this happens and the buyer sees no differentiation between products or services the buying decision will almost always be determined by price. To prevent this and overcome the perception of being a commodity the sales professional must take control of the sales process and demonstrate through their behavior that they are different. This is best accomplished by demonstrating sales skills that the buyer has never seen before. This takes sales training, practice and the development of new selling skills that most sellers have never been taught.
3.Your prospects don’t see the difference between what you sell and what your competitors sell.
That being the case, if you want to differentiate yourself you must develop a Unique Selling Proposition that clearly articulates your uniqueness in the marketplace.
Additionally, you must redirect the sales process and make it about YOU and not about products or services. You must change and redirect the sales process from one of quoting and pitching product information to one of making the process and focus about you and how you are different than all of your competitors. You do this by positioning yourself as THE authority expert in your market or industry. When you redirect the discussion and demonstrate your personal superiority to buyers, you will be offering something to buyers that will clearly be different.
4. It takes too long to get deals
This is one of the most common problems incompetent and unskilled sales professionals encounter. This issue results in huge amounts of wasted time, creates severe frustration, sales burnout and loss of many deals that die on the vine. Time kills deals and the longer a deal is hanging out there the greater the likelihood that it won’t close. Buyer procrastination is one of the sales professional’s greatest enemies. To eliminate this problem the sales professional must assume complete control of the sales process by dictating and gaining buyer agreement to exactly what is to be done and when it is to be done. Failure to do this results in a lot of assumptions made by the sales person that latter prove to be wrong.
5. Too many prospects stall, put you off, or say “I want to think it over”
This should never happen. The only reason that it does happen is that the sales person allows the prospect to control the sales process. Successful selling is about being in control and dictating what is discussed, when it is discussed and ultimately determining what if any next step should be. Most sales people lack the skills or the guts to take control. He who has control determines the outcome, and most of the time it is not the sales person.
Personally, I almost never have this happen. I don’t believe in, and I teach my sales training clients not to give written proposals for free. Leaving free proposals with prospects guarantees “think it over” and price shopping. If you are doing it STOP immediately and have the courage to look a prospect in the eye and tell them that you don’t do that. When you do they will sit up straight in their chair and have more respect for you.
6. Prospects are stealing your knowledge and expertise and using your proposals to “shop the competition”
Prospects have no remorse or shame about using you and your proposals to gain a free education and then turn around and use that information to “shop the competition” or negotiate a better deal with an existing vendor.
This is a smart buyer’s strategy if you can find a sales person dumb enough to do it. But as a sales person, you will get your brains beat out and get used over and over again if you insist on “being nice” and accommodating in the hopes that you will get the business. The reasons sales people do this are many: lousy sales training, poor self image, nativity, unrealistic expectations, lack of courage, and poor pipeline management to name a few. The result is the same: wasted time, poor closing percentages, erosion of self respect and eventual failure.
7. You’re closing less than 50% of your proposals
If you are closing less than 50% of your proposals that means at least half of the time you spend giving proposals is a waste of time. This is huge and will result in hundreds of hours of wasted time each year. It will cost you tens of thousands of dollars each year and it will wear on you mentally. If not corrected it will lead to burnout, failure and a possible career change. To get a grip on this and increase your closing percentage, you need sales training that teaches a sales system that puts you in control and has been proven to produce a high closing rate within the shortest time possible. Typically, New School Selling clients close in excess of 80% of their proposals and many of them do so by charging prospects for these proposals.
8. You know what you should say but you’re uncomfortable asking questions that could seem confrontational
To borrow a page out of Dr Phil’s book. “Get over it”. Selling is a confrontational – not adversarial profession, just like law and psychiatry. Prospects never tell you the whole truth. They mislead and tell you half truths, omit important information, and sometimes are guilty of not knowing what their issues are. When I was in graduate school being trained as a counselor and therapist, we were taught very direct questioning skills to help uncover the client’s issues. Only when the issues were brought to light and clearly identified could we go to work on the solution. Selling is the same way. The New School Selling sales training teaches sales professional advanced skills that allow them to ask confrontational questions that uncover “pain”, determine commitment, and understand budget and decision making process.
Failure to develop these skills results in pitching, praying and hoping for the best. Not a good strategy if you like to eat.
Today, 65% of everything that is sold in North America is sold by 15% of the sales people. The top 20% of those is sales make 28 times more money than the bottom 80%.
Never has it been more difficult to extract money from the marketplace than it is today. Those who prosper in the New Economy will be those who willingly embrace the development of new, more powerful selling strategies and skills. Those who refuse to do so because they mistakenly think their current skills are adequate or those who are lazy, slothful and uncommitted to personal and professional growth will be devoured by competitors who will eat their lunch. You have two choices: you can join the ranks of the 20% or by default be relegated to second class status and become one of the 80%.