Top 10 Sales Issues of 2015

  1. Reactive Sales Culture vs. Proactive Culture that drives the sales process.
  2. Statistics show that over 50% of sales pursuits end up with “no fruit for your labor.”
  3. Sales teams are not selling to or engaging the Decision Maker early in the sales cycle.
  4. Individual Sales reps Forecasts are inaccurate due to lack of control in the sales processes and poor qualification format.
  5. Sales teams are trying to get prospects to understand the solution they are selling. They don’t yet understand why people buy in 2015; people buy because they feel understood not because they understand.
  6. When trying to sell value, the sales team is imposing what they think the prospect should value before they truly understand what the prospect deems valuable.
  7. Critical Questions go unasked, which results in surprises and slippage in the sales pursuits.
  8. Opportunities are running the sales reps vs. the sales reps running and controlling the activity.
  9. Most common sales approach is one of “Make it Up as You Go”. All prospects are different, the individuals inside those prospects are different, but sales professionals still need to follow a common results orientated sales approach.
  10. Sales people in general are falling under the classic definition of Insanity; Doing the same thing over and over and expecting or worse forecasting a different result.

For 17 years, Sales Builders has been working globally with organizations to solve these and many sales development challenges. SBI is a dedicated professional development firm that offers organizational assessment, training, and consulting all geared to help organizations transform, thrive, and expand.

Father Time

by Bob Beck, CEO SBI

In every workshop, in every organization, in every market, in all parts of the world, when the question is asked to sales professionals what their most valuable asset is, the answer is always time. Everyone seems to get that answer correct, yet time is the most unguarded and abused asset we have.

The popular sports saying, “We’ll get’em next year…” is often recited by sales reps, but is no more applicable in sales then it is in sports. Next year might not come. You could be on a different team or with a different company, in a new position, or worse could happen, because we just never know when our time is up.

Father time cannot be beat! You can’t negotiate with him, slow him down, turn him back or stop him. Time is not your friend or on your side as the popular song from the Rolling Stones says. The lyrics say, “Yes time, time, time is on my side, yes it is. Time, time, time is on my side, yes it is…” Trust me when I tell you, time it is not on your side!  There is not one person who is reading this that can say their runway is getting any longer. Your runway to take off, to realize your dreams, to realize your true and full potential gets shorter every minute of every day.

Challenge yourself right now with what you are doing that is not bringing you closer to the things you want to achieve.  What are you not acting on that is holding you back? What is the status quo costing you professionally and personally?

At some point every single person that realizes consistent success has taken a risk. Risks can come in many forms.  Risk is the potential of gaining or losing something of perceived value. They can be financial risks, professional risks, social risk, and the big one emotional risk. The biggest risk is losing or wasting your precious time, which is what you should value most of all.

For many people just challenging the status quo of how you invest your time personally and professionally seems like a huge risk. I work with many executives and sales professionals that feel they are doing Ok. The mind set of if it’s not broke why fix it, prevails all too often or now is not the right time, things are going OK. That would be fine if things stayed the same, if markets didn’t change, products never evolved, or new competitors weren’t emerging every day. That is not the case in any business!

The world we live in is changing. How business is done always changes. Your market is changing. I have yet to be challenged with these statements.  So how has your sale approached changed?  If you have the same approach you’ve always had or are selling the same way you did a few years ago and are not experiencing the results you want, there may be a correlation. If everything around you is changing, how can you logically think selling the same way and not evolving or improving is going to serve you well?

If not now, then when? When will you push yourself, your organization, your life, to the next level?  Status Quo achieves nothing but mediocrity. The famous basketball coach, John Wooden was right when he said, “Average is just as close to the bottom as it is to the top.”

At Sales Builders, we have helped thousands of sale people and organizations in 10 countries, make changes to achieve results at new levels. Let us help you!

Sales Builders is a dedicated professional development firm that offers organizational assessment, training, and consulting all geared to help organizations transform, thrive, and expand.  We’re architects of change and builders of consistency. We’re pioneers of innovation and masters in sales transformation.

The “FRANKENSTEIN” SALES APPROACH

You may recall author Mary Shelley’s story about scientist Victor Frankenstein, who creates a ridiculous creature in an experiment by mixing and matching different body parts….So what does that have to do with selling?

Too many sales leaders, sale people, and organizations in general we have worked with over the last 15 years will say when asked about what sales approach they use:

We took something from the training we had a few years ago, picked up some things from a new book we read, learned some things from my peers, my last sales manager taught me a few things, and we combined that with our own experiences and that is the core of our approach.” If you are a seasoned sales professional, and any of this answer remotely describes your approach to how you sell, you might be using the “Frankenstein” Sales Approach.

Let me be the first one to say there is more than on way to sell. A consistent results orientated approach is what you should be subscribing to. An approach that addresses sales in a practical way that offers duality. The duality of having a proven, time tested, approach and the freedom to allow you some room to make prudent decisions along the way. What we see today is really more of a “make it up as you go” approach, which in general terms is the same thing as the Frankenstein approach.

Frankenstein was ugly, clumsy, inconsistent, and didn’t function very well. Sure he got it right every once in a while, but over time he just didn’t work. As you read this, human nature may lead you to be defensive. You may be saying that the Frankenstein approach doesn’t apply to your team. Really? I challenge you to sort it out with just a few questions:

• What percentage of your sales pursuits, end up with no fruit for your labor?

• How many of your opportunities closed in the time frame you forecasted last year?

• Would your prospects (not clients) consider you a trusted advisor to them or a sales rep?

• Who’s in control of your sales pursuits, you or the prospect?

• Does your team apply a consistent approach to selling or is everything situational? In other words are you making it up as you go with a little of this, a little of that, and a lot of this?

If you have created a mixed bag of parts into “Frankenstein” Sales Approach and it is netting the consistent results you want and need, then great! If you are one of the very few that can answer all the above questions with pride and confidence, then by all means continue.

If you have any doubts about these questions, it’s time to consider a new approach. Selling in 2015 is not about relating your solutions to people. It’s about relating to people first, so they will be open to consider your solutions. What if your team’s consistent sales approach included:

• Controlling the sales cycle – not being put in a subservient position with prospects and clients

• Selling directly to decision makers – 93% of sales people sell at least one level below the decision maker

• Becoming a trusted advisor to your prospect – relating to decision makers on their level vs. 1990’s style “solution” or “value” selling

• Lead generation practices – fill your pipeline with qualified, high-level leads, consistently

• Opportunity qualification – not wasting time on unqualified leads and developing inaccurate sales forecasts

• Defining and following a consistent results orientated sales methodology – 98% of sales people do not follow a consistent sales approach

In today’s business world there is no time or patience for a make it up as you go sales approach. We have clients in 10 countries that are passionate about the results they have experienced from our partnership with their firm. Don’t be like Frankenstein and scare off your prospects! Contact us today to learn more about how to employ a consistent sales approach that works!

SBI: Sales Builders Inc. is a dedicated professional development firm that offers organizational assessment, training, and consulting all geared to help organizations transform, thrive, and expand. We’re architects of change and builders of constancy. We’re pioneers of innovation and masters in sales transformation.

Changing the Tigers Stripes

For prospective buyers, the changing business landscape can become confusing as organizations refocus their marketing messages, targets, pricing models, and solution sets. For many organizations, the most difficult part of this transformation comes in the area of sales. The world we live in has changed over the past several years. Markets are changing and how business is done is also changing. If organizations continue to approach their clients and prospects the same way they did a few years ago and aren’t getting the consistent growth results they want, there may be a correlation.

It is simple human nature to stay inside of one’s comfort zone. A sales professional who has been with a company for years calling on the same departments, positioning a product/solution the same way, and has been succeeding, often has a hard time transitioning to where the organization needs to go. This issue is compounded if the company has not invested in new sales processes, new sales approaches, training, and outside help. It is difficult for a tiger to change its stripes! The most progressive and successful organizations realize this challenge and spare no expense in helping their sales organization- their “Tigers” – to transform into the beasts they need.

I have witnessed organizations around the world recognize the need for change. They change their websites, marketing collateral, the pricing models, elevator pitches, and sometimes their solution set. They hand all of this over to the sales team, and then don’t seem to understand why they don’t get immediate results. Tigers are nature hunters and killers. Even a Tiger will struggle if their hunting ground is changed and the prey they have lived off of for years is switched. Some won’t be able to make the change and will starve.

One of many examples I could site to illuminate this issue: I regularly work with companies where their sales people have been calling on procurement or IT departments for years. With the transformation, the company is attempting to offer a more integrated total communication solution. It then becomes a requirement for the sales team to call on senior executives – the “C” suite. To make this transformation, sale people must learn to become trusted advisors. They need to adopt a new sales approach to sell solutions, rather than products. They can’t continue to sell on price, depend on product features, or even lean on past relationships if they are going to succeed. Organizations have to help their Tigers change and adapt if they want to succeed.

I see one of three things that happen in the transformation process;

  1. The company takes a whip out and cracks it on the Tiger like a circus act.
  2. Organizations take a very passive and slow approach. They allow the Tigers to adapt at their own pace.
  3. The company offers the Tigers new approaches, new methods, trains them, and helps them to thrive.

Some simple questions you can ask to determine which one of these 3 best describes your approach to your Tigers:

  • If you, as President or Sales VP, took your total sales team’s sales pipeline and randomly called company prospects and asked if they viewed the sale person as a “trusted advisor” or a “quota sales rep” what would they say?
  • If you take the same sales pipeline and evaluated who the sales person was spending the most time with, would it be the decision makers or their subordinates?
  • Has the salesperson spent any meaningful time with “the” decision maker?
  • At what point in the sales cycle is the decision maker engaged?
  • Who is in control of the sales cycle?
  • Could the majority of your sales team pass the “Executive Test”?

Do they know the ten common issues the decision maker has?

Do they know why they have these issues?

Do they know the effects of these issues on others in the organization?

Do they know what keeps the decision makers awake at night?

Do they know what gets them fired or promoted?

Can your sales team easily and effectively talk the talk of the decision maker?

Does the sales team talk mainly about your company and solutions?

Can the sales team relate your solutions directly to the issues that the decision maker has?

There are many more questions that can and should be asked. If any of the above questions are answered “No” or “Maybe”, it is very difficult to be a trusted advisor or have any kind of consultative sales approach. If you aren’t really sure of the answers, consider looking at how many sales pursuits the sales team is engaged in every year that ends up with no fruit for the labor. If as an organization you are closing 50% or less of the opportunities that are being pursued, I would suggest you might have some issues that need to be addressed. The issues might be, sales people are not controlling the sales cycle, being view as trusted advisors, their having a hard time transitioning, they aren’t following an effective sales approach, and they need help. Save the Tigers!

The Jim Carrey Sales Approach

JC-sales-approach

Hopefully you are familiar with the popular actor Jim Carrey. He has had leading roles in major productions such as, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Dumb and Dumber, The Mask, and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls Liar Liar, The Truman Show, Man on the Moon, and many more.

One of my favorites is the movie Dumb and Dumber. It was in this movie I recognized what I call the “Jim Carrey Sales Approach”, that many sellers unknowingly apply. If you are having a high percentage of your sales pursuit end of with no “fruit for your labor” you might just be applying this sort of approach.

In the movie Dumb and Dumber, if you haven’t seen it, Carrey’s character, Lloyd is the biggest moron that could have possibility walked the earth. He was a social misfit from every aspect. His fantasy love obsession is played by Lauren Holly, whose character’s name is Mary. Mary is a stunning beauty that exudes grace, elegance, and has a charming personality. Mary and Lloyd are standing in the living room, and Lloyd awkwardly asks Mary what the chances would be that they could XXX… Mary without hesitation replies, “The chances of that happening are 1 in a 1,000,0000!”  Without hesitation Lloyd (Carrey) excitingly shouts out,

“So you say there’s a chance!” 

We get involved in thousands of Transformational QPQ Deal reviews every year. I am sad to say; too many times the JIM CARREY SALES APPROACH is applied. That being defined as, there is a chance. It’s a remote chance, a 1 in a 1,000,000 chance of actually seeing any revenue from the pursuit.  Just like Lloyd, who never realized his fantasy with Mary, even though he went to the ends of the earth to pursue her, just like sales people often do for their prospects, applying the Jim Carrey sales approach rarely, if ever, results in a sale.

Excerpt from the book: TRANSFORMATION: Reinventing Selling for Breakthrough Results

To Learn more: contact Sales@salesbuilders.com 800.713.1261

SBI: Sales Builders Inc. is a dedicated professional development firm that offers organizational assessment, training, and consulting all geared to help organizations transform, thrive, and expand.  We’re architects of change and builders of constancy. We’re pioneers of innovation and masters in sales transformation.

The CHANGE SAW of SALES

change-sawDo you have prospects that resemble this picture? I’d be surprised if you don’t have prospects in your pipeline that are so old that mold is beginning to grow on them. You know the ones, the person that tells you all their needs, and desires to do something about it; the people that are always positive and encouraging but just never seem to do anything.

How can we avoid facing this all too common picture day in and day out in our sales pursuits?

  1. SELL UNDISPUTED LOGIC:  Of course to me and you this picture is so logical it is undisputable that a chain saw vs. an axe would make this woodsman’s life infinitely easier.  Keep in mind, what is obvious to me or you might not be so obvious to someone else.  This woodsmen is in his comfort zone with an ax that works, so why change? As sales people, you likely have been classically trained to explain the benefits of the chain saw. Surely once the woodsman hears all the benefits he will buy it! It doesn’t always happen that way does it? You can’t sell undisputed logic until you relate to the prospect at their level. Sales Builders has helped organizations in 10 countries improve their sales results with a 16 year track record of success. About four times a year, someone will say to us, “I’d like SBI to work with and help our sales people be more effective, but….I want to wait until our sales improve.” Huh? Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?  Does that make any sense to you? Is there any logic in that thought process? Once the team learns how to relate to their prospects, their sales revenues will improve.
  2. RELATE to YOUR PROSPECT: I’m not exactly sure who originated this quote or when it first came out, but it’s one of the most misunderstood concepts by sales people and organizations: “People buy because they feel understood, NOT because they understand”.  What are you classically trained to do in sales?  To tell the woodsman all the features and benefits of your chainsaw.  Of course, you might ask him a couple of leading questions before you launch into your pitch, but that hardly qualifies as relating to the prospect at their level. If the sales person knows how to  relate to the prospect and make them feel understood, the prospect will then be open to listen to the sales person.  The sales person has shown their value, related to the prospect and are on their way to becoming a Trusted Advisor.
  3. BE a TRUSTED ADVISOR:  You can’t execute #1 or #2 if you can’t transition your team to be a trusted advisors. Consistently successful sales people need to show up in accounts with “Prospect Knowledge”. This is being able to understand the persons role you are trying to sell to, as well as you knowing your own roll. You have to be able to talk their talk, articulate your understanding and relate to their issues, know why they have those issues, how they are measured, what keeps them up at night, etc. Now you can to relate to the prospect and sell undisputed logic.
  4. CALL US to continue the conversation….To Learn more: Sales@salesBuilders.com  800.713.1261

    SBI: Sales Builders Inc. is a dedicated professional development firm that offers organizational assessment, training, and consulting all geared to help organizations transform, thrive, and expand.  We’re architects of change and builders of constancy. We’re pioneers of innovation and masters in sales transformation.