Problem: Being a good qualifier is the most important skill for a salesperson to possess in a relationship-based sale. Yet despite hours of training, most salespeople are mediocre qualifiers at best. Digging down to uncover the real problems, openly discussing money issues and getting in front of the real decision makers are very challenging for most of us. As a result, we experience long selling cycles, low closing rates, and frequently feel the need to offer discounts or other concessions to motivate reluctant buyers. This can be a tough business! But it may not entirely be our fault.
Analysis: When it comes to selling, Mom and Dad may have been our worst enemies. Clearly their well-meaning advice is contradictory to the realities of selling. Look at some of the head-trash they unwittingly saddled us with:
- They said, “Don’t talk to strangers,” and now we have to initiate contact with strangers by making cold calls.
- They said, “Don’t bother important people,” and we have to call high up in the organization to get to the decision makers.
- They said, “Don’t ask so many questions.” but we need to ask questions to be a good qualifier.
- And they said, “It’s impolite to talk about money,” but we need to initiate a discussion about money to find out what their budgets are.
No wonder it’s tough. If you heard those admonitions frequently growing up, they’re still in your head creating all sorts of conflict and hesitation when you’re in front of a prospect. But let’s not blame this on Mom and Dad. They meant well. (And they weren’t worried how this might impact our ability to sell because they didn’t want us to go into sales in the first place.)
Solution: Beliefs drive actions, actions cause results, and results reinforce beliefs. The first step is to acknowledge the problem exists. Next make a list of the negative consequences the problem has for you. (For example, believing that you shouldn’t bother important people will inhibit you from calling at the top, thus forcing you into a position where you are making presentations to people who can’t say yes. This slows down the sales process, lowers your closing rate and reduces your sales.)
Commit yourself to overcoming the problem. Re-write the non-supportive belief. (“I must call at the top in order to be successful.”) Tell it to yourself over and over until your subconscious now has a new belief. Your new belief will cause you to act differently. No longer will you consider it acceptable to present to non-decision makers and you’ll find your sales cycle shortened and you’ll close a higher percentage of your proposals.
First things first… you have to change your beliefs if you want to change your results.