Have you ever left a Sales meeting feeling – Empty?

Or that horrible feeling there was no connection, no rapport, no traction, – What went wrong?

Taking ownership: The cold hard facts, as the responsible sales person “you stuffed it up”

Based on the millions of Sales Training articles/suggestions that scatters the web and bookstores; there is an underlining school of thought; “Selling is Easy”. If it is not easy; then you are doing something wrong!

I am challenged by this thinking, as a Sales Professional, getting told you are doing something wrong is often a big pill to swallow. One of the great attributes of a good Sales person is the ability to have a strong self awareness, self drive and self motivation to make the job function flow.

However, there are times when the brutal reality of being honest with yourself is important and you need to swallow that pill. Asking what could have been done better, is required. As a season campaigner, the enjoyment in the profession is about coordinating win/win conclusions. I have found this requires a willingness to continue to learn and grow, because as much as these attractive books and stories inspire us, we don’t all live in a perfect world.

As a result, I would like to share an interesting thought: “ Why didn’t the customer read their script?”

With so many articles out there telling Sales people, how, when, why and where they need to be or what to say. The Sales message should theoretically be just a simple transaction! Share a great value proposition, ask for the order; done.

Life experience certainly provides many examples that this is not always the case; someone should have actually told the customer they also need to follow a specific script.

Of course this is a tongue in cheek crack at the system, and any good Sales trainer worth their salt would jump in a say, it’s the responsibility of the Sales Professional to set up the customer and prepare them for what is going to unfold?

….and they are so right. A solid sales methodology works beautifully, if a clear process is eloquently presented to allow the customer to see and experience a smooth direction of where the discussions and purpose is heading.

So why didn’t the customer follow the script?

The role of technical sales professional requires a unique skill, it’s about coordinating a range of bouncing balls, on one hand there is the technical knowledge of your product set that is required and on the other is the sales methodology to guide the discussion in a particular direction. In between these centres  are the numerous personalities involved with helping to move the decision process through to a smooth path to a win/win conclusion.

In many organisations, there may be a team of people, from internal Sales Staff, Pre-Sales, and Product Specialist through to Sales managers involved with coordinating this process. For this article, it does not matter as the question remains:

Why didn’t the customer follow the script?

Simple; a sales methodology was poorly executed or even worst there was no methodology implemented.

The nature of a technical sales transaction (also known as a complex sale) in most cases has multiple layers of egos involved, both external and internal. Once an ego has been identified it is also important to recognise that these come with agenda’s. The only successful way to manage a complex sale is to adopt a Sales Methodology.

Over the years, there have been many consulting firms presenting a variety of different methodologies to help provide a road map to keep a positive discussion moving around the pot holes, dead ends, T – intersections, X- roads through to the finish line of a win/win conclusion.

There are two Sales Methodologies I personally like:

Conceptual Selling – by Robert Miller and Stephen Helmen,

Based on the idea that customers don’t buy a product or a service  they buy their concept of a solution that the offering represents. Therefore this model is about asking smart questions that fall into five categories:

  • Confirmation questions reaffirm information.
  • New information questions clarify the prospect’s concept of the product or service and explore what they’d like to achieve.
  • Attitude questions seek to understand a prospect on a personal level, and discover their connection to the project.
  • Commitment questions inquire after a prospect’s investment in the project.
  • Basic issue questions raise potential problems.

This sales methodology places a heavy emphasis on listening, and divides the sales process into three stages: getting information, giving information, and getting commitment

The second methodology is the Challenger Sale, the co-authors Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson, invested a significant effort to look at the question – how effective are today’s professional sales people. As a result of this work, they established; for a Sales person to be really effective, they need to change their approach and learn to teach their prospects how they can improve a process or improve their business.

In conclusion, the role of a Sales professional requires a discipline to keep every sales transaction in line with a Sales methodology. Other words, every conversation has to have a purpose with a valued direction, resulting in a win/win relationship. In those meetings where it seems it goes nowhere, revisit the methodology and learn how to reposition the purpose. Every meeting/discussion needs to have a purpose.handshakeBusinessmen200_200